Customers rarely buy a product online without looking up its reviews. They want to see what other customers have to say about the store. Since customers trust the reviews of one another, creating batches of such reviews to sway a prospect to purchase a product might sound like an incredible idea.
Reviews become more important when you are dealing with big-ticket items – for example, like a costly e-course – where the consumer needs to be assured of value before pouring thousands of dollars of hard-earned cash on it.
The mighty punch of trust issues
E-commerce software allows you to integrate tools that work harder to gather reviews. But, there is the question of whether anyone would trust the reviews collected by your company. A survey of around 18,000 respondents conducted by LocalCirles, a community-based social network revealed that 65% of customers don’t trust reviews on e-commerce websites.
The truth is, nobody wants to trust heaps of five-star reviews that look like they were written by the marketing department. It becomes worse if you are an e-commerce brand selling your own products. Your business will lose credibility or even incur huge losses if you publish those phony reviews.
When can a business do just fine without reviews?
When your brand is strong
Reviews serve to improve the credibility of your brand. Instead of chasing a gazillion of reviews that may sound fake to your prospective customer, work harder to strengthen your brand. One of the many ways of making your brand stand out for your small e-commerce store is by offering a clear unique selling proposition (USP) that your competitors can’t.
If you are in the luxury market, you know that reviews can’t help much. You won’t find many reviews on supercars’ websites. But by investing in a help desk software, these stores can instead focus on improving the image of their brand by gathering feedback on important issues like – customer services, product design or packaging, delivery.
When your products are the ‘buyer’s discretion’ kind
Customers may have different ideas on what constitutes a quality product depending on their ages, social classes, income levels and their educational background. As such, when you have to buy a product based on its quality (and not it’s functionality), the consumer’s opinion becomes a subject of personal preferences. For example, if your products are in the decorative space, like arts, all your product needs is to look good. Unfortunately, the definition of good is very subjective.
When you offer irresistible referral programs
Word of mouth is gold. And about 92% of people trust it. When customers are satisfied with your products, they will refer other people like close family members, friends and colleagues to your business.
Unlike with online reviews – where you don’t any idea who wrote them – friends and family members know who you are and have probably known you for many years.
Good alternatives to product reviews:
Provide good testimonials
Gather a handful of testimonials instead of reviews. The good thing about testimonials is that in them, you can present a glowing picture of your brand. You can also include videos because it sounds more convincing to see another person as it feels a lot more personal to the prospective customer.
But, you need to take care. To ensure the testimonials don’t seem fake, you can include different formats of content in the testimonials. For example, cases studies from those who have used your product, tweets from users, among others.
Increase engagement with visuals
A picture speaks volumes. Thanks to the discovery of the smartphone camera, mobile photography is pushing marketing to a new level. For example, using Olapic, stores can pull Instagram shots of customers displaying their products in offices, at home or even wearing them. This strategy works better than writing an engaging five-star love letter about the same product.
Utilize the press
A mention of your business by the press is treated by customers as an endorsement of your brand. If you have press quotes about your brand from the press, then you can display have them on your product page instead of a separate landing page. This will help readers see how seriously other people, especially respected organizations, regard your brand.
Summing it up
E-commerce product reviews are good instruments of persuasion that compel consumers to buy a product. This is especially true with regard to large e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon, Airbnb, Yelp or eBay.
Unfortunately, reviews might not work wonders if you are a brand selling through your own website. The burden of mistrust will thwart your efforts to grow your sales. In order to increase sales volumes for your e-commerce website, you need to focus on improving your brand image and offer solid social proof.
Fretty Francis works as a digital marketing executive at SoftwareSuggest, an online platform that recommends software solutions to businesses. Her areas of expertise include e-commerce platforms, helpdesk software and performance management software. In her spare time, she likes to travel and catch up on the latest technologies.