June 13, 2008, 12:00 AM

Reviews can build trust and confidence among customers

Customer reviews continue to gain popularity, research shows. E-retailers earn the trust of customers via reviews, and they can use e-mail marketing to encourage shoppers to give their opinions, Bazaarvoice’s chief marketing officer says.

Customer reviews seem well on their way to becoming an Internet retailing staple. 77% of online shoppers use customer reviews when purchasing, according to JupiterResearch. And 80% of online shoppers place more trust in brands that offer customer reviews, according to a study by research firm Vizu and reviews technology vendor Bazaarvoice.

“The reasons a retailer should consider reviews are, first, because shoppers are looking for authentic, relevant, credible content, and, second, because retailers always are looking for ways to build trust and confidence among shoppers,” said Sam Decker, chief marketing officer at Bazaarvoice, at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition. He spoke during a session titled “Customer Reviews: Getting Them Right.”

The four primary objectives of implementing customer reviews, Decker said, are attracting new customers, decreasing shopping cart abandonment, increasing online sales and solidifying customer loyalty.

E-mail marketing is a key tool that e-retailers can use to drive adoption of customer reviews and build up the number of reviews on a site, Decker said.

“E-retailers can send out an e-mail announcing the launch of customer reviews to customers who have made a purchase in the last three to six months, inviting them to visit the site and make their voice heard. Then send e-mails to customers two to six weeks after they purchase a product,” Decker said. “A best practice for the latter is to include a link within the e-mail taking customers directly to a review form.”

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