Optimizing Online Review Management for eCommerce Brands

Effectively handling both positive and negative reviews is an essential part of marketing and online reputation management for your eCommerce brand. As much as negative reviews can harm your brand’s reputation if left untouched, ignoring positive reviews is a missed opportunity for growth.

On the other hand, not responding to either type of comment can be more damaging to your brand reputation than the comments themselves. This is because avoidance comes off as insincere, leading existing consumers to feel as though they are not a priority and that you only care about making the sale. Meanwhile, potential customers may see avoidance as a red flag, even if your other marketing efforts have convinced them to really consider a purchase.

Furthermore, customer complaints aren’t bound to review platforms. Negative content can show up in your search results for all to see. As a result, conversion-ready customers could decide to buy from your competitors.

To avoid damaging the reputation of your brand amongst existing and potential customers, put a plan into place to regularly monitor any reviews or comments that are made about your brand across the internet. Below, we’ve compiled some useful tips to leverage review management and boost your brand image.


Understand how online reviews work

There are many platforms to consider when managing reviews. Some reviews are more formal, like a comment or star rating on Facebook, Google Reviews, or Yelp. Others can be left in a comment on Facebook or Instagram, and can even be via a tweet on Twitter.

Don’t forget to check your direct messages (DMs), too– it is still just as important to foster this channel of communication even if it isn’t public-facing. This one-on-one interaction not only encourages repeat purchases, but it also does wonders for attracting new customers in terms of word-of-mouth recognition. Outside of the large platforms mentioned above, do a Google search of your organization’s name and relative keywords to find other places that may be collecting reviews.

According to BrightLocal, the average consumer reads at least 10 reviews before feeling as though they are able to trust a business. But don’t panic if you have one or two negative reviews. Review profiles that are 100% positive can come off to potential customers as fabricated, and consequently, untrustworthy. Negative reviews are inevitable for every brand, so treat them as an opportunity to improve your business. Doing so shows potential customers that you’re listening and that you care about their experience with your brand.

Remember, not all negative reviews come from so-called internet trolls. So before you jump to conclusions, sort out the fakes from the legitimate complaints. Real customers tend to make a more compelling argument for their grievances with plenty of details. Fakes, on the other hand, are most often filled with general statements, like “the food was terrible,” or “the staff was rude.”

If you see that a complaint is rational, it's a chance not only to respond and turn this angry customer into a happy one but also to see what's going wrong in your business.

Long story short, negative yet rational feedback from customers helps you spot problems and fix them to prevent further complaints. It's an opportunity for you to grow. Doing so shows potential customers that you care about communication and are dedicated to ensuring the satisfaction of your customers.


Use reviews as an opportunity to communicate with customers

Ecommerce brands have many advantages over brick and mortar entities. For example, set up and maintenance is usually quicker and easier, overhead costs tend to be lower, and you have the potential for reaching a wider audience.

There are, however, a few drawbacks to operating your business solely online. For instance, customer communication can lose its personalization without face-to-face contact. At times, this can make it more difficult to leverage brand experience in hopes of developing customer loyalty, especially if their comments and messages go unnoticed.

Responding to comments and reviews in real-time helps to fill that void and build the lasting relationship every eCommerce brand strives for. When customers leave positive feedback, take the time to thank them so that they feel appreciated and connected with the brand. When customers leave negative feedback, be sincere in working with them to resolve their issues. Even though this interaction is happening behind screens, tried and true customer service best practices still come into play here:

  • Listen first, then speak
  • Make a customer feel as though they are right (even when they aren’t)
  • How you say (or write) something is just as important as what is actually being said
  • Follow up days later to ensure their issue has been resolved

It is equally as important to implement customer-first strategies in eCommerce as it is in a traditional storefront setting. Enhance customer personalization even further by investing in different customer service related tools like secure personalized payment forms and platforms that allow for the customization of eblasts and messaging.


Use reviews to improve your product, service, or processes

No one likes to receive a complaint, but oftentimes, they are necessary for growth. Customers can make valid observations and suggestions about your products, services, and processes that you may not have considered before. Pay close attention to these suggestions, especially if you find many customers are repeating the same thought points or suggestions.

Implementing customer-driven changes shows that you’re listening and that you genuinely care about their experience with your brand. If you do make a change to your business processes based on customer suggestions, be sure to communicate these changes across the board by highlighting them on your social media channels and within your marketing. This type of customer-first mindset can help you improve your business across the board.


Use positive reviews as a marketing tool

Positive reviews can be a great marketing tool for your business. Show off kind words and testimonials from happy customers in your social media posts, eblasts, graphics, targeted ads, or promotional videos to increase your credibility with potential customers.

Using real testimonials from satisfied customers is an extremely effective way to convince potential buyers that your product and customer service can be trusted. Nielson research suggests that “92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.” In other words, your company can sing it’s own praises until the cows come home, but advertising other’s praises of your company can be that extra nudge for potential customers who are currently sitting in the decision-making process.


How to generate more reviews

If you followed the first tip and searched your company’s name under all of the top review platforms, you may find that your current pool of reviews is rather sparse. Though you may feel a sense of relief that you have managed to go unscathed by negative comments, you will want to put a plan into place to start generating some reviews. Having no reviews can negatively impact your conversion rate, too.

Case in point– imagine that you’re looking at two similar properties on AirBnb for a future vacation. One with about 100 reviews– mostly positive with a couple of negative experiences mixed in. The other, slightly cheaper, but with no reviews at all. Which rental would you go with? It’s safe to say that most would choose the location that has reviews. Why? Despite having a handful of negative comments, the reviews provide a sense of security for the consumer. To choose the slightly cheaper option without reviews would feel like a risk since you aren’t provided with any validation of the services advertised.

It’s never too late to generate feedback! Start by offering incentives for customers who leave reviews– it could be something as simple as 10% off or free shipping on their next purchase. For a more direct approach, consider customizing your purchase confirmation emails. Here, you can thank them for their support and kindly ask for a review. Or, you could target returning customers with chat software encouraging reviews. Make it easy on them by including links to your major review platforms right in the prompt. Customers are more likely to leave a review when they don’t have to go too far out of their way.

Proper online review management should be an integral part of your eCommerce strategy. Even negative reviews are an avenue for growth! Managing feedback is an impactful way to create brand loyalty and keep existing customers coming back for future purchases.