If you are a brand or a retailer selling online, you don’t need any convincing that product reviews are sparse on your e-commerce pages and the problem compounds if you are selling large number of products and/or products that are visual (e.g., jewlery and fashion clothing). Depending on the brand loyalty you have built up with your customers, 1% to 15% of the purchasers may leave a review under right circumstances with your concerted efforts to run a campaign (with or without incentives).
However, the scene on social networks is a completely different story. There you have fans (assuming you did a great job in building your community) that are more engaged and giving more positive comments on your products whenever you share with them. Sometimes your customers are sharing their photos/videos showcasing your brand/products on your social network pages. Those positive comments are only visible on social networks, not on your website. So those who could most benefit from viewing and reading those positive comments, photos and videos – your prospects and potential customers – don’t even see them. Your e-commerce product pages look and feel like a ghost town, even if your Facebook fan page or Instagram account is buzzing with engagement.
Granted you are gaining awareness and value from the social buzz you are generating in social networks, especially among committed fans, but that buzz is doing little to convert visitors to buyers on your website.
Here are top three things you can do to achieve what Reviews were set out to do in the first place, i.e., converting your web site visitors to buyers by influencing purchase decisions.
Get out of review mindset and unleash visual stories from your customers
Reviews are fascinating for all of us ecommerce marketers, but they are old school. The new generation of customers are visual and love to share photos of your products of themselves and their friends alongside your product. So, instead of asking a customer to write a review on the product they just bought, ask them to share a photo or a video using your product. If you are selling fashion clothing, for example, it’s easy to do because your customers happily share their photos wearing your brand.
Give a reason to talk about your products and bring that social buzz back to your e-commerce site
A review comes from a purchaser and chances are that purchasers aren’t very excited to leave a review on your site as they will never be heard. Whether it is positive or negative, it has become a natural tendency for customers to share on social networks. When they communicate positively about your products that they bought recently on your social network pages (Facebook page, Twitter handle, Instagram and Pinterest boards), bring that social buzz back onto your e-commerce sites. Put life into your ecommerce pages with the social buzz from your audience.
Cultivate story tellers from your audience and repurpose the stories in multiple marketing channels
The storytellers themselves matter as much as their stories. When a fan shares a story (visual or text) it gives you an opportunity to build a relationship with him/her. You may get additional stories from them by encouraging storytelling via different means (both organic as well as incentivized). When you build more meaningful relationships beyond Facebook Likes and Shares, you will get surprised how well your story tellers respond with best stories.
A picture/video is worth more than thousand reviews
You’ve no doubt heard the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In the case of product reviews, we like to say “a picture/video is worth more than thousand reviews.” It has been established in multiple studies that photos and images generate more views, Likes and shares on social networks than written posts, updates and Tweets.
For many products like fashion clothing and jewelry, customer photos and videos make a much bigger impression than mere words. In addition, snapping and sharing pictures or videos via social networks is a lot easier and entertaining for fans to do than writing a review. These brands in particular need to focus on adding a greater visual component to their content marketing strategy.
Of course, written reviews have their place when speaking about complex products like electronics and intellectual products like books. But for most other products and services, visual stories are easier for fans to create and make a much greater impact on potential buyers.