Product reviews are like gold dust to modern marketers, and with good reason. They provide something known as social proof, a phenomenon by which we trust what other people say about companies and their products more than we tend to trust companies themselves. It’s also the reason why we ask our friends for recommendations when it comes to restaurants and holiday destinations.
What some people don’t realise is that while reviews are super useful for shoppers, they’re also super useful for marketers because of the impact that they can have on conversion rates and overall revenue. In fact, one study found that making user-generated content available to shoppers (of which reviews are just a small part) led to an average conversion lift of 137%.
But reviews can also make some marketers nervous, because there’s a risk that your products will attract their fair share of negative reviews as well as positive reviews. This can hold people back and stop them from launching customer review programmes, and that’s both a shame and a waste. Here’s why.
What about negative reviews?
Reviews don’t have to be positive to help you to sell products. In fact, there’s research to suggest that the occasional negative review can actually be a good thing, perhaps because they make the positive reviews look more legitimate. There’s no light without darkness, and so the occasional bad review is no big deal.
In fact, it falls to companies to encourage and to nurture honest reviews from their customers, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative. After all, negative reviews can be valuable for companies because they allow them to address any problems there might be within their company. On top of that, if you respond to negative reviews to explain how you plan to stop the problem from happening again, people can see that you’re listening.
Then there’s the fact that what people often look at is the overall average rating and the number of reviews that are listed. Those negative reviews help to further bulk up the total number of reviews that are being displayed, and thus they ultimately lend more authority to all of the positive reviews that they accompany.
Reviews are surprisingly powerful, and the real difficulty is encouraging people to take the time to write and post them. For product manufacturers, it often makes more sense to encourage people to post reviews on Amazon than it does to encourage them to post reviews on your own website. That’s because they’re already familiar with Amazon, and it’s likely that more people check out the reviews on your Amazon page than on your official website.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is that reviews play an important part in the purchasing decisions of prospects from all sorts of different industries. They’re important for authors and film-makers, but they’re also important for plumbers, graphic designers and more. So if you haven’t made encouraging and displaying product reviews a part of your marketing strategy, perhaps it’s time you got started. Good luck.