Choosing a reviews platform for your online business is no easy task. After all, reviews are an integral part of the sales process. These days, customers no longer expect them; they demand them — according to a 2017 survey, 97% of people read reviews before choosing a business at which to shop.
So whether you're looking for your first reviews platform or you're thinking about switching to a new one, it's not a process that should be taken lightly. Plus, there are tons and tons of platforms in the Weebly App Center.
Thankfully, this guide is here to help out. We've designed it to help you cut through the noise and identify the key stuff you should know about choosing a reviews platform.
So, without further ado, here are the five questions to ask when looking for a reviews platform:
What are my moderation options?
When you're collecting reviews, there's going to be good ones, bad ones, and even fake ones. It's just a fact of (reviews) life. It's also a fact of life that you're going to have to moderate them.
In fact, 52% of customers expect you to respond to negative reviews. That's why it's so critical to have a reviews platform that lets you do it the right way.
What to look for: Choose a review platform that lets you respond to all reviews (here's a handy guide that shows you how to respond to reviews), good and bad. You're also going to want a platform that lets you flag fake reviews. You don't want a platform where you can simply delete negative reviews.
Why this matters: We've already touched on the importance of responding to reviews, especially bad ones. But why shouldn't you opt for a platform that lets you delete any review you want? Because 95% of customers will suspect manipulation if they don't see negative scores, according to a 2013 study.
Plus, customers who look for negative reviews are actually the ones you're after: they look at 5 times as many pages on your site, on average, and spend more than 5 times the number of minutes on a site, according to the same study. So don't choose a platform where you'll be tempted to delete bad reviews!
Does it support review snippets?
You know when you're searching Google for a movie, and a big honking sidebar appears with information about the cast, production information, a plot summary, and a quotes from critics?
That is a rich snippet. They catch your eye, and distill down information Google thinks you're looking for.
While you're not promoting a movie, they can work for you in a similar war. Many review platforms provide developer documentation that lets your reviews — whether product or business — appear in Google rich snippets. Because rich snippets are like magnets to your eyeballs, often times the first things customers will see when they search for your business is that review score.
You definitely want that, so be sure to look into this when selecting a platform.
What are my display choices?
Certain review platforms exist simply to provide you with a table of reviews, sortable by score and date, to be placed on your product pages.
While this basic feature is incredibly important, that's far from the only use for reviews.
Different pages require different ways of displaying reviews. What works on a product page might not work on your home page. Notice how Mashie, a golf membership and apparel site, calls attention to their reviews with this carousel of reviews:
While that might not be perfect for a catalogue page, it works perfectly on the homepage of a website. Why would you put reviews on your homepage?
Because nearly 41% of people consider reviews an important purchasing factor when buying online. That's why you need to let people know you use them early and often—not just on your product pages.
Does it give me SEO benefits?
One of the lesser-known benefits of a reviews platform is that some of them — the good ones — give you a boost in Google search results. (That is, a boost beyond review snippets.)
A good platform will give you a dedicated reviews page hosted on their website. This will provide your site with backlinks, which remains an absolutely fundamental part of SEO.
The more links you have coming in, especially from highly-trafficked sites, which your reviews platform's URL will probably be, the better it is for your ranking.
How much does it cost?
Last but certainly not least, you need to ask yourself how much you're going to pay for this sucker.
Many platforms operate on the freemium model, where you only pay when you upgrade. There is a significant difference, however, in the prices that the platforms charge. Some upgrade plans cost around fifty dollars per month, whereas others can easily run into the hundreds of dollars — and that may not get you more features than a much cheaper platform!
Before you choose any platform, ask yourself this basic question: How many product review requests will I be sending per month? That is typically how platforms price their product, and if you know that, you'll be able to get a sense of what each will cost.
Once you know determine that number, you can figure out what's best for your business.
As you can see, there's plenty to consider when looking for a platform. Your priorities may differ, but if you ask yourself these questions, you'll definitely be satisfied with your reviews platform!