3 Questions to Ask Before Adding Reviews to Emails
We’ve all heard discussions about the use of customer-generated product reviews in all facets of marketing, including email. There’s good reason for it — when done correctly, reviews can increase the effectiveness of campaigns.
The current debate surrounding reviews in emails is centered on aesthetics, such as where to place them or how they should look in the email. Focusing on aesthetics alone, however, won't increase the number of clickthroughs, conversions or customers one bit. In fact, this kind of tunnel vision can do more harm than good.
Instead, marketers must first make sure that the emails they send — which include reviews — are personal and relevant to each recipient. Five-star peer ratings are only valuable if the customer cares about the product. So, when gathering your team to discuss the next email/product review campaign, consider asking these three questions at the outset:
1. What are customers thinking? This is a broad, but critical, point to assess before firing off an email promotion. Essentially, the question boils down to a marketer’s true understanding of each customer’s shopping behaviors. That means leveraging data from a wide range of channels, including past emails as well as call center, web, in-store and other ways consumers interact with retailers.
Make sure the data is recent and, preferably, real-time. It’s the most accurate representation of current interests and needs, certainly when compared to demographic data that a prospect may have filled out months ago.
2. Where are the common threads? From there, link specific product reviews and offerings to specific customers that value this information. Messaging is most important here; the same review could be used different ways to different prospects, depending on what specific trigger points a customer responds to most.
As with knowing what consumers are thinking, using the most recent information — such as current traffic patterns, clickstream data and past purchases — is critical to determining what content will be most appropriate and valuable to recipients when they open their emails. Consumers are well-known to be fickle, and retailers need to be flexible and dynamic enough to keep up.
3. How will you know if it worked? Better known as a “gut check,” put systems in place to track and monitor email campaigns for effectiveness. This should include the ability to conduct enhanced A/B and multivariate testing for simultaneous tracking and comparison of multiple creative and messaging strategies, including whether incorporating product reviews made a difference in response and conversion rates.
The bottom line? Product reviews — like email campaigns and other marketing initiatives — must resonate with each customer and prospect. Marketers that stay true to that cardinal rule will fare well in embedding the right product review with the right email to the right person. The wrong message will not only fail to garner new business, but may also train your recipients to ignore reviews or, worse, your emails altogether.