1. Ask the question
It’s an obvious one, but you need to make sure you’re asking people for their feedback wherever possible. Obviously don’t flood your site with calls-to-action begging for reviews, but think about places where it wouldn’t seem out of context to request feedback.
Tesco isn’t alone in asking shoppers to leave reviews on every product page, which ensures that customers are aware that their feedback is important.
2. Make it easy
There’s always the concern that removing all barriers to leaving reviews will result in a tidal wave of spam and useless comments - at Econsultancy we use the dreaded CAPTCHA for our comments section but spammers still slip through the net.
However any amount of form filling is going to put off most reviewers, so you need to make it as easy as possible to leave a review. For example, if a customer is already logged into your site then there is no reason to make them validate themselves again in order to leave feedback.
Personally the only site I ever leave reviews on is Lovefilm, and that’s because you can rate a movie just by giving it a number of stars out of five.
While a four out of five star rating isn’t as valuable to your conversion rate as a written review, it’s still a great way of making it easy for users to leave their feedback, which in turn might encourage others to write a review.
3. Put reviews where people can see them
Customers aren’t going to read or leave comments if they don’t know they can, so it’s important to think about the placement of product reviews on the page.
All the stats show that reviews are vital for reassuring customers and increasing sales, so put your star ratings and links to reviews above the fold in a place where they can’t be missed.
Kiddicare is a great example of this – every product image shown on its homepage includes a star rating, and product pages include links to reviews immediately under the price.
4. Solicit reviews by email
The best time to capture a product review is when the customer has just received their new item and is still excited about using it.
Taking into account your own delivery times, send out an email a week or 10 days after the customer received the product to say you hope they are enjoying their new iPad/jeans/headphones and ask them to leave feedback.
If they’re enjoying the product they’re likely to be open to telling people how much they love it, and if they hate it they might want to warn others off buying it.
Which leads me to my next point…
5. Publish good and bad reviews
It might seem like a good idea to filter out the bad reviews from your site, but in reality people expect to see negative feedback and won’t trust the reviews if they are all glowing.
So although it might seem counterintuitive, it’s important to publish negative feedback as not only does it reassure buyers, but it also means that customers will be confident that their comment will actually be published if they take the time to write a review.
While it’s probably a bad idea to offer a discount or reward to everyone who leaves a review, there are ways of incentivising feedback that doesn’t undermine the whole process.
For example, you could run a monthly prize draw for all customers who leave a review. This doesn’t need to be overtly plastered across the site, but you could mention it in post-sales emails or by placing a flyer in the product packaging.
Or you could try to gamify the process. Gamification CEO Gabe Zichermann said that even more than free stuff or exclusive content, the most powerful incentive for consumers is status above their peers.
Though it isn’t an ecommerce example, music magazine NME rewards frequent commenters with a star next to their name and a title saying ‘Top commenter’. The same tactic could be used to encourage product reviews and also reward loyal customers.
7. Use reviews to deliver a more relevant user-experience
If you a review a product on Amazon or Lovefilm then it feeds back into your profile so you are recommended more relevant products in future. This is a fantastic incentive as it means the user receives a more personalised experience on your site and also helps to increase your number of reviews.
It encourages them to leave further reviews and improves customer loyalty, as the more feedback they leave the more enjoyable the shopping experience becomes and vice versa.
8. Never miss an opportunity to bag a review
While researching this article I looked back at a few items I’d previously purchased on Amazon and was surprised to find that it didn’t target me for reviews on the product pages.
As you can see here, it remembered that I bought this book back in 2010 but there’s no call-to-action to ask for a product review. It might be that Amazon doesn’t feel it’s necessary to badger me for reviews as it already has enough, but for most sites this is a great opportunity to capture feedback.
9. Ask your fans
What’s the value of a Facebook fan? Diddlysquat unless you do something with them.
Assuming you’ve spent a fair amount of time and effort building up ‘likes’ on Facebook and followers on Twitter, then put your community to good use by asking them for reviews.
Again, make it as easy as possible by posting a link to the review page next to a simple question asking what they thought of your product, or whether they would recommend your service and why.
10. Turn every piece of feedback into a review
Assuming you have a great product or service that your customers enjoy using then the chances are you often receive positive feedback either by email, telephone or social media.
Just because these aren’t submitted on your site as a review doesn’t mean they can’t be used as testimonials or praise for your business. So either ask the customer if they mind being named or are happy to leave an official review, or use it as anonymous feedback for your site.