10 Easy Ways to get Customer Reviews that Boost Retail Sales

5 star reviews

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Customer reviews not only shape the public perception of your products but are also a critical driving force in increasing your sales, often surpassing the effectiveness of traditional paid advertising.

Why customer reviews are essential for retail

Shoppers rarely consider buying something without asking a friend, reading a review, or searching an app. Since most purchases start online, reviews are a surrogate for a brick-and-mortar employee who can build trust.

The other day, I asked a buddy how his purchase of LED lightbulbs worked out. He replied, “You don’t think I would’ve tried them without first checking the reviews, do you? All 5-star.”

A ZenDesk research report noted that 88% of customers are influenced by an online customer review when buying.

Yet when I suggest following up with customers, many retailers tell me they are afraid they’ll get a negative review, so they don’t do it. They figure the only people who will write reviews of their business or products will be those who want to share a bad experience.

ZenDesk affirmed this by noting that 95% share bad experiences. But here’s the thing: They also noted that 87% share good experiences—that’s pretty close.

More importantly, they also noted that more people had read a positive review (69%) of customer service online than negative reviews (63%).

And I’m not naive enough to think any reader of this post hasn’t looked at an Amazon review before purchasing something – regardless of cost.

When you see 50 five-star reviews of a product, you tend to trust it...and I bet you buy it.

So, you know product reviews are essential, but how do you get them?

Here are 10 simple ways to encourage your customers to write product reviews:

1.  Do your homework

Make sure your retail store has a presence on all the major social sites shoppers look at to read your business's reviews or create reviews.

Start with the major one first, Google. Go here and search for your business’s name. If you see "Is this your business?", you haven’t claimed it. Fix that fast by following their instructions.

Beyond Google, consider prominent sites like Facebook, Yelp, Bing, and Yahoo.

2. Make it easy for them


As I left Heathrow Airport customs, they had this simple machine that sought to easily let them know customer feedback. In an email to your customer, you can do the same. Just keep it simple.

3.  Reward them

Zappos hands out 100 points or about $10 credit to those who write a review. Offer incentives to gather reviews - especially at the start.

Notice I’m not saying to pay for a review. You want an authentic, honest review from people who purchased and used your store's product. Consider offering points in your customer loyalty program or entries in a quarterly drawing.

4.  Send a follow-up email

Etsy sends a text message or email asking buyers to write a review. They reported to the WSJ that 25% of purchases result in a review.

5. Ask quickly

…but not too quickly…after purchase. Those online post-checkout popups are annoying. Imagine leaving a store counter with your purchase, and someone jumps in front of you to ask you for a review. Don’t do something similar on your website; send that email the same day.

6. Ask for help

In your email newsletters or on social media, you can add a Help with a Question section to get purchasers to respond to your most popular shopper questions. Highlight these answers on your store’s homepage next to the product.

7.  Survey them

Three to five simple questions is easy. Stars as answers are also easy. A blank text box will seem like work, and you won’t get any responses.

8.  Tell reviewers exactly what you want

If you want longer answers rather than stars, give a 2-point review request worded exactly like this, “Please review your purchase and:

  1.     Tell shoppers why you bought the product
  2.     Did it do what you wanted, and would you shop with us again?”

9.  Make it mobile-first

Your text and surveys must be responsive to adapt to different-sized screens. Designing mobile-first makes all the difference in getting customers to respond.

10.  Habitually thank every reviewer

Monitoring your reviews once a week might seem anal-retentive, but you need to know what is being said at all times.

Make the task a Sunday morning query of review sites. In 5-10 minutes, you’ll easily be up to date and can thank anyone who reviews you with one or two personal sentences that speak to what they wrote. A simple thumbs-up won’t do here. Consider this your time for reputation management.

Make customer reviews a core part of your post-sale engagement

The more customer reviews a product or business has, the more trustworthy it becomes. That, in turn, gives future customers who first discover your brand online trust you'll have what they need and give you higher retail sales. Read some of our customer success reviews here.

The easiest way to get more customer reviews is to ask promptly. The more reviews customers give of your products and your business, the more loyalty they will have for you.

That plays big when competing with online retailers extensively using customer ratings and reviews.