It’s no secret that customer reviews have a powerful influence on the buying process. It's common nowadays for consumers to visit both company and social sites in search of customer reviews before deciding to make a purchase or visit a retailer. Just look at how popular review sites, such as Yelp, have become in recent years! With this shift in behavior, email marketers should be collecting this information during their post-purchase series and sharing it with customers and prospective customers. Shoppers have absolutely come to expect it. After all, no one wants a bad experience. Not convinced that reviews should be a significant part of your strategy? Consider this:
  • According to a recent survey, more than two-thirds of US respondents said social media influences their online shopping behavior, ranking reviews and feedback as their foremost activity at 40%.
  • According to YouGov, 88% of consumers in the US trust reviews as much as they do personal recommendations made by friends and family.
  • According to Vendesta, only 14% of consumers would consider using a business with a one or two-star rating, while 57% would use a business with a three-star rating and 94% a four-star business.
One option for acquiring reviews is through Facebook, which can be especially important for smaller businesses that compete daily with the “Amazons” of the world. Find more on options for reviews in the General settings for your brand's Facebook account.

Reviews Are Enabled. Now What?

Enabling the review functionality is the easy part. Now the real work begins. How can you encourage customers to visit your Facebook page to leave a review? Let's look at two methods: through your website and your email marketing program. Website Acquisition Add a callout to review the purchase experience on Facebook immediately after a purchase is made. At this point, consumers are hopefully happy with the process. After all, they just bought from you. In this situation, you are securing reviews for the purchase process itself, not the actual product, which leaves open the possibility of gaining a second review from the same customer once the product is received. If the purchase happened in-store, have your store associates invite customers to leave a review on Facebook during checkout. If your business allows you to reward customers for checking in (e.g. free cup of coffee for checking in), add an alert to your signage to prompt customers to leave a review while checking in. Email Marketing If you send a product review message as part of your post-purchase series, adding a Facebook review message can be a great addition to your post-purchase arsenal. All you need is a last order date. Asking customers to do a quick review on Facebook will give you great insight into how you're doing from a customer service perspective, and it can also bolster your reviews from purchasers. If you are currently sending a product review message to purchasers, you may want to consider a few options. You could include a Facebook review callout in your bounceback message, include a secondary callout in that email for Facebook reviews, alternate which review message is sent, and/or include them both in the post-purchase series. Once your reviews have gained traction, consider drafting a message directing people to read your Facebook reviews and then include that message in your welcome series. Better than a social invite message, this message will not only send subscribers to your Facebook page but will also provide them direction on what to do next. This may be just the push new subscribers need to continue through the purchase funnel.

Responding to Negative Reviews

Be sure to monitor responses and react accordingly to negative ones. While a less than favorable review is just someone’s personal perception, perception is reality on social sites. React professionally and provide great customer service. Show a potential customer you are eager to resolve any issues. Customer service is one of the primary reasons people choose whether to do business, or continue doing business, with a company. Here's an example of how it could go horribly wrong. This establishment received a poor review, and it went completely downhill from there. The owner quickly chimes in and begins to take a targeted approach as to why the customer might have been wrong, which then unleashed a firestorm of comments back and forth between the original customer and the owner. As Ron Burgundy would say, "That escalated quickly!" It took only a short period of time before other people not involved began adding their two cents, to the tune of 27 more comments. This could have been enough to scare off potential customers. While it can be tough to take, it's OK to get a less than favorable review. When a user visits the social site and reads reviews, they're able to get a feel for the general purchase experience. And when the review is negative, how you respond is particularly important. This response below provides a link pointing directly to what the customer was seeking. Overall, reviews on this page were overwhelmingly positive. One even specifically mentioning the large selection of products.

Final Thoughts

A rating on your social site of 4.5 out of 5 stars can make all the difference in the world for prospective customers. Will they take the leap with you or immediately search for other options? Here's a great example. I have three stores to choose from, but my eyes immediately favor the two with better reviews. I also notice the one with the three-star review only has two reviews altogether. Personally, I would completely remove this store from my list of options altogether. Remember, your strategy for customer retention and acquisition should span all channels and touchpoints. Harnessing reviews on one of the most powerful social networks should be on your to-do list. The worst that can happen is you learn how to improve your customer’s shopping experience. And that’s hardly a bad thing.