These days there are few things that are more effective for driving online sales than the power of positive reviews. Here’s a head-turning statistic – businesses with 200 reviews or more generate twice as much revenue. It’s no wonder why. 89% of consumers read online reviews before buying a product. In fact, nearly 55% of them read at least four reviews to make a purchasing decision. So actively gathering as many reviews as possible from customers can benefit your brand in multiple ways. There’s the obvious uptick in sales, based on the personal recommendations that customers are getting from reviews. There’s user-generated content (UGC) that boosts brand loyalty and can also play a significant part in your marketing efforts. Plus, there’s the fact that since potential customers can’t see or touch products online the same way that they can in-store, reviews really help to authenticate your brand.
But there’s also a catch when it comes to reviews. There’s one factor at play that can make or break review collection more than any other…and that is timing. 70% of consumers are willing to leave reviews. But they need to be asked at the right time.
Timing is everything
Ask a customer to leave a review too early, and they might not have had enough time to fully experience the product(s). Leave it too late and a customer may have lost interest in engaging with you, particularly if they are keen online shoppers who are used to receiving multiple products per month. Timing review requests properly not only helps you to maximise the number of reviews that you receive, but it also means that the feedback that’s submitted by customers will be far more genuine and relevant. Think about it – people don’t want to see feedback about a flat pack piece of furniture from someone who hasn’t assembled it yet!
The biggest faux-pas of all? Asking a customer to review an order that hasn’t been delivered to them yet. Yes, it happens, and it’s a dead giveaway to customers that your systems don’t speak to each other.
So is there a sweet spot between deliveries and reviews? Absolutely. Delivery data should be ultilised as much as possible to determine when review requests are sent. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that as soon as a customer receives an order, they should receive a feedback trigger – UNLESS the request is specific to their buying journey or experience with your business. If you are requesting feedback about the products received, on the other hand, delivery dates should be used as the starting point to gauge the best possible dates and times to look for feedback.
When to ask for reviews
The best time to ask customers for reviews will depend on a couple of factors – including the category of the product(s) in question, as well as the method of collection. For example, if you are going to be asking customers for feedback by email, then it would be wise to analyse your previous email marketing campaigns to determine what days have had the highest open rates and go from there. If you’re sending out review requests through SMS (which tend to work a treat, by the way since 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of being received), you’re going to want to pay close attention to customers’ time zones and the time of day that the messages will be sent. No one wants to have their phone ping with a text asking them to leave a review at 3 am!
While every brand is different and finding the sweet spot for asking for reviews will vary from one retailer to another, the general timeframe to use from delivery date to review request has been identified as follows:
White goods (for example – appliances, computers, home devices) – 21 days
Soft goods (for example – apparel, cosmetics) – 14 days
Perishable goods (for example – food, plants) – 14 days
Seasonal goods (holiday-specific items, e.g. Easter decorations) – 7 days
The role of technology
Of course, technology can do most of the heavy lifting here. There are many review platforms that specifically gather reviews and UGC, and can be integrated directly into most eCommerce platforms. There’s no question that trying to manually manage review request outreach would require more resources than most brands have, particularly if you are going to be sending follow up requests. It’s too laborious and really not necessary when there are more straightforward and cost-effective solutions on the market.
In order to get the most out of review software, however, brands need to have accurate, up to date delivery information (through delivery management software) that will inform your triggers and automations around review requests and also be able to identify any exceptions (for example if an order didn’t get delivered, is currently being processed as a return). This way, you can be safe in the knowledge that review requests are optimised. Because while customers are generally willing to provide feedback online, they are 21% more likely to leave a review after a negative experience with a brand. The last thing that any retailer wants is for a review itself to give rise to a bad customer experience.
Michelle McSweeney Content Marketer