6 Data-Driven Strategies to Leverage the Power of Online Reviews

9 min read
Francesca Moulton

The hard truth about online reviews is that all brands require them in every way. Checking a brand’s credibility and reputation through user-generated reviews  (in addition to the comments left on their social channels) is simply common practice today.

With this part of the customer journey being even more important for high-value purchases or for foreign brands that consumers are not that familiar with, it is pretty much impossible to achieve your potential as an international online seller without a user review strategy in place.

However, while most businesses have realized this and dipped their toes in this area of their businesses, not all are fully leveraging the power of data and more sophisticated strategies that can turn online reviews from something “scary” into something that can drive huge amounts of growth.

In this blog, we explore some of the key data-driven review strategies our team at Amazon Payment Services recommend to all our merchant partners so they can support the online experiences customers have on their platforms.

Related: Three keys to building a data-driven strategy

1. Actively Gather User Review Data

charts statistics online reviews

First, start building useful data. One of the biggest hurdles businesses face when trying to establish effective online review strategies is not having enough actual reviews in the first place. And simply waiting patiently for customer reviews to come flowing in is not the most productive way to spend your time.

One simple and effective strategy is to follow up with a post-purchase email requesting for your customers to leave a review. If they are happy with the product and service they got, they will be likely to spend a minute completing a review.

Adjust Delivery Slots Based on Data Insights

When automating these emails, just be careful not to send them out too soon. Data suggests that customers need a few weeks with a product first before they are happy to give feedback.

Equally, leaving it too late might mean your customers will have forgotten about you.

To optimize timing, set multiple delivery windows and test results to understand when your follow-up emails are the most effective.

Certain products might need a longer window if they require a user to become familiar with them over a longer time (e.g., laptops, mobiles, or large pieces of furniture).

Although you must first check to make sure all reviews are verified and come from accurate or trustworthy sources, having quick access to hundreds of reviews can be a valuable way to kick start your review strategy.

You have two options:

  1.  you can then choose to feature your score or rankings from certain sites like Yelp directly on your product page.
  2. or even look for review plugins/widgets that integrate with your website.

Related: How Your Company Can Use Big Data Analysis to Improve Last-Mile Deliveries

2. Optimize Review Collection

You must make review collections simple and rewarding by avoiding lengthy forms or by asking too many questions — especially if those questions are open-ended or personal.

If you send users to another page with a lengthy questionnaire and sections that require tons of personal information, the motivation to complete a full review will quickly diminish.

Ideally, you should provide clear instructions with a tick system that lets people quickly complete the process with no friction. If you want to ask for additional information, make this “optional” so that people who are in a hurry can still complete a review.

Products that have reviews with visual content can have a 69%  lift in conversions compared to those without, according to a study by Power Reviews.

Therefore, it is worth asking customers to include photos and videos too, which are incredibly useful assets to have as they add more credibility to the review. Just do not make this compulsory.

Related: Site Review Optimization 

Offer Some Kind of Reward

A little motivation can go a long way. A few ways to inspire customers to complete the process include:

  • Integrating your review strategy with your overall loyalty/points program allows people who leave feedback can enjoy points for their customer accounts.
  • Offer first-time reviews a discount/coupon for completing the process.
  • Create competitions where a prize is won by certain customers who leave feedback.

The world’s most successful e-commerce brands from Noon in the Middle East to Banggood in China have leveraged the power of rewards systems and points. And when combined with user review strategies, the results can be powerful.

3. Optimize Presentation for Higher Conversion Rates

graphical user interface chart online reviews_80

When shopping online, many actively seek out websites that have product reviews. So, if you have a decent bank of reviews to tap into, you better make sure they are visible for browsing shoppers.

The way you display them is also incredibly important. You want to make them prominent on product pages but not overbearing. Work with the existing design style of your website’s UI/UX and integrate review sections smoothly.

There is no single right way of doing this, so we would recommend testing a few options before you commit to a particular route. For instance, users may simply want to see an average star rating rather than clicking through every single review you have for a single product.

Equally, they may want to be able to browse different reviews in an organized way by scrolling.

The best formula can depend on your type of business and the products you are selling, as well as the way your website is designed .

If you have a relatively simple product, users may be turned off by a lengthy essay from your past customers, even if they have some interesting things to say.

Learn how to make an online website

Filter Your Customer Types

For some businesses allowing users to filter reviews by customer, type is incredibly important. For instance, letting people segment reviews based on a certain body type or height is useful for people trying to buy clothes online.

Equally, if you are a restaurant, you will want to indicate which reviews are from vegetarians or vegans. This will help to convert similar users when they are looking for food that is suitable for them.

Hospitality businesses like Agoda might also want to separate reviews from couples, families, and solo travelers. The list goes on.

4. Embrace Critical Feedback

An important revelation for some business owners is that negative reviews can sometimes be good for you. Some simple psychology behind this is that when customers can see a more balanced set of opinions, they are more likely to see the reviews as genuine and authentic.

Ultimately, reviews that are 100% 5-star and positive can seem suspicious, and customers are smart enough to know that even if a few people had a bad experience, this might be down to personal preferences or anomalies, rather than the poor quality of the product or service.

Monitoring feedback of customers can help you pick up on things you might need to fix internally, whether it is faulty products, issues with payments, bad customer service, or any operational mistakes you might not be aware of.

5. Learn from Your Customer Reviews

customer feedback online reviews

In addition to seeing where improvements might need to be made from looking at your negative reviews, more can be learned from looking at them analytically.

Simply looking at the kind of things your customers are saying about you can offer you extremely powerful insights into the way people perceive your brand and products.

A great strategy for building your brand presence and supporting your online visibility is to look for the keywords that users are using when they write about you.

Certain terms and phrases associated with your company can give you clues to how customers position you in the market compared to your competitors.

Taking these terms and then cross-referencing them with your digital strategy might also highlight some key gaps and opportunities for you to focus on, as well as dozens of topic ideas.

For instance, if a review has addressed the fact that you are the only specialty coffee brand that has high-quality decaffeinated coffee, but you have no published content promoting this fact, then this is a sure sign you should do something about it.

In the end, it is a way to “read the room” and pick up on various signals and trends from the market that can inform other data-driven strategies for your business.

Related: Digital identity role in optimizing the customer experience

Create an FAQ Section

The best FAQ sections and FAQ-style blog posts are based on real customer questions and concerns. One of the best ways to find out what your customers are asking is to check your reviews.

Some websites like Amazon have even integrated their customer review questions into a user-generated FAQ section.

The result is that potential customers can immediately see the kind of questions that other customers have had in the past, together with genuine and helpful answers that are created by existing customers. A perfect combination!

6. Build a Holistic Strategy

As experts in the field of online payments and how to reduce any friction when it comes to customers completing online transactions, we’ve witnessed first-hand the power that reviews can have through supporting our merchant partners.

More than this, we believe it is imperative to take every opportunity you must increase the overall experience users have on your site, whether it is being able to easily gather social proof about the credibility of your brand or making it possible to easily sail through the checkout stage.

It might seem overwhelming trying to juggle all these things at first, but once you start to consider all these aspects as interconnected “opportunities” to build an overall better online experience, you will really start to excel!

Related: How to avoid web design mistakes that could sabotage your business