(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:


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:


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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Keep the Scent Alive

Jibjab.com makes money when visitors create $18/year paid accounts.

People land on the site looking for creative greeting cards.  The first thing jibjab.com asks you to do is personalize your favorite card.  This drives engagement.  At this point the user doesn’t have a clue about the $18/year ask.  After personalizing you compose a message for the recipient and hit DONE.  This is when they ask the user to create a paid account:


The clever bit is that to the left of the payment form they show the card you had selected for customization as a subtle reminder of why becoming a paid member is such a good idea.  Why does this matter?  Well, when a shopper is going through the payment process they are constantly asking themselves, “Should I really be paying $x for this?” and seeing the thing (personalized greeting in this case) that got them this far into the funnel is a warm reassurance.

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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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Come out and Say It

3ACTIVE is a brand of 3D glasses by Dimensional Optics (dimensionaloptics.com).  3Dglassesunlimited.com is an e-tailer that competes against Dimensional Optics.  Makes sense so far?  Ok.

I Googled 3ACTIVE and this paid ad appeared on my screen—


With a juicy message like What 3active Owners Wish They Knew. Before Buying – Avoid Regret! it’s impossible to not click the ad.  Clicking the ad takes shoppers to a page where 3Dglassesunlimited.com very eloquently explains why doing business with Dimensional Optics is a bad idea.  The page has been cleverly constructed and I recommend you check it out.

Is 3Dglassesunlimited.com playing fair?  Who knows?  Is the tactic working? Most likely.  Google certainly doesn’t mind PPC bidding wars.

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Paradox of Choice

Our flush flapper broke so we found ourselves at the local Lowe’s.  I picked the first universal flapper I found.  I thought I was done but my wife pointed to the lower bin that had 3 more universal models.  Now we were really confused.  They all looked alike but had slightly different price points.  Since we couldn’t decide we started reading instructions on the back.  Being a handyman isn’t my area of expertise so my brain started frying pretty fast and I was completely unable to decide what to get.  One particular model had graphical instructions on the back so I ended up buying it.  I was desperately looking for something that would help firm my decision (end my misery) and the graphic did the trick for me.  This was NOT the cheapest model.

Online shoppers suffer from the same analysis paralysis and are looking to you to provide one compelling reason (or a few) why they should buy from you.  Give them that reason and you’ll be surprised by the results.

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Fake Scarcity

At my local grocery store today I noticed they were out of pie crusts.  My first thought was “don’t these idiots know they need to stock-up for last-minute Thanksgiving shoppers?”  And then, a few minutes later, as I noticed 5 different display tables showing off prepared Thanksgiving pumpkin pies it struck me- these guys aren’t idiots at all.  This pie crust scarcity is designed to increase whole pie sales.  A shopper who waits till the last minute (today) probably doesn’t have time to drive to another store.  In the process the retailer has cleverly increased my $ spend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Reeling In First Time Visitors

It’s very likely that over 60% of your site traffic is generated through first time (and maybe last time) visitors.  So www.meltontackle.com makes it a point to welcome first time visitors:

And then takes them to this page:

When visitors enter a site through a link (on a search engine, blog article, affiliate source etc) they’re often traveling at high speeds.  And at those speeds they’re guided by instincts.  For someone visiting www.meltontackle.com for the first time the line “First Time Here?” acts like a speed bump.  Why does this matter?  Because a visit that lasts under 10 seconds never leads to a sale.  But once a visit crosses the 10 second mark the visitor has made a conscious commitment and this is when we can rationally talk to them about the merits of our products.  Melton Tackle uses their first time visitor page to achieve post 10 second nirvana.

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Innovation On The Cheap

Many retailers look at their online channel as just another mode to complete a sale.  But that’s a low yield strategy.  Smart retailers use their online channels to do things that are either extremely expensive or impossible offline.  And the smartest ones execute ideas that are brilliant AND inexpensive.

Ever since discovering eyebuydirect.com through getelastic.com I’ve considered their Wall of Frame a brilliant example of how an online store can be used to do something entirely new.  The best way to convince a customer to buy from you online is to demonstrate how it benefits THEM.  Everyone talks about price advantages and better service blah blah but Wall of Frame is something tangible, something the customer can compare with how they shop offline and see a clear benefit.

What impresses even more is discovering a competitor who sees Wall of Frame, realizes they cannot compete on execution but manages to find a cost effective workaround that seems to work just as well.

That retailer would be Debby Burk Optical.  They’ve created something new with the help of Skype.  If a customer has a Skype account they can make a frame selection and have a Debby Burk associate wear and demo it through Skype video conferencing.  The idea is not fool proof: everyone does not have Skype and just because a frame looks good on a model does not mean it will work for the customer.  Someone who has seen Wall of Frame will remain unimpressed but Debby Burk is making an intelligent bet most of their customers have no idea what Wall of Frame is.  For them seeing Skype is a quantum leap.  Best of all, adding Skype did not require additional development costs.

A year from now if Debby Burk sees Skype interactions increase conversions 10% they can take supplemental income and reinvest it to build their own Wall of Frame.

Related article: SeeCommerce

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