Why Negative Reviews Aren’t Always a Negative Outcome for Your Company

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Have you ever heard of the saying ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity?’ According to a recent study conducted by Spiegel Research Center, the psychology behind consumers viewing online reviews follows that same thought process.

Reviews are a powerful form of consumer engagement, as they affect not only the company but potential consumers interested in your brand. While it’s best to make every consumer’s experience with your brand a five-star rating, unexpected factors can take place to result in something lower.

Review Variables

Think of online reviews as a seesaw. You have five-star reviews when individuals are completely elevated and swept off their feet. Sometimes it’s because you blew that individual away with your products and services, and sometimes it’s simply due to an individual having a great day. On the other end, you have one-star reviews where the sale just dropped to the ground due to a negative experience or simply a bad day on the consumer’s part.

seesaw with a 1 star rating on one side and a 5 star rating on the other

While five stars are obviously favored, research shows that when it comes to reviews, an equilibrium is actually ideal. The two, three, and four-star reviews are said to be just that – an equal playing field and the most honest. Typically, these reviews are where the consumer and the company are on the same page during the in-store or online experience, and where the consumer generally will give the most honest feedback regarding your product or service.

a seesaw sitting equal on both sides representing 2, 3, and 4 star ratings

With 95% of shoppers reading online reviews prior to making a purchase, reviews have gained a significant influence on how consumers make purchasing decisions. The research found that not only do online reviews matter, they are most important when it comes to more expensive and high risk items.

While five-star ratings are exciting to see, consumers are very skeptical when seeing all perfect ratings and tend to question if the products and services being sold are “too good to be true.” This isn’t to say that positive reviews will be your company’s downfall; however, a good mixture of reviews give the consumer an idea of exactly what they can expect from a company’s product or service. In fact, displaying reviews can increase conversion by 270%, especially when the company has five or more reviews.

Which Reviews Have the Top Impact

Many consumers have the ideology that what goes up must come down. Though many individuals may believe that more five-star ratings lead to more sales, this is only true to a certain extent. Typically, the purchase likelihood tends to peak at ratings in the range between 4.0 – 4.7 star ratings, and begin to decrease as ratings approach the 5.0 mark. Surprisingly, due to this “too good to be true” factor, products with an average rating of 4.7 -5.0 are less likely to be purchased than those in the 4.2 – 4.7 range.

While it may seem as if it’s a necessity to have all of the company’s reviews be 5 stars, negative reviews actually establish credibility. Going back to the idea that 2.0 – 4.0 stars show the most fair view of the product or service being sold, an astonishing 82% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews. This is not because consumers want a negative experience, rather the presence of negative reviews thrown into the mix brings a sense of authenticity to the table that cancels out those ‘too good to be true’ five-star ratings.

Based on research, a customer reaches a consensus whether or not they will purchase the product after reading 10 reviews, with the top 5 reviews holding the most significant impact. In fact, 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Importance of Review Monitoring

Nobody’s perfect and no product is perfect, which is why companies are bound to receive a negative review or two. While it’s not recommended to strive for negative reviews, they actually help your company gain credibility with shoppers. Instead of dwelling on the fact that you have received negative reviews and attempt to get them removed, you should embrace, monitor, and respond to them in a timely manner. This shows that you’re interested in the customer’s journey past the point of purchase. Research shows that interacting with negative reviews leads to consumers spending four times longer on sites and boosts conversion rates by 67 percent. However, it’s important to note that there’s a right and wrong way to respond.

A few pro tips when responding to positive reviews include:

  • Respond to reviews in a timely manner.
  • Thank the reviewer for their feedback.
  • Use SEO tactics in your review responses.
  • Invite the user to do something.

As for negative reviews, it is suggested to:

  • Respond to reviews in a timely manner.
  • Thank the reviewer for their feedback, but attempt to take negative conversations offline.
  • Don’t use SEO tactics in your review responses.
  • Recognize that even bad reviews can be a good opportunity for your business.
  • Know when to take the next step on bad reviews.

What This Means for Your Brand

Online reviews that are displayed and responded to are viewed as representative of the company and show its credibility, which results in a significant competitive advantage. Overall, Spiegel Research Center suggests six principles when developing an online review strategy:

  • Display reviews and ratings on your product website.
  • Embrace negative reviews.
  • Prioritize generating reviews for products with a low volume of reviews.
  • Further prioritize generating reviews for higher-priced and higher-consideration products.
  • Overcome selection bias to improve the value of reviews.
  • Identify reviews from verified buyers.

Contact us to learn how Go Local can help your company with review monitoring.

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