The Awesome Power of Customer Reviews

We’ve all asked for the opinion of a friend or family member when we’re either looking for something or are about to buy something. It’s just human nature to want to get support on our decision or be offered an alternative when we’re about to make a mistake.

When it comes to online, we do the same but a lot of us, 93% in fact, rely on online reviews as they impact our purchasing decision. Therefore, so many businesses have implemented review abilities on their website and the individual products they sell.

But what happens when the system is manipulated, either intentionally or unintentionally? And with the rise of fake reviews all over the internet is the once ‘King of Social Proof’ on the verge of losing its crown?

 

Why Reviews are so Powerful

Customer reviews are a double-sided coin for a business. In the eyes of the customer, they create credibility and offer social proof whilst allowing them to have a voice, share their experience and help create loyalty.

For the business, it gives you valuable insight into the overall experience you’re offering from being found to a delivery arriving. With this, you can find areas that might not otherwise be seen that can be improved. Your marketing efforts are massively improved because as we mentioned before, people rely on reviews and if they’re highlighted in the right way, they could improve conversion and improve search rankings.

 

The Darker Side of Customer Reviews

But as much as they can help, if something seems a little off, customers are going to pick up on it.

Any kind of manipulation of reviews is going to stand out like a sore thumb. Censorship of reviews and the purchasing of fake reviews are unethical as a starting point, but they raise concerns for those looking at them. The fake reviews situation for Amazon has become such an issue that they're now taking legal action against fake review brokers to be able to protect their customers.

95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores and 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews.

Understandably, a business does not want to have pages and pages of bad reviews but hiding them is not going to fix the problem. Each one should be looked at as a learning experience and be used to make business improvements. They’re also an opportunity to address the concerns of your customers openly and transparently. Simply sticking them in a metaphorical box marked ‘ignore’ just creates more of the same. If you ignore the concerns of those customers, you’ll either never get another purchase or their voices will just get louder.

 

Infographic by- Invesp Conversion Rate Optimization

 

How do you avoid falling into these traps?

There are a few ways that you can do this.

 

  • Publish any genuine review - good, or bad.

34% of consumers have said that their low product ratings have not been published by eCommerce sites. You don’t want to be one of those sites doing this.

 

  • Respond to those reviews that need your input

Inevitably, things will not go right every single time. Don’t ignore the bad or less than perfect reviews. Reach out and use them as an opportunity to turn things around. Try to keep as much of the resolution in the open so that others can see what you have done to resolve it, but don’t get into arguments in the reviews section with customers. Remember they’re not a personal attack on you, they are in most cases an outlet for frustration and a request for resolution. Take it as an opportunity to create a new customer experience that blows their expectations and creates a loyal customer in the future.

 

  • Don’t purchase fake reviews.

This feels like it goes without saying but it is happening. 82% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year and 62% of consumers have experienced significant variations between online reviews and actual products received. It is a false economy and the long-term brand damage is hard to fix.

The purchasing of fake reviews takes many forms and however, it is attempted it doesn’t work. Even things like incentivising customers to leave positive reviews with the promise of winning something or getting something in return falls into this category.

 

  • Restrict reviews to only be submitted from verified purchases.

Again, this sounds like a bit of common sense but many places are not putting this into action. By using reviews from people who bought the product from you, it builds credibility for the reader. They know that the person went through the journey with you and received what it is they bought.

 

  • Use a trusted Third Party to validate the reviews and add their credibility.

As much as a person is looking for product reviews on the website itself, using a third party like Trustpilot can add weight. They’re seen as an independent outlier with nothing to gain by manipulating your review scores.

If people have doubts, they often google your business name followed by reviews. This drives them to places like Trustpilot where if you’ve been ignoring bad reviews or soliciting unauthorised good reviews it comes to light.

We as a business use Clutch. All reviews must be submitted with LinkedIn authorisation and the team at Clutch authenticate each review before publishing. Sure, we have testimonials on the website but using Clutch helps support the claims we’re making.

 

  • Extend the types of reviews you’re getting

Getting customers to support reviews with images or videos adds another layer of authenticity. It is an extra step in the process that fake reviewers are unlikely to take and if you’re selling things like clothing or furniture and don’t offer a visual commerce option in the shopping experience, it reassures people that what they think they’re buying, they’re buying.

 

Summing it all up

Customer reviews are great for your business and can have a serious impact on the number of people who choose to buy from you. And with the number of new eCommerce stores on the rise, they can be the difference when things like price and delivery options are all the same.

But you need to play the game fairly. Be open and honest with the feedback and learn from it where you can whilst keeping as much as the problem solving out in the open. We’re not suggesting you air all the dirty laundry but always responding with ‘DM us or send us an email’ offers little reassurance that the issue was ever resolved beyond moving it to another channel, simply to be ignored there.

And the final word is that if you’re asking people to leave their opinion after taking an action, be prepared that not everything is going to be a gold star glowing response. Regardless of how hard you may have worked or how much effort was put into the interaction, we all have different expectations and you’re essentially competing with their last incredible customer experience.


Best Practice for eCommerce in Google Search.

There is little doubt that online shopping is growing, and it is becoming the first place to start a shopping journey but one of the biggest challenges is being found by customers.

Growth Intelligence found that in the 4 months between February and June of 2020, 85,000 new businesses launched online either by setting up their own store or by joining a marketplace. That is a lot of new competition.

Growth Intelligence Research Extract

But there are ways to put yourself ahead. About 48% of online shopping journeys start with a search engine and in the UK, over 87% of search is performed with Google. Understanding how eCommerce sites gain visibility on Google search is vital. Thankfully, Google has just released a new set of best practices for exactly that.

 

Best Practices for eCommerce in Google Search

Google Search Central has released new guidelines for developers to help improve search visibility for e-commerce sites. Although aimed at the developers, we advise that if you own or operate an eCommerce store, you should know and understand these new guidelines.

“When you share your e-commerce data and site structure with Google, Google can more easily find and parse your content, which allows your content to show up in Google Search and other Google surfaces. This can help shoppers find your site and products.” We talked a little about this in our previous blog, but these guidelines go further than just the merchant centre.

 

The Guide is Made Up of Seven Sections

There is a ton of great information contained within each of these sections and we can’t recommend spending a little time looking over and understanding them and how they impact your business and what you’re doing right now.

 

Key Thing To Note

One of the things we think you should take note of within these practices is that Google is more than just the traditional SERP (Search Engine Results Page). The way people search for information depends on where they are and what they’re currently looking for. Make sure that you’re doing everything you can to appear within places like Google Images, Google Maps, and Google Shopping. And make sure you’ve claimed your Google My Business Listing.

Another is making sure that you’re sharing your data with Google. The more they have the easier it will be for them to understand who you are, what you sell and how best to put you in front of your potential customers. So, if you aren’t using the Google Merchant Centre, make sure you start.

And one of the handiest sections is on structured data. It explains how Google uses the information to place people into highlighted sections like How To’s. Because it is run with machine learning, it is looking for things to appear on a page. If you add them in and do it in the way the algorithm is looking for them, you have a much higher chance of being picked up and the results appearing more accurately to the user for the search they have performed.

 

Got Questions after Reading the Guide?

We’re sure that having read the guide you’ll have questions that you need a little help answering. The good news is that Eclipse can help.

We have teams of developers and customer experience experts that can consult with you to discover where issue may be and help create a strategy to resolve them.

And we can go far beyond just getting people to the website. Once they’re there you want to make sure they can find what they’re looking for and checkout with ease.

The Experience team can offer site audits and ongoing CRO programmes to test, optimise and develop better shopping experiences for your customers. These things can take a little time but creating a 6- or 12-month strategy, with continued optimising and testing, means you’ll have continuous improvement.

All you need to do is reach out and we can start working on ways to win and keep more customers to your online store.


Want more people to see what you’ve got to sell? Google can help for free

So, it is almost an unavoidable fact that when people are on the hunt for something the first place they go is the internet. Whether it be on their mobile or via a desktop connection, they’re hitting a search engine to see if they can find what it is they’re looking for.

And in most cases, that search engine is Google.

The challenge for you as a retailer is to make sure that your product can be found when people start looking for it.

Well, we have some good news. Google is making it easier for you to do this and the even better news is that it is free.

 

Welcome to the Google Merchant Center

Google Merchant Center helps you get your shop and product info into Google and make it available to shoppers across Google. That means that everything about your shops and products is available to customers when they search on a Google property.

By adding your products to Google for free you’ll get it in front of shoppers who are using the Shopping tab, Google Search, and Google Image Search. And if you choose to, you’re also able to promote your products with ads later that can boost the traffic to your online store.

 

 

Getting Started is Easy

The team at Google have made it easy for you to get started with a full onboarding guide on the Merchant Center website and by creating this handy infographic that gives you the full breakdown in an easy-to-read format. Click the image below to open a full copy of the infographic that you can also save a copy of, so you've always got it handy.

 

You can also get to the infographic here

 

Making the Most of the Increased Traffic

Now that you’re set up and your products are featuring across Google, you want to make sure that you’re offering the best experience to those that visit your website.

Is it easy for people to find the information they need? Are they able to find answers to any questions they might have through FAQ’s or via live chat? Is the checkout seamless and does it offer all the payment options that people are looking for?

If the answer to those questions is maybe or we’re not sure, then the Experience team at Eclipse are here to help. This team of experts make sure that your website is offering the best possible experience to your customers so that you don’t miss out on any opportunity.

It’s as easy as just reaching out to us and having a chat. We can take a look at what you’re working with and see what can and should be done to enhance the experience for your customers.


Things Customers Hate About Websites (So You Might Want to Avoid Them)

Websites have been around for what feels like forever at this point and people spend a lot of time online. The amount of time people spend online has only increased massively since the covid-19 pandemic changed the way we live our lives.

As a result, we’ve all been exposed to more websites than ever before and there are things that some of them do that really annoys us. So much so that people will turn around and get the heck out of dodge, not sticking around to take a look.

We’ve done a little research and found the things that annoy people the most. Hopefully, your site isn’t guilty of anything of these things but if you are, now you’ll know and you’ll be able to fix it.

As always, if you need a little help the team at Eclipse are here for you. So, let’s take a look at what we found. And so you’re aware, there is no particular order to these, you’re going to want to fix them all.

 

Multiple Pop Ups That Come Out of Nowhere

Don’t get us wrong, if used well it is a great example of a feature that can help drive positive visitor engagement and can often be a good User Experience. A strategic pop-up – such as an exit notice or notification of an event or specific piece of content that relates to the page they are on – can be effective.

The problem comes in when pop-ups are everywhere, repeat way too frequently or are just plain nonsensical. It causes distractions and visitors to the site don’t want to have to be dealing with having to keep shutting down intrusive mini windows. You can be assured that their next click is likely to be away!

You did all the hard work getting them there, why put up barriers and click tests all over the place that distracts from the reason they arrived in the first place.

Ensure the marketing team is thinking about what is there already before adding a new one and always ask the question, do we really need it?

 

Slow Loading Pages

This feels like one we shouldn’t have to talk about anymore. Surely everyone understands that slow-loading pages are annoying. Having said that, it is still a problem for a lot of websites out there.

Visitors to your site expect swift loading times, and responsive website designs that function brilliantly on all browsers and devices. If you’re offering a slow experience, the visitor is going to bounce.

Amazon found that just a one-second delay could cost Amazon $1.6 Billion in sales – head here to find out why.

You can always check your load speed performance and you should do it regularly. Just head to Google’s page speed tool and enter your URL.

 

Little or No Contact Information on the Website

Having contact forms across the website and on your contact us page is great, and it is definitely something you should be using, but it can’t be the only way to allow people to get in touch with you.

It should not be a quest for fire when anyone goes looking for an email address or phone number. If your visitor or customer needs help, they want it now. They don't want to fill out a form and wait to see when, if ever, they get a response.

Let people get in touch with you via email, phone, and social media, and make that information available on your website. And if you’re able to man it well, live chat can be a great way to deal with quick questions people may have.

 

Asking for Too Much Information, Too Soon

So, your customer has added some stuff to the cart and is ready to check out but now you’re asking them to give you their life story before they can hand over the money. This is the fastest way to drive up cart abandonment and drive your conversion rate into the ground.

Requiring registration or even an entire account set up, before any transaction is a terrible idea. Users will be at best reluctant and at worse highly suspicious. It’s far better to let them check out as guests and offer them the ability to create an account post-purchase, should they choose to create one. And why would they be likely to do it post-purchase? Shipment tracking.

A usability test run by Jared.M.Spool allowed customers to continue and purchase on e-commerce websites without the need to register and the results were phenomenal. “The number of customers purchasing went up by 45%. The extra purchases resulted in an extra $15 million the first month. For the first year, the site saw an additional $300,000,000.” – Read the full article over here.

 

Spelling Mistakes and Out of Date Information

This is a pretty simple one, just don’t do it. There is little to no reason to have spelling mistakes all over the place.

There are countless tools, such as Grammarly and Hemmingway that take the basic spell check and kick it up a gear. Spelling mistakes really are in the category of unacceptable and drive down trust with potential buyers. It is also just plain unprofessional. If attention to detail on the website is missed, just think about what impression you’re making regarding customer service. It does little to create ‘good faith’.

Out of date information falls much into the same category. You’re doing nothing to help build trust with both new and existing customer relationships by having it all over your website.

It talks about the attention to detail and duty of care. Personally speaking, I am not about to drop any money on a purchase with a website that gives me a moment to pause and think about its legitimacy.

 

You’ve Got Broken Links All Over the Place

It’s hardly a shocker that users want websites that work. Clicking on links that lead to a 404 – page not found is more than annoying. It doesn’t matter how cool or quirky you’ve made the page, visitors just don’t want to see it and in all honestly, there should be little reason to have broken links all over the place. It also creates other problems. Did you know broken links can also hurt your SEO?

When Google's search engine crawlers discover broken links on your page, it decreases your site's search rankings putting those sites with working links right in front of you.

It is common for links to break from a site migration, page update, change in site architecture, or even just a typo but before you make any changes make sure that you add link checking or re-direction to the task list. Don’t let it become an afterthought.

Broken links interrupt the user experience and ultimately translate to lost revenue for your business. A good web developer can do wonders in helping you fix your site’s broken links. You can also make sure your links are all working by crawling your site with a program like Screaming Frog or SEMrush.

 

This is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

The problems mentioned so far are undeniably annoying, but it just scratches at the surface of what drives people crazy and pushes them away from your site.

Things like difficult or broken navigation, out of date look and feel, bad cheesy stock images everywhere, not working on all browsers and devices and having forms with way too many fields that need to be filled in before they can be sent kills the user experience.

Getting a website audit done and starting a continuous programme of conversion rate optimisation that builds on driving iterative change and improvement to your site is the best way to tackle the problems, improve on the experience you offer and make sure that you’re making the most out of the customers that visit your site.