Do you feel stuck in your strategy to generate product reviews that build online brand advocacy? Most marketers understand the importance of product reviews, but many struggle with creating effective review generation strategies. Moreover, they often miss huge sales opportunities by failing to maximize and optimize their review efforts.
In this post, we will discuss some common mistakes marketers make regarding product reviews and how to avoid them.
What are the Biggest Benefits of High-Quality Product Reviews?
- Increased brand credibility: Prospective consumers who see high-quality product reviews are more likely to trust your brand, and it will improve your overall brand equity.
- Improved conversion rates: An effective review strategy will lead to increased conversion rates and sales. A study by Bazaarvoice found even one product review can result in a 10% increase in sales, and 200 reviews can result in as much as a 44% increase in sales.
- Meaningful consumer engagement: Encouraging consumers to write and respond to reviews can build stronger relationships that drive lasting brand loyalty.
- Valuable feedback: High-quality reviews can provide valuable input for marketers, allowing them to identify areas for improvement and make changes to their products or marketing strategies.
- Increased visibility: A successful product review strategy will drive visibility on search engines and ecommerce platforms, which can increase their traffic and attract more consumers.
- Cost-effective marketing: When done right, product reviews are a cost-effective form of marketing that attracts new sales without the need for expensive advertising campaigns.
- Competitive advantage: Getting product reviews “right” will give you a competitive advantage over other brands, and consumers are more likely to choose your products.
Mistake #1: Not Proactively Asking for Reviews Enough
As the saying goes, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get,” and sometimes, well, marketers forget to ask. Developing a strategy to solicit authentic reviews on retail or direct-to-consumer e-commerce sites is crucial.
With technology today, brands can automate asking consumers for reviews & ratings, and new innovations are developed daily to make it more accessible, streamlined, and measurable.
Top Ways to Ask for Product Reviews
- According to customer reviews research, as much as 70% of reviews come from post-transactional review request emails.
- This includes sending a post-purchase email or a series of emails asking for a review. You can also set emails to be triggered after a particular time and strategically space emails out to ensure review recency. Review recency is a term to describe how current and up-to-date the present consumer reviews are for a particular product or service.
- For example, if your product is popular during a specific time of year that results in an influx of sales, you could space out your review requests throughout the year to drive more recency.
- Asking for reviews should always include a dedicated effort to thank consumers for their feedback and to respond to reviews when necessary. In fact, 52% of consumers expect to hear back from brands within seven days of giving an online review, particularly if it’s negative or critical.
- With technology integrations, product reviews can be syndicated across multiple retail websites, giving your reviews more “juice.”
- The “smart packaging” market is forecasted to grow to $7 billion in 2023, and on-product QR codes have gained traction as a way to showcase and request reviews. Additionally, QR Codes coupled with AR (Augmented Reality) are transforming how consumers interact with smart packaging.
- Alcohol brand Bombay Sapphire deployed AR codes that make the bottle come alive when scanned by a smartphone. QR codes on product packaging are an excellent review collection strategy that is always on, especially if it’s part of your product’s packaging.
- Text messages have a 45% response rate, whereas email responses are at just 8%, making SMS a valuable channel for review collection. Like emails, SMS can be timed strategically to drive review recency.
Mistake #2: Not Utilizing an Online Brand Community to Generate Ongoing Reviews
Review collection is, unfortunately, not a set-and-forget-it strategy. Too often, marketers run to one-off activations to spark a new “batch” of reviews once or twice a year. And while this strategy does work, it has drawbacks, including lapsing recency and quality control.
Brands will have far more long-term success by investing in dedicated structures to cultivate meaningful consumer relationships that unlock a stream of product reviews.
An online brand community integrated into the marketing strategy is a powerful “secret sauce” that could take your review strategy to the next level. It is the “fuel” for your ecommerce product pages; conversely, your product reviews can drive engagement in your online community.
Top Ways to Use an Online Brand Community for Product Reviews
- Online communities benefit consumers through targeted and exclusive experiences as well as connecting like-minded people – who can exchange knowledge and tips about your products and services.
- When you notice someone singing your praises, especially on multiple websites, reach out and invite them to join a dedicated online brand community. Strong consumer relationships help you identify high-quality writers and solicit reviews from consumers who best represent your brand’s target market.
- When they join an online brand community, collect zero party data to help you understand shopping habits and lifestyle behaviors.
- From this information, deliver targeted efforts (sampling, exclusive content, sneak peeks), prompt consumers to write online reviews, and drive velocity in ecommerce and in-store.
- Hero Cosmetics, a fast-growing beauty brand, built its Hero Skin Squad as an extension of its brand’s website. It activates its community to write product reviews on brands they’ve tried, and it generated over 400 product reviews in the first 100 days of the community’s launch.
Mistake #3: Focusing Too Much on the Number of Reviews
There is no doubt the quantity of reviews is essential, but it’s important to remember that review volume fits among a set of traits shoppers look for when deciding what to purchase.
A successful review strategy will check more than just one box. A common mistake brands can make is focusing too heavily on the number of reviews for their product or service while neglecting other parts, such as review quality, product star rating, and review recency.
Making sure you’re generating product reviews from authentic and genuine consumers. Additionally, a McKinsey study found that improvements in a product’s star rating, even an increase as small as 0.2 stars, produced a meaningful improvement in sales.
Beyond review quality and star rating, you must maintain review recency.
Close to 6 in 10 consumers say they would rather purchase a product with a smaller number of more recent reviews than a product with a large number of older reviews.
Top Ways to Achieve Influential Product Reviews
- Be transparent about what you wish consumers to do. If you’re looking for a five-star rating, tell them. If you’re looking for more photo reviews, ask consumers for before/after photos. For review recency, follow up with them six months after their purchase to update their review.
- If your product has multiple SKUs, direct consumers to different product pages to help “spread the love.”
- ARM & HAMMER’s Cat Litter brand started its Kitty Krew online brand community as a brand-owned “home base” for passionate consumers. Here the brand can identify ideal consumers and activate them to share reviews on particular retail websites based on where they shop. To date, the brand has generated over 5,300+ high-quality reviews from its community.
Mistake #4: Not Offering Strong Enough Incentives for Leaving Reviews
While many satisfied consumers are willing to share their experiences when asked (or even unprompted), relying entirely on organic reviews is a mistake. Incentivizing reviews is not the same as an inauthentic pay-per-review strategy.
Offering an incentive for a review is often a customary gesture of appreciation from the brand. A study found that 68% of customers will leave a review if asked.
Top Ways to Incentivize Product Reviews
- Incentivizing consumers can be in the form of an entry into a sweepstake or receiving a free personalized sample. Always ensure the consumer discloses that they are being incentivized to maintain credibility.
- Other encouragements can be done after the fact by featuring and showcasing top reviews. Recognize those who share a helpful review with surprise & delight gifts.
- Ready-to-drink cocktail brand, BuzzBallz, drove authentic UGC and reviews with a summertime party bag, complete with brand swag and free product. Targeted consumers were directed to key retail websites to leave reviews, and the brand generated more than 2,000+ pieces of UGC and reviews.
Mistake #5: Giving No Guidance to Consumers for How to Write Reviews
Some brands will be “graciously disenchanted” with product reviews. Of course, you can’t be upset that people are sharing about your brand, but sometimes the content isn’t what you were picturing.
While product reviews are often preached as raw, authentic, and untouched, a balance can be achieved where you can still help guide the consumer on what to focus on in their reviews.
No consumer wants to feel like a shill for the brand. Consumers want to express themselves creatively, share their genuine opinions, and feel their voice is heard. However, consumers respond to prompts, and it is wise to help navigate consumers in the right direction.
Top Ways to Guide Consumers in Product Reviews
- Decide which category of product review content you seek. A Journal of Electronic Commerce report identifies three different values of user-generated content (UGC): functional, emotional, and social.
- Functional involves showing the unique benefits of your product or service, such as how-to videos, comparisons, etc. Emotional value is the emotional satisfaction or level of pleasure people experience, and social value is the positive contribution to one’s social image while experiencing your brand.
- Give a review “prompt” to consumers, such as “how did our brand compare to others you’ve tried in the past?” or “what have you noticed most when using our brand?” or “how did using our brand make you feel the first time you used it?”
- It’s also okay to educate consumers on what makes a high-quality review. A high-quality product review will be objective and detailed. It is also written from personal experience, has clarity, is free from grammatical errors, offers comparisons, and is applicable to readers. Presenting examples of high-quality reviews is always helpful.
- In addition to featuring customer reviews on their website, beauty retailer Sephora also has their “Beauty Insider Community,” where customers can share their product reviews, tips, and advice with other members of the Sephora community. This community provides a platform for customers to share honest opinions about products and allows Sephora to gather valuable customer feedback.
Mistake #6: Not Repurposing Reviews in Your Other Marketing
A study from Stakala found UGC to be 6.6X more impactful than brand-created content and 8.7X more than even influencer-created content.
Repurposing product reviews is part of how you can get more out of ratings & reviews investment. It can boost conversion across all your marketing channels and strengthen your brand’s trust and reputation. And at the end of the day, a library of consumer reviews is a powerful digital asset.
Top Ways to Repurpose Product Reviews in Your Marketing
- Feature product reviews on your brand’s main website. Testimonials are highly valuable and are also relevant content for search engines. This will help you improve the SEO of your website and lead to higher rankings and traffic.
- Repurpose consumer reviews on your ecommerce landing page or the product informational section. This ensures consumers don’t miss some of the highest quality reviews while researching. Some brands will even feature UGC or video reviews as part of the product carousel to highlight key benefits.
- Even if your email marketing is not explicitly sales-oriented all the time, you can still benefit from featuring consumer product reviews. Email campaigns that include UGC can see 73% higher clickthrough rates.
- Social media and online advertising are excellent places to repurpose reviews, especially photos, videos, quotes, and testimonials. To ensure transparency, make sure to get permission before using reviews. Many consumers are happy to have their content featured in your Instagram stories, Youtube videos, banner ads, or more.
- Immune supplement brand, Sambucol started their Sambucrew community as a missing piece to a complete online presence and to bring their brand values to life through real customer experiences. The brand often features content from the library of 19,000+ pieces of UGC it has amassed.
Mistake #7: Not Mining Product Reviews for Insights
In the past, marketers were limited to expensive and time-consuming research studies to get actionable insights. Today, product reviews are a goldmine of ideas for product innovation, a channel for understanding market needs, and a source for getting to know your consumers better.
Today more than ever, agile insights can make or break your product’s go-to-market strategy, and product reviews are a great resource in your marketing toolbox.
Top Ways to Gather Insights from Product Reviews
- For brands with thousands of reviews in multiple places, many tools and technology are available today to help sort through and analyze content. This can be done through sentiment analysis software or analyzing text-based data with natural language processing (NLP).
- When analyzing product reviews, you can see what product features resonate most with consumers and highlight them in your marketing messaging. You can also understand what areas to dedicate R&D efforts to.
- Ask consumers who have left a review to complete a survey about their experience or to participate in a focus group or in-depth interview.
- Invite reviewers to join an online brand community to gather further zero party data and personal information that can help optimize audience segmentation and targeting strategies.
- Fast-growing frozen food brand, Veggies Made Great leveraged the product reviews fueled by its online brand community to dodge product launch risk. The brand targeted and solicited feedback from community members throughout the US to capture a variety of tastes, and within a week, had insights to deliver to the product development team.
How Vesta Can Help With Your Product Review Strategy
Online brand communities are a prime channel for cultivating a product review strategy and boosting consumer engagement. Consumers feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves while also creating efficiencies and streamlining efforts for product reviews. It’s truly a win-win scenario.
Vesta’s online brand community platform empowers you to mobilize your consumers in a dedicated branded destination and cultivate lasting relationships. With more than 20 engagement options available to brands and a team of community experts to help you get the most out of your reviews strategy, consumers are activated through a wealth of activities to participate in – including writing product reviews, creating user-generated photos and videos, completing surveys and polls, participating in discussions, amplifying ecommerce and in-store efforts, and much more.
Using Vesta, brands can drive new customer acquisition significantly, secure emotional and long-term brand loyalty, and “future proof” with agile insights and ongoing data collection.
Interested in More?
Read our article on How to Get the Most Out of Your Product Reviews.