Written by Hannah Sears

Consumers trust advice and recommendations from their peers when they’re trying to make a purchasing decision. For online shopping, this social proof usually comes in the form of product reviews, also known as eCommerce reviews. Online product reviews have become a bigger focus for marketers as a large percentage of retail is now done online. Many brands are also seeing this as an opportunity to leverage influencers to help generate reviews at scale.

Product reviews on your website are effective for a variety of different reasons. They help consumers make informed decisions, improve SEO ranking, and boost your sales. How do eCommerce reviews do all this, and how can brands get the most out of reviews?

How eCommerce reviews impact your sales

Online product reviews, which are usually text-based, are becoming a must-have for eCommerce sites. Potential customers value transparency and often spend a solid amount of time researching products before making the final decision to purchase. The average customer reads at least 10 reviews online before they decide whether or not to make a purchase.

eCommerce reviews function as peer recommendations, something today’s consumers trust heavily when they’re considering purchasing a product. 91% of consumers between 18 and 34 years old trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations for people that they know.

Product reviews help provide social proof for a brand, especially if the customer isn’t familiar with the company. This social proof helps build trust with customers and validate your products. For online-only retailers, these reviews help give customers an idea of what to expect out of a product since they can’t try it out themselves before purchasing.

The right balance of reviews–remember authenticity is key–can have a major, positive impact on your conversion rate and sales. Featuring testimonials on sales pages can lead to an increase of up to 34% in conversions. Customers will spend over 30% more when shopping with a business that has “excellent” reviews.

How eCommerce reviews affect SEO

Getting more traffic to your site–and getting more conversions–depends on where your website is ranked by search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) focuses on using organic search engine results to increase the quality and quantity of traffic coming in to your website. eCommerce reviews can help with SEO and boost your page ranking.

When people go look for online reviews, they may not go straight to your website at first. Third party review sites (Yelp, Google, etc.) are often the first places consumers turn when they want information on a business. Ideally, you want that traffic coming to your website instead. Since SEO rankings are based on how much content you have on your site, generating more eCommerce reviews will help your ranking. Once you have a good amount of reviews, when people start searching for reviews of your product or services, your pages will appear first.

If you’re regularly sourcing updated reviews, that can also help improve your ranking since Google ranks based on how fresh the content is. According to some sources, online reviews make up 10% of the factors Google uses to rank pages.

How to get more eCommerce reviews

Knowing that eCommerce reviews help drive conversions and improve your SEO is one thing, but if you don’t have very many reviews or all the reviews on your site are old, they’re not going to be very useful. Customers pay attention to the dates on reviews, and if all the reviews for a business or product are outdated, they will be less inclined to make a purchase.

The best time to source reviews is right after an interaction, whether that’s a purchase, a visit to a store or restaurant, etc. After an experience, brands can send out an email to the customer asking them to write a brief review. This ask is effective since it’s happening when the purchase or interaction is still top of mind.

As brands have seen the positive impact of partnering with influencers for a wide variety of marketing tactics, it only makes sense to turn to them for reviews. There are a few different ways to use influencers to generate reviews. Adding on a review requirement to an existing campaign where you’re sending gifts to influencers is a good way to start generating reviews. You can also set up dedicated campaigns where the main form of user-generated content your influencers provide are reviews.

It’s important to remember that reviews should be genuine, even if they’re negative. Make it clear to your influencers that you expect honest feedback. A mixture of positive and negative reviews helps show transparency and makes your business or brand more trustworthy to customers.

eCommerce reviews help provide social proof for your products and serve as peer recommendations for customers who are considering making a purchase. The more eCommerce reviews you have, and the more recent they are, the better your site will rank in search engines, too. Creating a strategy to generate more reviews for your eCommerce site will help improve SEO and boost conversions, all at the same time.

Partnering with influencers to create reviews as part of an existing campaign or through a campaign targeted just at increasing reviews can help create high-quality, authentic reviews at scale.

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