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16. Customer Reviews: Everything you need to know about collecting & leveraging social proof

Over 90% of online shoppers read reviews before they make a purchasing decision. If you haven’t made collecting reviews a focus in your business, or you are just wondering how the hell to get your reviews to show up on Google… this is the episode for you. 

We’re diving deep into what types of reviews will be the most valuable for your business, the best tools to use, and how to figure out which one is best for YOU. Plus, we’ll review some best practices about collecting those reviews to make sure you get the best return on your efforts!

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Why are reviews important?

I’m going to assume you already know the importance of reviews and why you need them. If you don’t, consider that over 90% of online shoppers read reviews before making a buying decision. When it comes to actually collecting reviews, there are a ton of options and apps you can use, but they’re not all created equal. 

There’s going to be a difference in the features and whether or not you can easily take advantage of those reviews in places like Google. To do this, you want a Google-approved platform because they have more functionality when displaying reviews and what the customer can submit, such as images. Some will also have a Q&A component for your product pages.

Think about what’s important to you and your business based on the product that you sell before you decide which platform to use. 

The two different types of reviews

1. Product reviews 

These are what you’re used to seeing on Amazon and they’re probably the first thing you think about when it comes to eCommerce reviews. 

2. General site reviews

These talk about the experience of shopping with you. Customers will address things such as what it was like to be on your website, how fast shipping was and what the packaging was like. 

Each type of review serves a different purpose and as your business grows, you’re going to want both types of reviews on your site.

Different reviews for different types of businesses

Let’s talk through some different business setups to see which would be a better fit for them. 

One product store

If you’re a one product store or have just a few products, then product reviews are going to be the most valuable for you. 

Wide assortment of products with high turnover

In a clothing boutique or something similar where you turn over your product quickly, general site reviews will be beneficial for you

Wide assortment of products with low volume of sales

Site reviews will be valuable because it’s going to take you a long time to build up enough product reviews to make an impact. 

That doesn’t mean never you don’t need product reviews, it just means start with site reviews. 

Wide assortment of evergreen products 

If your products are mostly evergreen and they stay around for a long time, definitely focus on product reviews

The different review platforms

We’re specifically looking at what works with Shopify, but some of these platforms are likely to work with other eCommerce platforms as well. 

Shopify Reviews

If you’re just starting out, you can try Shopify Reviews, which is a free app that’s really easy to install. Most of the themes in the Shopify store already come with the necessary code so all you’ll need to do is configure a thing or two. 

Shopify Reviews Limitations

It doesn’t actually have a way to request reviews through email, so you can’t really incentivize the customer to leave a review. Even if you were to send it through your own email marketing platform, the platform won’t know if the customer left the review or not. Overall, it’s pretty basic and not my first choice but totally workable. 

Stamped.io

This is a very popular one. They have a lot of features like allowing customers to submit photos and sharing on social. 

You can award customers different discounts based on what actions they took. For example, 5% for leaving a review, 10% if they submit a photo and 15% if they share on social. 

It also has all the features you need, like review moderation and sending out review requests by email. The customer can actually leave the review right in the body of the email versus having to click back through to your website. 

The downside of Stamped is that at the time of this blog post, it’s not a Google approved review platform. 

Other platforms 

Some of the most popular and robust platforms are Yotpo, Reviews.io and Trustpilot. These are all really great as your business is scaling because you want your reviews to show up in Google Shopping or Google Search Ads. So if you’re a six and seven figure entrepreneur, you definitely want to look at using one of these. There are workarounds to get your reviews on Google if you’re using Stamped but it’s a little bit more complicated. 

How to decide which platform to use

Think about what features you want. Does it really make sense for your business to submit photos? Are people going to be willing to share photos and do you want to see them? If you sell lingerie or adult products, perhaps photos aren’t necessary. 

However, if you sell clothing, accessories or kids clothes, then photos are going to be really valuable and they might be the thing that pushes the customer to make their buying decision. 

Start with your product first and think about what makes sense for your business. Think about what’s going to help the customer to make their purchasing choice and then decide what features you need to achieve that. Just because you see it on someone else’s website, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. 

Best practices to incentivize the customer to leave a review

Timing

Consider the right time to send the review request. Make sure that the customer has received the item and has had an opportunity to use it, wear it or try it before you ask them to review it. 

The customer is unlikely to make the effort to go back and leave the review if they receive that request before they’ve had a chance to try the product. 

Consider how long it takes before you actually ship it out your product and then how long until it lands in the customers mailbox. Is it something they will use as soon as they open the box or do you need to give them a couple of extra days?

Monitor responses and make changes as needed

Make sure you monitor the responses you receive because you will receive reviews that say they haven’t even received the product yet, which is really important information for you to know and potentially fix. 

Be aware that other customer service issues may come up through reviews that you aren’t even aware of because they didn’t bother to email you about it. 

Reward the customer

Incentivize the customer to leave a review by rewarding them. They’re doing a you favor so reward them for their time and effort. This is especially true in the beginning of your business while you’re trying to ramp up reviews. 

The easiest way to reward customers is offering them a small discount toward their next purchase. If you have a rewards program, you can also offer them free rewards points instead of a discount. 

Overall, having a rewards program will build loyalty and keep customers coming back. Most of the review platforms will integrate with rewards platforms to allow you to do this with ease. A platform like Stamped actually has their own reward platform, which is integrated into the same app.

Your first platform isn’t forever

There are a lot of options out there so you will absolutely find one that fits your needs. The platform you start with doesn’t have to be forever because migrating from one review platform to another isn’t super hard. They all have a way to import existing reviews. 

Ultimately, start with your end goal and find the platform that fits those needs. 

You can brain dump all your needs onto a spreadsheet first — and this goes for any new platform — and compare the popular platforms for those specific features. Check out this week’s freebie for a list of all the different features you might want to consider in a review platform. 

Pro tip: if you’re looking at some of the bigger platforms who use sales reps to get on a call with you, oftentimes you can actually get them to actually fill out the sheet for you. Otherwise, give this job to a VA or someone else on your team to do the research. You are the CEO of your business, and doing tasks like this are way below your paygrade. 

Gathering site reviews

Gathering product reviews is pretty self explanatory, but what if you want to focus on collecting site reviews instead? 

The easiest way to do this is to use a platform like Yotpo which actually lets you set a percentage for each. For instance, you can set it to send 50% site review requests and 50% product review requests, or whatever percentage suits you. 

Not all platforms have this feature so if site reviews are important to you, or you expect to do Google Search Ads, make sure the platform you’re using has this functionality. 

The reason you want this is because site reviews show up in Google search results and on your search ads. It’s also technically a separate review feed from your product reviews. 

You’ll also want to check and see if the platform you’re looking at has the ability to publish a product review as a site review instead because customers are going to talk more about their general experience of shopping with you than the product itself. 

The nitty gritty of Google

There is a lot of confusion surrounding Google and you will definitely have to do a little bit of research on your own, but I’ve already gathered the resources for you. 

When it comes to Google, there are two different places that reviews show up

  1. On your products in Google Shopping – these are called product reviews
  2. On your Search Ads – these are called Google Seller Ratings 

Just because you have site reviews, doesn’t mean they’re actually going to show up though. Google seller ratings are an automatic add extension, which means Google is the one that decides if they’re going to show or not, which is based on a number of different ranking factors. 

Additionally, you have to have a minimum of 150 reviews with an average rating of 3.5 stars in the last 12 months to even be eligible. So when you’re searching your competitors and they have reviews stars showing, understand that it takes a little bit of work to get there. Even then, they’re not guaranteed to show.

Two ways to get Google Seller Ratings

  1. Using a Google approved review platform like Yotpo, Trustpilot and Review.io
  2. Install Google Customer Reviews on your website, which enables Google Seller Ratings and the stars on your Search Ads

Once you install Google Customer Reviews on your website, Google will ask the customer if they want to opt in to leave feedback about your site after they make a purchase. If they opt in, Google will send them a request to review your site after the estimated delivery of their item. This is in addition any product reviews that you want to collect — it doesn’t replace that. 

Keep in mind that the only way to show these reviews on your site is with a widget that pops up with your star rating.The user can then click on this and read the reviews, however, it can’t be embedded anywhere. 

On the flip side if you’re using a review platform like Yotpo or Reviews.io you will have a lot different widget options available to you such as putting them in the footer or creating a dedicated review page, which I recommend you do. 

Yotpo even integrates with Klayvio so you can put a live feed of your reviews in your emails, which is particularly valuable in abandonment emails. If you’re not using a system that integrates with Klayvio, or you don’t have a high enough level of Yotpo to integrate, you can still add reviews but these just won’t be a live feed. 

To showcase your reviews without a live feed, take your most popular reviews either in text format, or if you want to go one step further, create pretty images that show the name and the number stars with the review underneath. You can do this easily on a design platform like Canva. 

Remember, keep it simple when you’re getting started

There is a lot of information here that can get overwhelming, so keep it basic in the beginning. Reviews are super, super important so you’re better off just getting set up quickly and gathering reviews immediately. You can switch later. 

I’d love to put a revenue number on it to say, hey, when you hit this mark in your business, that’s where you want to focus on Google Search Ads and Google Customer Reviews but it doesn’t really work like that because everybody’s business is different. There’s really no right or wrong answer. It’s really about what’s best for you, your business, and your goals. 

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Jessica Totillo Coster of eCommerce Badassery eating gelato on stairs in Rome Italy

Hey, I'm Jessica eCommerce & Email Marketing Strategist

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. Learning from the top experts in the digital marketing & eCommerce industry I love working with female entrepreneurs and teaching the secrets of 7-figure eCommerce businesses.

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