The Importance Of Reviews & How To Get More Of Them
By and large, most Amazon sellers will concede that product reviews are an important aspect of their business. Exactly how important is a hotly contested topic. Some say they are crucial, others don’t seem convinced.
Ex-Amazon employee Brad Moss even informed podcast listeners about an internal study some years ago that revealed the number of reviews important to swaying buying decisions to be merely 21. This number became an anchor for sellers the world over.
The thing is, not only have marketplaces changed, but consumers have too. They are more savvy, and as years pass newer generations enter the online shopping force. And every group of consumers come with their own preferences and biases.
So, more recent studies have shown a shift in the numbers. A shift worth exploring in further detail.
First, we’ll start with the basics.
The Stuff We Mostly Already Knew
Research collected by Power Reviews revealed that “a product that has just one review is 65% more likely to be purchased than a product that has none.”
Power Reviews also found that “positive reviews can increase sales by as much as 20% on sites that implement them into the shopping experience” (like Amazon).
As if that wasn’t enough, according to a study of customer restaurant reviews by Harvard Business Review, “a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 % increase in revenue.”
On the other hand, according to research, if there is an excess of three negative articles within search results, businesses can expect to lose 59.2% of their potential customers.
Spiegal Research Center conducted research that uncovered that, “based on data from a gift retailer, when reviews were displayed for a lower-priced product, the conversion rate increased 190%. However, for a higher-priced product, the conversion rate increased 380%.”
Are you seeing a trend here?
Now things get REALLY interesting when we look at Statista stats…
The Stuff We Probably Didn’t Know
As of Feb 2019, of over 2000 people surveyed 17% put full trust in reviews, 58% voted somewhat trust, and 20% trust only verified reviews. This shows that an overwhelming majority do trust reviews.
Another study of over 1000 results show the number of reviews expected in order to build trust, by age group:
- 18 – 24 = 203
- 25 – 34 = 159
- 35 – 44 = 141
- 55 – 64 = 38
- 65+ = 46
That is a far cry from 21!
It would appear the savvy millennial shopper is more discerning, and therefore review standards have changed a bit since the unreleased “internal study.”
So what does this all mean? It means… I say this again and slightly louder for those of you in the back…POSITIVE REVIEWS LEAD TO INCREASED REVENUE!
Alright, alright, now that I’ve belabored the point almost endlessly. What can be done about it?
The short answer to that question is to follow up with your buyers. However I believe most sellers take this for granted. We all know we should be following up with buyers. But the question is, do we spend enough time creating a system that caters to our customers’ needs?
Do we expend the needed energy to ensure our customers’ experiences are optimized to the point of them WANTING to leave a positive review?
If you are taking an honest look at your business operations and agree that your customer outreach, and resulting review conversion rate, are lacking, I have some suggestions.
It All Starts With The Right Software
For those of you unaware, Helium 10 has an automated follow-up email software tool, aptly named, Follow-Up.
I won’t spend time in this post going over all of the features and the scope of capabilities that our Follow-Up tool offers. That’s not what this is about.
Rather, I want to point your attention to a little research I’ve been conducting. Anyone who has followed my work (thank you by the way) knows I love conducted small tests and experiments.
There’s nothing greater than the satisfying feeling of clicking enter after applying the last formula to an excel cell and seeing the results magically illustrate the answer to a problem.
The Experimental Parameters
For my “Follow-Up” experiment, I simple took a small sample of 100 random ASINs. These ASINs were selected from current active Follow-Up accounts. Then, I used Helium 10’s Xray Chrome Extension to determine their average sales for 90 days prior to activating Follow-Up, and 90 days after.
From those estimates, I calculated the review velocity for 90 days before, and 90 days after activating our tool. And the results were awesome!
The Experimental Results
Customers on average experienced a 52% growth in the number of reviews in the 90 days after activating the Follow-Up tool.
That is incredible in and of itself. But, you might be thinking…
Maybe they all just got more sales. That doesn’t really mean your tool is performing better.
And you’d be right. That is totally fair. So then I decided to calculate review velocity. This is the average number of reviews PER ORDER.
Our customers, chosen from this random list of ASINs across all categories, average an increase of 45% review velocity in the 90 days post Follow-Up activation….!!!!
To me, that’s pretty doggone impressive.
Was this a small sample? Yes.
Was it a rigorous statistical analysis? No.
It was just me and a spreadsheet.
I am happy with it though because it was a random sampling showing that people really are getting great results using our Follow-Up tool.
However, just illustrating that it is working for people isn’t enough for me. No. I need to understand why.
So my next task was to dive into what email templates look like for the email campaigns that have the highest review velocity. Basically, I was looking for a success formula for follow up emails.
Email Templates That Get Reviews
After analyzing email templates that elicit high review conversions, I noticed some common denominators.
First, most successful templates only sent one to two emails.
I know this is debated by many, with people big on building their brand and community claiming their four and five email sequence works magic. And perhaps with some niches or some tight-knit communities that is true.
For the average buyer, however, the more emails you send, the more chances your customer has to NOT open the email and NOT see your message.
So it makes sense that including your review request as quickly as makes sense would lead to more reviews.
Something to think about.
Next on the list is that the highest converting review request emails seemed to always include a picture of the product.
Maybe this is because customers need to be reminded what they are being asked to review. Perhaps their email box gets so flooded, and their physical mailbox so full, that they have no idea what a text-only request is even asking for.
Or, perhaps it gets their attention. Many emails don’t come with images, let alone something recognizable (like the thing they JUST bought a few days ago). Whatever the reason, this is a simple thing to implement.
Another common theme was that almost all high-performing email templates included very personal and personable language, referring to their brand as a “family run business” or a “small family business.”
Aside from referring to themselves in that way, brands seeing success with follow up emails almost seemed to be asking for the review as a request for help.
Overall, this plays on peoples’ general sense of contribution (being a part of your business, since it can’t grow without their help) so it is an effective strategy.
The last, yet arguably most interesting, thing that high-performing email templates had in common was that they all referred to a product review as “feedback.”
Without question they never referred to it as a review, except on occasion to say something like “feedback in the form of a review…” But mostly it was always referred to as simply feedback.
I’m not entirely sure why this small shift in verbiage makes an impact, but it appears to change the perceived definition. Likely most customers expect to be asked for a review, and therefore look at it as a thing you are requesting of them.
However, “feedback” seems to shift the experience to a more productive conversation. One where the customer and the seller are taking active steps to improve the product or customer experience (and therefore the customer can feel like they are contributing to the process).
Now that we’ve explored what works with the email template itself, there’s only one last thing to cover; subject lines.
See, it doesn’t matter how super-awesome your email is if it doesn’t get opened. And the biggest contributor to open rates is the subject line (since, aside from who is sending the email, that’s the only thing people see).
So, filtering by open rates alone, I also perused the highest performing email subject lines.
Subject Lines That Win The Open
I could spend much longer than the length of an entire blog post on the topic of crafting email subject lines. While subject lines are simple, and typically quite short, they are a powerful aspect of any email campaign. Much of the campaign’s success hinges on them.
Does this mean you need to become a copywriting pro in order to get desirable results with your follow up campaigns? No.
Will knowing a little copywriting help? Sure. But when I analyzed successful subject lines (based on open rates) I found a couple of really simple tweaks that anybody can implement.
First, say “Thank You.”
I know, that seems too simple. Surely that couldn’t be so impactful. But, apparently, people appreciate gratitude. So much so that they will, at very least, open an email.
The other thing, again it seems too simple, is to include the product name. People need a reminder of what product you are referencing.
An example of how this would play out would be a two email sequence, one that says “Thank you for your order” and the other that references “Your Garlic Press” or something like that.
If that seems just too easy to be true, I’m just reporting on what I saw resulted in the highest open rates.
There are likely much more advanced copy tactics you could employ, but ultimately Amazon buyers respond similarly to their email follow-ups.
Typically more novel or expensive items will elicit higher open and response rates. And almost all online shoppers like to be thanked and appreciated. Be personal when and where you can, and be helpful by reminding the buyer who you are and what you are asking them about.
With a combination of winning email tactics and the right tools, you can increase your product review numbers and hit those ever-important new benchmarks and expectations. This will, as we have discovered, lead to higher conversion rates and ultimately greater revenue.
Helium 10 Follow-Up + Product reminder subject line + Personal and thankful email = Positive (ideally) reviews.
Positive reviews = Greater revenue.
Greater revenue = Happier (ideally) YOU!