Five minutes with Trustpilot on the importance of online reviews

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Neil Bayton, head of partnerships at Trustpilot, shines a light on the importance of online reviews for your eCommerce business and how the tool can help keep your customers satisfied and loyal, while also increasing your brand equity.

Why are reviews so important for online retailers?

I can’t think of anything better than to listen to your own customers. Sometimes you get so involved in what’s on your plate and your own KPIs, you forget to listen to what they have to say. When management consultants come into any business they ask you to put yourself in the shoes of your customers – to call up your technical support line at 5.25pm and see what happens and to look up your company online and see what the results are.

It’s really good to understand where you are going wrong, what are the pitfalls and what frustrates your customers. Especially, if you are a new business, because you are fairly flexible and can change things pretty quickly. Also, certain things come up in the topics of positive reviews that you might like to consider using as keywords on your website to increase traffic.

It’s so important for brand equity, by encouraging customers to leave reviews it instils trust in your brand very quickly.

How else can retailers take advantage of online reviews?

Trustpilot is the 20th most visited website in the country, which means we have a lot of domain authority with Google, so typically what happens is that if a retailer or brand has a profile page on Turstpilot with reviews – the good, the bad and the indifferent – because you’re on our platform, that profile page is highly ranked, so it’s very prominent on Google.

Additionally, if you are a business looking to grow and gain investment, we’re seeing a lot of peer-to-peer investment platforms, like Crowdcube, looking at reviews. So the sooner you start asking for reviews, the more trust you put in your brand, and these investment platforms are seeing five-star reviews almost as a social barometer for the health of your business. Before it was a case of having two years’ worth of books when asking for loans and investment, now they’re looking for other metrics like customer service, social media and reviews.

How can you encourage customers to leave reviews?

You do tend to see reviews being rated as positive or negative. We’ve all got so much going on in our lives, if you just had an “OK” experience, you’re not going to think about logging onto Trustpilot to leave an indifferent review – we’re motivated by fantastic or really bad experiences. The trick here is the invitation process. If customers are invited to leave a review via email, there’s no sign-in process, you don’t need to leave your inbox and it only takes as long as it takes to tap out your review. It’s also so interesting to see that one question results in such a paradox as customers tend to leave quite a bit of verbatim off the back of a simple question.

It’s also really important to respond to the reviews – good or bad – because retailers need to build emotional relationships with their customers. And just by asking for a review you’re building a relationship straight away, even if it’s negative, because you’re not shying away and you’re asking for feedback which is already one step ahead of rectifying the problem.

What do you imagine the future of reviews to be?

In recent years we’ve seen a reduction in trust consumers are having in businesses – especially generation Z and millennials. These consumers take a lot more notice of third-party reviews, because these are opinions from people who have nothing to gain – they’re not doing it for money, or to win a prize, it’s more as a public service. So while Instagram influencers are telling you how great a product is, often it’s because they’re being paid thousands of pounds, so they lack credibility. With this influencer trend increasing, I think third-party reviews are going to play more importance in the months and years ahead, and I think customers will be more likely to upload photos and videos attached to their reviews.

I also hope that a few years from now we’ll see ‘buy it now’ buttons next to reviews – that would be fantastic. Because consumers put so much of an onus on recommendations I don’t think you’ll need to go through the whole process of buying it online, instead they’ll think ‘I take so much credence from my peers, I’ll buy it straight from the review’.

Because remember it’s not what the brand says they stand for, but what the customers say it stands for.

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