Why Customer Reviews Matter and How to Get More of Them

Person holding cell phone with option to rate on the phone to denote customer reviews

In a 2016 survey by BrightLocal, 84% of respondents said that they trust online reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation. That’s well over two-thirds of people that say that they put just as much trust into an online review as they do when the recommendation is done by their friends. It would be easy to dismiss this if it would be a one off, but it turns out it’s not.

Further research shows that 90% of customers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews and that 63% of customer are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has customer reviews versus one that doesn’t have them.

Add to that a fun fact that customer reviews can have a very real tangible positive impact on your stores SEO. It turns out that reviews not only provide search engines with fresh, relevant content but they also help your site rank for long-tail keywords among other things.

Taking into account all those benefits, it’s clear that customer reviews are important. To help you get started (or up your review game), I have put together this mini-guide that looks at how to get your review emails opened, when to send them and what to include in the actual emails.

Getting customer reviews via email

  1. Emotional appeal doesn’t have a big impact on review response
    The data shows that emotional words like love, smile, happy, help etc don’t have a major impact on the number of reviews.
  2. Including your store name in the subject line increases reviews
    On average, adding your store name to the subject line (“How was your recent purchase from TheBestStoreEver?”) improves review conversions by 3.7%.
  3. Incentives increase reviews for every industry
    The data shows that including words that signify a financial incentive to leaving a review (like coupon, win, free, save, sale, discount etc.) work, increasing the conversion rate from shoppers to reviewers by 18.5% on average.
  4. Framing the subject line as a questions increases reviews
    On average, the increase was 15.7%. Use it, test it.
  5. All CAPS words in the subject line don’t work
    So just don’t use them, ok?

Apart from the subject line, there’s also the question of when to send a review request.

The art of timing

The trick with getting the timing right for asking for a review is to wait just long enough so that your customers have had the time to use the product and experience its benefits. There’s no “industry standard time” of how long you should wait.

It depends mostly on your products. Use common sense to determine an appropriate time. When you’re selling a lawn mower to Alaska in the middle of winter, it’s unlikely they’ll be using it before spring, that means that you also have to wait until that time to ask a review.

What’s the point of asking for it in the middle of January?

They haven’t used it yet and even when you get them to review by incentivizing it with a coupon, there’s little help from that review as the customer hasn’t actually used your product(s) yet.

KISS It

In the 1960s the U.S. Navy started using a short and simple design principle – “Keep It Simple, Stupid” (KISS). It states that most things work best when they’re kept simple rather than overthink things and make them more complicated.

The same principle of keeping things simple should be applied to the design and copy of your review asking emails. When you have managed to get the review email opened, just ask politely for a review and be done with it.

Now, it’s true that there are different types of reviewers, there are ones who are ready to write novels about you and your quality products and ones that won’t bother with writing but are still open to giving you a star-based review.

You must appeal to both of those audiences as they are equally valuable. Amazon does this brilliantly by sending an email that asks one question –  “How did this item meet your expectations” and then follows that up with a star rating and “Start by rating it”.


Upon clicking on the stars, it takes the customer to Amazon’s review page and there they can give the product as many or few stars as they like and can additionally follow that up by writing a review. The big thing here is that customers have the option of writing a review, but are not obligated to do it.

While having written reviews is ideal, having just the star rating can have a positive impact on your bottom line. In fact, 58% of consumers saythat the star rating is the most important when choosing between products.

What’s important to note here is not the words or the design that any one company (in this case Amazon) uses to get customer reviews, what’s important is the logic behind it.

Both star ratings and written reviews are good for business. There are customers who like to write long reviews as well as those who never write them. Both of these groups of customers are likely to give star ratings so it makes sense to start off by asking for a star rating and then offer the opportunity to write a longer review if the customers so chooses. By doing this you’re getting the best of both worlds – written reviews and star ratings. Awesome.

Final thoughts

  1. Use YotPo’s data when testing your own review email subject lines
  2. Time it correctly – customers must have the opportunity to actually use your products to give proper reviews. No grass in Alaska in January!
  3. KISS the design – keep things simple and just go in for the ask

 

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