The following is a guest post from James Agate, SEO Director at Skyrocket SEO – an eCommerce SEO company that loves to work with small and medium sized online retailers to help them make more money.
Want to increase visitors to your online store and make more sales without spending a penny extra on advertising?
Encouraging customer reviews is the way to do it!
As business owners we spend our lives trying to make our products and services stand out from the competition. Many of the eCommerce clients I work with have a great website that runs on a fantastic platform and is easy to navigate. They provide good customer service and offer a great choice of products but they fall down when it comes to their actual product pages.
All too often we see product pages that contain nothing more than a couple of images and a standardised product description that, if the product is sold elsewhere online, could be on hundreds of competing websites. This not only creates a poor user experience but it can also create duplicate content issues with the search engines – hampering your SEO efforts.
High-quality, unique content forms the bedrock of any successful SEO campaign and with Google’s recent Panda updates – it has never been more important to improve the quality of your web pages.
A great way to do this is through encouraging customer reviews on products. Not only will this give your SEO a real boost but also; according to Reevoo.com, a leader in the social eCommerce field in Europe, customer reviews can boost online sales by an average of 18%. That’s an increase in sales without having to spend an extra penny on advertising which means more money on your bottom line!
Trust and reliability are becoming more important factors to Google – an abundance of customer reviews will send the right kinds of quality signals to Google about your website.
Fresh content being added to your website without you having to invest any time or money – Google loves new content.
Target the long tail – user reviews add to the richness of a page which will give your product pages the edge in Google and get you ranking higher for product specific search terms (which tend to convert better).
User generated content like reviews add a social depth to your website which is important because customers are increasingly concerned with what their friends, professional network and even strangers say about a product or service = Better conversion rate.
In future, when Google opens up rich snippets functionality to the majority of website owners, eCommerce websites will be able to mark up their pages and product review information like a star rating could appear next to the search listing which results in a much higher clickthrough rate – again resulting in more traffic from the search engines.
Luckily, you can collect and manage customer reviews easily within 3dcart…
How to set your store up to collect customer reviews
Settings > General > Store Modules and then scroll to the product reviews section where you can tick or un-tick the options as required. There is also a tutorial within the 3dcart support area if you get stuck – Product Reviews Tutorial
How to encourage customer reviews
Incentivize giving reviews
We already know how powerful getting reviews can be and this should give you the encouragement you need to invest in incentives for generating reviews. I’m not advocating handing over cash or anything like that because like I have already said, this exercise is about boosting SEO and improving conversion without spending any extra cash. But a simple way to ensure you get customer feedback (and a repeat order) is to offer a discount or special offer coupon for use on their next order if the customer writes a review.
Email people that have purchased
When 3dcart version 4 arrives, you will be able to setup an autoresponder which sends an email to the customer a given number of days after they have purchased automatically. You can set it and forget it, and your website will be collecting reviews without you having to lift a finger.
In the meantime though, you could make asking for feedback a step in your fulfilment process as hearing from customers and adding that human touch is always a good thing to do. If you don’t ask, you don’t get is an old adage that very much applies to the world of customer reviews.
Embrace bad customer reviews
Encourage people to leave constructive feedback about a product you offer. It makes you look more authentic because you are A) accepting that we don’t live in a perfect world and B) it gives you the platform to respond, perhaps answering queries that you wouldn’t otherwise have seen, allaying fears of other potential purchasers and giving you the chance to flip a disgruntled customer into a delighted repeat purchaser.
That being said, it is worthwhile monitoring reviews that appear on your website to ensure factually incorrect, harmful or defamatory reviews aren’t published about your business.
Connect customer reviews with your social media presence
Garnering customer feedback might not always come in the format of written reviews, it can also be in the form of social proof i.e. likes, tweets and now +1’s. Social media is powerful so you should embrace it…According to recent data published by Hitwise; to an online retailer, each Facebook fan is worth 20 additional visits over the course of a year so it makes sense to ‘bake’ Facebook into your website and build Facebook into your marketing strategy.
You can already add Facebook like buttons to your product pages individually (my suggestion is that instead of like you change the format so that it says ‘recommend’ – see here for more details)
When 3dcart 4.0 arrives you will be able to easily add a Facebook send button to all your product pages. The Facebook send button allows users to send your URL to a Facebook friend’s inbox or directly to a group wall that they are a member of. This is powerful and can be leveraged by using your final customer feedback email to encourage users to revisit the page of the product they just bought and getting them to send it to their friends via Facebook – there is nothing more powerful than a direct recommendation from a friend that you trust or respect.
I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments section below