How to Obtain & Manage Reviews for Ecommerce

Now that you’ve built a beautifully responsive website, optimized it for SEO, launched a strategic social media campaign, incorporated multiple payment methods and eased as many barriers to conversion as possible, it’s time to start focusing on reviews.

Reviews are a fantastic way of converting online shoppers and have become an ecommerce merchant’s best advertising weapon.

Reviews are a fantastic way of converting online shoppers and have become an ecommerce merchant’s best advertising weapon. Just like you, I do a lot of online shopping and rely on reviews to better understand how a product works in the real world. The last thing anyone wants is to get burned by a faulty cornballer; and who has time to saw their own boat in half? Not me.

Since reviews are user-generated, they collectively act as a de facto consumer advocacy group either giving products and brands their blessing or saving the community from future harm. Let’s take a look at how you can obtain reviews and what to do once you have them.

Your Volusion store has several configuration variables (Config Variables) you’ll want to activate in order to allow customers and visitors to leave a review.

From the backend of your Volusion store, head to the Settings & click on the Config Variables tab.

Once there, use the search function at the top left of the page.

Type in “reviews” to find the config variables we need and click Search or hit Enter on your keyboard.

You should see the list below:

I suggest activating all of these variables. Some of you may be wary of enabling anonymous reviews, but these can be monitored through the “Customer Reviews” section of your Volusion store’s backend and any fake reviews can be easily removed.

You should also search the term “surveys” and activate the automated email requesting post-purchase reviews. This will send an email to your customers however many days after a purchase is marked as shipped in your Volusion backend as you choose. Make sure you give your products enough time to arrive to your customers before having the review email sent. This can be controlled by the “Auto Survey Email After Number of Days” variable. If your products take 5 days to ship, consider setting this variable for 10 days (or so) to account for weekends and any hiccups along the way.

You’ll need some knowledge of HTML to edit the email template, however it is set up to be good to go from the start! Feel free to leave as-is or add a little personalization to connect with your customers.

To find the correct template, navigate to Design and click the “File editor” tab.

From here, you’ll need to click the “Select” tab from the “Choose File” section. Then Choose “vspfiles,” then “email_templates,” then “Product_Review_Request.asp”

Now that your reviews and auto survey config variables are activated, it’s time to start focusing on obtaining reviews. New merchants will likely be facing a few common problems:

  • No one knows who you are
  • No one has bought any of your products yet
  • You’ve already tried and failed to get reviews
  • Other sites are selling the same/similar products with tons of reviews

To be honest, that all sounds pretty scary. I suggest a few deep breaths and maybe a leisurely stroll around the block before we continue…okay, let’s go!

Friends and Family

When it comes to daunting tasks, I like to start with the low-hanging fruit. In this case, that’s your friends and family. Your friends and family are able to go through the entire buying, delivery, survey and review process to help you identify any issues including shipping, branding, and of course, product performance. They can provide an honest assessment of what potential customers will experience allowing you to nip any issues in the bud.

The review friends and family provide should be truthful and informative.

The review they provide should be truthful and informative. A fake review exaggerating (or worse) the quality of your products will not get you very far and we do not recommend asking for one. Acknowledging a friendly or familial connection is not a bad thing and could go a long way towards showing how “real” your brand really is.

Influencers

Social media has allowed people to not only connect with one another from anywhere in the world, but become their own extremely profitable online brands. While they themselves greatly profit from the arrangement, they also expose their followers to some pretty rad stuff.

You may get much more traction and effort from someone with a lesser-known name.

While I do suggest going for the big names, as they can provide the most exposure, I always go back to that “low-hanging fruit” analogy. You may get much more traction and effort from someone with a lesser-known name — think tens of thousands of followers rather than hundreds of thousands or millions. However, if you’re going for the big guns, be prepared to make the process as simple and seamless as possible, as their time is worth more money than us regular folk. It’s a crazy world!

Email Marketing and Newsletters

Every merchant should be offering a way for visitors to their website to sign up for newsletters and special offers. Email marketing & newsletters are a fantastic way to stay top of mind and give your customers and fans a reason to visit the site. Those who have previously made a purchase and/or shown interest by signing up for newsletters are more likely to purchase again and provide a review once they have. Emma has an easy to use platform that provides plenty of customization and detailed reporting. I love it!

Review Monitoring

So, you’ve started to see reviews coming in – what now? I really like Yotpo for managing reviews. Yotpo easily integrates with your Volusion store and with a few simple steps, you can have their AI-powered review system up and running in no time. Potential customers can directly ask questions regarding product features and benefits receiving answers from both past buyers and your team.

Yotpo easily integrates with your Volusion store and with a few simple steps, you can have their AI-powered review system up and running in no time.

The platform also allows you to ask customized questions in your post-purchase review requests to gain deeper insights into how you can improve the buying and shopping experience, as well as your product offerings. Customizable widgets give you the ability to create eye-catching review options truly unique to your store that have proven to increase engagement. The Yotpo dashboard is easy to use and provides all the relevant metrics you need to make informed decisions regarding your customers, products, and the future of your brand! To learn more about integrating Yotpo into your Volusion store, check out the Volusion: Installing Yotpo blog.

Responding to Reviews

When responding to reviews, remember that you are responding to a customer that you’d like to keep and that other customers will see each response you provide. It may go without saying, but whether it’s on your Volusion store or another online review site, you should always respond to every single review – positive and negative reviews.

Always remain kind and courteous, never antagonize reviewers and, most importantly, make it right.

Always remain kind and courteous, never antagonize reviewers and, most importantly, make it right. Some poor reviews are going to be legitimate, whether we want to believe it or not. If a product is defective or a customer is not happy for any reason, fixing it will show that you are dedicating to running an honest business and that you value your customers’ opinions. Once you have remedied the situation to your customer’s satisfaction (which, honestly may take some work), ask them to amend their existing review or remove it and add a new one outlining the entirety of the experience.

Leveraging Reviews

It’s important to make the most out of each and every review. Using reviews to optimize your product descriptions is a great way to beef them up with the relevant information customers want that you may not have thought of. Reward reviewers with special coupon codes and shoutouts on social media to provide a "thank you" that’s both valuable and endearing.

Don’t forget to use your reviews to improve your product offerings.

If someone says something exceptionally kind, you should feature that on your website’s homepage or in a social media post with a comment about your dedication to and thanks for all of your fans and customers. Also, don’t forget to use your reviews to improve your product offerings whether it be regarding packaging or actual functionality.

It’s important to have a strategy for obtaining, monitoring, and leveraging your reviews that works for you and your customers. Just like SEO, this is not a project that can be accomplished overnight or even in a few months. This is a marathon you’ll have to run for as long as you own your online business. However, the return on investment can provide lasting effects that drive sales for years to come and there are plenty of resources available to help streamline the process.

Be patient. With thoughtful, careful execution, your efforts will bear fruit.

Be patient. With thoughtful, careful execution, your efforts will bear fruit. Don’t forget that you are relying on the kindness of others to obtain reviews and many reviews you receive will be from emotional people, which can be a very difficult and delicate matter. Keep your emotions out of it while putting all of your heart into it! This is about the success of your brand and not a personal fight with a troll or angry stranger. Your customers will appreciate the kindness and visitors to your site will know they are dealing with an engaging brand that knows how to act professionally.

How do you manage your ecommerce reviews? Let us know in the comments!