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5 Ways E-commerce Brands Can Leverage Customer Reviews in Digital Marketing

The growth of e-commerce in the last year has been tremendous—in just one year the industry has experienced 146% growth of all online orders across the world. With a combination of the ongoing boom in e-commerce and quarantine time spent online shopping, it’s no surprise online retailers had a good year. While sales are increasing, so is the competition—online marketplaces are crowded with new businesses all trying to compete for one thing: consumers’ attention. With more and more products to choose from, decision fatigue kicks in, and consumers are more likely to abandon their shopping sessions altogether. This is where a strong digital marketing strategy comes in. Brands that use effective online marketing campaigns are more likely to win the attention of consumers. 

Digital marketing strategy for e-commerce brands

Successful digital marketing strategies will include things like PPC advertisements, scheduled social media posts, YouTube videos, SEO optimization – any form of marketing done through a digital channel can be considered digital marketing. What separates a good digital marketing strategy from a great one is the use of user-generated content (UGC). UGC is any form of content (text, video, audio) created by customers, not the brands themselves. Not only is it an effective way to build social proof for your customers, but it also extends the reach of your product awareness when customers share their experience with your product organically amongst their digital network. It creates a community of loyal customers and helps new audiences discover your products. 

Glossier is a perfect example of this. They encourage their customers to take selfies using Glossier products and share them on social media. Glossier has created a community around their products by doing this and even attributes 90% of their revenue to UGC.  

User-generated content x Digital Marketing

However, there’s more to UGC than just Instagram selfies. One form of UGC that brands commonly overlook when formulating their digital marketing strategy is customer reviews. Customer reviews come in the form of text, photos, and videos, and aim to inform other customers about their product experience. When you think about customer reviews, most don’t think they go beyond the review section below your product description. When leveraged, customer reviews are a powerful tool and play a large role in consumers’ purchase decisions, as studies show that 93% of consumers say online reviews impact what they buy.

So what can you do to make customer reviews a part of your brand’s digital marketing strategy?

1. Post-purchase review requests

Post-purchase review requests are emails sent to customers asking to leave a review for the products they purchased or the brand itself. They are by far the most effective way to get feedback from your customers, over 90% of all customer reviews are collected using them. Giving your customers an opportunity to provide feedback after each purchase will generate more reviews and more valuable feedback from your customers.

Overall Marketing Activity: Email marketing

High-level Marketing Objective: Gather customer feedback

Digital Channel: Email

How:

1. Create a review request email template within your email marketing platform. Don’t be shy—use this as another touchpoint to showcase your brand’s personality by spicing up the copy of the email

2. Schedule your emails to control how long after purchases are made a customer receives one. Make sure to give customers enough time to enjoy your product before asking for a review – we recommend waiting 7-10 days after a customer’s order has shipped

3. If you already use post-purchase emails, add this as a step where it makes sense (usually after a shipping confirmation email!)

2. Treat your review section as a customer service touchpoint

The most common thing brands are getting wrong when it comes to customer reviews is not thinking of them as part of the customer experience. Product reviews are a key touchpoint and an interaction with customer service can enrich the overall customer experience with your brand. A one-way review section with high ratings and glowing reviews does a great job of building trust. But, a two-way review section where brands interact with customers and reply to their reviews drives customer retention while building trust. Harvard Business Review conducted a study that shows brands that interact with customers through product reviews receive higher ratings and more reviews overall. It’s also a way for you to have control over your online reputation and influence how your brand is perceived in the eyes of the customer. Replying to customer reviews should be a best practice in your customer service playbook. 

Overall Marketing Activity: Customer engagement

High-level Marketing Objective: Build customer trust and drive customer retention

Digital Channel: Website

How:

1. Reply to every comment acknowledging and giving your appreciation for their review. Go above and beyond by sharing reviews across your social media

2. Use negative or constructive reviews as an opportunity to gather product feedback and use this information to iterate your products.  For example: if a customer leaves a review saying they wish your product had a certain feature—if you build that feature; reply to their review and let them know!

3. Resolve any product complaints by engaging and understanding why the product didn’t live up to their expectations. When applicable, offer a free replacement or refund – this will help to win back customers. 

3. Use product traits to highlight product features and strengths 

Traits are additional fields customers are asked to rate when leaving a review. They help determine additional attributes of your product like fit, quality, comfort, etc. They can help tell a product story and provide helpful context. 

Ikea does a great job with product traits:

Source: Ikea

Product traits can also communicate product features and strengths that other customers love. For example, brands that use EcoCart’s carbon-neutral option at checkout receive raving reviews from customers applauding them for their eco-conscious efforts. Brands like Merge4 and KaiBae, have received many customer reviews sharing how much they love the carbon-neutral feature at checkout. 

Source: KaiBae

These are perfect instances where a product trait such as “Carbon offset order: Y/N” can be used to show off your brand’s sustainable initiatives to browsing shoppers. This also speaks to how review sections can act as product advocates and highlight subtle product features that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Customers love to champion brands that share their values, by offering carbon-neutral shipping with EcoCart, your customers will want to talk about the feature and share your brand.

Overall Marketing Activity: Website optimization

High-level Marketing Objective: Brand awareness and product positioning

Digital Channel: Website

How:

1. To identify what product traits you should be using, look through customer support chats and existing customer reviews for common themes. 

2. Create a new product trait with your review provider

3. Use multiple-choice questions to gamify the experience or text fields for more open-ended responses

4. Create a dedicated reviews page to showcase customer reviews

Did you know that brands with dedicated customer review pages rank higher in Google’s search results and drive more traffic to their website? It’s true. For example, Mejuri, a popular jewelry brand, doesn’t have a dedicated reviews page, so when customers search ‘Mejuri reviews’ their website is the 8th search result. Whereas Oats Overnight does have a reviews page, and when customers search ‘Oats Overnight reviews’ it’s the first search result. 

A reviews page is a dedicated page that showcases all of your customers’ reviews in one place. Creating a reviews page not only builds trust with your customers with social proof but also makes that information easy to find.

Overall Marketing Activity: SEO 

High-level Marketing Objective: Increase store traffic

Digital Channel: Search Engine & Website

How: 

1. Go to your Shopify store theme editor and create a new page on your website— title the page ‘Reviews’

2. Aggregate all product and store reviews to display on the page

5. Reward customers for leaving reviews 

Incentives are a way to encourage your customers to leave a review. You can use promotional offers like free shipping or discounts that customers will receive once they leave a review. At first thought, the concept of offering financial incentives for customers to leave a review might seem odd, but studies show that review incentives improve a customer’s review writing experience and result in more positive reviews. You can also use review incentives to reward customers with a higher discount if they leave a photo or video review. Recent studies have shown that 93% of consumers look at reviews before making a purchase and that the content of the review is the most influential factor. A good word goes a long way and a picture says a thousand words. Both positive reviews and photo reviews are sure ways to build trust with customers and inform them about your product, resulting in higher on-site conversion rates.

Overall Marketing Activity: Promotional offers

High-level Marketing Objective: Increase sales 

Digital Channel: Email marketing

How: 

1. Choose a review provider that creates review incentives for you, or use create discount codes with Shopify and set up an automated email flow within your marketing platform that is triggered when a new review is created 

2. Choose the type of incentive you’d like to offer

3. If a fixed discount or percentage discount, input the value

4. Choose whether or not you’d like to offer this to unverified buyers as well (we recommend not)

5. Add incentive!

As the number of new products in the marketplace grows and the fight for consumers’ attention continues, creating a holistic customer experience is crucial to standing out in today’s marketplace. Effectively communicating with your customers at all steps of the pre and post-purchase journey is the thread that ties this holistic experience together. Having a consistent brand voice throughout this journey makes customers feel closer to your brand and builds a loyal customer base. Incorporating an effective digital marketing strategy that leverages customer reviews is crucial if you want to stand out in today’s crowded marketplace. Join the 1,300+ brands that rely on Junip’s trailblazing review forms and sleek on-site displays to stand out from the crowd. Install Junip now, get set up in minutes and receive 25% off your first two months!

Author Bio:

Leah Morassut is a Co-op student with Junip and is working on the Growth and Revenue team. She is currently finishing her BBA undergraduate degree with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Computer Science. Leah is passionate about helping early-stage startups and hopes to start her career in the tech space upon graduation. In her free time, you can catch her listening to any old rock music from the ’70s and ’80s.

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