An active online community provides insights into customer preferences, increases customer retention, improves brand reputation, and decreases support costs – all of which lead to more customers and more revenue.
Building a following of loyal customers is a long-term tactic to create a sustainable business. Think of brands like Skims that have nurtured a cult-like following of customers that jump on their latest products the moment they’re released. By creating a community, these brands are able to generate crucial trust and loyalty that keeps shoppers coming back for more.
Reviews help add a layer of credibility and social proof, enabling shoppers to feel understood, provide a space to share stories, and build trust, all of which are important in curating an online community.
Here, our partners at Okendo discuss everything you need to know about reviews and how you can leverage them to build and shape a loyal community.
Why are reviews integral to creating a brand community?
There are plenty of reasons why reviews are exceptional brand loyalty generators, and valuable community building tools. For online retailers, reviews are a way to keep in touch with your customers in a way that isn’t possible otherwise. They can also help you with the following aspects of customer service and experience:
- They help you build trust. Reviews allow you to show shoppers how authentic you are by showcasing the real-life experiences of your customers.
- They help you deliver optimised customer experiences. Reviews allow you to collect valuable feedback that can be used to create optimised customer experiences, from your customer service and internal processes to the products you offer.
- They help you nurture customer relationships. Reviews provide a way for businesses to communicate with customers and also help identify how they should be engaging with them based on the reviews they leave.
- They help you build word-of-mouth marketing. Reviews enable customers to discuss a brand or product online, in a public forum, which generates buzz and encourages shoppers to share their own experiences.
How to build a community with reviews
Reviews help brands build and nurture a community by providing customer stories that resonate. Seeing their own wants and needs reflected in other shoppers can spark a connection between different customers. More than that, reviews instil brand loyalty and increase customer retention, which can create a cult-like following of consumers that hang on every word you say.
Here are some actionable ways you can cultivate a community with reviews:
1. Use attributes
Attributes allow shoppers to filter through reviews on your website to find like-minded customers. As well as creating a personalised experience, this also provides you with valuable customer and product data that can be used to improve the products you create for your community.
2. Respond to reviews
When customers interact with negative reviews, brands have seen an 85% increase in conversion rates. Why? Because it helps the brand become more authentic and allows you to show off your customer service. Plus, consumers actually find brands with no negative reviews to be ‘fake’ and untrustworthy.
But responding to reviews in general is a savvy tactic you should be doing. Consumers actually find businesses that respond to reviews 1.7x more trustworthy than those who don’t.
We recommend integrating your customer review software with your helpdesk so that your support staff can jump on negative reviews ASAP and iron out any bad customer experiences.
3. Send referral links
Sending referral links to customers that leave a positive review lets you build your community by having existing community members invite others via referrals.
Identify customers that have left four or five-star reviews and offer them an incentive to share your brand with a friend. These will be some of your most loyal customers, which makes it more likely that they’ll recommend your products to their inner circle.
4. Reward customers for reviews
Rewarding customers who leave reviews helps you create a collection of UGC that cements your community and helps to build customer loyalty. Customers are more likely to come back and purchase from you again if you offer them an incentive, like a discount code or a voucher for their next purchase.
You can take this one step further and offer a sliding scale of incentives based on the quality of a review. For example, a customer that writes a text review can unlock a 10% discount, while customers that leave a visual review can get 15% off their next order.
5. Make reviews visible
Don’t hide your reviews away! Make sure they’re visible across your site and on other marketing channels to encourage a sense of community and help build your word-of-mouth strategy.
Some places you might incorporate reviews include:
- Product pages
- In cart
- Social media
Bespoke map-making brand Muir Way showcases reviews and ratings in their Google Shopping Ads, which has led to a 30% increase in conversion rate and an 838% increase in revenue.
Level up your community building efforts with reviews
Shoppers today are keen to buy from brands that share the same values as them. Incorporating reviews can level up your community-building efforts by creating social proof, establishing credibility, and increasing brand awareness.
Okendo’s powerful features let retailers collect and display reviews across their site and throughout their marketing materials. Filter reviews by attributes to help customers find like-minded shoppers, generate UGC to showcase on your site, and offer rewards to customers who leave a review.
Okendo enables fast-growing consumer brands like Knix, SKIMS, and Zitsticka to leverage their most powerful asset; their customers. Okendo has all the tools brands need to capture and showcase customer-generated content including product ratings & reviews, photos and videos, and Q&A. Brands use this content to build shopper trust, drive conversions and maximise CLTV. Headquartered in Sydney, Australia and with offices in Miami, Florida, and a Shopify Plus Technology Partner, Okendo is trusted by over 3,500 leading direct-to-consumer brands.