Stop playing it safe with reviews

Review strategy May 28, 2020

At some point in a business we all make the same mistake. We try to solve too broad of a problem or aim for too broad of a customer base. We make this mistake even though we know that for a modern brand to succeed, it must find, build for and market to a specific audience.

Knowing your audience is why the tone of voice Glossier uses is quite different than Barstool Sports. But this act of knowing your customer doesn't just change your marketing. It also changes the product you offer, the team you build & yes, the reviews you gather.

If we approach our audience too broadly, we also believe every review has to be "good". We wind up using moderation tools to ensure nothing with the even the slightest hint of negativity or critique shows up. But in doing so, we often kill our best assets.

Aiming merely for "good" or "not bad" in reviews is an uninspired goal.

Playing it safe.

Instead, reviews should aim to gather honest, specific feedback from customers both in their praises & critiques of products.

Specific feedback is compelling, for the right customer

Review on Nooks

In Michael's review for Nooks (boxer briefs) he talks about a couple of ways he wears them, then goes on to share "they are just a little loose which is perfect".

Is a little loose "perfect" for everyone? No, of course not! But for other customers who would also prefer a looser fitting brief, this review is gold. It's the type of review that will get them to make a purchase.

Honest reviews make clear who is a bad fit for your product

Reviews on Populum

Some brands would see John's 3-star review here & try to hide it, instead Populum featured it! It's clear when you read John's review that if you're looking for a lighter dose, this isn't the product for you.

Much like the Nooks example, it's both compelling to target customers (who want a higher dosage) & helps prevent a bad experience from folks outside of their niche. Remember bad experiences aren't free, your return rate can make or break your business.

"A refund costs you more than just the money you give back. You lose the shipping cost, your acquisition dollars, and many times the customer for life. "
- Alex McEachern, Loop Returns

How do you get more detailed, honest reviews?

  • Change the copy in your review requests

If you have a bland request, you'll likely get bland content. The defaults on any platform (including Junip) have to be generic, because great copy for your brand might be terrible for someone else. So edit it!

Much like any other email or landing page you'd put together, testing and tracking is your friend here. Timing and design can also have a meaningful impact.

  • Use product traits

Product traits is a structured way to leverage more specific feedback from customers. On Nooks, I can quickly look at their product page summary & understand in detail how their product performs.

Talk to your customers, read through support chats and understand the things people really care about when it comes to your product. Then make a product trait for it!

  • Stop over moderating reviews

Many brands are already getting detailed, honest reviews. They're just too afraid to share them.

Over use of moderation is the easiest way to kill anything of note in your reviews, rounding off the edges of feedback & leaving you with an uninteresting blob of "good". Sure it's not offensive to anyone, but it isn't overly attractive either.

While you can & should flag reviews that are offensive or inappropriate, we strongly encourage you to share everything else. 1-stars and all.

How will this impact your business?

You'll see a lift in conversion rate. When your target customer sees specific feedback that confirms what they're looking for in a product, they will convert.

And your returns will go down. By sharing honest, detailed context, you're giving customers who are obviously a bad fit an easy way to opt out. It's better to do it now than to pay for the returns later. There's also impact on LTV, brand & a whole host of other metrics. Not to mention the marketing material it gives your team.

Reviews are made to inform

We all love seeing new reviews come in and for good reason. It's a sign of a job well done by you and your team. But the content in your reviews is just as critical as the rating itself.

Reviews are made to inform customers with honest, specific feedback from previous purchasers. They help tell your product story, build your community and reinforce the brand you're trying to create. So stop playing it safe.


Co-founder at Junip

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