Use them correctly and you can increase sales, attract new customers, and learn how to improve products. They may even spur innovation for new products. That’s a lot of goodness.

But where many businesses trip up is lack of quantity. They simply aren’t asking for reviews. Whether it’s because they don’t realize they need to, or they don’t know how to ask. Either way, we see it too often. This user-generated content (UGC) goldmine is criminally underutilized. Which is why we’ve created this comprehensive guide. To show you how easily it’s done.

 

Review collection: The ultimate guide

How often do you check reviews before visiting a restaurant, booking a trip, or buying something new? Probably most of the time. Maybe all the time. Shoppers these days rely on reviews to discover and evaluate products and services. Reading about the experiences of others instills confidence, builds trust, and inspires shoppers to return and buy again.

 

Even just a few reviews can have a significant impact on your business. Shoppers typically view up to 10 reviews before deciding what to buy, and they’re influenced by both negative and positive reviews. The more high-quality reviews you can get, the more benefits you’ll see.

The best way to get more reviews for your business is to simply ask. More than 70% of the customers who are asked to write a review actually do. Shoppers enjoy sharing their opinions and appreciate opportunities to interact with the brands they love.

There’s several ways to ask for reviews, from emailing consumers directly to offering samples in exchange. Here’s how to ask for them, and why you definitely should.

How reviews benefit your business

Before we get to how to ask customers for reviews, let’s delve into why you need them. In short, it’s great for business. Reviews build relationships and boost sales. Here’s the six top ways they can help your business.

1. Drive conversion

Shoppers place a high trust value on reviews and are more likely to purchase from sites with recent, high-quality reviews. In fact, they’re 2x more likely to convert when they interact with reviews. Product pages with at least one review can see a 354% conversion rate increase and a 446% revenue increase per person compared to pages without reviews, according to Bazaarvoice’s Shopper Experience Index.

Strategy in action: Australian online appliance retailer Appliances Online worked with Bazaarvoice to increase reviews and was able to gather 386,000 total reviews, which the brand uses on its product display pages. This influx of UGC translated to a 3x higher conversion rate.

Business technology company Brother International Europe also worked with Bazaarvoice on its reviews strategy and has since seen customers spend 3x longer on product pages that have reviews.

2. Boost revenue

Reviews entice shoppers to spend more time on product pages and increase conversion rates, often giving brands a revenue boost. Businesses can drive 52% more revenue when they have nine reviews and 108% more if they have 25, according to Womply. Businesses with a higher-than-average number of reviews experience a 54% increase in annual revenue.

Strategy in action: Feelunique, Europe’s largest online beauty retailer, saw more than $10 million in annual sales after working with Bazaarvoice to grow its reviews. The retailer experienced a 140% increase in conversions, a 32% lift in average order value, and a 375% jump in the time customers spent on the site when they interacted with visual UGC.

Reviews, both negative and positive, also give customers a true sense of what a product looks like and how it works. This helps them make more informed purchases. This often reduces return rates, which is good for a brand’s bottom line, too.

Strategy in action: Fashion brand GANT began including product reviews on its website, it slashed its return rate by 5%, significantly increasing revenue.​​

3. Establish trust

Shoppers want to feel secure when they purchase something and confident that what they buy will meet their needs. About 80% of consumers trust online reviews and 40% rely on them to inform their purchases, our research shows. Most shoppers trust reviews, just as much as, if not more, than a recommendation from a friend or family member. Ultimately, they inspire consumers to continue purchasing from the brands they trust.

Consumers want to hear what their peers have to say. Encouraging reviews, displaying them across your channels, and engaging with shoppers by answering their questions builds trust and promotes authenticity. And this will translate into sales.

Strategy in action: French retailer GroupeAdeo launched a UGC program with Bazaarvoice to collect as many ratings and reviews as possible, and realized that 50 reviews increased orders by 30%. The process aided the brand in establishing itself as a trusted expert, reassuring customers along the way.

4. Learn about your shoppers

Hearing directly from shoppers lets you get to know them a little better, including what they’re buying, why they’re buying specific items, and how they’re using them. You can use this knowledge to understand what experiences customers want, what messaging will resonate most, and what items they’re likely to buy in the future.

The ability to offer personalized experiences builds customer loyalty. Keeping loyal shoppers happy is less expensive than acquiring new customers. Having personal interactions with shoppers usually leads to higher sales, especially among loyal shoppers, and reduces marketing costs by as much as 20%, according to McKinsey.

5. Improve SEO performance

When shoppers are hunting for a specific item, they often start on a search engine like Google. Search engines rank brand websites higher when they have fresh content, and one of the best ways to rank higher is to ensure new reviews are constantly coming in. More than 60% of brands rely on ratings and reviews to
boost their SEO performance.

Essentially, reviews ensure customers can find you easily through SEO. The professionally written descriptions on your product pages sound great but they likely use wording different from what consumers use to search. For example, your team may identify something as “cigarette pants,” while shoppers are actually searching for “skinny black pants.” UGC is written by real shoppers, so it is more likely to contain keywords that match what consumers are querying.

Also, use tools and plugins to display social media content on your website, including videos and influencer posts that are SEO-friendly.

Strategy in action: Bazaarvoice customer Primal
Kitchen
 has a blog of recipes that incorporates its products and adds keyword-rich content to its website that boosts SEO.

6. Improve products

Consumer reviews offer insights into what about their products is working and what isn’t. UGC often identifies issues with products, new use cases, and areas for product innovation. In fact, 25% of shoppers want businesses to use their positive reviews to make product improvements, and 38% want their negative reviews used for this purpose.

Strategy in action: Nestle Canada leveraged Bazaarvoice’s insights and reports solutions to improve products. The brand changed the formula of one of its iced tea products and soon after its release, negative reviews grew and sales dropped. But, this helped the company act quickly to return to the original iced tea formula, which increased ratings from 1.7 to 4 stars.

What customers look for in a review

We know how important reviews are for shoppers, and that they can help brands boost sales, drive conversions, and build emotional connections with consumers. But, what specifically do shoppers notice and care about most when they read a review? It’s a combo of quality, quantity, recency, and relevancy.

Here’s a deeper look at what customers look for.

1. Recency

Gathering as many reviews as possible is crucial for a successful UGC. But, it’s not a one-time thing. Keeping a fresh flow of UGC content coming in is even more important than how many reviews you have. Not only will new content improve your SEO, it instills confidence in shoppers.

Less than half of shoppers consider a product review older than three months to be relevant, and just 25% of consumers think reviews remain valuable after 12 months, our research shows. 81% of consumers value review recency as much as or even more than the quantity and quality of reviews, and most would rather buy items with fewer reviews overall if they were written recently.

With Bazaarvoice’s ReviewSource tool, you can tap into our Influenster community where more than a million new reviews are written each month. This solution offers an ongoing flow of review content, and for every 10 reviews, brands see a 5% sales increase.

Strategy in action: With ReviewSource, beauty brand Pacifica gathered 2,000-plus reviews in just a few months.

2. Quantity

The more product reviews you have, the better—though, there’s not necessarily a magic number to reach. One review alone lifts purchases by 10%, our research shows. Every review brings exponential growth. For example, 50 reviews can increase sales by 30%. Focusing on increasing review volume is an essential strategy for business growth.

Products with a high number of reviews influence consumers, especially when they’re looking for electronics, home goods, clothing, grocery items, clothing, packaged goods, and health and beauty. When products lack reviews, nearly half of consumers say they’re “somewhat” or “substantially” less likely to purchase.

Strategy in action: Using Bazaarvoice Insights, KidKraft, a manufacturer of children’s play products, collected 56,000 reviews, which were syndicated across more than 50 retail sites. This led to about 100,00 reviews across our network and 100% review coverage with retailers.

3. How brands respond to negative and positive reviews

Shoppers feel the deepest connections when they feel brands understand their needs. 57% will spend more when they feel that connection and 76% will keep shopping with those brands, according to Sprout Social. An effective way to build and solidify these connections is to listen to shopper feedback and respond—no matter if the feedback is negative or positive. Nestle Canada did just that when it listened to customer sentiment about its new iced tea product and made a change to regain their trust, and it paid off when sales increased.

Responding publicly to positive or negative feedback builds trust, and about a third of shoppers expect
a public response
to a review. No one wants to receive any negative feedback, but it’s inevitable so it’s important to show customers that you’re dedicated to righting wrongs. Negative reviews, which detail a product’s best and worst features, are sometimes even more useful to shoppers than positive ones.

Our brands use negative reviews to gather insights into manufacturing problems and customer service issues and take action. Responding to negative reviews increases the chances that a shopper will purchase with you again, keep loyal shoppers coming back, and attract new shoppers.

Bazaarvoice Connections enables brands to respond to feedback and questions across retailer sites, and brands that use it see an average conversion lift of 98%.

4. Featuring reviews with visual UGC

Visual UGC, including photos and videos, is perceived as more authentic and trustworthy. Consumers also think visuals are more helpful. They can see how clothing fits or what furniture looks like in a real living room. When asked what kind of content shoppers want to see on product pages, 31% preferred more customer photos and 17% more customer videos, according to our Shopper Experience Index 2020.

Visual UGC along with reviews heightens product discoverability, increases purchases, and makes shopping experiences more exciting. To help brands with their visual content strategies, we debuted the Visual
Syndication Network
for brands to gather visual UGC from social media and distribute it across our network of retailer sites. Our Galleries feature integrates visual content from social media into brands’ websites. Brands using this tool have increased conversions by 150% and overall order values by 15%.

5. Authenticity

Consumers place a high value on transparency these days. They want every interaction to be as authentic as possible, and that includes reviews. Shoppers are concerned about fake reviews, with 54% saying they won’t purchase a product if perceive a review to be fraudulent, according to our research. Seeing multiple reviews worded similarly, content that doesn’t match the product, and an overwhelming amount of five-star ratings are red flags for consumers.

Fake reviews diminish trust, and once trust is lost, more than 80% of consumers will never shop with that brand again. They’re also likely to leave a negative review and post about the experience on social media. Having procedures for uncovering fake reviews will keep you in good favor with shoppers. Luckily, our moderation tools can do that for you.

Brands can reassure shoppers that reviews are indeed from real consumers by setting up a verified buyers program, which identifies reviews with a badge or icon. Verified buyers have been shown to sway shoppers and boost sales, as consumers consider them more reliable.

How to collect reviews from consumers

Growing your review volume will help shoppers make more informed shopping decisions and give brands the opportunity to boost revenue and build a loyal following. There’s several ways to collect more reviews and keep review content fresh. Here’s how to do it.

1. Create a sampling program

Everyone loves a freebie. We’ve found that 88% of shoppers like receiving free samples, according to the Bazaarvoice Shopper Experience Index 2021. And, over half of shoppers are willing to write a review about free products, and a third will post about them on social medial. A product sampling program increases discoverability and is a great tactic to increase reviews for a new product release or to freshen up existing content—and most of the reviews come in quickly.

Through Bazaarvoice’s Sampling solution, we match brands with shoppers from our Influenster community to find the ideal consumer to sample products. We’ve found that of the shoppers who’ve participated in our sampling campaigns, 63% purchased the product they sampled with most buying other products from the brand, 87% recommended the product and brand, and 50% followed the brand on social media.

Strategy in action: McPherson’s Consumer Products, a health and wellness brand, worked with Bazaarvoice to send samples of its Manicare brand to shoppers and have continued to run sampling programs. About 20% of the brand’s new reviews come from sampling.

On the retailer side, Bazaarvoice customer Home Depot Canada leveraged Retailer Managed Sampling to debut its Seeds Sampling program. Seeds Sampling puts products in the hands of customers in exchange for honest reviews. The program has already some brands on HomeDepot.ca double their conversion rates.

 

2. Request visual UGC

While shoppers seek out written reviews to learn about products before purchasing, reviews with photos
and videos
particularly resonate. In fact, 62% of shoppers are more likely to buy products with reviews
containing visual UGC
, according to our data. Consumers are growing to prefer visual UGC over professionally shot photos because shopper photos display products in action in real-life settings and seem more authentic.

So, make sure you’re allowing and actively encouraging shoppers to submit visual content. The visual UGC can also be incorporated into your marketing campaigns to elevate the customer experience. When you send a PIE or message a consumer on social media, ask them to submit a photo or video showing how the product meets their needs or fits in with their daily routine.

Strategy in action: Home Depot Canada has seen great results since launching Bazaarvoice photo syndication, which is the collection and distribution of visual UGC for brands to retailer websites. More than 930,000 of its syndicated reviews now include photos and about 1.4 million of the photos have been syndicated.

3. Add syndication tools

Bazaarvoice’s syndication tools are a great way to enrich the organic reviews that you collect from social media or PIEs. Review syndication involves collecting UGC and distributing it across different channels, like social media and brand websites, to reach more shoppers. Syndication drives sales since it puts UGC right in front of 20x more consumers no matter where they are.

Consumers are 6x more likely to purchase from product pages with images from social media. Conversion rates go up by as much as 150% when shoppers interact with visuals.

Strategy in action: Direct-to-consumer brand Primal Kitchen increased conversions by 131% on Target.com using syndication. The brand uses the Bazaarvoice platform to curate UGC content from customers and distributes it across its channels. Primal Kitchen also syndicates visual UGC on its Target.com product pages.

4. Ask on social media

Social media is where brands and customers go to connect. And, that makes it a great place to ask for reviews. Especially since people typically use social media platforms on their phones and are likely to respond to review requests quickly via mobile. 64% of consumers say they want brands to connect with them on social media, and 37% expect brands to promote UGC, according to Sprout Social.

More than 25% of shoppers say they’ve been approached on social media about leaving a review. You can target customers on social media to ask them to leave a review or send a general branded message asking for one, and include a link to make reviewing easier. If influencers are part of your marketing mix, invite them to leave product reviews. This will resonate with shoppers who often base purchasing decisions on influencers’ recommendations.

A good time to ask for a review on social media is after someone tags your brand in a post, likes a post, or interacts in another way. And, you’ll get bonus points if you respond publicly to reviews. Here’s an effective template for asking for a review on social media:

Do you love [brand name or product name]? We’d love to hear from you! Would you mind writing us a review? Click here here to share your thoughts with us. [add the link] Thanks—we appreciate it so much! 

5. Send a post-interaction email

Almost 50% of consumers say they’ve been asked by email to leave a review. And, it’s one of the best ways to rev up UGC. Most people check their email regularly and are likely to open a message from a brand they trust.

We’ve found that a post-interaction email (PIE) can account for 70% of a brand’s review volume. Sending a PIE increases review volume by 50%. Brands that use Bazaarvoice’s In-Mail and Multi-Product Submission features see review volume jump 8x.

PIEs should include a link to the product purchased to leave a review and a simple call to action, such as “write a review.” Ideally, send the email after the consumer has tried the product, but when the purchase is still on their minds.

Take the time to personalize the message and thank shoppers for their recent purchase or continued loyalty, too. Here’s the perfect PIE email example:

Dear [customer’s first name], 

Thank you for purchasing [product name]! We hope you’re enjoying it. If you have a second, please share your thoughts with us by leaving a review. We love hearing what our shoppers have to say, and are always looking to improve. Your review will also help your fellow shoppers make the right purchase in future. 

Leave a review”

Thanks so much for leaving a review! We love you! 

[Brand team]

Honestly, there’s multiple ways of asking for reviews. All are effective in their own right. Which is great for your business. Because the more you increase your review volume, the more likely you’ll reap the benefits. Bazaarvoice’s Ratings & Reviews tool, including built ininsights and analytics, can get you started on your review collection journey.

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