The Power of Ecommerce Reviews.
In ecommerce a product review is possibly the most effective information for increasing conversion rates. The more 5 star reviews the better the conversion.
“76% of travelers said that they were willing to pay more for a hotel with higher review scores.”
“Every one star increase in a Yelp rating means a 5 to 9% increase in business revenue.”
The 5-star curse
When you have 100% 5 start reviews it looks excellent and it’s the best. However, one 4-star review now destroys this 5-star review forever. The 5-star rating will never return. There is no way to get the 5 stars back. Most people when they think of it realise it’s almost impossible to maintain a 5-star review. However, the shopper is fully aware of this they still go for the flawless 5 stars rating every time over a 4.8. reality is the 4.8-star service possibly has way more reviews and is therefore more credible.
This is a very crude system and can be gamed very easily by competitors, and by 3rd party review companies.
How to get your 5 stars back? Sign up to a new 3rd party review provider and start building product reviews from scratch hoping that there is not another 4-star review on the way.
On Google My Business this is not possible and whilst its hard to game their system is pretty easy to destroy a company’s reputation with an unfounded bad review.
Rating and Demographics
We know from over 300 online stores we have managed that there is a large difference in rating generosity depending on the county.
In Ireland is very difficult to get a 5-star review for anything, I believe it’s a cultural thing where we see no one is perfect, there is always room for improvement. It’s a kind of begrudgery where Irish people will think if I give them 5 stars, I make look fake as no one ever gives a high mark. Irish people are bad tippers and this carries on through to ratings for products, services and worst of all accommodation. Also, because their name is on the review, they tend not to like to look fake. Like who give 5 stars?
UK shoppers on the other hand are happy to give reviews, love to see their opinion in lights and will give 5 stars. UK shoppers will typically give 5 or 1 star. They are either happy or not.
There is room for a study on the demo graphics of reviews and then splitting this into gender.
Interestingly most of the ratings will be in the 4-5 mark, almost in the 3- or 2-star category and then the many at 1 star.
Its like when a customer is not happy, they decide not only voice their upset but do damage to your reputation. Typing and snarling.
Rating with contradictory comments curse
So, you get a 4-star review and the comment says that the service was “superb and I would recommend any one….” Why the 4 stars? I only guess that they are those who think there is always room for perfection.
Or the 1-star review and the comment “worst ever experience never buy from here”.
Worse again its recent and sits on the top of the reviews and basically kills the sales of the product from your store.
The recommendation is to load the reviews in stars descending order, but you run the risk of being accused of manipulating the ratings and can be open to accusations of misleading information.
Google to their credit recently have changed the review drill down so that it shows the highest first by default.
The question is if the stars or the comments are worth more. Of course, it’s the stars and the comment together that are powerful and the 3rd party rating providers know this.
Comments can be well meaning by the shopper but actually they may be damaging to your brand and refer to staff and the culture that others perceive in your organisation.
Shoppers do not realise the power of the rating and the question has to be asked as to why any ecommerce owner allows un-moderated comments on their site. Its basically opening your site up to anyone publishing onto your selling platform.
Is the review genuine and is it actually for this store and did the reviewer avail of the services of the company?
Some 3rd party review platforms will put reviews for products from other shoppers on other sites on your site if you have no review. While this is a genuine review of the product it is not a review of the whole service.
We think that the practice of companies pooling reviews and then publishing them across multiple platforms is misleading as it can be manipulated, many of the largest ecommerce players have openly admitted to this practice and this further erodes the authenticity of the review.
Authenticity is a Google ranking factor and I would guess that if you are pooling reviews this is going to hurt your site for organic ranking. It hurts under the duplicate content penalty.
We think adding some accountability to the reviewer is required so as to preserve the rating value. The review should have a time stamp and the full name and general geographic location of the reviewer.
All reviewers should be linked to all the other reviews they have made so as to determine if they are only reviewing when they are unhappy. We have seen some reviewers who praise for purchases they make for items for themselves and then only give 1-star reviews for restaurants that they visit when possibly paying for food for some one else, or on a bad date !
There needs to be a whole set of strict regulation around the publishing of reviews. Whilst there are regulations around testimonials on websites its difficult to see a way of cleaning up the authenticity of reviews issue.
I would recommend that reviews are moderated and only come from purchasers of the product on the site.
Reviews for your service are business assets and I would question using a third party to manage these reviews. While it takes the heavy lifting out of the job, it also takes the control away. Rating companies don’t really care too much about your reputation and tend to publish first and then review and moderate later if there is a complaint.
This opens the question as to the veracity of sites that are pure reviews and base all their marketing based on reviews. There is little or no check to see if the person reviewing has actually visited the place or not. However, they are happy to publish the review and then stand aside from the review when it is deemed to be liable. They will point the finger at the author. Who is going to try to sue some review troll that’s possibly a robot for a bad review?
To me the whole authenticity and verification needs to be tidied up, but its possibly so out of control that removing the comments and leaving the star rating only is the only way to get control of the authenticity and remove the opportunity for trolling and hijacking behind. But then you lose the context.
3rd party review providers are controlling your Business Intelligence.
In general, 3rd party review sites will be quite pro-active in getting a review from your customer. They will pester your shopper for a review. We have seen in cases where the persistent requesting for a review has resulted in a bad review where no review would have been more favourable.
3rd party review providers get a lot of information about and from your shopper.
- Physical Location
- What they purchased
- The date of the purchase
- The time of the purchase
- How responsive the customer is?
- The customers buying habits
- The amount they spend on your site
- How they paid
- Are they happy with you (the review site knows this before you do !!!)
We are seeing an increase in blackmail and extortion reviewers. The scenario happens like this. A bad review is posted on a review site The perpetrator posing as a reputation protection consultancy emails the store owner and alerts them to the bad review. They then list off all the other review sites where bad reviews about your company are popping up and are going to destroy your reputation. This is done on a Friday and you are told by the time you come to work on Monday your business will be destroyed. However you should fear not as the “reputation consultant” is going to stop all of this for you for a fee. They have 100% success rate !! usually unless you are canny and lead them on to extract as much information as to who and where they are located. Then keep all emails from the individual and pass onto sites where you see these bad reviews being planted.
Selling your business – it may affect the value !
When selling your business the buyer will seek to devalue the company as much as they can to drive the price down. It may be an issue if a 3rd party has a full list of all your clients details, the list of customers could devalue considerably.
The Solution ?
There is value in a genuine rating. However the rating is at a point in time. Organisations improve on the foot of bad ratings and they should not have to carry bad ratings forever. We think most ratings should expire after 24 months for service businesses and 18 months for product reviews no matter the review score. It keeps an organisation always working on their reputation. The good reviews have to keep coming to keep the score up.
Organisations and Businesses should have the right to not allow reviews to be posted about their business online. Most review sites put up the review first and then wait for the take down notice to be served. The review site should get permission from the reviewed organisation to accept and publish reviews and notify them of all reviews that are posted.
Reviews are the life blood of a lot of established ecommerce sites. There are powerful and that power left in the hands of third parties to decide the fate of your business is something worth considering when reviewing your review process. Reviews age should be a google ranking factor. Publishing fake reviews should be made unlawful.