A review generation strategy allows you to actively cultivate business and product reviews. Here's how.
Up to this point, we've talked about the importance of reviews and how to add them to websites on different online retail platforms. Now we're going to review the process of encouraging customers to leave reviews so you can add them to your site and showcase them effectively.
Not only is driving reviews a great way to grow your online presence and reputation, the impact it can make on potential customers' likelihood to purchase one of your products cannot be understated. New reviews that show your brand in a positive light can boost sales considerably.
Reviews can give you insight you may not have had access to previously. If there's a way a product could be improved, who better to point that out than the people who have purchased and are now using the product in their daily lives?
So, how can you guarantee that your getting the benefit of social proof with high-quality feedback on a consistent basis? The answer is a process called "Review Generation."
What Is Review Generation for eCommerce?
Review Generation is exactly what it sounds like: instead of waiting for customers to leave reviews on their own, a review generation strategy allows you to actively cultivate reviews on your website or anywhere else product or business reviews appear across the internet.
Review Generation Strategy
Your review generation strategy encompasses the tactics used to get (or try to get) reviews. Developing a great strategy is important because it can make the difference between a review generation effort that builds your online reputation and one that is ultimately little more than a waste of time, money, and effort.
Here are the steps to consider as you start to develop your strategy.
1. Your Current Reputation
It's no use deciding where you want to be if you don't know where you're starting. If you're developing a review generation strategy from the ground up, you'll want to start by assessing your current reputation and reviews on a variety of different platforms.
A good way to begin this exercise is to make a list of the places where you want reviews of your business or products to appear. Your website is an obvious addition to this list, but you may also want to have a reputation on Google, Yelp or more industry-specific databases like Angie's List or FindLaw.
Once you've taken stock of where you stand currently, you'll know where you need to grow.
2. Targets and Objectives
You started thinking about this in step 1 — where do you want reviews to appear? But setting realistic goals goes beyond that. You'll also have to ask yourself some or all of the following questions:
- How many reviews per month do you want to aim for on a given platform?
- What's your overall target rating?
- Which platform is the highest priority for you?
- If your business is in retail, what percentage of overall sales do you want to convert into product reviews?
- What's a reasonable expectation for the next three months? Six months? One year?
The answers to these questions are what you'll eventually measure against when it's time to judge the effectiveness of your review generation strategy.
3. Products and Websites
At this point, you've selected the review sites you want to focus on. Now it's time to get more targeted on specific objectives. If you're in an industry like plumbing or another service-based market, you'll have fewer options since reviews of your business are essentially reviews of the products you offer.
If you're developing a strategy for an eCommerce business, however, you'll have more to consider. Are you going to focus your efforts primarily on building up reviews of your business or try to get reviews for your core products in the beginning and let reviews of your brand accumulate naturally?
4. Tools and Resources
Your final step in ramping up review generation is to review the tactics available to you and make decisions on how you're actually going to try to generate reviews. We'll talk more about this later on in this chapter.
5. Tracking and Measurement
As with most things you do, it's important to measure results with review generation. Tracking and recording new reviews as well as the money you invest in review generation makes it easy to get an idea of ROI and whether your current strategy is sustainable into the future.
Without knowing how your review generation tactics are working, it will be difficult to decide when to change tactics to meet the goals you set for yourself early on.
How to Generate Reviews
There are many ways to achieve an increase in new reviews for your business, and each of them come with their own benefits, drawbacks, and unique considerations.
1. Ask For a Review
The first tactic is the simplest: when someone buys a product or makes a transaction with your business, you can ask them to leave a review. In fact, most people expect to be asked after they purchase something, so your customers are already primed to learn about their options to leave feedback.
When you get into the granular details of asking for a review, you'll find that it's more nuanced than you may have thought. There are best practices for how, when, and to whom you ask for a review to get the best results. With this in mind, if you're just starting, it's usually best to hit as many buyers as possible and prioritize quantity over quality.
You can ask for reviews through a variety of different channels — text, phone call, in-person in certain industries — the most popular way to ask is with a simple email or email sequence.
When it comes to requesting reviews via an email message, one priority is a great subject line because it's what gets people to open the email and read what you have to say. Consider that more people are buying things online every year: a report cited by Optinmonster projected that 14.1% of the total consumer spending that occurs online would grow to 22% by 2023.
This means that now more than ever, your subject lines have to help your emails stand out. Check our blog on how to write the perfect subject line for your review generation emails.
2. Incentivize Reviews
If you're having trouble getting reviews, you might want to consider a different strategy, like offering incentives for customers who leave honest reviews.
Be careful where you're doing this though — many of the top online marketplaces forbid or penalize sites that incentivize reviews, even if they're not necessarily trying to influence the feedback they get.
3. Send Out Samples
If you're having trouble attracting a flow of buyers that you can ask for reviews, you can introduce a targeted strategy that has worked for many brands trying to build more social proof and user-generated content for their products: sending free samples in exchange for reviews.
Technically, the reviewer hasn't purchased the product they're reviewing, but they have had a chance to see and use the product before they create their feedback. Plus, it gives you more control over the format and style of the review and additional options when it comes to featuring it.
4. Automated Review Generation
Running a business takes considerable time even before you get into the prospect of review generation, so a "set it and forget it" review generation system is an attractive proposition.
If you're operating an online retail business, good news! Most major eCommerce platforms enable you to set up basic automation (like an email follow-up that goes out a certain amount of time after the purchase) to help your review generation efforts.
But if you really want to generate lots of reviews fast, we recommend using a specialized app like Stamped.io. With an app to automate your review generation, you'll be able to do more:
- Use multiple channels to generate reviews. Stamped sends requests via email, SMS text, and Facebook Messenger to ensure that your brand is communicating with customers in the ways they prefer.
- Get more value out reviews. Not only can Stamped help you generate more reviews, the feedback that it drives is of higher quality due to Smart Assists, a feature that uses the app's proprietary AI. Based on unique variables in the feedback interaction, the system makes it easier for consumers to create visually rich, detailed reviews that bring out the most valuable elements of their experience with a product.
- Integrating review generation with review showcasing. Review generation is only half the battle. With Stamped active on your website, the reviews it gathers for you can be seamlessly added to high-potential locations on your site.