For better or worse, reviews have become a vital issue for many business owners. From local businesses to employers, from restaurants to e-commerce products, reviews are everywhere. Their impact on customer decision-making has been established at length. With more online retailers allowing to reply to reviews, business owners have an additional string to their bows. The question is: should you respond to both negative and positive product reviews, and how should you respond?
Responding to reviews is one of our 7 ways brands and manufacturers can maintain their brand image on retailer websites.
There is very little debate as to if you should respond to negative product reviews. It’s the opportunity to show to other customers that you care. It’s a way to make things right and fix the issue with the disappointed customer. And finally, it’s the easiest way to deflect criticism and mitigate its influence on future buyers. Also, negative reviews can sometimes grow viral if not skillfully defused.
In any case, it is indubitable that you should address negative reviews first. If you have limited resources, you should focus on the reviews that threaten your business.
When it comes to positive product reviews, things are more nuanced. Some people advocate that replying to a positive review brings nothing new to the table. It makes you look pedantic and immodest. While these are valid concerns, the advantages far exceed the risks. By responding to (the right) positive reviews, you can:
We all know this: angry customers are more likely to leave a review. The end result is that all review averages tend to be lower than the actual satisfaction level.
The emotional reaction to a bad experience is always more acute than the reaction to an equally good experience. Also, there are more prompts to leave a bad review: punishing the business, seeking support, letting off steam… Many of which are self-centric sources of satisfaction. Leaving a good review is usually more of a good deed: encouraging the business, helping others make the right choice, etc.
As a brand, answering to good reviews rapidly creates a positive reinforcement for customers. It’s always appreciable when a business takes the time to send you a personalized word: you feel esteemed and rewarded. If potential reviewers see that you take the time to address each one of them, they are more likely to take the time to write something.
It is estimated that reviews account for about 10% of a web page’s SEO ranking. It’s actually quite unsurprising, as reviews are everything that search engines like: unique, relevant, helpful, standardized… When you reply to a review, you can surround it with keywords and links that are associated with your profile. Use your most important keywords in the reply. Make sure that your commenter profile (a brand profile in the case of Amazon) is updated with links to your store and website.
When selling on Amazon or other online retailers, brands often surrender direct contact with their customers. Amazon only gives you a cloaked email address to contact your customers. This address won’t work outside of Amazon.
While some brands do try to get their customers’ addresses (Register your product!), the conversion rates remain modest. When a customer leaves a review, however, they open a door and give you a shot at converting them into promoters. Depending on the content of the review, you may try and suggest that they spread the word, make another purchase, subscribe to your newsletter, visit your blog, become a fan on Facebook…
Concerning advertising, responding to a review is like a highly personalized retargeting campaign!
Marketing is great when it is contextual. The rest of the time, it’s annoying. Consider this: you’d be willing to pay to display an ad to someone who did not ask for it. But somehow, you would turn down an opportunity to serve your selling points to someone who’s actually enquiring about your product?
Your product pages are the closest your customers will ever be to making a purchase. The ability to respond to positive reviews is like free display advertising. Don’t copy-paste the same content from a review to the next, however. Make the responses contextual: emphasize the positive aspects by reframing them into your brand values.
While we do think that answering to positive product reviews is a good thing, doing it right remains a must. You should keep this in mind when answering positive reviews:
All of this takes time! Answering to reviews is like crafting content: if you want to make it right and unique, there is no shortcut.