Why you shouldn’t be scared of negative reviews (and how to manage them)
Most ecommerce marketers understand the importance of product reviews in theory. After all, 61% of shoppers consult product reviews before purchasing a product.
But for individual businesses, the actual impact of reviews can be tricky to measure. Plus, many marketers (and business owners) are afraid of negative reviews. Rather than risk a bad review, they choose to avoid soliciting them altogether. But that’s a mistake. Let’s talk about why.
The value of negative reviews
The reality is that if your stuff is on the internet, feedback, both positive and negative, is impossible to avoid. If the value of positive reviews is obvious, then the real question is whether negative reviews have any value at all. If they do, what is it?
A couple of weeks ago I spoke with Talia Shani, Director of Content at Yotpo, to get her perspective. Instead of fearing user-generated content (including product reviews and other “social proof”), she believes ecommerce marketers should embrace it. All feedback is valuable.
“The only type of bad review is a fake review.” In fact, if your reviews are entirely positive, some buyers might doubt their authenticity. This isn’t to say that you want to receive two-star reviews, but below-five-star ratings typically means actual humans patronize your business. And that’s important because 68% of shoppers trust reviews more when they see both positive and negative ratings.
Customer feedback, in public
Look, getting a negative review sucks. No one’s arguing that you should be really excited each time a lousy review floats in. But you have customer support processes in place for a reason. You’ll work hard to make things right with that individual customer.
As a business, negative reviews present an opportunity to learn something new about how the market is experiencing your product.
Let’s say you sell shoes. You might receive reviews from several customers saying the shoes they purchased aren’t as dark as they look in the photo.
Ok. So what’s the takeaway here? Your product images aren’t as accurate as they could be. Time to get a better camera and lighting.
Here’s another example: several customers complain about shipping taking longer than expected. You’ve got a couple of options here. You can either add more shipping time on the checkout page, or you can consider using another service to ship your items.
How to curate your reviews (without being shady)
You might be thinking: “This is all well and good, but what if I have one rogue, furious customer who tries to take down my entire business?”
Most review services — including Yotpo — do allow users to delete reviews. Tempting as this may be, however, Talia advises that you shouldn’t because there are other ways to avoid this scenario.
First, if you’re just setting up a reviews system, email previous customers and ask them to leave a review. It turns out not having any reviews is a turnoff for both potential reviewers and potential customers, so you’re going to want to gather some feedback before launching a full-blown review campaign. In your note, explain that you are in the process of setting up formal reviews and that you could use some help. You could even think about offering incentives (like a discount on future purchases) for leaving a review. To find your happiest customers, if you have a VIP segment, consider reaching out to them first.
If you already have a review system in place, you can be targeted about who you ask and how you solicit them. Filter your review email flows by engagement (number of purchases, amount of money spent, etc.) to ensure that you reach your happiest and most active customers.
Tracking reviews’ effect
Social proof’s impact can be hard to measure. But, luckily, there are ways to track campaigns.
Directly measure the response to your review emails
This includes tracking open and click rates — but, most importantly, you should keep an eye on who actually left a review after receiving your email. How do you do that? Create a custom conversion metric that records whenever a customer submits a review. This lets you easily visualize the number of reviews each email generates, as well as the percentage of customers who decide to leave a review.
Tie a hashtag to each email campaign or flow and encourage customers to tweet at you or tag you on Facebook or Instagram.
This works well if your goal is to boost your presence on social media and build out user generated content (like customer product photos). Most social media management tools, like Sprout Social, allow you to track the use of specific hashtags.
If you find that fewer customers are leaving reviews than you’d like, you can incentivize customers to give you feedback. Until only recently, Amazon allowed reviewers to receive free or discounted products. While you don’t necessarily have to send reviewers free products, throwing a coupon code their way can increase the number of people who respond. For some other ideas on how to generate more reviews, check out this post from Yotpo.
Social proof lends legitimacy
You’d be surprised how few ecommerce stores actually allow customers to leave a review on their site. The value of reviews and social proof is undeniable — don’t let a fear of negative reviews hold you back. A handful of negative reviews will actually strengthen your business, as long as they don’t outnumber the positive ones. If they do, you may need to reassess how you run your store.