Whether you acknowledge it or not, reviews are a crucial part of your brand’s online presence. And unfortunately, people who have had a bad experience are much more likely to seek an outlet to vent—the inbound nature of online reviews certainly doesn’t work in your favor.
Obviously, you can’t control what people say about your brand online.
You can, however, encourage customer reviews and make it as easy as possible for your loyal customers to leave reviews.
Email helps you transform the review process from an inbound, “wait and see” strategy to an outbound marketing tactic. In this article, we’ll explain how and provide the best practices for using email to your full review advantage and offer some product review email template inspiration.
Why should you focus on accumulating customer reviews?
Simply put, you should care about customer reviews because your future and current customers care about reviews.
Of adults 34 and under, 91% trust online reviews. On average, consumers read about 10 reviews before deciding whether or not to utilize a business.
Don’t get caught up stressing over a handful of negative reviews though: 89% of people check out how business owners respond to reviewers. In other words, a nasty review here and there isn’t bad because how you react is truly what matters to prospective customers.
Unfortunately, your killer reviews from five years ago won’t cut it: Almost half of people say they only take reviews from the last two weeks into consideration, at least for local businesses (though other industries and e-commerce websites may get some slack here).
Handling customer reviews well requires a shift in how you approach them. You shouldn’t consider reviews as one-off events—you should encourage customer reviews as part of your general digital marketing strategy.
Email is the best method to encourage customer reviews.
Yelp, Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor, Zomato—at the end of the day, these all function as inbound marketing tools.
While these platforms are excellent for general inbound marketing, they don’t leave much room for marketers to take control of the review platform. Instead you have to wait for someone to make a purchase with your company and hope they go online and leave a review.
Email, on the other hand, allows you to approach the review process more like an outbound marketing tactic.
You don’t have to be pushy and annoying. You can, however, use email to get review forms in front of your customer’s face at just the right time.
61% of people prefer for brands to contact them through email so you already have that going for you. Plus, your email lives in your customer’s inbox forever unless they delete it, so you don’t have to rely on a fleeting thought to lock down a review.
Email can be a game-changer for your review process. Here’s how to make the most of it.
8 best practices for using email to encourage customer reviews
When you’re ready to take a more direct, hands-on approach to encouraging customer review, keep these best practices in mind.
1. Be conversational, starting with the subject line.
Your subject line needs to grab attention and start a conversation right away. At the same time, you want it to be short enough to display properly in push notifications. Around 30 characters are optimal.
Generic subject lines like “feedback request” just aren’t enough to inspire your customers to take action.
Instead, write subject lines like:
- “What did you think?”
- “How did we do?”
- “Can you give people a hand?”
- “Enjoying your X?”
These subject lines start a conversation and make the process feel less formal.
Make sure to incorporate the same conversational tone throughout your email copy to encourage action and build a relationship with your customers. Remind your customers that their reviews will help people like them and appeal to their sense of empathy.
2. Use hyper-personalization in your product review email template.
If there were ever an appropriate time for hyper-personalization, it’s now. Generic “please review your recent purchase” feels canned. One of the reasons email performs so well is because it feels personal; using a canned, generic email to collect reviews ruins what you’re trying to accomplish.
Instead, take advantage of your data: You know exactly which product or service each customer purchased.
In your email, include a photo and name of the product along with your customer’s real first name. You can even include photos from Instagram or Amazon of other reviewers using and reviewing the product.
Notice how this simple product review email template from Adidas provides the exact product photo and a quick conversational paragraph.
3. Carefully decide on a trigger time for each product.
Automation is your best friend for collecting reviews.
That email from Adidas above was specifically timed to go out five days after the customer made the purchase. For a hoodie, that’s a perfect amount of time to wear and experience the product.
Other products may require different time triggers to encourage customer reviews. For meal reviews, for example, two or three hours after receiving the meal may be a good time to send out a review request through email whereas with a product like shampoo or something else that takes multiple uses to get the full effect, you might want to wait a week before requesting a review.
Products like electronics or supplements may warrant longer time periods between purchase and review request. A few weeks will give your customers time to fully experience the product and write the most informed review.
Just remember, if you wait too long, you might miss the window when your customer was most likely to respond.
4. Make the review process fast and easy by optimizing your landing page.
Speed and accessibility are everything here.
Click fatigue is a real problem—and it may be holding back your conversion rates.
Most studies researching click fatigue have looked at doctors and nurses using electronic medical records. These people have to keep clicking—they don’t have a choice. Your customers do: They’ll just leave.
Reduce the number of clicks between opening the email and submitting the review. Don’t require your customers to log in or create accounts.
Here’s what the customer sees on the other end of the Adidas review request link. The landing page is interactive, very visual, and extremely simple.
5. Include a GIF or nice graphic.
You don’t have to fill these emails with GIFs and a ton of images, but a few high-quality strategic images can go a long way toward encouraging action from your customer.
Play along with the theme in your product review email template. Use GIFs of stars to help readers visualize the review process.
Look how simple yet visually pleasing this email from Insurify is. It only asks one question with a colorful sliding scale and incorporates a few cute graphics.
Source: Really Good Emails
6. Encourage customer reviews and communication through other channels.
When you plan your product review email template, you’ll have to decide on your most important review channel for encouraging customer reviews. You’ll promote this channel in the body of your automated review emails.
For e-commerce websites and many other businesses, this will be your own website. However, restaurants and local businesses may instead want to push their customers towards Yelp or Google.
No matter what you choose, you can encourage integration across multiple networks in these emails.
Take advantage of your email footer and widgets below the fold to encourage interaction on Yelp, Pinterest, Google, Facebook reviews, and your audience’s favorite review websites.
7. Resist the allure of marketing your review request as a transactional email.
Transactional emails (like purchase confirmations and password resets) tend to have 8x higher open rates than other campaigns, for obvious reasons.
Unfortunately, this has led to a trend among many Amazon sellers of disguising review emails as transactional emails.
It goes like this: A customer gets an email with the subject line “Important information about your order.” They open the email assuming it’s urgent only to find out that it contains a review or feedback request.
While this tactic may work for building short term reviews, many customers won’t appreciate the deception.
Instead, be honest. It will help you build long-term trust and a genuine relationship with customers.
Authenticity and transparency are key to email marketing success.
8. Mind your manners.
Please and thank you still go a long way.
Use automation to send thank you emails immediately after subscribers complete a purchase. This is all part of creating a positive customer service experience in the digital world.
Not only that, but you should also thank subscribers for their review and feedback. Forwarding them to a landing page that thanks them or offers a discount on their next order after they hit “submit” may seem small but it can work wonders to encouraging repeat purchases.
Just be careful with your marketing here: Manners are good but incentivizing your reviews can quickly turn illegal.
The idea of encouraging reviews as a marketing necessity is pretty daunting but email can make the process easier.
- Use automation to contact customers at the perfect time.
- Speak to subscribers like a friend.
- Make the review process as fast and easy as possible.
Email marketing makes it easy for you to encourage customer reviews as part of your overall digital marketing strategy with minimal time and effort.
Need some more help nailing down your online review strategy? Check out these 4 tips to manage your online reviews.