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It's been proved many times over in A/B tests that I've been involved in that reviews on product pages increase the add-to-basket conversion rate.
This effect can be multiplied when those reviews have meta-data surrounding them and multiplied again when there is an image, generally of the person's face, alongside the review.
If you are not familiar with the process of adding meta-data to your reviews then you should take some time to read Fabian's guide to improving your reviews with some additional meta-data: 'How to optimise your product reviews for higher conversion rates'.
This provides good insight into the extra information that should be added to reviews to help potential customers relate to them and increase their persuasiveness.
At a minimum I would always consider adding the location of the reviewer, their gender and their age-range as these will be common matching factors to other potential customers.
If you are familiar with the psyhology of conversion you will know that visitors are generally influenced by people who are similar to them so this form of matching is a good starting point.
One step that many ecommerce websites are yet to take full advantage of is the inclusion of a reviewer image to further increase the persuasiveness of the reviews.
Adding a reviewer image makes reviews appear more credible and genuine as potential customers can relate easier with faces than they can with names. The reviewer image would usually take the form of an image of the face of the reviewer.
To give some insight into the effects I have seen when using images on product reviews I refer back to an A/B test I studied at the end of last year.
In the first phase meta-data was added to the basic reviews and tested against the original version that simply had a basic review of name, review date & review content.
In this phase the variation beat the control by 17% in terms of product page add to basket conversion rate.
Original version example:
New improved variation:
In the second stage the new version of improved reviews was tested against a variation that had the new format but included an image of the customer who left the review (where available).
The second stage generated a 22% increase in product page add to basket conversion rate.
Further improved variation:
The biggest barrier to adopting this approach is likely to be obtaining the images to display next to the reviews. In the test described above I decided to use a service called Gravatar, people familiar with WordPress will know that this is the service that puts images next to comments on blogs all over the internet.
Visitors sign-up to the service once and upload a picture of themselves that then gets linked with their email address so when a call is made to Gravatar with the persons email address it will return an image if they've signed up.
To boost the effectiveness in the test the company decided to promote Gravatar to visitors who left a review explaining that it would add an image next to their reviews if they signed up to the service.
It found that 35% of visitors went off to the site to add their images and around 22% already had a Gravatar when leaving their review.
On the test mentioned above a phase three was also performed to see if the conversion rate could be improved further given that more people were now adding products to their baskets.
It tested adding a review of one of the products in the basket to the shopping basket page and checkout page. These reviews included the image of the reviewer and were tested against a control that had no reviews in the checkout funnel. This test resulted in an 11% increase in the checkout funnel conversion rate.
Hopefully you can see the value that was obtained from adding images to product reviews and I hope that you will give this a test on your ecommerce site to see if you can generate a similar lift in conversion rate.
If you have run or decided to run a similar test, why not share your results in the comments section?
Disclaimer: The images used in this post are not from the original test. This is to protect the identity of the company who provided the data.