When it comes to winning the hearts (and dollars) of potential consumers, a positive consumer review can go a long way. A new report shows that more than two-thirds of US Internet users trust businesses more because of positive consumer reviews.
The high levels of trust represent a significant shift. Five years ago, 45 percent of consumers said they didn’t pay attention to online reviews at all or didn’t let them influence them, eMarketer reports. But in 2015—in part because of increased mobile use—reviews are a big part of users’ online shopping experience. Thirty-eight percent of Internet users read reviews on mobile via a browser, and 24 percent on mobile apps.
TripAdvisor offers the quintessential story of the transformative nature of consumer reviews. On its website and app, users can sift through 250 million reviews about destinations, restaurants, activities or hotels—no need to consult a traditional travel agent. Reviews are constantly updated; 160 are submitted each minute, The Washington Post reports.
Access to so much information has fundamentally changed how people plan their trips. A staggering number of users are seeking out user-generated reviews, putting more faith in them than even friends or family members. According to an annual study by MMGY, 41 percent of people visit a travel review site for information, compared to 37 percent who rely on friends and family. More than half say they trust review sites over ratings from established reviewers like AAA and Forbes.
The love of user reviews (both reading them and contributing them) is so entrenched that Amazon, another bastion of consumer reviews, has compiled—twice—some of its most hilarious and delightful content.
For marketers, the evidence is clear: Consumers like sites that provide many customer reviews. In fact, just the presence of reviews can boost sales, according to Reevoo. Nearly two-thirds of customers are more likely to buy from sites with user reviews, and the mere presence of 50 or more reviews on a product can create a 4.6 percent lift in conversion rates and an 18 percent uptick in sales.
The more a user interacts with the reviews, the more likely she is to purchase, too. Review-readers are 105 percent more likely to purchase and spend 11 percent more, Econsultancy reports.
Not only do brands benefit from positive reviews that push users toward purchase, they also get a wealth of user-generated content to serve as mini brand stories, as the Content Standard noted. Brands can highlight glowing reviews in other marketing tactics—in an email campaign or on social media.
Especially when consumers aren’t able to interact with a product, reviews can be a powerful tool. Cosmetics company Naturopathica got a 25 percent boost in email click-throughs after adding reviews to its content. Moreover, average order value from users who received a review-laden email was 8 percent higher than the overall email average.
Surprisingly, negative reviews aren’t always a bad thing. Econsultancy notes that the presence of a few bad reviews can actually inspire greater consumer trust, because the reviews are more believable. Reevoo found that bad reviews can actually increase conversions by 67 percent.
That said, too many negative reviews can tank a buyer’s interest. Brands should consider responding to individual complaints with honesty and empathy. Brands might lead with an apology, and then ask to connect with the customer offline to learn more. Responding to such issues shows other readers that the brand cares about customer service.
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