Most online shoppers (81 percent) do not write reviews of their purchases, according to a new survey by ratings and reviews platform Clutch, but many of those same online shoppers say they rely on product reviews when considering a purchase—which is precisely why e-commerce businesses face a major challenge in growing the 20 percent of online shoppers who regularly write reviews.

The new research suggests the gap is an opportunity for e-commerce businesses to engage more online shoppers and address the reasons why they typically don’t write reviews.

Email marketing is an effective strategy for garnering reviews, prompting nearly one quarter (23 percent) of shoppers to write reviews. However, online shoppers cite lack of time and incentives as key reasons for their unwillingness to write reviews.

Brands and businesses can potentially reverse that unwillingness with simple changes to their review gathering process. For example, businesses should ensure that the review process is as efficient as possible by requesting specific feedback through guided questions or star ratings.

eShoppers rely on consumer reviews, yet few write them—why?

Incentives, such as a discount or contest entry, can also help secure more reviews. However, companies should be aware of Federal Trade Commission regulations that prohibit exchanging incentives for favorable reviews.

Timely and effective customer service, including resolving an order issue or complaints, can also increase the likelihood of garnering reviews. Shoppers are more motivated to write positive reviews than negative ones: One third (33 percent) of online shoppers who write reviews share an especially satisfying experience, compared to 2 percent who write about negative experiences, according to the survey.

eShoppers rely on consumer reviews, yet few write them—why?

Experts say companies should use the review-gathering process to give customers the opportunity to alert them early on to problems that could undermine their satisfaction.

“If any issues arise within that initial use of the product, you can usually remedy the situation and put a stop to anything that might put a damper on positive reviews,” said Dan Scalco, CEO of digital marketing and SEO agency Digitalux, in a news release.

Download the report here.

The full report included 1,000 consumers who made an online purchase in the prior week.

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