Customer reviews are essential for businesses to grow and build a reputation. For some companies, reviews can be a dreaded topic. Communicating with unhappy customers isn’t easy, and happy customers can seem few and far between. Instead, review forums should be viewed as a means to gain new customer’s trust and to gauge how well your company is doing its job.

It’s time to start taking advantage of your clients’ feedback! We asked real customers how they feel when it comes to reviews and whether or not they find them useful. Buckle up for the inside scoop!

What Makes a Review Trustworthy?

If potential customers don’t trust the reviews on your website, chances are they won’t make a purchase. We wanted to know exactly what makes reviews seem more trustworthy, so we conducted a survey of 556 participants in the United States.

Each participant was given two scenarios of a review and asked to select which they thought was more trustworthy, or if they had no preference. The specific scenarios we asked about were:

  1. All 5-star vs. mixed positive, negative, and neutral reviews
  2. All verified reviews vs. some verified reviews
  3. First name and last initial of reviewer vs. full first and last name of reviewer
  4. Date of review vs. no date provided
  5. No reviews for a product vs. one review that is several years old

The data showed some surprising results. Nearly each question yielded a popular answer.

1. All 5-star vs. mixed positive, negative, and neutral reviews

  • All 5-star reviews: 22.10%
  • Mixed reviews: 65.80%
  • No preference: 12.10%

2. All verified reviews vs. some verified reviews

  • All verified: 42.60%
  • Some verified: 24.50%
  • No preference: 29.30%

3. First name and last initial of reviewer vs. full first and last name of reviewer

  • First name and last initial: 29.30%
  • First and last name: 26.80%
  • No preference: 43.90%

4. Date of review vs. no date provided

  • Date of review: 69.10%
  • No date: 11.30%
  • No preference: 19.60%

5. No reviews for a product vs. one review that is several years old

  • No review: 11.50%
  • One old review: 57.20%
  • No preference: 31.30%

Using this data, we were able to draw the following conclusions:

  • Mixed review ratings are more trustworthy than all 5-star reviews.
  • A review being verified does not always make it more trustworthy.
  • Seeing the reviewer’s name does not necessarily play a role in trustworthiness.
  • Including a date on a review makes it more trustworthy.
  • Having old or very few reviews is more trustworthy than no reviews at all.

Ultimately, the most important aspects of trustworthy reviews are the date and a mixture of ratings.  Keep these points in mind when sharing reviews on your website or re-visit your own review submission forms to make sure you only include the most trustworthy information.

So you know what makes a review seem trustworthy to potential customers, but which platforms are the best? While there are many places customers can go to review your business, some websites are more popular than others simply because more people visit the site, which in turn means more reviews are left. The main reason why certain platforms are more popular is because most don’t require a login to read or leave a review, so more people use it simply because it’s easier.

The top review platforms are:

  1. Google My Business
  2. Facebook
  3. Amazon
  4. Yelp
  5. TripAdvisor

Here are the quick facts:

  • 97% of customers search Google to find a business.
  • 80% of consumers are likely to choose a business with positive Facebook reviews.
  • 32.6% of Amazon Electronics reviews begin with the word “I.”
  • 26,380 Yelp reviews are left every minute.
  • TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site with over 225 million reviews.

Chances are you’ve heard of and probably used a majority of these websites at some point. While these platforms are not the only ones your business should be using, they are most important because they generate the most traffic.

Why Are Customer Reviews Important?

Now that you know where most reviews come from, you can begin to gather customer reviews for your business. As our survey showed, customer reviews are considered the most trustworthy and credible form of “advertising,” so they are a valuable way for your business to build brand authority.

Reviews are important because prospective customers can use them to see the great experiences others have had with your company. Your organization can also use reviews to pinpoint where you fall short, and what areas you excel in.

Other quick facts about customer reviews:

  • Products with at least 50 reviews can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates.
  • 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site with user reviews.
  • Reviews produce an average of 18% increase in sales.
  • 9% of consumers will call a business after reading positive reviews.
  • 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to 10 reviews.
  • 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendation

Adding customer reviews to marketing strategy can help build a positive reputation for your company. Take time to build profiles for your organization on different platforms, especially the most popular, to provide as many channels as possible for customers to provide feedback.

How to Encourage Customers to Leave Feedback


Research has proved reviews can lead directly to more leads and sales, but how can you encourage feedback from your customers without seeming pushy? The easiest way is to just ask. A recent study showed that of the 74% of customers who were asked to leave a review, 68% were willing to do so.

Making the review process as simple as possible will increase the likelihood of a customer leaving feedback.

Is Replying to Reviews Important?

Once your business receives reviews, the work does not stop there. Replying to both good and bad reviews is another way to show customers they can trust your business. Reviews should act as a place where you can interact with your customers, and where they can express their experience with your company, whether it was positive and negative.

26% of consumers say it is important that a local business responds to its reviews.

When replying to reviews, be as prompt as possible. Waiting too long to reply can give off the impression your organization does not care, or that the review was ignored. If the review is negative, replying promptly is the best way to solve an issue while it is still relevant.

53% of customers say they expect organizations to react to a negative review within a week.

Take a look at the duties of your marketing department to find out where replying to reviews can fit in. Spending time each day to respond to reviews across all platforms will show your customers you care.

How to Handle Negative Reviews

Positive reviews are easy to reply to, but negative reviews can be more sensitive depending on the situation. Negative reviews can really impact your business, especially considering about 80% of consumers have changed their minds about a recommended purchase after reading negative reviews.

Here are three tips you can follow to handle negative reviews:

  1. Respond as soon as possible.
  2. Be fair, honest, and admit mistakes were made.
  3. Do what you can to make the situation right.

Businesses who resolve issues quickly and efficiently are 95% more likely to have unhappy customers return in the future. It’s important not to ignore or brush off negative reviews, but instead use them as an opportunity to earn return customers.

What is Review Fraud?

Believe it or not, some companies have fake reviews on their websites, which can mislead customers into falsely trusting a certain service or product. Fraudulent reviews can be paid for by the company itself or can be made by bots with stolen customer information.

Fakespot is a company that analyzes potentially fraudulent reviews. They found that 52% of reviews on Walmart’s website were “inauthentic,” and 30% of Amazon reviews were found to be fake.

95% of consumers suspect reviews may be faked or censored when they don’t see bad scores.

In the case of Amazon, their fake reviews were hijacked, meaning a review meant for one product was being used for a different and unrelated item. This was a problem because it deceived buyers into thinking a product had better or a larger number of reviews, and then making a purchase.

Source: finance.yahoo.com

Fraudulent reviews do not only impact customers, but they can also diminish a company’s integrity. CEO of Fakespot, Saoud Khalifah, provides guidelines to help spot fake reviews:

  1. A one-day surge in five-star reviews
  2. Broken grammar
  3. Reviews from individuals who post hundreds of reviews in one day

Amid the increase in fraudulent reviews, the Federal Trade Commission has also gotten involved in monitoring reviews especially for major corporations. The purpose is to ensure a fair playing field for businesses and consumers.

How Do Customer Reviews Impact Search Engine Visibility?

The importance of reviews doesn’t end with building trust and communicating with your customers. They can also help with search engine optimization (SEO). Reviews account for around 9.8% of ranking factors, meaning they play a role in search engine visibility. There are six specific ways reviews can help your SEO.

  1. Reviews are a form of user-generated content and can be more influential for future customers compared to content your company creates.
  2. They can boost social conversation when companies share feedback as part of their social strategy.
  3. Google favors websites with higher ratings.
  4. Star ratings shown in Google search results can encourage more customers to visit your website.
  5. The more reviews certain products get, the higher they can rank on Google over competitors.

You might not have previously considered the fact that customer reviews are impacting your visibility on Google. Now that you know the importance, there is no time like the present to ask for reviews and feedback on your popular products!

It’s time to change your perception of customer reviews and start using them for your company’s benefit. Without the feedback of your customers, you’d likely have less newcomers, a lower ranking on Google, and a less trustworthy reputation. Take each review as an opportunity to learn and grow your business, and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards!

Resources

Abramyk, Heidi. (2018). Top 10 Review Websites to Get More Customer Reviews On (2018). Retrieved on September 25, 2019, from https://www.vendasta.com/blog/top-10-customer-review-websites/

Kolowich, Lindsay. (2019, May 10). 25 Customer Review Sites for Collecting Business and Product Reviews. Retrieved on September 25, 2019, from https://blog.hubspot.com/service/customer-review-sites

Woolf, Max. (2014, June 17). A Statistical Analysis of 1.2 Million Amazon Reviews. Retrieved on September 25, 2019, from https://minimaxir.com/2014/06/reviewing-reviews/

RevLocal. (2019). 2019 Platform Review Statistics. Retrieved on September 25, 2019, from https://www.revlocal.com/resources/library/marketing-downloads/2019-platform-review-statistics-infographic

Shrestha, Khusbu. (2016, August 29). 50 Important Stats You Need to Know About Online Reviews. Retrieved on September 25, 2019, from https://www.vendasta.com/blog/50-stats-you-need-to-know-about-online-reviews/

Bernazzani, Sophia. (2018, December 20). 11 Strategies to Promote Positive Customer Reviews for Your Brand or Business. Retrieved on September 25, 2019, from https://blog.hubspot.com/service/get-customer-reviews

Sterling, Greg. (2019, August 27). Review fraud: Hijacked Amazon reviews a big problem says Consumer Reports. Retrieved October 3, 2019, from https://searchengineland.com/review-fraud-hijacked-amazon-reviews-a-big-problem-says-consumer-reports-321087

Litza, Tereza. (2016, September 16). How A Customer Review Strategy Can Impact SEO. Retrieved October 10, 2019, from https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2016/09/06/how-a-customer-reviews-strategy-can-impact-seo/

About the author

Gianna Petan

Meet Gianna - no stranger to all things promo products. Her background in research-based writing, linguistics, and advertising gives her an edge in blogging about the marketing industry.