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Growth calendar    Jul 07, 2022

The magic of social proof: how to use customer feedback (wisely) in sales?

If you want to know how to turn social proof to your ecommerce advantage, then this post is just for you!

As an online store owner, you surely realize the importance of promoting your business. Paid ads on Google or sponsored posts on social media can lead to increased traffic and sales, but you have another powerful - and even more powerful - tool at your disposal to improve conversions.  

We're talking about social proof. One example of this is customer reviews. Why are they an essential part of running an online store and how can you use them to grow your business? 

The power of Social Proof

I'm sure you've heard the term "worth of mouth" before. In e-commerce, this concept is called "social proof" - and it's one of the best ways to gain customers' trust. Social proof is a situation in which a customer, looking for a product on the Internet, is suggested by experiences and opinions of other users, assuming that if so many other, objective clients are satisfied with the service, he will be particularly too.   

Think about it yourself. Whom will you trust sooner in terms of making a purchase decision - an advertisement created by a marketer or a review written by an impartial person who has actually used the product or service of a given store? I believe that it was basically a rhetorical question, and the answer to things like this seems obvious.  

Social proof has great power in e-commerce and can be used in many ways - for creating case studies with satisfied customers, presenting awards and accolades from independent experts, or cooperating with influencers are just a few examples to show the social power of your store.

However, you have to start somewhere - especially if you are just taking your first steps in business and cannot yet boast of spectacular collaborations and impressive numbers. That's when collecting reviews comes to the rescue. Now it's an absolute must-have for every e-shop! 

Why are store reviews important? 

Gathering buyers' feedback is of course important for many reasons. According to the Bizrate Insights data among the most important causes to use social proof are: 

  • a high store rating is the most important decision factor when shopping online,  
  • most customers read at least 1-3 reviews before deciding to buy a product,  
  • to build trust and be considered trustworthy, an online store needs at least 11 to 50 reviews.  

I guess that's proof enough to use reviews in your business, right? 

Greater brand trust and credibility 

Unbiased comments inspire trust and confirm the credibility of the company. This is a particularly important tool for small, still little-known online stores that have not yet built a brand and a wide audience. Consumers are increasingly aware of the dangers and emergence of fake online stores. A significant number of unbiased reviews gives hesitant users a sense that they can trust your business.  

For small businesses, reviews can really do more than the traditional form of advertising, which, after all, only talks about the benefits of a particular product or an entire store. In the eyes of a customer thinking about making a purchase, such a message will be much more credible. 

Stand out from the competition 

Let's face it - it is often the case that online stores sell the same products. So how is a customer supposed to decide on the choice of a particular business? Store reviews published both on social media and on your website can be really helpful. 

Buyers can post comments not only about the pros and cons of a particular product but also about the overall store experience - e.g. customer service, delivery time, the shopping process itself, etc. Remember: even a few positive words about how quickly the goods got into the customer's hands will influence other potential buyers much better than a marketing message. Simply saying: they are more likely to finalize the purchase by taking the opinion of others.

Implementing a review section in an online store can help increase sales. A potential customer, after reading the ratings of other users, can verify the manufacturer's or seller's promises, and make a quicker decision to add the item to the cart. 

Improving products and services 

Are you seeing constant comments about delayed shipping or damaged goods? You might want to think about switching courier companies. Do your customers let you know that the size is oversized or the color of the product looks different in reality than on the website? Use this information, for example, in your product description to help potential customers make a purchasing decision.  

These are just a few examples of how you can use user feedback to improve your services and assortment. Such feedback can also be an inspiration to create a blog article, in which you will solve the doubts of users on the most common issues. This will not only be helpful for them but, in the long run, it can also positively influence the increase of organic traffic to your website. 

How to encourage people to leave (positive) reviews? 

You already know you need reviews. What's more - you need quite a lot of them in order to influence your customers and show yourself as a trustworthy business that stands out from the competition.  

The problem often encountered is that most users will only leave a review of their own volition when they want to share something negative. Naturally, you want to avoid negative reviews as much as possible, so you should actively encourage buyers to leave comments about your products and store. 

Below you'll find the list of actions that can encourage customers' to do so:

  1. Send emails with requests to leave a comment 

The simplest and most commonly used method of encouraging people to share their opinions is to send an e-mail to a user who has made a purchase in the store. It's a good idea to personalize such a message - addressing the customer by name gives them a sign that the company cares about what shoppers have to say. Also, add some information about the products they bought, thank them for their trust and purchases, and actively ask them to leave feedback.  

Remember that from the customer's point of view, writing a positive comment takes time and some effort. To reward them, you can offer them something special, such as a discount on their next purchase, free shipping, or a small gift for their next order over a certain amount. 

  1. Consider the time 

The timing of your feedback request is also important. It won't make sense if you do it a few seconds after the order is received. The customer will then have nothing to rate - after all, the whole purchase process is still underway.  

If you collect opinions about a store, send a message encouraging you to leave a comment a few days after the purchase, when the parcel is actually delivered. The customer will then be able to share comments about the ordering process, delivery, or contacting the store if there are problems.  

In case you care about the opinion on a particular product, you can ask for it even later to make sure that the buyer has actually read it. 

  1. Don't require too much data from customers

Leaving a review is quite an effort for a customer and you should do everything to make the process easy for them and eliminate any obstacles.

Therefore, make sure to keep the form for leaving a review uncomplicated. Leave only the necessary fields and allow the user to remain anonymous. 

How to respond to negative feedback? 

As I mentioned earlier, your goal is to collect as many positive reviews as possible through many marketing channels. After all, only such can convince a potential customer to shop at your store.  

The truth is, however, that only favorable comments can have the opposite effect. Positive reviews alone will seem a bit suspicious in the eyes of the user and, ironically, can lower trust in your business and real product. Diverse reviews - including unfavorable ones - add credibility to your online store and remove any doubt in the customer's mind that they were bought and not from actual buyers, for example.  

So above all, don't be afraid of negative reviews. It's not the end of the world. What's more, I might surprise you, but they can be turned into something positive for your brand! 

By seeing a few negative reviews, the customer will have access to a more objective and realistic view of your product. And this, in turn, will allow you to leave more unfavorable reviews and, in the long run, avoid possible returns when the buyer is not satisfied with the purchase.  

So how to deal with negative store reviews? 

  • Stay calm - the worst thing you can do is to act under the influence of emotions. So before you react to an unfavorable comment, take a deep breath, and analyze the comment left and the reason for it.  
  • Always respond to negative reviews - leaving a customer's complaint unanswered can result in an image crisis and signal to other potential buyers that you don't care about their opinion. Your response should be reasonably quick, but as I mentioned earlier - after analyzing the user's statement, written in professional language and with respect for the author of the post. 
  • Respond to accusations publicly - this also works the other way around. When an outsider sees that you care about your customers' opinions, he or she will interpret the unfavorable comment as an accident at work and appreciate that you're doing your best to prevent such a situation from happening again in the future. That's why it's always a good idea to respond to negative reviews publicly. If the situation is more complicated, you can invite the author of the comment to private contact.  
  • Offer a solution to the problem - it may seem obvious, but if it was you who made the mistake, be sure to apologize and make it up to the customer, and address the situation directly, without changing the subject. And if the misunderstanding was the buyer's fault, avoid accusing him and approach the situation diplomatically and rationally.

Choose the best place to display reviews on the website 

You can collect feedback to improve your marketing efforts, work on merchandise quality and customer service... but most of all brag about it!  

Have you received constructive and positive feedback about your store or product? Use it! Such a message can do more than advertising. It turns your customers into representatives and ambassadors of your brand.  

Use the most of positive reviews, presenting them in a prominent place on the product page (e.g. in the form of a carousel). However, remember to choose such reviews that have an added value for a potential customer. Avoid generic comments such as "great", "comfortable shoes", "recommend", etc. To emphasize the credibility of the message, sign the author of the review. 

Positive comments are also worth bragging about on social media. A photo of the product and a screenshot with the text of the opinion is a great material for a post on Facebook or a report on Instagram. Remember, however, not to exaggerate the number of such publications. You can use them to support e.g. a promotional campaign for a given product in order to increase its sales.   

There is no denying that most Internet users first look for products on Google. So make sure to display star ratings in the organic results of the search engine. This will show that your services and products have been appreciated by other users. In order to showcase reviews in Google, you need to implement a proper extension snippet on your website.

Thanks to this, in the search results you will see not only the meta title and page description but also the total product rating expressed in stars and the number of reviews left. It is worth using this way of presenting reviews to stand out from the competition already at the SERPs level. 

Summing Up 

Customer reviews can make a real difference in increasing conversions in your store. They help undecided customers decide whether to add a product to their cart, they make it easier for you to work on improving your services, and they can also help increase website traffic. Remember: people trust brands that have already been tested by other buyers, both in terms of product quality and the overall personal experience.

Customers' review implementation in an online store is almost a must: both in gaining new customers, as well as in building a long-term relationship influencing customer loyalty.

Content Manager Poland, Trusted Shops. SEO enthusiast with 7 years of experience in content creation, both B2C and B2B. Loves to explore topics related to eCommerce and online marketing, helping e-shop owners to grow their businesses and get more customers.

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