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Imagine you’re searching for a particular product to purchase online. You search Amazon and see three options. The first has no reviews, the second has one five-star rating, and the third has a 4.7-star rating with dozens of reviews. Which one would you choose?

Chances are, you’ll click that 4.7-star rating and peruse the reviews to understand what others thought of the product, the e-store, and the overall experience.

As consumers, we rely on reviews to help us decide between the myriad products and services available to us. As eCommerce professionals, we know reviews are integral to our business — and  we’re at the mercy of our customers. Consumers are more likely to share bad reviews or feedback with others than positive. In fact, Inc. reports an angry or dissatisfied customer will tell 9 to 15 others about their experience.

It's likely many of your customers won't leave reviews unless solicited. This can be due to a number of reasons, from impartiality or being unaware of how to leave a review, to simply not seeing what's in it for them. But gathering (lots of) reviews is an important part of growing your business on Amazon.

How do reviews impact customers’ decision-making?

The majority of consumers check reviews before making a purchase online because they trust the opinions of others. Reviews provide evidence that a product has been purchased, and also allow us to wade through the past experiences of others to determine if a product, service, or even the seller is the right fit for our needs.

In short, reviews are social proof that your product or service isn’t a failure.

However, according to a review from Salsify, consumers expect over 100 reviews before they consider a product rating to be authentic and accurate, which means having only a couple of reviews is as helpful to your business as having none.

Conversely, having only five-star reviews is unlikely to inspire confidence. A 3.3 star rating is the minimum rating a customer will engage with, but a few reviews lower than five stars won't hurt your business either. A perfect score naturally raises suspicion, even if your product really is that good, because you simply can't please everyone. (Plus, some people just like to complain.)

Can reviews help your ranking?

Yes and no.

On Amazon, the number of reviews you have for a particular listing is shown alongside your product in the search results. While hundreds or thousands of reviews won't necessarily help your Amazon ranking, all of those successful sales and reviews can help you become listed as an Amazon's Choice or Best-selling product (of which only two will appear per search).

What reviews can do is improve your conversion rate — that is, the number of people who click through to your product and ultimately buy — especially if your ranking is four stars or higher. When your conversion rate is higher, you’ll list higher, so in a roundabout way, reviews will contribute to a higher ranking on Amazon.

So, how do you get more reviews and, specifically, more high-ranking reviews? Read on for our best tips.

Make the buyer experience great

Your customers want a good experience from beginning to end. A great experience leads to customer loyalty, repeat business, and increases the likelihood your customers will spread the word to others. In the past, customers usually shared their experiences with only a handful of friends or family members. Now, your customers can reach hundreds or even thousands of potential buyers by posting their opinions online, making it extra important to nail the customer experience.

A happy customer may head over to Twitter to talk about their shopping journey and, if you're lucky, they might even tag you in their content or link back to your product listing. An unhappy customer, unfortunately, may do the same. And, if your customer’s feeling is just "meh," it's probable they won't say anything at all. Simply put, you need to make sure your customers have a great experience they’ll want to share.

To make the buyer experience great, pay attention to the following recommendations:

Have great products (and deliver on them)

This seems pretty simple and straightforward — in theory. In practice, it’s more complex.

To start, ensure you source products from reliable producers or manufacturers. Make sure you (or your fulfillment partner) check your products for quality assurance. Your products should also be in line with what your customers actually want. If you're a clothing store, for example, add trending styles made of quality materials, not out-of-date looks made of poor material.

So, if you sell a red wool sweater, don't deliver a pink polyester-blend to your customer, which leads us to the next point...

Accurately describe your product

Your product should match the description of the item your customer bought. If not, you're misrepresenting your products and sinking your business. Describe your products meticulously, paying special attention to details, including specifications that your customers will want to know. For example:

  • How big is it? If clothing, what size and category? (e.g., children’s; adult men; adult women)
  • What color(s)? 
  • What materials is the product made of?
  • What is the brand?
  • How many are in the lot? (e.g., Is it a single marker or a pack of three?)
  • What kind of condition is the item in? (New and in package; new not in package; used)

An accurate description prevents an unpleasant surprise for your customer when the package lands on their door, and builds trust and satisfaction when expectations are met. If anything, you want to exceed your customer's expectations.

Bonus: A good product description will help boost your ranking through keyword use! And speaking of keywords...

Boost your marketing game

Meet your buyers where they are (which, for the record, is usually online).

Social media and digital marketing activities help you reach your buyers long before they think about searching for your products. You can achieve organic, digital brandshare through search engine optimization (SEO), which attracts new customers and educates them about your products.

Think about the full customer journey, from learning about products all the way to receiving their purchase (hopefully in two days or less). Marketing, of course, must continue long after your customers have received their packages, through retargeting, relationship building activities, and ongoing engagement.

Streamline the checkout process

According to Amazon Pay, more than two-thirds of products added to carts will never be purchased. Your customers don't want a convoluted or difficult checkout process, and they sure as heck don't want to be surprised at the last minute by unexpected fees.

Make sure shipping costs, taxes, and other fees are easily located well before your customer is at the purchasing threshold to avoid cart abandonment due to sticker shock.

Optimize fulfillment

It doesn't matter how great your product is, how accurate your description is, or how seamless the checkout process is if the item never arrives at your customer's doorstep. Fulfillment is rapidly becoming the be-all and end-all of the customer experience. With two-day shipping and almost instantaneous gratification from online shopping, consumer expectations have never been higher. As such, a trusted fulfillment partner can make all the difference.

A fulfillment partner will prepare all of your sold products for shipment and ensure you meet your delivery promises with efficient, speedy shipping that keeps your items safe and your customers happy. Make sure you find a partner who, at the very least:

  • can accommodate short turnaround and delivery times
  • has multiple warehouses to reach customers anywhere
  • specializes in your product types

When your fulfillment is properly handled, the process of buying and receiving your goods online becomes seamless, trustworthy, and enjoyable for your customers. Since we know happy customers are more likely to repurchase and speak positively about your brand, you cannot skip this step.

Keep in touch with customers

Don't let your customer relationships end once their item is at their doorstep. Go above and beyond for your customers after orders are fulfilled by connecting on social media or sending a thank-you note. As you continue to engage with them, your relationship will grow organically and increase loyalty to your brand.

Source reviews

Now that you're making the customer experience review-worthy (in a good way), how do you actually source those reviews? Amazon prohibits sellers from paying for reviews or asking customers to modify or remove negative ones. To source reviews from your customers, get creative and continue to deliver on the customer experience.

Use creative inserts in packaging

A handwritten thank-you card remains one of the most thoughtful items people receive, especially in today's heavily digitized world. A personalized note with an invitation to leave a review is not only thoughtful, but unique.

However, this isn't necessarily a scalable option, especially if you sell dozens of products a day.

Creative inserts like postcards, small greeting cards, or other printed collateral with your name and store information, contact details (should there be any issues), and a gentle request for a review if your customer is happy makes your package feel more personal and can inspire people to share their positive experience.

One of our favourite messages we've seen in a similar insert said, "Love your product? Tell your friends! Not happy with your experience? Tell us so we can make it better."

Leverage email marketing

Are you able to reach out to your past customers? If so, email marketing is a great way to invite them to share their feedback with you while also introducing them to other products they may be interested in. Make sure you direct your customer to the exact link to leave a review — don't make them work for it.

Begin by thanking your customer right away, then politely invite them to share their positive experience in the reviews section and to contact you directly if you have any issues. And, if they do reach out, get back to them STAT and work with them on a solution.

Get on social media

The value of social media is in its name: social.

Social media enables you to build a relationship with your customers that goes beyond the checkout process, but you can take your strategy one step further. Set up social media alerts for your store mentions, for example, and take the time to address each mention.

A great way to source reviews (and to attract potential buyers) is to use existing reviews.

You got a bad review. Now what?

Repeat after us: Don't panic.

(And don't get defensive!)

First things first, read the review in full and try to understand why your customer is upset. Was delivery delayed? Is the product not quite what they wanted? Then, reply with the primary goal of defusing the situation and, most importantly, taking the conversation out of the public forum. Use your reply to demonstrate your commitment to delivering excellent customer service and finding solutions for your customers.

Do your best to reply to all your reviews; a simple "thank you for your purchase and your feedback!" on positive reviews shows prospective and current customers that you genuinely care about their feedback.

The occasional poor review won't kill your business (even if it feels awful at the moment). In fact, a couple of less-than-perfect reviews shows authenticity, and many customers say they'll read the best and worst reviews to gain a clear picture of what others liked or didn't like about a product. 

For example, this author has read multiple one-star reviews of their favorite products where the issue came down to simple user error (e.g., "This product is impossible to assemble!"), and shoppers notice when sellers take the time to respond and fix the problem.

If you receive a bad review, don’t sweat it. Continue to engage in activities inviting your customers to share their positive experiences and let your happiest customers do the talking for you.

Wrapping up — Land 5-star reviews by providing a 5-star buyer experience

At the end of the day, the best way to ensure you receive the best reviews from your customers is to deliver the best possible experience every time they make a purchase. From sourcing and delivering the quality products your customers seek to actively building a relationship with your existing and prospective buyers, you can create a customer experience that inspires loyalty and makes people want to spread the good word.

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