Online product reviews have become an essential part of doing business for retailers and e-commerce companies. Simply having a product review platform connected to your site is better than not having one, but that’s just the beginning. Product reviews are only beneficial to customers and to the company itself if people fill them out honestly and in substantial numbers. Anyone can pay for fake reviews, but how do you actually get customers to engage with your brand by reviewing your products online? Email marketing is a great way to solicit meaningful product reviews.
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The Importance of Meaningful Product Reviews
Product review software is almost always a good investment, because all product reviews boost the SEO ratings of your site. Of course, product reviews that contain narrative comments are better than reviews that are simply a certain number of stars. Positive comments are better than negative ones, but only if they are genuine and sincere. The best product review platform you can choose is one that solicits both star ratings and thoughtful comments from customers.
The Benefits and Limitations of Star Ratings
If your site’s customer review capability consists only of star ratings, you are already off to a good start. Here are some pros of star ratings:
- It only takes a few seconds to fill them out. Therefore, participation rates are likely to be higher.
- Star ratings display easily in search results.
- Despite their simplicity, star ratings are effective at boosting your site’s SEO rankings.
- It is simple to aggregate star ratings. When customers click on a product’s page, they will see at a glance how many users gave it five stars, four stars, etc.
Of course, there are also some cons to having a star-only product review system:
- In their simplest form, star ratings by themselves do not tell you why customers like and dislike a product. If you have read Roger Ebert’s review of ET, you know that the four-star rating does not do justice to why Ebert considered the movie so special.
- It is difficult for customers to tell the difference between a real star rating and a fake one.
Making the Most of Star Ratings
The more you personalize star ratings, the more useful they are. Perhaps surprisingly, changing the icon is not the best way to achieve that. Getting five mics, coat hangers, or tents is not necessarily better than five stars. Instead, let customers rate a number of features for a more informative stars-only review.
The Role of Email Marketing
Email marketing can do a lot more than just notifying customers of new promotions. It is a surprisingly effective way of increasing customer participation when it comes to reviewing products. If a customer receives an email asking him or her to review a recently purchased product, the customer is more likely to submit a review. Clicking a link in an email that takes you to a review form is easier than doing a whole new search to lead you back to the site where you originally bought the product. Here are some interesting facts about email marketing to solicit product reviews:
- Although conventional wisdom has it that people dislike robo-emails, automated emails soliciting reviews are nearly twice as profitable as manual emails.
- Automated emails should still be personal. Address the customer by name and refer specifically to the product that the customer bought.
How to Time Emails for Maximum Review Generation
Timing is key when emailing customers to ask them to submit reviews. You want to give them enough time to decide what they like about the product. Likewise, you don’t want to wait until other more recent purchases have eclipsed your product in their minds. The best time to email about reviews of foods and seasonal items is seven days. For clothing and personal care products, two weeks is ideal. For electronics and appliances, send an email three weeks after the customer receives the item. Give customers more than one chance to respond; if they don’t respond to the first email, send another a few days later.
Other Ways to Make the Most of Email Marketing
If you have a loyalty program, offer additional loyalty points when customers submit reviews. Of course, you want helpful reviews, not spammy or vitriolic ones. Email your customers to say that the review was accepted or needs revision. Give the review writer additional loyalty points when other customers click to say that the review was helpful.
Deliberate actions on your part can improve the quantity and quality of product reviews on your site. Setting up a review form with specific questions can help, as can using email marketing to solicit reviews. Annex Cloud can help your company develop an effective product review strategy.