3 Ways to Make the Most of Customer Reviews

There’s no doubt that ratings and reviews play a significant role in the consumer purchase process. In fact, ratings and reviews impact purchase decisions more than any other factor with the exception of price. But while much has been made about the power of reviews, the circumstances under which ratings and reviews make the biggest impact on purchase has, until now, been mysterious.

Here at PowerReviews, we wanted to know when and in which contexts ratings and reviews were most effective at driving sales. So, we partnered with Northwestern University’s Medill IMC Spiegel Digital & Database Research Center to find out. Together, we uncovered three key recommendations that will help brands and retailers maximize the effectiveness of consumer reviews.

Don’t Delete Negative Reviews

The legal implications of deleting a negative review should be enough to keep brands and retailers from deleting these reviews and ultimately, there are plenty of good reasons to embrace a negative review. According to our research, less than perfect ratings may not be so bad after all. Although consumers gravitate toward products with higher ratings, purchase likelihood peaks between a star rating of 4.2 and 4.5.

Most consumers are skeptical and consider five-star ratings too good to be true and negative reviews may actually lead to a boost in sales.  As strange as it may seem, brands and retailers should embrace negative reviews instead of rejecting them. Doing so will help add credibility to your rating and review data, building trust with consumers in the process.

Prioritize Reviews for High Consideration Products

Whether it’s the price, safety implications or a consumer’s familiarity with a product or brand, nearly every purchase a consumer makes involves some type of risk. The greater the risk, the more information consumers will want to gather before making a purchase. For many consumers, ratings and reviews are a convenient way to build up enough confidence to finally pull the trigger.

It is crucial that brands and retailers do their best to collect as many reviews as possible for high consideration items, such as those with steep prices. Without them, consumers may never be able to overcome the risk associated with a hefty price tag. The same holds true for brands and retailers preparing to launch new products. By offering product samples, you can begin to stockpile reviews that will help reduce the level of risk future buyers face.

Send Post-Purchase Emails

The more reviews, the better. At least that has been the mindset of brands and retailers for the past several years. New findings by the research team at Northwestern, however, tell a slightly different story. The ideal number of reviews depends upon the length of the reviews themselves. A large amount of short reviews drive the most sales while a shoppers only read a limited number of longer reviews.

Although there isn’t a whole lot brands and retailers can do to increase the length of reviews, sending post-purchase emails is a great way to generate more reviews for products that have historically featured succinct ratings. Regardless of which method brands and retailers choose to compile reviews, the process of completing and submitting a review should be as easy as possible so that consumers don’t give up halfway through.

In conjunction with researchers at Northwestern, we’ve shed some light on the moments during which ratings and reviews are most effective at driving sales. While brands and retailers have always been familiar with the strong influence of consumer reviews on purchase decisions, these new insights will go a long way toward maximizing their impact.

Theresa O’Neil is Senior Vice-President of Marketing for Power Reviews