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GUEST COMMENT Customer reviews: The benefits and importance of reviews in the customer buying journey

Customer reviews play an increasingly central role in the buying journey and can benefit both brands and prospective customers when utilised correctly, writes Joris Kroese, CEO and Founder of Hatch

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘mapping the customer journey’? It’s a way of understanding your customers’ interactions with your brand across each of your touchpoints. This includes where they find you, how they interact with you and their overall experience with your brand.

Customers begin their journeys with brands at a range of touchpoints: social media channels, retail stores and email marketing, to name a few. But there’s a tried-and-true technique that’s been around since before online marketing existed, and that is a simple recommendation. Something that’s now referred to as ‘word of mouth strategy’ or ‘customer reviews’ in the marketing world.

Adding customer reviews to your touchpoints is one of the most effective ways to advertise, and it’s also one of the cheapest. According to Pew Research, 82% of consumers read customer ratings or reviews before making a purchase, so if your product pages are lacking reviews, it’s time to put some focus on them.

Benefits of reviews for brands and customers

Brands often acknowledge that reviews are an important step in the customer buying journey, but there is also a common fear of negative reviews impacting conversions. However, adding reviews to product pages can have a positive impact on sales and brand reputation.

Increased conversions

According to Reevoo, 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates and an average 18% uplift in sales. Ultimately, giving customers the information they’re looking for can increase the likelihood of them making a purchase.

Avoid losing customers to competitors 

92% of consumers visit a brand website for the first time for reasons other than making a purchase. So what are they doing instead? They’re researching and comparing prices. If a customer lands on your website looking for information that you don’t have, they’ll go elsewhere. Ensuring your product pages contain detailed information will prevent you from losing customers to competitors.

Minimises customer returns

Helping customers understand exactly what they’re buying before they do so can reduce returns of unwanted products. While the dimensions of your doll’s house chair may be listed on the product page, some customers will miss this and think they’re buying a life-size chair. But if they read a review that mentions the dimensions, they’re more likely to take note.

Customers believe other customers over brand marketing

For prospective customers, learning about other people’s experiences with a product can encourage purchase decisions. It’s unusual for brands to talk about their products in anything other than a positive light, so customer reviews help paint a real life picture.

Enhances the overall customer journey

There are various elements customers expect throughout the buying journey, and being able to read reviews on product pages is one of them. Product research makes up a large part of the buying journey, so giving customers comprehensive product information will ensure your brand stands out ahead of competitors.

Helps customers make purchase decisions

Reviews can help customers choose the best product for them, based on experiences from other consumers. This is especially relevant for clothing brands – reviews about sizing, look and feel can help consumers make the correct choice and decrease the chance of returns. 

Creates trust

Buying products online can be slightly daunting as there’s no way of testing out products beforehand and often no way of knowing whether a brand is legitimate. Giving shoppers an insight into the experiences other customers have had with your brand and products creates trust and encourages sales.

How to encourage customer reviews

Encouraging people to talk about your products and create content around it is harder than it looks. Here are some ways to get people talking about your products online:

  • Ask for feedback after the sale (e.g. in the order receipt email)
  • Reach out a little while after product receipt to encourage feedback (e.g. “Are you enjoying our product?”)
  • Offer an incentive for giving feedback (e.g. exclusive discount)
  • Encourage users to tag your brand on social media
  • Share existing reviews on social media to encourage a domino effect
  • Encourage customers to contact you with any complaints (e.g. via a customer service email address) to minimise public negative reviews 

Ultimately, customer reviews play a huge role in the buying journey and can benefit both brands and prospective customers. 


Joris Kroese, CEO and Founder of Hatch

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