Customer reviews - the amplifier for your marketing

Customer reviews are free per se, but gaining and targeting them requires an investment in three areas: strategy, technology, and responsibilities and processes.


Customer product reviews are more valuable than many brands and retailers realize today. They generate word of mouth, trust and transparency, and can increase sales in online stores and bricks-and-mortar retail by up to 20 percent. But to fully realize the potential of ratings and reviews - ratings and experiences - the right strategies and technologies, as well as careful processes and clear responsibilities, are crucial. This post shows you how best to go about it.

Consumer product reviews are a huge trend in omni-channel marketing. Consumers want to have their say and express themselves on Google, retailer platforms, company websites and in social media more or less benevolently and usually very honestly about their experiences with brands and products. Generations X, Y and Z in particular like to share their opinions and experiences and create content specifically for this purpose - so-called consumer-generated content - also in the form of product reviews. Thanks to the diverse technical possibilities of modern media, they are used to having access to a number of sources of information before making decisions. Customer ratings are currently mainly in the form of scales from one to five and text ratings. However, creative formats such as images and videos are on the rise, and these formats are all the more persuasive. This is proven by the success of influencer marketing: opinion leaders with high credibility share brand experiences in blogs or social media and lend transparency and authenticity to the advertising message.

Most important portals for customer reviews

  • Amazon: 58 percent of German customers look at reviews before making a purchase decision (ECC Köln, Cross-Channel - Quo vadis)
  • Price comparison portals: or
  • Google reviews
  • Brand websites such as and, retailer websites such as
  • Industry-specific portals: TripAdvisor/tourism industry, industry,, stores,,

Relevant for all industries

More and more retailers, brands and agencies are recognizing the value of customer opinions for their own marketing. First, companies can learn a lot for their product development from user comments and contributions; second, they can positively influence user opinions through interaction. Thirdly, they can also make targeted use of user content for their communications on all channels, because users trust the judgments of other users more than pure brand messages. For example, 65 percent of Internet users read product reviews in online stores before making a purchase, and 39 percent of online consumers are less likely to trust offers without customer reviews. That's according to a study by bitkom. Brands and retailers that integrate customer reviews into their own online marketing, on the other hand, can increase their sales by up to 20 percent, a Revoo study shows, because trust and visibility increase. This is true across all industries, because all industries rely on building trust with their target groups. Currently, ratings are particularly common in tourism, hospitality, crafts and financial services. But fast-moving consumer goods, the fashion industry, and consumer and household electronics are also using this tool to increase their relevance.

Market research and word of mouth

Companies that evaluate their customer reviews benefit, as it were, from free market research and can better align their products and services with customer needs. Above all, however, customer reviews serve marketing communication, because the (positive) reviews provide digital word-of-mouth advertising. The visibility of the company increases at all contact points where the reviews are played out: In its own online channels, in the store, on review platforms and in search engines such as Google. Search engines take reviews and comments into account in their rankings and search results. What many companies don't know is this: With star ratings, it's not about grabbing the maximum five stars, but rather 4.4 out of 5 stars is optimal, as this rating seems more credible. And that's what customer review marketing is all about.

Why some companies are still hesitant

There are several reasons why some companies are still hesitant when it comes to product evaluations by customers and do not use this instrument strategically: Many organizations recognize innovations late or not at all, or they lack the necessary knowledge and experience internally to project innovations such as product evaluations onto their own business field. The prospects for success are underestimated and the effort involved overestimated. In addition, user-generated content and product reviews are an interdisciplinary topic where responsibilities within the company, but also between business partners such as brands and retailers, are often not clearly defined: Who has the mandate within the organization -marketing, product development, corporate communications or customer service? How do brands and retailers cooperate in this area? Do conflicting interests predominate among these players, and do they prefer to steer customers to their own respective platforms rather than play out reviews across all channels? These questions are often a stumbling block. Yet current statistics, such as those from Bazaarvoice, show that the return on investment as well as the reach, frequency and impact of product reviews exceed those of many other advertising media - and that collaborations between retailers and brands pay off for all parties involved in most cases.

Careful planning and implementation

Many manufacturers and brands already use ratings and reviews as a strategic brand management tool: Ikea, for example, uses customer ratings to improve products and optimize its range.  What customers don't like is modified or disappears from the range. Other companies take ratings and reviews into account as part of the so-called "Voice of Customer". They analyze the mood of the target groups (sentiment analysis) and adapt their marketing and products to customer expectations. If you plan to use product ratings for your marketing in the future, you should consider the following aspects in strategy, technology and quality management.

Strategy - how to implement review marketing strategically

  • Analyze the status quo: The first step is to assess the starting position: Where do we stand compared to our competitors? What advantages can we realize through customer review marketing in the short and medium term? Which key figures - such as the number of reviews or the costs per review - are suitable for measuring success?
  • Plan a dedicated annual budget: review marketing gains free content and free customer feedback, but it is not free, as tools, evaluations and channel support generate costs. The annual budget is roughly the same as for social media or CRM and depends on the industry, competition, type of products and the situation of brands or retailers. A solution can be implemented from around 10,000 euros per year.
  • Actively ask for feedback: Companies collect more positive reviews if they actively ask their customers for feedback. 80 to 90 percent of reviews come from (privacy-compliant!) follow-up emails, the review platform One2Five has These automated post-purchase emails ask for the customer's opinion within about two weeks after the purchase. Address your customers personally in the follow-up mails and motivate them with subjects such as "Help other consumers with their purchase decision". Small prizes or vouchers also encourage participation. A/B tests prove the optimal approach strategy.
  • Collect centrally, play out selectively: Brands should display reviews to consumers at all appropriate touch points: on the website, in sales materials, on product packaging, in-store, and on retailer and comparison portals. Reviews are collected and managed in a central database and played out via interfaces across all suitable channels (review syndication). Brands and retailers can also join syndication networks or enter into individual collaborations.
  • Learning from reviews: Brands and retailers need to rethink how they integrate user content into their marketing and hand over some of the control to users. They must be willing to learn from customer reviews and realign their marketing and product development to meet customer needs. To do this, they need to define processes, information flows and responsibilities.

Technology - what you look for in tools and devices

  • Use tools in a targeted manner: Review marketing needs a functioning technology and intelligent platform. Tools include a module for collecting and displaying reviews on your own website, a platform (back-end) for storing, moderating and managing content, and interfaces for sharing and playing out reviews. An ideal back-end has the ability to connect all key touchpoints. In retail stores, for example, customers should be able to access or submit reviews via sales staff tablets or digital price tags.
  • Easy integration: Good solutions can be easily integrated into existing technical infrastructures such as CRM systems, websites or content management systems. Technical solutions that can be easily adapted to the company's requirements are ideal. And, reporting and moderation users should be able to use the tool intuitively.
  • Consider mobile first: Consumers are increasingly researching purchase-relevant content on their mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. Therefore, it is a must to adapt all building blocks of the review process - from submission to publication - to iOS and Android.

Quality management - here's how you set up review marketing properly

  • Transparency from the start: To encourage positive reviews, providers should present their products and brand in a user-friendly way, differentiate them from the competition, and provide as much detail as possible: Pictures, videos, examples of use and information on design, functionality and quality. Transparent pricing is also part of the process. The process from rating submission to publication must be communicated transparently to consumers.
  • Careful commenting: A moderator checks the customers' ratings and approves them for playout. If the rating is incomplete or deficient, the users are contacted and asked for additions. Moderation takes care to ensure that reviews provide meaningful insights to other users.
  • Take protective measures: Reviews from bots? Violations of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? A clear No. A good review platform has protective mechanisms and prevents any manipulation. These include digital fingerprinting, IP matching and mail verification, and a trained moderation team.

As an important tool in omni-channel marketing, review marketing should be strategically integrated into marketing. Product reviews in online stores serve branding purposes and can significantly increase sales.


Almost all B2C players today have to adapt to the fact that consumers want to read and give product reviews. Customer reviews are free per se, but gaining and targeting them requires an investment in three areas: strategy, technology, and responsibilities and processes. These investments usually pay off quickly and promote brand value and customer satisfaction in the long term. Because you can learn from the valuable insights to promote your brand image and boost your sales at all contact points, but also to continuously improve products and customer service.

Klaus Wegener