How to ask customers for reviews
June 12, 2017 | Shares:

How to Email Customers for Reviews: Data from 3.5 Million Emails
8 min.

One of the most effective ways online businesses can collect customer reviews is by asking after a customer has made a purchase.

But the exact science of how to ask customers for reviews correctly is a bit murky.

We wanted to bring some clarity to help businesses ask for reviews in a smarter way.

For stores that use Yotpo, about 6.5-8% of customers end up leaving a review, which is 2 to 3 times higher than the industry average.

Since the majority of online businesses ask customers for reviews in emails after purchase, we started with examining post-purchase review requests. We decided to look at how the first thing your customers see in a review request email – the subject line – affects review conversion.

After all, in any form of email marketing, the subject line makes or breaks results.

We studied the subject lines of 3.5 million post-purchase review request emails to find out what works and what doesn’t when asking customers for reviews.

We looked at the impact of common subject line variables, like phrasing a review request as a question or including the store name, customer name, or product name.

The data we found shows the conversion rate of customer to reviewer compared to the average conversion rate of customer to reviewer. Also, this is an average, so it by no means reflects the personal impact your store may see from making these changes. 

By doing so, we got some interesting insights.

The bottom line? To get more reviews, tiny subject line changes can have big results.

Here’s a quick breakdown of our top subject line tips to get more reviews:
  1. Emotional appeal doesn’t have a big impact on review response
  2. Include your store name to increase reviews
  3. Incentives inspire more reviews in every industry
  4. Ask a question in the subject line
  5. Exclamation points boost reviews for food & tobacco businesses!
  6. Avoid using a TOTALLY uppercase word in your subject lines

Check out the data behind these tips broken down by industry and store size:

1. Emotional Appeal Doesn’t Have A Big Impact On Review Response

Many stores send review request emails with subject lines like “How did you like your product?”

We classified this as an example of subject lines that include emotional words,  like love, smile, happy, help, etc., in order to appeal to customers’ emotional relationship with the brand.

Does it work?

Not really. The data shows including emotional words doesn’t have a major impact overall.

Interestingly, when it comes to the breakdown by store size, small stores (25-100 orders/month) and large stores (20,000+ orders/month) both see a negative impact while medium-sized stores (between 100-20,000 orders/month) don’t see any major impact.

Industry-wise, Health & Beauty, Electronics & Sporting Goods also see negative impact from having emotional words in subject lines – the review conversion rate can be up to 41% lower!

In contrast, Home & Garden businesses see an increase in review conversion when they include emotional keywords – the conversion rate is 28% higher on average.

This could be because consumers are more emotionally attached to items they buy for their home than they are to items like computers or baseball bats.

asking customers for reviews with emotional words

2. Include Your Store Name To Increase Reviews

We wanted to know how adding the store name would impact conversion.

Many stores use review request subject lines such as, “How was your recent purchase from TheBestStoreEver?”

We figured this probably increases the likelihood that customers will open the email and write a review.

After all, if a customer gets a request to leave a review, they probably want to know who it’s from, right?

Well, the assumption was right. Adding the store name does boost conversion – by 3.7% on average.

The industries that benefit the most from including their store name are Health & Beauty, Home & Garden, Sporting Goods, & Electronics.

But Food & Tobacco brands see a big decrease (74%!) if they add the store name to subject lines.

Size-wise, the stores that don’t benefit from adding their name in subject lines are stores with over 20,000 orders (-2.4%).

Asking for reviews by adding store name

Love data? Get insights on your competition in our free eCommerce industry benchmark report. 

3. Incentives Increase Reviews for Every Industry

Obviously, people like to get stuff for a better price – and offering coupons in exchange for writing a review not only incentivizes customers to write, but it also increases the chance that they’ll come back to your store to redeem the coupon and become a repeat customer.

The data shows that including words that signify a financial incentive to leaving a review (like coupon, win, free, save, sale, discount, etc.) work, increasing the conversion rate from shoppers to reviewers by 18.5% on average.

Regardless of store size, adding incentive keywords has a positive impact on conversion rate – for stores with 5,000-20,000 orders per month, the difference is most dramatic, with nearly 68% higher conversion rate.

When it comes to various industries, incentive keywords have the biggest impact on food & tobacco stores, where adding incentives can increase the conversion rate 106%!

how to ask customers for reviews

4. Ask A Question In The Subject Line

We wanted to examine the impact of including a question mark in subject lines when asking for reviews, because often, stores use subject lines like “How was your recent purchase?” or “What did you think of [product]?”

So is it a good thing or a bad thing?

We found out that asking questions is great for getting more reviews – including question marks in review request subject lines leads to an average increase of 15.7%.

Interestingly, the bigger the store, the more of an impact adding a question mark has.

Only one industry saw negative results (Health & Beauty), but the impact is very minimal.

Question marks in review request email

5. Exclamation Points Boost Reviews For Food & Tobacco Businesses!

After we looked at question marks, we decided to study other forms of punctuation.

We asked what happens when a store adds exclamation points to their subject line? Does it get customers more excited to write a review or turn them off?

Turns out, it doesn’t have a big impact in general, but there are some slight variations by store size.

In general, for stores with under 5,000 orders, exclamation points don’t have an impact, while stores with over 5,000 orders see a positive impact (about 18%).

However, for extremely small stores (under 100 monthly orders) or extremely big stores (over 100,000 monthly orders), there’s actually a slightly negative impact.

When it comes to industry, the most astonishing difference is when it comes to Food & Tobacco stores. For these stores, adding exclamations can lead to a 83.5% increase.

For Food & Tobacco stores, adding a question mark barely increased the conversion rate of shopper to reviewer, so it’s surprising to see what a huge impact changing punctuation to an exclamation point has.

The Food & Tobacco industry’s results are even more surprising when you consider that the second most impacted industry is Health & Beauty, which gets a 30.4% increase.

That means adding exclamation points increases Food & Tobacco stores’ review conversion rate nearly 3x more than any other industry!!

Adding exclamation marks when asking for reviews

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6. Avoid Using A TOTALLY Uppercase Word In The Subject Line

We looked at the impact of including a TOTALLY uppercase word in the subject line. This is a strategy used by some brands to capture customers’ attention and stand out among all the other marketing emails.

So what’s the impact of including an uppercase word?

A slight decrease overall – 5.8% on average.

The only industry that majorly benefits is Electronics, which has a 26.7% increase.

The industries that should definitely avoid uppercase words are Health & Beauty (39% decrease) and Sporting Goods (21%).

For stores with under 20,000 monthly orders, adding an uppercase word can lower conversion by up to 49.3%!

Interestingly, stores with more than 20,000 orders see an enormous INCREASE when they add an uppercase word – 112.6%!!

how to ask customers for online reviews

How to Ask Customers for Reviews: Additional insights

As you can see, tiny differences can make a big impact on how many customers write reviews for your business.

Here are some other interesting insights from our research on how to ask for a review the right way:

  1. Mobile gets more reviews. Customers are much more likely to respond to a review request on mobile devices like phones or tablets. Phones have a 7% higher conversion rate than desktop, and tablets have a 20% higher conversion rate than desktop.
  2. Stores with less monthly orders are more likely to convert customers into reviewers. This means small stores are at an advantage, because their customers are more likely to write reviews. This is great news for growth because more customer reviews lead to more sales.
  3. Products that aren’t frequently purchased receive more reviews. Past research taught us that it’s important to have a similar amount of reviews across your products, because conversion is hurt when a few products have many reviews and other products have none. So it’s good that naturally, products that aren’t bought frequently have a higher chance of being reviewed.
  4. Whether a product currently has negative or positive reviews doesn’t impact how many customers will review the product. As we’ve said time and time again – negative reviews aren’t bad! Not only can they be good for sales, but they also don’t impact review request conversion rate.

We’re still exploring, stay tuned to learn more.

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Aimee Millwood
Aimee Millwood, Blog Manager at Yotpo
Aimee loves hummus and hates misplaced commas.

@aimeemillwood – Follow me

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