News Feature | January 8, 2018

Shoppers Lack Incentive To Write Product Reviews But Rely On Them To Make Purchase Decisions

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Study finds that online shoppers lack time and incentive from businesses to write product reviews.

Product reviews play a crucial role in purchasing decisions for online shoppers, but most online shoppers say they lack both the time and the proper incentive to write product reviews. This is, according to a new survey by business services ratings and reviews platform Clutch, which found that 81 percent of shoppers do not write reviews.  However, many of those same online shoppers say they rely on product reviews when considering a purchase.

The gap revealed by this survey provides a ripe opportunity for e-commerce businesses to do a better job of engaging online shoppers and address the reasons why they do not bother to write reviews. If this gap can be addressed, eretailers can grow the approximately 20 percent of online shoppers who do regularly write reviews and help boost their overall sales conversions as a result.

Steve Pearson, CEO of Friendemic, a social and reputation management company, believes that reviews are a driving force behind e-commerce. He asserted, “In an economy where we trust the collective wisdom of strangers, customer reviews are really critical to enabling those transactions.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • The majority (81percent) of online shoppers do not write reviews.
  • The greatest percentage (37 percent) of online shoppers who write reviews do so out of habit.
  • One third (33 percent) of online shoppers surveyed are more likely to leave a review when they are especially satisfied with a product.
  • Only 2 percent of reviewers are motivated by a negative experience.
  • Nearly one quarter (23 percent) of reviews are prompted by email marketing.
  • Shoppers identify lack of time (20 percent) as the leading reason they don’t write reviews.
  • Incentives would persuade 10 percent of online shoppers to write reviews, while 5 percent of those who write reviews cite incentives as the reason.

It is significant that just 2 percent of reviewers are motivated by negative experiences, while one-third of happy customers will leave a positive review. This suggests that if etailers do a better job of incentivizing their customers to leave reviews, the outcome will be better sales conversions overall. Reviews can also be boosted through the implementation of timely and effective customer service, including resolving an order issue or complaints.

The study also found that email marketing is an effective strategy for garnering reviews, prompting nearly one quarter (23 percent) of shoppers to write reviews. Among the chief obstacles to writing reviews reported by online shoppers were the lack of time and incentives. By establishing the most efficient review process possible, businesses can potentially reverse that unwillingness. One strategy is to request specific feedback via guided questions or star ratings.

Adding incentives like discounts or contest entries can also help secure more reviews, although companies need to be cognizant of Federal Trade Commission regulations that prohibit exchanging incentives for favorable reviews.

Experts say companies should use the review-gathering process to give customers the opportunity to alert them early on to problems that could undermine their satisfaction.

"If any issues arise within that initial use of the product, you can usually remedy the situation and put a stop to anything that might put a damper on positive reviews," said Dan Scalco, CEO of Digitalux, a digital marketing and SEO agency.

Both Pearson and Scalco encourage clients to focus on preserving their reputations for honesty while nurturing relationships with customers.

“You want to offer the coupon and tell them to leave an honest, unbiased review, and no matter what, you’ll receive this incentive,” advises Scalco. “If you believe in your product and your company, there shouldn’t be an issue of having to pay for your reviews.”

The full report included 1,000 consumers who made an online purchase in the past week.