Shoppers are increasingly using on-line ratings and reviews before making purchasing decisions for just about everything today. In fact, ratings and reviews drive more conversions than any other type of user-generated content.
What a lot of people don't consider is that they are one of the best ways to improve search engine optimization (SEO). A steady stream of ratings and reviews, images and Q&A keeps your site’s content relevant and fresh with keyword-rich, permanent assets on your product pages. They also provide insights that companies use to improve their products, services, and customer's shopping experience. You should keep these three key facts in mind regarding ratings and reviews.
1) People now trust the opinions of strangers more than the opinions of friends and family
While the opinions of a shopper’s personal network still hold a lot of weight, online ratings and reviews have become the most popular method for gaining information before purchasing. Also, those under 45 are 61 percent more likely to trust online reviews from customers they do not know, according to tracking data. As today’s shoppers continue to seek out recommendations from online sources - content like ratings, reviews and Q&A have become an increasingly important piece of the shopping journey for not only consumers, but brands and merchants as well.
2) While 95% of shoppers read reviews, only 42% of them write reviews
In fact, writing reveiws drops to only 32 percent for shoppers ages 18 to 29. Because ratings and reviews are such an important part of the shopping journey, retailers and brands need to ask and encourage customers to create more user-generated content.
To increase ratings and reviews, retailers and brands must motivate their shoppers to leave more reviews. Up to 70 percent of reviews originate from post-purchase emails, so it is essential to develop a post-purchase email strategy to collect feedback from customers. To improve response rates, make sure your user experience is optimized for mobile. In addition, because more than 60 percent of purchases contain more than one item, allowing customers to review multiple products on a single page can greatly boost user generated content. Also, retailers and brands can use product sampling and incentives like sweepstakes to increase the number of reviews. The objective is to get the number of consumers leaving reviews to match the number of those who are reading them – a goal retailers can only hope for.
3) Don't try to achieve a perfect 5-Star rating
The higher the rating, the more likely an item will be purchased, right? Ah, no. A study with Northwestern University actually found that customers tend to purchase a product with an average star rating of 4 than a product whose average rating is 3 stars. This same study found that purchase peaks between 4.2 and 4.5 stars as opposed to a perfect 5 star rating. So, why do purchases drop off once the average star rating is greater than 4.5?
What they found out is that negative reviews actually help establish trust and credibility among consumers, since lower ratings are perceived as more authentic. Consumers perceive ratings which near a 5.0 on the ratings scale are just “too good to be true.” Brands often give out products for evaluation in return for a review. When people see too many good reviews for those, they normally distrust them all.
Companies should never delete or reject any ratings less than 5 stars. Instead, they can use this feedback to improve ways to market or improve their products.
Shoppers rely on ratings and reviews to make informed purchasing decisions, which creates an opportunity for retailers and brands to create transparency and trust. By removing obstacles to review collection, companies can collect more of the conversion-lifting content that improves Search Engine Optimization, making their products easier to find. Savvy brands and retailers should also embrace negative reviews as a way to build trust with shoppers and understand how to improve their products/services and the shopping experience.
The role of reviews are continuing to evolve and are becoming an ongoing discussion between businesses and consumers. This allows companies to listen and adjust their offerings to make sure their customer’s needs are met with better products, services and an enhanced shopping experience. Increasing your reviews increases more traffic and better sales.