This may take you aback -- after all, we all want positive feedback for our business -- but when it comes to the products and services you provide, data reveals that shoppers are more likely to trust honest, critical reviews collected by an independent party rather than endless five-star rave reviews collected directly by a brand.
Consumers appreciate a rich array of reviews from knowledgeable consumers who share their thoughts -- both positive and negative. In fact, consumers spend four times more time on a site when they interact with bad reviews, trust the reviews they see far more and convert nearly 70 percent more often, according to research.
The reason behind this? Trust. Customers are more likely to be suspicious of a site that only lists shallow, positive reviews. Consumers can tell when reviews sound as if they were written by the marketing department rather than by critical shoppers -- and they don’t like it.
You may shrink from the idea of mixed reviews on your site, but the customer does not. Shoppers actually seek out critical reviews to give them a deeper insight into a product or service. They almost take positive reviews for granted, with twice as many consumers actively seeking out negative reviews while they are looking for positive reviews. Shoppers want insight from “people like me.” Consumers value reviews because they value the true opinions of their peers more than what they read in ad copy or hear from a sales assistant.
The mere presence of bad reviews doesn’t put consumers off. It’s actually the ratio of good to bad that matters. A few bad reviews carry much less weight with readers when they appear alongside dozens or hundreds of good reviews.
This leads to a more engaged shopper. In addition, people who seek out bad reviews will stay on a page much longer and view almost four times as many pages.
Still afraid of critical reviews? Data shows that less than 1 percent of consumers leave a retail site after seeing one badly reviewed product. And the longer these consumers stay on a site, the more time is needed to convince someone to convert.
Don’t forget: Not everyone agrees on what makes a ‘bad’ review.
To use a negative hotel review as an example, a guest could bash a hotel for not being “child-friendly” -- but to a potential consumer looking to book a romantic getaway, “no kids” can be viewed as a positive attribute. In the auto industry, a reviewer may be angry that his/her favorite car model no longer includes a moon roof as an option, while another buyer may not be interested in a moon roof and wouldn’t have paid for the option anyway.
In addition, data shows that planting or paying for glowing reviews is foolhardy. The fact is, consumers notice when there are no bad reviews, and therefore a lack of criticism arouses their suspicion. They won’t assume your product or service is sublime -- they will assume it’s so bad you had to censor customer feedback.
Yet it’s not enough to just open up your site to comments. No one wants their site dominated by a few angry customers, posting unhelpful tirades. Smart commenting platforms that are available today can actually reach out to loyal customers and thus properly dilute bad reviews by the crowd of satisfied purchasers.
Most importantly, bad or critical reviews aren’t just good for the shopper -- they’re good for the business owner too. Rigorous reviewing from loyal customers will help you improve your products and services. Furthermore, this thoughtful and detailed feedback gives you the opportunity to demonstrate how responsive you are to your customers, without having paid thousands to a market research firm. “Bad” reviews from loyal customers will help you improve your customer service, product design and marketing -- and wow consumers with your responsiveness.