Let Your Customers Do the Talking

Hat tip to Paige Kusmierz for sharing this.

Expedia is in the business of maximizing profits (you should be too). And the highest margin item one can sell is insurance. So Expedia pushes hard for it. But instead of just pushing it they show a real customer story to drive home their point:

expedia_insurance

Shoppers care way more about the opinion of Mary C from Gloucester than Expedia’s marketing machine. And Expedia knows this.

And the best part is Expedia can A/B/C/n test many travel insurance customer stories to discover the customer review that’s most persuasive.

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Getting Better (and More) Customer Reviews

We know that the review count on your product page is positively correlated with conversion rates (source). But quantity isn’t the only thing that matters, the shopper also wants to read reviews that relate to their scenario. A first-time buyer would be greatly influenced by a review that starts off with, “I’m a first-time buyer, let me tell you about my experience … ” and a skeptical shopper would be influenced by a review of a fellow skeptic.

Let’s look at a scenario. Heather purchases Rambler 30 oz. Tumbler from YETI.com. On order confirmation page YETI asks 4 questions (sex, have you bought from us before? how were you keeping your beverages cold/hot before this? [multiple choices], and why did you choose the 30 oz. option? [multiple choices]). Then, after 10 days we send an automated email that says:

Hey Heather,

We hope you’re enjoying your Rambler tumbler.

You know, 83% of our online shoppers are men, which means we don’t get too many female perspectives. We’d love to get your thoughts as a first-time buyer. Your perspective would greatly help other female shoppers.

[Write review] button.

Thanks!

This has 2 advantages:

1: More review submissions due to customized request email.

2: Reviews that are more valuable to shoppers and have richer SEO value.

You can basically automate the whole backend system so the email that’s sent will change based on the answers to the 4 questions on order confirmation page. For example, someone purchases the tumbler, he is a first-time buyer, and based in Arizona. This person will receive this automated email:

Hey Steve,

We hope you’re getting the most from your Rambler tumbler.

We’d love hear your thoughts about how your Rambler is holding up against the intense Arizona sun.

[Write review] button.

Thanks!

This is just a simple version of this concept. Theoretically, you could make it as detailed as you like. For example, the Arizona email is only sent for purchases made during peak summer season; for non-summer Arizona purchases we have an alternate template.

And the benefit isn’t only in terms of variety of reviews you’ll get and SEO value, it can also dramatically impact conversion rates. Let me explain. Once you’ve collected a good number of reviews you could add these links to your product description:

[Reviews from first-time female shoppers]

[Reviews from people in your state]

[Reviews from people who ditched their current product for Rambler tumbler]

[Reviews from first-time female shoppers] would appeal to a first-time female shopper and on clicking [Reviews from first-time female shoppers] she would be shown all first-time buyer female reviews.

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(Unfair) Importance of Newest Review

I was on a product page that had 562 reviews with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. 96% of respondents said they’d recommend this product to a friend. That’s amazing, right? We’ll, it depends.

While the overall stats are impressive their latest review was very negative:

Bedinabox.com_Review

This one negative review stopped me on my tracks. It’s silly to focus on the latest review when the next 4 have 5 star ratings, but who said shoppers were rational??

So, what is the etailer to do? They have 3 options:

1: Moment the review came in they should have posted a review reply stating they’ll fix the situation.
2: They could have sent an email blast to people who made a purchase in the last 60 days but didn’t post a review. This would effectively push the negative review lower.
3: They could have added a graphic like this to the right of the review:

Bedinabox_com_Review_Response

Option #3 can only be used sparingly. If you apply this tactic for every negative review then it’ll lose its potency. Use it only once on a popular product page.

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The 2 Most Important Details on a Product Page

Your product page design should be based on the type of product being sold.  If a shopper is buying a technical product, complex product, a product they aren’t familiar with, a product that’s very expensive, then they are going to focus on your product description.  But for all other cases product image + customer reviews are the most important details.  Here is how nuts.com does it—

Nuts.com_product_page

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Orders of Magnitude

Most online retailers smile when they hit 30,000 Facebook fans.

Rareseeds.com sells heirloom seeds.  Not only do they have 469,000 Facebook fans they also have 5,300 customers who’ve given them 5 out of 5 stars on Facebook reviews.  That’s five thousand three hundred five star ratings.  Think about that for a minute–

Rareseeds.com_5_Star_Ratings

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Geotargeted Reviews

For years I’ve been thinking about a test idea that combines these 2 facts–

1: Shoppers are more likely to convert when they can read reviews.

2: For a shopper in [Michigan] reading a review of another shopper who also happens to live in [Michigan] is a strong influencer.  Here [Michigan] can be any state.

And then, I discovered a page on easyclosets.com that does exactly that.  They show an interactive map of North America and you can click on any state and see reviews from that state.  Naturally shoppers from North Carolina will click on their home state.  Here is a screenshot of the idea–

US_Map_Reviews

And here’s the live page (you have to check it out!).

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What to Do When Your Product Page Has 479 Customer Reviews

Product reviews are crazy important.  According to PowerReviews research going from zero reviews to one review with 4.2 stars improves conversion rates (sales) by 20%.  But what happens when your product page has 479 reviews?  For a shopper who wants to read reviews 479 is just a daunting number.  Nuts.com realizes this.  Their Turkish Figs product page has 479 reviews so they show a summary report while giving you the option of reading all reviews—

Nuts.com_Reviews

They’ve selected a large enough set of reviews (9) that most shoppers will not feel the need to click Read all 479 reviews.

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The Most Effective Reviews

For most online retailers, once product reviews have been enabled their job is done.  The thinking goes that if, after turning on reviews shoppers don’t post reviews it’s clearly their fault— they obviously didn’t have anything to say.  But superstar retailers like LifeSource Water don’t think this way.  LifeSource sells water filtration systems, and on their site they’ve managed to collect 1,376 custom reviews.  Not lame reviews like “This works!” but real reviews that tell a story—

My wife Nancy and I share the common goal of building a non-toxic, sustainable living environment. LifeSource was the obvious choice since the system is eco-friendly and requires absolutely no maintenance which isn’t something that you often find in a water filtration system. Knowing that our family has access to clean water through every tap in our home provides us with with much peace of mind and we highly recommend this system for anyone interested in improving their quality of life.

The example above was randomly selected, all their reviews are amazing.

LifeSource’s ability to get shoppers to care enough to compose a meaningful review is itself amazing.  There is no way a shopper would send such a review if LifeSource’s review request email said “We’d love your feedback”.  No.  The reason these shoppers are writing these emotive reviews is because there is magic in LifeSource’s review request email.  I don’t know what they’re asking or how they’re asking it but it’s clearly working.

And just to prove that they’re in a totally different league not only has LifeSource been able to collect 1,376 product reviews they’ve also managed to get 465 reviewers to submit a photo of themselves standing by their LifeSource filter.  How the heck did they get 465 reviewers to go through the trouble taking a picture next to their LifeSource and then send it over??  Check it out— https://www.lifesourcewater.com/customer_testimonials.php

Don’t make the mistake of assuming these reviews are only because LifeSource is an amazing product.  LifeSource might be an amazing product but these reviews are the efforts of some marketing genius who works for LifeSource.

If you know of other retailers that leverage customer reviews in a clever way please do share …

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7 Reviews Versus 48

I’ve struggled with product page review counts.  I know going from 0 reviews to 1 with 4.2 stars (or better) improves conversion rates 20% (source).  But, if an item already has 4.5 stars and 7 reviews …

review_count1

… is there additional benefit of collecting 41 more reviews (reaching a total of 48)?

review_count2

Well, it turns out, I don’t need to bother my head with this question any more.  According to research by Reevoo.com 48 reviews is way better than 7 (source)—

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