I’ve always said that most things in life, from relationship building to advertising, stem from trust and experience. Keeping these core values in mind when developing a marketing strategy is key. Companies are successful because they develop a connection with their customers, ultimately building a level of trust and laying out what doing business with them would be like.
Traditionally, user-generated reviews were spread over time by word-of-mouth. As people have become increasingly reliant on online information to make purchase decisions, customer ratings on websites and social media apps now make the biggest impact. Not only do reviews prominently show up in the search engines, it is a quick and effective means of establishing a trusting relationship to buyers while also outlining experience and gathering valuable insights from customer feedback.
Establishing trust and experience is even more important for e-commerce websites that sell products directly on their website. I’m not going to beat around the bush: it’s really difficult to find unique, interactive ways to display user generated content that gives a visitor information, feedback and preemptive answers to questions they’ll likely ask. Tackling this brand management issue should nonetheless be a main branding focus, as doing so can sway a buyer during the purchase process (for better or worse). No one will submit their credit card information to a website they think is shady, but one is far more likely to open their wallet when confident that their envisioned experience will actually be the one delivered in real life.
One company that does have a stellar customer review platform is Rent The Runway (RTR). Consider it the Netflix of fashion; an online portal that gives every day women access to coveted designer brands they can wear on loan for a fraction of the retail price.
Although RTR now has brick-and-mortar stores, they originally only operated online. This business model forced them to really think outside of the box to build trust and convey experience to potential buyers. Rent The Runway’s customer review system put this task in the hands of their happy customers, integrating a hugely influential user rating platform to their website product pages. Customers submit their body measurements, photos and a few comments about what it was like to wear the item. This allows one to get answers to important questions (like fit, styling or look for example) before purchasing, minimizing the buyer’s risk while increasing their likelihood to convert into a paying customer.
Why RTR’s Customer Rating’s Platform Works
It Makes A Connection & Builds Trust
Buying products (especially clothes) online can be tricky — you never really know what you’re going to get until it arrives at your doorstep. By allowing users to share their photos and experiences with the clothing (or product), potential buyers make a connection with the item, making it more likely that they’ll buy. After all, it is much easier to open your wallet when you trust that what they see is actually what you will get.
Demonstrates Experience From A Variety Of Users
When it comes to most products, one size typically doesn’t fit all. The customer experience often varies slightly based on the individual and is likely to leave potential buyers with questions about the product’s use and how it applies to them. RTR’s reviews platform allows women of different body shapes to submit their feedback and measurements, thus preemptively anticipating the question “I love this, but would it look good on me?”
Another Effective Means of Customer Messaging
Customer reviews are fantastic because they allow a company to truly tap into their brand’s perception online. Regularly monitoring user ratings (positive or negative) allows businesses to integrate that feedback into their business model. This allows a brand to stay in tune with their demographic, often offering ideas of new initiatives to add to a brand’s marketing strategy. (If a few customers are asking for it, chances are good more are interested in the same thing!)