Ratings & Reviews in 2021: The Complete Guide

Ratings and reviews are critical for ecommerce brands in 2021. 95% of customers read reviews before making a purchase.  With more than 9 out of 10 prospective buyers naming reviews a priority, it’s not surprising that businesses are putting more effort into getting as many positive reviews as possible.

Unfortunately, many companies still struggle with getting consistently good reviews, or even getting reviews at all. Customers are busy, distracted, and not always very motivated to take the time to write a review or rate your services. And that can be a problem when you’re trying to establish a stronger online presence.

The good news is that there are ways you can get more reviews from your very best customers, propelling your business forward. Let’s explore why ratings and reviews are important in the first place, some of the critical elements that go into a great review, and how you can get better reviews that will become a central part of your marketing efforts. 

Why Are Ratings & Reviews Important? 

Most entrepreneurs understand that promoting customers to write more reviews is important. But when you start looking into why they actually matter, it might not be precisely clear. After all, if you have a good product and deliver on your promises, why should it matter what people have to say? 

Well, even though reviews, ratings, and testimonials have been a part of marketing way before the digital age, it has now become more critical than a few decades ago. The reason for that lies in the fact that the barriers to entry for becoming a business or a seller are now lower than ever before. 

Today, anyone in the world can spend a few hours on their laptop and have a fully functional online store that can potentially reach millions of people worldwide. In fact, it’s not only possible; that’s exactly what’s already happened, with as many as 24 million ecommerce stores around the world.  

That’s great news for buyers; they now have so many opportunities to design the perfect shopping experience. But at the same time, it also means that they can’t be sure if a store can be trusted. Since anyone can create an eCommerce business, there are also plenty of scams that take people’s money and do not deliver or sell cheaply made products. And that’s where reviews and ratings become so vital.

Most people regularly use their smartphones to online shop; mobile marketing works and delivers excellent results. And quickly hopping on a few review sites as you’re casually shopping on your smartphone has become second-nature to most people and an essential consideration for businesses that are analyzing this mobile path to purchase. 

The reviews act as social proof and as a buffer, protecting users from shady sellers and allowing them to form an objective opinion based on the experiences of others. With the help of reviews, even smaller companies can carve out a significant portion of the market simply because their customers love the services or products they provide. And this ability to use your customers as your ambassadors is where the real review potential comes from. 

Elements of a Great Review

Championing reviews of your business can be a game-changer that helps bring in new customers month after month. But not all reviews are created equal. As many businesses have found out, having a bunch of 5-star ratings from faceless and nameless buyers who don’t provide any context might not have any tangible impact on sales.

Instead, it’s important to try to accumulate authentic reviews with a few key elements that buyers value the most. Let’s look at these elements below. 

Length

Even though length in itself isn’t necessarily the deciding factor of a review’s quality, it does play an important role. When you have thorough, long, and comprehensive reviews that touch on many important aspects of your products, prospective buyers will be much more likely to read them. These reviews can paint a full picture of what to expect when dealing with your business. 

Specifics

Another essential aspect of a great review is specificity. Reviews that merely say “great service” or “all good” do have a purpose, but they aren’t nearly as powerful as those that talk about the impact that the service or product had. Ideally, you want to encourage reviews that talk about different aspects of dealing with your company. Things like excellent product performance, amazing customer service, or fast delivery times will help prospects imagine themselves having the same experience. 

Relevance

People will be much more likely to notice a review if it’s coming from someone they can identify with. If they see a person like them share positive experiences, they’ll be more likely to believe your claims and expect similar results themselves. Since you might have a diverse audience, it’s good to include reviews from different people and showcase who they are with pictures, real names, job titles, or any other information that might be relevant to buyers. For example, apparel brands can give reviewers the option to share their typical sizes or measurements to help other shoppers find their perfect size.

Recency

There’s a reason why many people choose to sort reviews based on the date. Companies can be sold, have a change in management, or simply implement bad policies, so a glowing review from a few years back might be completely outdated and not reflect the current situation. 

Because of that, you should always be looking for ways to increase the number of good reviews you have, especially on third-party sites. This way, prospects will see that you are still delivering excellent value, creating an even more powerful effect once they see that the positive reviews remain consistent for years.

TurnTo reviews for a shredder on Staples’ site show a “verified buyer” tag and allow customers to add images.

 

Finally, good reviews need to be believable. In many cases, a fake review can look just like a real one, so you need to find ways to objectively prove to the reader that the praise came from a real person. Giving reviewers the capability to upload photos of their products is one way to reassure shoppers that reviews are genuine.

Another way to convey authenticity is to be very specific. If you can use the person’s first name, picture, and job title (if relevant), users will be much more at peace knowing they could verify the information (even if they never will). 

How to Get Better Quality Reviews & Ratings

Now that we understand why reviews are essential and what makes a useful review, it’s time to look at some of the strategies that will help you get more reviews for your business. 

Retailers: Syndicate Reviews from Brands

 WithTurnTo’s review syndication capability feeds reviews from individual brand sites onto a retailer’s site, mapped to each product. This allows your store to bring in and display more verified reviews from the brands you sell.

Ask on Your Website or in Emails

Most reviews come in response to a direct request. So ask your customers to leave a review. Once they complete a purchase, include a request to provide feedback on your site’s thank you page or an email. 

Inbox submission allows customers to type their review directly into an email from your brand, or a follow-up email once the product has been delivered. This reduces the amount of effort required on the customer’s end, making them more likely to quickly share a few thoughts on their purchase.

Of course, an immediate request to leave a review might not work in some situations where the product isn’t instantly delivered, but you should experiment with using call-to-actions on your site requesting reviews or even a quick rating, as that can provide a massive boost to the number of submissions. 

Turn Positive Reviews into Marketing Moments

Happy customers make the best marketers. And when customers leave positive reviews, it can be helpful to ask them for brand feedback, insight into potential new products, and even invite them further into the brand community.

Simply send a casual message asking them how satisfied they are with your services, and then follow up with a question about whether they’d be willing to share their experiences with others. If your customers are happy with you, they will usually want to help you because your product becomes a representation of what they stand for and expect from a business. This can be especially efficient when sent to repeat buyers and loyal site visitors; they are more likely to advocate positively for your brand.

Reach Out to Negative Review Authors

No matter how much you try to please every customer, no brand is perfect. Customers will occasionally vent their frustrations in a negative review. Make sure not to hide negative reviews, but instead, show them along with your response to the customer’s frustrations. A site with no negative reviews appears inauthentic; customers are more likely to trust your brand if you have a range of reviews readily available.

Make Leaving a Review Easy

If you want to get more reviews, you have to make it as frictionless as possible. Asking for it on your site or directly is a start, but if people aren’t sure how to leave a review, they will be hesitant about having to figure it out.

Provide frameworks they can work with, simple questionnaires, or examples, showing what they could emphasize and helping them go through leaving a review in just a few minutes. This approach has the added benefit of allowing you to guide the reviews in the direction you want them to take, emphasizing various benefits that you know are important to your audience. 

Ratings & Reviews in 2021

Having plenty of reviews and ratings about your products can be the single most powerful way to grow your business online. If shoppers can get the information they need to feel confident about making a purchase
right on your product pages, they won’t look anywhere else.

In fact, if you use the strategies discussed in this article, you may find that prospective customers actively seek you out over the competition simply because you have made your site a better place to shop.

 

Dave Schneider is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded Shortlist in 2018, a marketing un-agency that serves as an outsourced dedicated marketing team. He has also co-founded Less.churn, a churn reduction app, prior to selling it in 2018. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and have visited over 65 countries.