Optimized Ecommerce EP 071 – How to Leverage Reviews Through Social Proof
Today on The Optimized Ecommerce Podcast, our returning guest from the BGS team—Mariana Dourado joins Tanner Larsson to talk about a topic that gets neglected by most ecom businesses, and that is—Social Proof Through Reviews. In this episode, Mariana will walk you through the process of how to leverage reviews inside of the BGS
Welcome to Episode 071 of Optimized Ecommerce – How to Leverage Reviews Through Social Proof. I’m your host, Tanner Larsson, CEO of BGS.
BGS means Build Grow Scale! It is a community that we founded where eCommerce entrepreneurs and physical product sellers come to learn how to take their businesses to the next level.
Mariana Dourado is one of the BGS Revenue Optimization Experts. She’s been with BGS for a long time now. She works on our amplified partner stores and helps out in different areas when it comes to optimizing split testing, running data tests, and scaling large e-commerce stores. She has a lot of skills in that area.
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
Mariana discussed the reasons why reviews are so important.
Reviews are one of the most important elements on a website, they’re a huge trust factor on the site because it’s user-generated content. Store owners definitely need a lot of attention in that area.
The reason why reviews are so important is that people don’t want to buy something where there’s an unknown factor, they want to know that other people have been there before them that have been satisfied, and that, it’s legitimate. Reviews give that extra trust factor and that extra kind of warm, fuzzy feeling before they make the purchase.
But reviews are not always something people could do with every store or launch a new product.
And then, Mariana talked about what can people do when they don’t have reviews on their website yet.
If a specific product doesn’t have any reviews yet, what they have to do is hide it until they have hidden the reduced widget in the review section. This should be done until they get those reviews because they don’t want to discourage users. Or if there are some customers who made a purchase, they might not like it enough to leave a review which is something that should be avoided.
What needs to be focused on is getting reviews. So that they can incentivize users by offering discounts or other offers. But while reviews are not present on the site yet, they can hide the widget in the review section.
We also discussed a few other fun topics, including:
- Better ways to leverage bad reviews.
- The best way to implement reviews on an e commerce store.
- Recommended apps in implementing review processes.
But you’ll have to watch or listen to the episode to hear about those!
How To Stay Connected With Mariana Dourado
Want to stay connected with Mariana? Please check out their social profiles below.
Also, Mariana mentioned the following items on the show. You can find that on:
Tanner Larsson 0:07
What’s up everybody, Tanner Larsson here, and welcome back to the Optimized Ecommerce Podcast very excited to be here with you guys today for another episode. Today we are joined by a repeat guest Mariana Dourado, which I know I said her name wrong and she hates me for it but I just can’t roll my “r’s” cuz she’s got such a cool sounding last name. So Mariana, real quick just say your last name.
Mariana Dourado 0:27
Dourado, Mariana Dourado.
Tanner Larsson 0:29
I can’t say that. Mariana is, as you guys know if you’ve been listening for s length of time, she is one of our Revenue Optimization Experts here at BGS. She’s been with us for a long time. And she works on our amplified partner stores and helps out in a lot of different areas when it comes to optimizing split testing, running data tests, and just basically scaling large e-commerce stores. So she got a lot of skill in that area. But today, we’re going to back up to a more simple topic that kind of gets neglected, if people don’t give it as much value and credibility and impact that it deserves in their business, and that is social proof through reviews. On Amazon, and we’re all aware. Reviews are kind of what gave Amazon its pizzazz in the beginning, people would leave reviews on there, the first thing you do when you go to an Amazon product is after you see the picture of the price, you scroll to the bottom, and you read the reviews, that is just as important on your own e-commerce store, whether it’s Shopify BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, or whatever platform. But we see a lot of stores, big stores, and small stores, not leveraging reviews the right way, or not knowing what to do if they don’t have reviews, or only have bad reviews or whatever, they just really don’t know how to utilize that stuff very well. So Mariana is an expert at how we leverage reviews inside of the BGS revenue optimization framework. And today, she’s going to walk you through that. So Mariana, thank you for being here. And thank you for allowing me to butcher your name once again.
Mariana Dourado 2:04
Thank you, sure, it’s good to be here. And of course, reviews are one of the most important elements on your website, they’re a huge trust factor. So they definitely need a lot of attention there.
Tanner Larsson 2:17
Now, with the reviews, obviously, as you said, there is a trust factor. And it’s user-generated content, right? But the reason that reviews are so important is because people don’t want to buy something where there’s an unknown factor, they want to know that other people have been there before them that have been satisfied. And that, it’s legitimate, and reviews just give that extra trust factor and that extra kind of warm, fuzzy feeling before they make the purchase. But that’s not always something you could do with every store or you launch a new product or whatever. Mariana, What do you do when you don’t have reviews?
Mariana Dourado 2:55
So if a specific product doesn’t have any reviews, yet, ideally, you should hide it until you have hidden the reduced widget in the review section. Until you get those reviews because you don’t want to discourage users, you don’t want them to feel like oh, no one has purchased it yet. Or if they have purchased, they didn’t like it enough to leave a review. So we don’t want this kind of thought. But definitely, you should focus on getting those reviews. So you can incentivize users by offering discounts or things like that. But while you don’t have it, you can hide the widget in this section.
Tanner Larsson 3:32
And so what we’re saying is it doesn’t say zero stars or doesn’t say anything, it’s just suppressed. Right?
Mariana Dourado 3:39
Right. Yeah, we don’t want them to see empty stars or no reviews yet, things like that, that could discourage the purchase.
Tanner Larsson 3:48
And this is something that we see a lot, especially on newer stores is they installed the review widget or app or they’re using the themes built-in review functionality, which we don’t recommend typically. But that automatically just puts up five empty stars. So it makes it look like your product has a zero star rating, even though it really just has zero reviews. And removing reviews, when you remove it, instead of it just being there, it’s just no longer top of mind. So they may not think about it, then they just let the product stand on the other elements on your product page. Now, if you have reviews on other products, or on your store, there are other ways you can leverage reviews. Right?
Mariana Dourado 4:30
Right. And then you should keep on the products you already have. And the general reviews as well we can use social proof on the homepage for example or other places. But yeah, we just want to hide them on products that don’t have reviews yet.
Tanner Larsson 4:46
Now a little side note here is if this is a product that let’s say a new bundle you created of your existing products and it doesn’t have any reviews. You can then port the reviews over from the other products that are in that bundle, to that new product, and then let those reviews represent the reviews for the bundles. They may look at the review. And it’s like, each review talks about one of the different pieces in the bundle, that’s totally fine. Or if you have a store that has a lot of store reviews, but not a lot of specific product reviews, you can use those store reviews on the product page as well. So you have the ability to put them all together. And when you’re launching a variation of a product or a bundle of a simpler product that does have reviews or things like that, that’s a great way to get started. And then once you actually get enough reviews on that product, you can then pull those other reviews away from it. Now the next one, Mariana, this is the big one. Alright, guys. So this is what everybody kind of freaks out about. And they feel like their world is over when they get a bad review. Now, we know most people, when they get a bad review, they suppress it. Because they don’t want people to think that there could be a bad review on their product. But there’s obviously a better way to do that. So why don’t you kind of walk us through all of that?
Mariana Dourado 6:06
Sure. So when you have any bad reviews on your product, many people think that they should exclude them to leave the website with that perfect image that all the products are flawless and things like that. But when we see a five-star review product, it typically gives us an impression that it’s a fake review or a fake section. So what people really want to see is how the company handle that issue, how they worked on solving the problem. So before you publish the review, it shouldn’t hide it, you shouldn’t exclude it, just make sure you respond to that review by showing how you fix that problem by offering a solution there. Because then people will see that it’s worth a try. And that if they have any problems, they can reach out to you and fix them. Because it can be that there was a shipping delay. And that’s not your fault. It can be that the product is great, but the user just didn’t like it, we know that this can always happen. So people understand that. So more than being worried about hiding the review or not be worried about solving the problem and showing people you solve it.
Tanner Larsson 7:17
And if you think about it, guys, when you look at reviews, nobody expects reviews to be perfect because the reviews you read are the bad reviews, you don’t look at the five-star reviews, you go want to go see the three-star and the two-star and the one star. Like Mariana said, Nobody believes in a perfect five-star rating. If you have all perfect five stars and that’s legit. Honestly, you should get yourself some bad reviews in there to help bring your average down a little bit. But again, like Mariana said, it’s how you answer it. Everybody knows that nothing is perfect, no product is perfect. And no customer is always satisfied. So they just want to be able to see that, hey, if something happens, like what if I ordered this sweatshirt and man the material is great. But I wish I got a different size, so I gave it a three-star. And then you the company responded and said, hey, we’re glad you love it. But we’re happy to exchange it for you, go here and do this, and we’ll send you the right size. But now if I read that, as a customer, I’m like, oh man, I was worried about getting the wrong size. And now I see that they’re totally going to handle it. And I also see that the negative review may not be that negative. It’s just like, yeah, they love the product. And that’s what a lot of them are a lot of the three-star reviews. It’s actually what you look at on Amazon. When you look at a three-star four-star review. You’re anticipating, okay, what’s the bad thing? Is it actually bad? Or is it something I can live with? Or is it only bad for that person? Or are they being too critical? Or whatever you’re looking for that kind of information, you’re looking to prove that three-star is still good enough for you to buy the product? You’re not looking to say no, I don’t want it. And what Mariana is talking about by responding to the review as a public comment on the review. It shows that, oh yeah, hey, things happen, the company fixed it, they were very prompt, they addressed it professionally. They made the customer feel valued. That’s how I’m going to get treated I buy my product.
Mariana Dourado 9:11
Tanner Larsson 9:14
Okay, so we talked about bad reviews, we talked about no reviews, and obviously, we talked about how having a perfect five-star rating doesn’t actually benefit you at all, either. And we actually have a couple of clients that are borderline five-star, it was a big effort to get them down to a 4.9. But the reality is they convert better at 4.9 than they ever did at five votes, right?
Mariana Dourado 9:39
Yeah, sure. It seems much more realistic, right? Otherwise, it seems like only your family and friends reviewed it.
Tanner Larsson 9:46
Or like man, they’re hiding all their bad reviews. No store doesn’t get that. And then that’s a trust breaker right there. It’s like, hey, they’re not even going to show the bad reviews. What are they hiding? And then that makes the customer just even more unlikely to buy.
Mariana Dourado 10:01
Tanner Larsson 10:01
Okay, Mariana, let’s kind of take it from the top now. Why don’t you walk us through the perfect way to implement reviews on an e-commerce store, specifically, say a Shopify store?
Mariana Dourado 10:12
So on the homepage, of course, it provides social proof, like reviews and ratings. And they should be real and they should be complete. So there should be the comment that the reviewer made about the specific product or service, the date of that review, the name and the nickname of that customer and the location, and also a picture of the product if that’s possible. So if you’re displaying products, like say, your best-selling products on the homepage, which I highly recommend, I should have the review stars and the number of views below the product titles, and they should be clickable. So once that’s clicked, you can either open a tooltip that will show the reviews from that specific product, or you can take them to the review section on the product page. If you choose the second one, just make sure that it’s a smooth scroll, people don’t want to be surprised and not understand where they were taken from. So make sure they understand that they’re going to the product page, to the review section. So the scroll should be seen and on the category pages.
Tanner Larsson 11:26
Wait, Mariana, let’s go back to the homepage for a sec. So what you had just mentioned was you’re displaying your best selling products, having the review stars clickable below the best selling products. Now, there’s another question, we see a lot of people adding review sliders or testimonial collages to the homepage that are either static or motion-based or whatever, what’s your stance on that?
Mariana Dourado 11:52
You can have the static reviews as well about, let’s say the company and overall reviews or about specific products, as well. But make sure they’re static because people like to be in control. So if it’s just auto-scrolling or something, it might confuse them and annoy them. So make sure that if you have more reviews, then you can show on the page that you had arrows, or that they are displayed in a way people can control it
Tanner Larsson 12:24
Perfect. Is there a sweet spot, in terms of how many they should put on the homepage?
Mariana Dourado 12:32
Well, let me talk about the social proof section, you can use, let’s say four reviews or so we don’t want a huge section of that. But the most important ones should be displayed on the homepage, definitely.
Tanner Larsson 12:49
And then have them click off to see more, to go to the main page. So that’s the homepage now you said the category page.
Mariana Dourado 12:57
So on the category pages, same thing, we should have the review stars and the number of reviews right below the product titles, this should also be clickable. And once they are clicked, the user should see all the reviews from that specific product. And on the product pages, you got to make sure that the app allows sorting, searching, and filtering the reviews. Once you have a bigger number of reviews. If you have like, let’s say three reviews, it doesn’t make sense to filter them. But once you have a big number, make sure you pay attention to that. And also it should have a rating summary chart as well. Where you can see filter by the number of stars. So let’s say, three stars, four stars, five stars, so people can go straight to the rating they want. And also, the app should ask for information from the customer. The name, nickname, and also provide a numerical presentation of the average rating and not just the stars so people can see exactly what’s the rating. And also make sure you have the information of what was the product variant they got. So if it’s a red T-shirt, medium size, it should be there so they know exactly what’s being reviewed. And also adding verified purchase information so they know that it’s not fake. And also once you have a big number of reviews, you should consider allowing users to filter the reviews by the product variation and the photo availability as well. So they can see how the product actually looks. Once customers get it and can really help them decide to purchase it or not.
Tanner Larsson 14:56
Now what Mariana just went through guys is a whole list. You’re probably like, whoa, that’s a lot of things to allow for reviews. And it is. But reviews have been proven and the people who engage with the review functionality on the page and using the filtering, convert at a massively higher rate than people who don’t interact with the review functionality, as well as they tend to spend a lot more money. So they’re on the higher end of your average order value. But with that, that is another reason why we don’t recommend using the built-in review functionality on a theme. Because it does not allow for the type of stuff that Mariana is talking about, to be able to do the numerical representation, the filter by stars, the searching of the reviews, the verified purchase, all those different things, you got to have a dedicated review app to be able to do that. And not all review apps are created equal. We’ve tested all of them. And we continue to test the new ones when they come out. And we clearly have our favorites and stuff which I’ll ask Mariana about that in a second. But just realize that your built-in theme functionality will not do that. And if just by having reviews on your page, it’s basically like taking your reviews and putting them on steroids by giving them this extra functionality. And you want that because it can make a massive, massive difference in your business. Everything Mariana just said is things that we figured out after tons and tons and tons and tons of testing. Also, if you don’t have it yet, the new version of e-commerce evolve, which you can get for free at EcommerceEvolveBook.com has an entire section on everything Mariana is talking about with screenshots and breakdowns and all the different category type stuff you need to do for your reviews. That’s only in chapter two of this book. So if you don’t have that yet go to EcommerceEvolvedBook.com and you can grab a copy. But moving on Mariana, what about how they implement this? What do we talk about? What kind of apps do we like? What do we recommend for this kind of process?
Mariana Dourado 16:55
So Stamp is the one that’s most recommended by far for most of our clients.
Tanner Larsson 17:02
That’s Stamps.io, right?
Mariana Dourado 17:02
Right. Also Jaco, Judge.me, and a lot of people use Luke’s as well, the thing is, you’ve got to make sure that the app allows these functionalities we covered. And then you can choose the best app based on pricing and other features, but make sure that it allows being customized like we’re talking about.
Tanner Larsson 17:28
Now, with the apps guys, they’re all over the place. And a lot of them have a lot of the same features and functionalities. Like Jaco is one of the biggest guys in the game they’ve been a great review company for a long time. They’re very expensive, and a lot of their competitors have come out and are doing more, or at the very least the same as what Jaco offering for less money. Does that mean Jaco is not great? No, they’ve got a lot of other really cool things that they can do as well. But then you’ve got companies like Stamp.io, that now do reviews, and they have a loyalty rewards type program that you can roll out as well and have it all integrated. So there’s a lot of different features there that are great, we’re not getting paid to tell you which app we like or whatever. It just, this one happens to be the one that we use the most. But Stamp looks and Judge.me are probably the three best that we see in the BGS world. Current favorite is Stamp. But if you have another review app company that you’re using, we’re not saying get away from them just implement what Mariana is saying and only consider switching for some reason, if you can’t do what you need to do within that app. A lot of them allow for most of what we’re talking about here, if not all
Mariana Dourado 18:42
Tanner Larsson 18:43
So another area Mariana that I wanted to ask you about. And this is something that we used to preach all the time, but I want to hear your updated knowledge about reviews in the cart and or in the checkout, what are the current best practices there?
Mariana Dourado 19:01
So that’s something very contextual. It can be a huge win for some stores, but it can be just a cognitive load for others. So that’s something I recommend testing. Because the thing is, once you’re in the cart step, you want users to proceed to checkout, there’s not much we want them to do besides moving forward on the purchasing flow, so we don’t want any distracting elements that will keep them from moving forward. So before adding anything like the reviews, make sure that they are available for your audience. So that’s something I definitely recommend testing.
Tanner Larsson 19:41
And guys, a couple of years ago we would say hey, you always got to have two or three good reviews in the cart or two reviews in the checkout underneath on the right side of the checkout. And it’s just not the case anymore. There are some stores that perform better with it and some stores that perform worse with it as Mariana said. So when we say contextual, that basically means that it’s going to depend on your store. It’s one of those things that there’s no hard and firm answer on, you just have to test it. And the other thing you have to test is it may not be that reviews don’t work, it may be that the reviews you used, don’t work, which is another thing, you could put three reviews that you think are amazing, and they don’t work. And then you remove it and only have one review that works. Or it may be three separate reviews that work better. So you have to test different combinations until you figure it out. You can’t rule it out by just saying, well, I tried three reviews, and it didn’t work, or I tried four reviews. One thing that Matt and I did find in our testing early on was that anything more than three in the cart, or even on the checkout, didn’t do you any good. There are diminishing returns. So it actually became more cognitive load at that point. And they also needed to be short, punchy reviews, not ones that really had to be detailed or consumed with a lot of focus, because again, as Mariana said, We’re not trying to distract them in the car we’re trying to move them on. So we don’t want to create a problem there. But again, as she said, You got to test this.
Mariana Dourado 21:13
Right, just a few other considerations about the reviews. So if you’re offering any benefits to the reviewer, let’s say you have a points program, and you’re offering 50 points for people who review it. That’s something nice to put on the actual review because users appreciate the honesty of the brand. So that’s not going to make the reviews fake or something, it’s an extra thing to believe the review because it’s like, okay, I’m getting the points anyway if I say a bad review, or a good thing, a bad thing. So that’s something to keep in mind as well. And also, users should be able to vote if the review was helpful or not. Because based on that, you can make the most relevant reviews, the most helpful ones more visible on your product page. And that can really help people decide whether to purchase or not. And also, the review stars below the title on the product pages should be clickable as well. And you shouldn’t hide the reviews. Behind the reviews tab only you can have a tab if that works for your store, just make sure that it was tested. But you should have the actual review section below the description on product pages as well. So don’t make it hard to find. Make sure people can easily see the reviews once they land on the product page. And the last thing, it doesn’t make sense to offer the option to share the review on social media. We’re not going to share something that someone else wrote about a random product. So that’s just extra cognitive load. Besides that, people can get distracted and they just go to social media and forget about your website and you made a lot of effort to make them be there. So make sure you don’t waste it.
Tanner Larsson 23:09
Good point, that was great. And guys, the other thing that I’ve noticed a lot especially in fashion or more artsy fartsy type of websites no detraction from them, but I just think it’s fun to say artsy fartsy. We’ve seen a lot of those websites that are very stylistic, a lot of them have been removing reviews from the website completely because it’s more stare or clean or minimalist or whatever. And some bigger brands are doing it. It’s not because they’ve tested it, it’s literally being done by someone who’s doing the design to mock up the layouts. And we know from tons and tons of testing that this loses. So if you see a site that had reviews, no longer showing reviews, don’t jump on the bandwagon just because oh man that’s so stylish, that’s so cool, that’s so hip, or whatever. We actually just reviewed a very large company that’s doing that. And they finally turn their reviews back on, even though their brand guidelines said they wanted to be more clean. And they saw a massive lift again in their performance, where before they were losing money because they didn’t realize that it was making that big of a difference. So anyway, that’s a great little wrap-up on reviews. Mariana, thank you so much for being here. Guys. What I need you to do right now is make sure you’re subscribed. BuildGrowScale.com/podcast is where you can get the show notes, the video podcast, you can get all the links to the different platforms we’re on. You can get all the show notes as well, and see all of our past episodes and everything else. And then finally, leave us a review on whatever platform you’re on. Leave us a review, tell us what you think, leave a comment on the YouTube videos, whatever. We’d love to hear from you guys. We’d like to know what you think we’d like to have the ideas that you give us for future episodes or guests or things like that, because again, guys, this podcast is for you, and with that, we’re gonna wrap this up. We will see you in the next episode. Thanks for being here and remember, BuildGrowScale.com/slash podcast. See ya.
Ecommerce Store Audit
Want us to do an Audit on your e-commerce store and show you how you can make some quick changes that will dramatically increase sales and profits without increasing your traffic?
Ecommerce Store Audit
Want us to do an Audit on your e-commerce store and show you how you can make some quick changes that will dramatically increase sales and profits without increasing your traffic?