There is a clear link between improved e-commerce SEO, customer feedback and increased sales.
Businesses that understand this, understand that customer feedback can materially impact the fortunes of their business and can be the key catalyst for their success.
But what is the link, and how do you go about putting these pieces of the puzzle together to make it work for your business?
That is what we will discuss in this article.
Let’s get started.
The Link Between Customer Feedback, E-Commerce SEO & Sales
Many e-commerce businesses operate in a disorganised fashion where the owners hope and pray that things go right, and that their business becomes a success.
This is one of the reasons that most e-commerce stores fail, or fail to thrive.
In reality, the most successful businesses you will know of in your niche, have a discernible strategy in place at the outset that lets them achieve their goal.
Given an e-commerce business owner is pulled in a thousand different ways in the early and growth stages of the business, it is important you focus on the things that matter.
Source: Steve Jobs, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, 1997
Similarly, for your business there will be 20% of actions or strategies that will result in the majority of the success for your e-commerce business.
Without doubt the biggest bang for buck for businesses increasing sales is being prominent on search engines. Given Google is the largest and most dominant search engine globally, we will focus this discussion with reference to Google.
If you are easily found on Google for keywords for your niche, you will have a regular stream of new prospects beating a path to your door keen to consider buying from you.
And how do businesses rank high in Google? It’s by optimising your search engine optimisation (SEO). We identify e-commerce SEO as one of those activities that is a ‘20% activity’ that will lead to a disproportionately positive impact for your business.
E-commerce SEO combines many of the ranking factors that Google has outlined (many of which are similar for other search engines too), and deploying these ranking factors effectively for your website allows you to grow your store.
In so doing, over time, and with consistency, you will begin to see your visitor traffic in your Google Analytics trend higher as SEO has a compounding effect.
But just getting traffic is not enough. You need to convert that traffic to become paying customers if your e-commerce business is to have any chance of surviving.
Having worked closely with e-commerce businesses for a long time, we identify that seeking out and effectively using customer feedback is another of the ‘20% activities’ that has a profound impact on the success of your business.
Customer feedback is the link that influences visitors to get off the fence and become buyers.
As such, the link between customer feedback, e-commerce SEO, and increasing conversions to get more sales using customer feedback is circular and best demonstrated through the diagram below.
Customer feedback has a direct and indirect effect on increasing sales.
Not only does customer feedback itself influence visitor’s to turn into customers, but the SEO benefit of customer feedback means you end up with more visitors in the funnel to start with i.e. more traffic.
In the next section we will talk about how customer feedback increases e-commerce SEO, thus giving you more website traffic.
Then we will talk about the final part of the journey around how customer feedback can then convert that extra traffic to buy, leading to more sales.
Customer Feedback Improves E-Commerce SEO
E-commerce SEO is the juice that increases the fortune of any online business. This is why we have identified it is a ‘20% activity’ that all e-commerce businesses should focus on.
This SEO is what Google and other search engines see that helps them to make a decision around who gets seen on which page and in which position on the search page.
The importance of this is that the higher the ranking, the more visitors you will get. After all, who visits the fifth or even second page of Google these days?
Search Engine Ranking Factors
Without doubt, the biggest search engine globally with over 90% market share is Google. If you can get your business ranking in the top spot, or even the first page on Google for your keywords then you have every chance of creating a successful business.
Google is intent on helping businesses, which is why it has focused heavily on Google My Business as an avenue to support small businesses too.
Google very frequently talks about its ranking factors i.e. the criteria it uses to rank websites on its search engine. In that regard it should be very easy to rank highly as all you need to do is to follow those criteria.
In reality it is not as simple as this.
The ranking factors change and there are subtleties with the ranking factors that need to be considered, particularly in terms of how they are interdependent on each other.
However, there are a number of ranking factors that it is important to highlight as they relate directly to customer feedback.
And customer feedback is user-generated content. So in that regard, not only is it fresh and new, but also you don’t have to have a marketing team (or as big a marketing team) creating it as your customers create this content for you.
Google Trusts Customer Feedback
Google provides a service to users like any other business. It has built its success on the basis that when someone searches for terms, the user intent is identified and the right results are returned.
As such, it will do everything in its power to ensure that it continues to provide a good service to users.
This is why Google trusts customer feedback.
Customer feedback is a ranking factor because it shows relevance. It shows that for a particular keyword, a customer found that site useful and left a review to that effect.
Boost Social Conversation
Despite Google not being explicit, it is clear that it values content that has the potential to spread. If a site answers the question a visitor seeks to find through Google, the search engine is keen that result is spread far and wide to help others who may also have the same question.
Customer feedback is material that has wide appeal and is ideally suited to being distributed across social media.
It is not enough just to collect customer feedback; you also have to use that feedback in the correct way if you are to grow your e-commerce business.
In sharing customer feedback online, as long as you use appropriate hashtags, so that the content is visible to the right people, there is every chance your customer feedback will be shared far and wide.
Everyone wants to know about the business that provides excellent customer service in a particular niche. This will also quickly increase your website visitors and paying customers.
The greater the propensity for customer reviews to be shared, the greater the focus Google will place on your website, and this will lead to a bump up in search engine rankings.
At Syntellio, we have this as a feature built in to allow business owners to quickly and effortlessly share customer feedback online via Twitter, or Facebook.
Reduce Bounce Rate
The bounce rate of your website is how quickly people land, and then leave your site.
Clearly the quicker visitors leave your site, the more it shows Google that despite their search intent, your website does not provide relevant answers, which is why visitors quickly left.
Google doesn’t like this as it indicates that for the keywords searched, your site is not a good fit. As such, it will demote your website and your rankings will fall.
In addition to ensuring your content is accurate, encouraging more customer feedback for your business will increase the amount of time visitors stay on your website whilst they browse all feedback, thus increasing rankings.
How Customer Feedback Leads to More Sales
We have already discussed how customer feedback is one of the areas for e-commerce businesses that can have the most return in terms of impact on sales. Moreover though, this return can be instant.
This is the reason it is critical e-commerce businesses focus on collecting authentic customer reviews for their stores as soon as possible.
There are a wide number of tactics you can use in order to collect more reviews, but the key is to ensure you have a system to actually collect more reviews.
But how exactly does customer feedback lead to more sales?
Customer feedback has a profound effect on influencing people to buy.
Think about the last time you purchased something online, whether on Amazon, or anywhere else. If you are like most people, you will have spent a significant amount of time looking at reviews.
This is in some way, natural instinct now as no one likes being ripped off and our habits from years of online buying have been conditioned us this way to use customer reviews.
Consumers need to read an average of 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business. Further, 72% of customers will review customer feedback before making the decision to buy.
Despite some evidence indicating consumers spend less shopping online than before, they can still spend up to 10 hours per month online shopping. Reviewing feedback is the activity that is likely to take up a big proportion of this time before the decision to buy commences.
Source: US Census Data
Clearly customer feedback counts for a lot when people buy.
Some people will always struggle to decide when buying whether that is online or in stores. This is understandable and is the reason why in-store companies have sales representatives to help people make the decision to buy.
But online there are no sales representatives to help consumers make the decision to go ahead and buy as opposed to remain in browsing phase.
Customer feedback can help to operate as a substitute to the traditional in-store sales representative, and influence people to make a decision.
Customer feedback can help convert prospects from visitors to customers through the gentle power of influence. Customer feedback makes people feel reassured and gets them over any hump they may have, whether that’s regarding suitability of product, price, delivery or overall service.
Analysis has shown that conversion rates from visitors to customers can increase due to reviews alone.
Case Studies & Testimonials
In addition to just collecting customer feedback, businesses can increase sales by using feedback in a smart and tactical way.
Customer case studies and testimonials are such a way.
Case studies and testimonials are there to ‘talk’ to like-minded prospects to encourage them to buy.
Once you have collected feedback, you can select some of that feedback to highlight on your website. The idea is that this feedback (which should be authentic and never edited) addresses some of the concerns that you think many prospects may face before buying.
Maybe the products you sell are premium products and thus, are priced high which you have identified as being an obstacle for visitors; cite feedback from customers who purchased irrespective of the price and thought the quality of the product was some of the best they had seen.
Or maybe you are a relatively new store with a new brand that customers may not feel comfortable buying from as there is a lack of trust, especially compared to larger competitors. Well, if you have feedback from customers who thought to give you a try despite you being less well known and were pleased they did, then you should highlight this to get others comfortable also.
In this way, such case studies and testimonials will nudge people to getting comfortable with buying.
Learn from Unhappy Customers
Sometimes you may get negative feedback. This alarms many business owners who want to have the ‘perfect’ business that everyone is happy with.
The truth is that if you’re in business, inevitably you will end up disappointing someone through no fault of your own.
What matters is that you learn from this and understand why the customer is not happy. There is a lot to learn from negative feedback that you can use to improve your product, service and overall operations.
In fact, many consumers don’t mind occasional negative reviews.
Responding to negative feedback to acknowledge the customer’s concerns is key. This shows they are being listened to and also that you are keen to work to get things right. This represents well with new visitors reviewing your feedback, and most people don’t mind the negative feedback.
Take the example below in which the company responded quickly and sought to understand and resolve the issue offline.
In so doing, you ultimately end up creating a better customer journey, and a better proposition for customers.
This will have the effect of increasing sales.
Authentic & Professional Feedback
The key thing to remember if you want to ensure you derive all the benefits from customer reviews is that you need to ensure the reviews are authentic in nature.
The debate around fake reviews has been going on since online reviews started many years ago.
Irrespective whether you collect reviews yourself or have a third party collect reviews for you, ensuring authentic reviews is critical.
At Syntellio we work with our clients (business owners) to ensure we only request feedback from confirmed, authentic customers. This way, there is very little or no scope for reviews to be faked either way (positive or negative).
Customer feedback has a massive impact on sales for e-commerce businesses.
If there is one thing store owners should focus on in order to get the most return for effort given how busy e-commerce store owners are, its getting authentic customer feedback.
Customer feedback helps to improve e-commerce SEO, which can drive sustained new traffic of prospective customers to your site.
Once there, visitors who view the customer feedback will begin the relationship of trust with you, and will convert to customers much quicker than if you did not focus on reviews.
We’d love to know if you are using customer feedback for your e-commerce store, and if you’ve noticed an impact to your e-commerce SEO.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.