Online reviews hold a lot of sway over purchase decisions, but they’re more than a trust signal for the consumer. They’re also a goldmine of qualitative data that tells you how to be a more successful business. Here’s how to tap into that data through review mining, and what to do with the insights you uncover. 
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Review mining is a hot topic in eCommerce right now. It was also the topic of conversation in a recent instalment of the ‘In Reviews We Trust’ podcast.

In the episode, Founder Callum McKeefrey and CRO expert Lorenzo Carreri share their thoughts on the often unexplored value of review mining and how it can be used to improve almost every aspect of an eCommerce business.

Here’s a closer look at the ideas they discussed, and how to make review mining work for your brand. 

What is Review Mining?

Review mining is a simple concept. It’s the act of analyzing review content to really understand who your customers are, what they’re looking for, and what influences their behavior. 

As much as we’d all like to think we’re in touch with our target market, our ideas are generally based on assumptions and largely influenced by our own business goals. To really understand our customers, we have to think like our customers. That’s exactly what review mining allows you to do.  

When you read through product and company reviews (both your own and those of your competitors) you’ll start to see recurring themes - product attributes customers love or hate, frustrations with a particular service element like delivery or returns, common concerns they had before making a purchase. 

All of this is valuable stuff. It can help you craft messages that really resonate with your audience and improve your products and service to better meet their needs. 

So basically, the idea behind review mining is that you collate this qualitative data and use it to make smarter business decisions. It’s incredibly simple, yet highly effective.

How Does Review Mining Work?

The first thing you need to do is identify your data sources. Despite the name, review mining doesn’t have to be confined to customer reviews alone. There are various places you can look to gather qualitative data. 

On-site reviews: the most obvious source are the reviews you’ve published on your own site, and the reviews your competitors have published on theirs. Be selective here. A review along the lines of “Great product, would recommend” is of no use. Focus on longer reviews that go into finer detail.

Reviews on third party platforms: there are multiple sites where anyone can go and leave a review. Think Google, Trustpilot, Amazon. Keep an eye out for anything you suspect might be fake here though. 

Social media: millions of conversations happen on Facebook and Instagram everyday and some of them may well be about you and your competitors, so check out tags and @mentions.   

Forums/Discussion sites: one of Lorenzo’s favorite sources, you can really dig deep into the customer mindset on sites like Reddit. If you’re a small business you might not find any comments about your brand in particular, but you may well find conversations relating to the market you're in and the big players in it.  

Q&A sections: another tip from Lorenzo - don’t forget Q&A sections. If a customer is asking a question they’re essentially raising an objection to a purchase. If a particular question comes up a lot, it’s something you need to address better in your messaging.  

Next you need to analyze content and identify those all important recurring themes. 

You have two options here. You can use a tool like Simplescraper to scrape data for you, or you can take the manual approach by pasting keywords and sentiment into a spreadsheet. It might sound like a laborious task but trust us, it’s worth the time investment. 

When you’re analyzing review content look for the following:

Purchase tipping points - is there anything in particular that seems to drive conversion rates? Look for common trends in what convinced customers to hit the ‘buy now’ button. When you know why people buy the products they do you can market them better. 

Customer goals - look for how people are using your products, the main problem those products have solved, and if they could be improved. Again, this is incredibly useful for your marketing efforts, but it’s also your ticket to smart product development. 

Purchase concerns - are there any objections that customers regularly have to overcome before committing to a purchase? Like price point or concerns around product efficacy for example. These objections should be addressed clearly on product pages, in FAQs etc. 

Pain points - for customers that have switched to a new product or brand, what prompted them to do so? What was it their previous product or brand didn’t deliver on that yours does? This will help you really hone in on your actual key selling points, not what you think are your key selling points. 

Competitor successes and failures - remember it’s not just your own reviews that are valuable. Carefully analyze competitor reviews to see what they do well, where they fall down, and how you can compete. 

As you spot recurring themes, enter them into your spreadsheet. Separate data into columns or color code it according to category - like product benefits and customer service for example. How you organize your data, and what aspects you focus on, will be entirely down to the nature of your business. 

How to Use Review Mining for Brand Growth

So, now you’ve got it all nicely compiled and organized, how do you use this data?

As a CRO expert, Lorenzo knows how useful it is here, but both he and Callum agree it has much broader value and should be shared across every area of a business.

“Review mining is not just for CRO purposes, it should be for logistic purposes, media purposes, product development purposes. It’s something that should be cross pollinated across the entire arc.” Lorenzo Carreri 

Again, how you use your data will depend largely on your own objectives but here’s some applications every eCommerce brand should consider.

Marketing messages - position your products and services as the perfect solution to common customer pain points. Address their objections before they’ve even thought of them and use those keywords and phrases that crop up time and time again. 

Paid advertising, social media, email campaigns - makes sure every message at every stage of the marketing funnel resonates with your target market by speaking their language. 

Product page design - use your review mining data to guide product page design. If the answer to a popular question is buried way down the page, move it up. As Lorenzo points out, shoppers don’t like to scroll so make sure they don’t have to. 

Think about those key selling points you’ve identified and shout about them. Our Review Nuggets feature is an absolute winner for this. You can extract those recurring keywords and phrases from customer reviews and publish them as ‘nuggets’ right next to the ‘buy now’ button. Sign up to with our free trial to test our features today.

Product development - this is a primary reason for collecting reviews in the first place but it all too often gets overlooked. When you analyze review content you’ll find customers are telling you how to make your products better.

You might not be able to meet every expectation, but you should always be looking at ways to improve from their perspective. 

Proactive customer service - the reason for switching to one brand from another is, more often than not, issues with customer service. By analyzing negative reviews of your competitors you can see where those problems lie and make sure your customer service team is always one step ahead.    

“Without Doubt, Every DTC Brand Should Focus on Review Mining”

Listen to the podcast in full and you’ll hear the passion both Callum and Lorenzo have for review mining and its value. 

From Callum’s perspective it’s something every DTC brand should be looking at, but also something a lot of older companies struggle with - particularly those that were traditionally offline but have now branched out or moved into the eCommerce space. 

Thankfully, he also predicts a focus on review mining by the industry, with developments in technology to help brands collect and do more with qualitative data.

“To really make informed decisions and grow a business fast enough, your review data and your competitor's review data has to play a part. And that's really how I see the review industry growing over the next five to 10 years - improvements in review mining.” Callum McKeefery

If you want support tapping into the potential of review mining we’re always here to help. Just give us a shout. In the meantime, listen to “Review Mining: How to Extract Rich Insights that Drive Growth” to hear more from Cal and Lorenzo.

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