Customer Ratings and Reviews – Benefit or Burden?
Historically, consumers have always talked to their friends and family about products and services. Does the baker around the corner have good bread? How do the shoes fit at the local shoe store? As products moved online, so did the voices of consumers who now trust the product experiences of consumers who they have never met or interacted with. Approximately 88% of online consumers now read online reviews before making a purchasing decision; a number that has continued to increase over the past five years and continues to go up.
So what are some of the benefits and burdens of customer ratings and reviews? Let’s take a look below…
- Product ratings and reviews increase conversions – Research has shown that products with 50 or more reviews have a 4.6% higher conversion rate than products with no ratings or reviews. 63% of consumers are also more likely to make a purchase from a site which features product reviews.
- Adds dynamic, unique SEO content to product pages – Product reviews add fresh content to product pages which gets these pages re-indexed by search engines more frequently. Consumer reviews are also content that is trusted nearly twelve times more than product descriptions or other content on product pages.
- Bad ratings and reviews can be valuable – While monitoring reviews is a great thing to do, deleting the bad ones isn’t. Believe it or not, research has shown that occasional bad reviews increase conversions by 67% and 30% of consumers suspect censored or fake reviews when they don’t see any negative ratings or reviews on the product page.
- Product reviews can be used to evaluate customer care efforts – Positive and negative customer reviews can be valuable not only from a conversion perspective but also for determining the effectiveness of customer care efforts. Consumers can and will be honest in customer reviews about their positive and negative experiences with brand representatives.
There are, however, a few negatives to product ratings and reviews…
- Too many negative ratings and reviews can hurt a product – Negative ratings and reviews may decrease the conversion rate on product pages and deter consumers from purchasing on your site altogether. Sometimes, however, if negative product ratings and reviews are abundant this is likely a reflection that there is a deeper issue with product quality, customer service, or both.
- Ratings and reviews may hurt sites with low order volumes – As only 1% of consumers write product reviews, sites with fewer orders are more susceptible to not have negative reviews be “balanced out” by positive reviews, even if the site is sustainable due to high average order values. Although ratings and reviews increase site trust, there are certain scenarios when adding them may not be an ideal fit.
- Monitoring product reviews takes time – As with any source of user-generated content it’s important for brands to monitor the content that is generated. With product reviews, brands should understand that employee resources will be used to ensure reviews are appropriate and relevant to the products. Implementing a system for consumers to rank reviews as “helpful” and “not helpful” can help assist employees in this process.
In short, online ratings and reviews have become one of the most powerful ways for online retailers to increase conversion on their site. Negative reviews, if sparse, can increase the authenticity of the reviews and assist the site in gaining consumer trust. Due to their benefits, ratings and reviews on eCommerce sites have evolved from a luxury for only high-revenue sites to something all online retailers must consider in the development of their site.