Fuel Growth with Customer Ratings and Reviews

Jun 02, 2009 9:41 AM  By

If you’re looking to convert new customers to fuel revenue growth, implementing customer ratings and reviews to increase revenues is a great place to start.

More merchants have been adding customer reviews to their sites. For the first time, more than 50% of companies tracked in our MarketLive Performance Index are using them. And these merchants are reaping demonstrable rewards. In fact, product page conversion for sites with customer reviews is 6% higher than those without, according to the Index.

Some merchants hesitate to incorporate customer reviews. Many believe reviews are only relevant for durable goods, such as electronics, that have specific features to rate.

But Forrester found that 47% of consumers also find reviews for apparel and footwear useful—a category that is subject to variable fit experiences and individual tastes. What’s more, another 40% of respondents find jewelry reviews helpful.

Other merchants cling to the belief that negative reviews will drive down conversion rates. But 51% of consumers say they have bought products despite reading a negative customer review, according to Forrester.

When consumers encounter disparaging comments about a product, 26% report they continue shopping for the product anyway, while 37% seek more information in the form of an expert or professional review. That’s another reason to launch reviews in tandem with staff-written buying guides.

Finally, a few online retailers believe incorporating ratings and reviews is difficult or cost prohibitive. In reality, the increasing demand for customer reviews has prompted vendors such as PowerReviews to reduce barriers to entry by simplifying the integration process and lowering the price threshold.

Ratings and reviews best practices
The case for including customer reviews is compelling. As with any strategy, however, you’ll want to follow industry best practices. Here are a few tips for success with user reviews.

  • Use both ratings and reviews. While ratings (usually on a scale of 1 to 5) give shoppers a quick snapshot of how customers perceive a product, consumers also read the rationale behind the score. For example, 47% of consumers who consult review believe ratings alone are useless without reviews to put them into context, according to Forrester.
  • Display reviewer profiles indicating their level of expertise and familiarity with the products at hand. This way, shoppers can identify which reviewers are most apt to have their interests at heart. At seed merchant Burpee.com, for example, reviews also reveal the expertise level and location of the reviewer, so that gardeners can focus on ratings from people in similar climates.
  • Use reviews beyond the product page. Display ratings can be used in search results, on index pages, and in cross-sell displays to give customers a quick view of which items are favored. It’s also a good idea to allow shoppers to sort product listings by “top rated,” to put customer’s favorites at the top of the list. And you might consider adding “top rated” as a category or at least as merchandising element.

By following these best practices, ratings and reviews can be a powerful weapon in your arsenal to convert more customers and increase revenue growth.

Ken Burke is founder/chairman of -ecommerce software and service provider MarketLive.