Consumer-generated content is an enormously important asset for brands. But let’s face it, including reviews on your website requires some serious bravery and self-assurance...I mean, what if someone says something bad, right??? Well, we’re here today to allay some of those fears.
The skinny is that online retailers have long found that genuine product reviews and ratings lead to increased conversions and a slew of other benefits. Please don’t make me dig up the proof…honestly, I’m sure you can Google those studies as well as I can.
OK, assuming we accept the premise that positive reviews and ratings are a good thing, let’s get into the nitty gritty, including how you might want to think about negative reviews.
Burning the House Down with Trust and Assurance
When compared to what brands say about themselves (We’re the best!) and their products (Seriously, they’re the best!) real online reviews can build trust and provide the assurance necessary to turn consumers into customers. And, in truth, modern consumers have come to expect a certain level of authenticity. This means a few “bad” reviews among a larger number of positive – or better yet glowing – statements about a brand or product can actually increase conversion rates.
And, yes, to provide some source material on that I broke down and provided a link. At least initially, it’s counterintuitive enough to need some backup. But if you think it through it makes sense. If you see only positive reviews you might think they are hand-picked or censored. And if consumers think that, trust is lost and why even bother having reviews on your site at all, right?
Some Bad Reviews = More Trust…With a Caveat
The study linked to above was conducted by Reevoo, an online review platform. Admittedly the take-away of the study bolsters a business based on online reviews, but we’ll assume good ethics on their part. Anyway, the study found that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see positive and negative feedback. Meanwhile, 30% of those surveyed suspected the reviews where manipulated when nothing negative was visible.
While this in no ways means negative reviews are a good thing – and, in fact, a separate study actually found a few negative reviews to be a deterrent – it does play into the concept that a confident brand who provides consumers with the ability to leave reviews builds trust with potential new customers.
What the ratio between negative and positive reviews might be before a consumer abandons trust in the authentic-seeming feedback (and instead focuses on negative comments) is hard to say. It likely depends on the audience and the product type or industry.
That said, if a consumer wants to provide a negative review about your product there are a myriad different ways they can do so online. Embracing on-site reviews, however, allows you to include unique and helpful content on your product pages (SEO!), additional user-generated product information to increase conversions, and a form of social proof, among other benefits.
What all this means is that, for brands with strong confidence in their products and services and a belief that their customers are engaged and willing to provide positive reviews, enabling on-site review functionality starts to seem less like bravery and more like common sense.