Post the good, the bad and the ugly in customer reviews, Dell and evo say

Displaying negative ratings and reviews can drive sales and make a web retailer look more legitimate in the eyes of online shoppers, a pair of marketing managers from Dell and sports gear retailer evo told session attendees at IRCE.

Paul Demery

Online retailers will get the biggest bang for their buck if they run negative as well as positive customer reviews.

That’s the message Dell Inc. senior manager of global community and personalization Stuart Wallock and evo head of e-commerce Nathan Decker told session attendees June 16 at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Boston. Evo sells sports gear products online at evogear.com.

Customer reviews are becoming a standard commodity on many e-commerce sites. “If you don’t have them, you are behind,” said Wallock during a session titled “How product ratings and reviews affect more than just sales.”

To make customer reviews at Dell, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, stand out, they are integrated into all aspects of site navigation, Wallock said. “We have them everywhere across the site because this is the voice of the customer,” he said. To make customers reviews stand out, they also need to be multiple and reflect both the good and bad that people have to say about a particular brand or product. “One review won’t cut it, but 50 makes it legitimate,” Wallock said. “Don’t censor the reviews and exclude the ugly. Show it all and this demonstrates you are listening to the customer.”

Dell is a big user of customer reviews-the manufacturer and direct marketer of personal computers posts ratings and reviews from 67 countries and in 15 languages. To entice people to post a comment, Dell often uses contests to generate volume. “A contest can produce a 20% sales lift,” Wallock said. Dell also uses customer reviews to update its keyword inventory for better optimization and paid search campaigns. “Again, this is the voice of the customer,” Wallock said.

At evogear.com, an online retailer with about $15 million in annual sales, marketing and merchandising managers actively encourage customers to tell what they don’t like in a product review. “We solicit negative information and make it highly visible,” Decker said. “People seek out negative information and omission erodes trust.” At evogear.com, about 97% of all reviews are approved for the web. “We let it ride unless it’s inflammatory,” Decker said.

Posting customer reviews-both good and bad-is paying dividends for evogear.com. “Customer reviews are our third highest traffic driver,” Decker told attendees.


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