Decoding the impact of online product reviews on purchasing decisions

Time and again, studies have confirmed the impact of online product reviews on buyers’ purchasing decisions and the credibility and trust of the sellers and their products.

Most of us have experienced this as shoppers ourselves.

How often do your eyes track straight for the star rating and review count when you land on a product page?

So, as a seller, it is essential to understand the value of product reviews in your listings to succeed in your Amazon business.

The Role of Online Reviews According To Consumer Research

Reviews play an essential role in making informed choices. It holds for any consumer experience, from deciding which Netflix show to watch to selecting a new restaurant to try.

We base a lot of our decisions on the opinions of others.

If reviews are available, we will factor them into our decisions.

It makes sense; this is natural human behavior, after all. Though each of us is unique with varying preferences, if other people are discussing an item we’re also considering, we listen. We want to know what others have to say.

It helps us make up our minds.

The Data

In a consumer survey, 98% said they check online reviews before a product purchase.

It means pretty much everyone.

Further:

  • 76% do so regularly.
  • 75% search for reviews and testimonials before buying something.
  • 85% of consumers expect to see 50-500 reviews per product.

BigCommerce, a commerce solution provider, reports that 50+ reviews per product can result in a conversion rate increase of 4.6%.

According to another survey by BrightLocal, a search ranking company, 91% of consumers aged 18 – 34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 93% say that online reviews impact consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Here is another pair of supporting tidbits to go with that:

  1. 47% will spread the word about a positive experience.
  2. 95% will air their grievances about a negative experience.

It means negative reviews potentially hurt much more than the good ones help.

Good to know. People talking to others is word-of-mouth advertising, and we know how powerful the recommendations of peers can be.

Seems reviews – whether good or bad – influence the purchasing decisions of your potential customers.

Positive Impacts of Online Reviews on Purchasing Decisions

Reviews build trust and credibility, the very currency of your brand.

Positive reviews put coins in your account.

Three-quarters of all consumers trust a business more with positive reviews and testimonials.

And it refers not only to the reviews on your site but also to your product listings on Amazon. In many ways, reviews are the culmination of and the fuel for what is called social proof.

Social proof is the psychology of people following trends, the phenomenon describing people who are more likely to do something that many others have already done, and it strongly influences consumer behavior. It works because consumers trust the people they know personally over the brand that is selling them something.

Over 8 in 10 consumers trust the advice of friends and families over those from a business.

So, to influence their purchase decisions in a big way, you need to deliver an excellent customer experience to earn many positive reviews. 

Good customer service and positive reviews are vital to your success.

These factors lead to conversions.

By The Numbers

In conversions, the mere presence of reviews is a huge factor in customer uptake. According to a report by Spiegel Research Center, products with more than five reviews have a significantly higher conversion rate than those without reviews.

When it comes to conversion lifts:

  • For a shopper who visits a product page with 11 to 30 reviews, their conversion lift is 286.2%.
  • For a shopper who visits a product page with 31 to 50 reviews, their conversion lift is 474.4%.
  • For a shopper who visits a product page with 51 to 100 reviews, their conversion lift is 579.5%.

In other words, simply having over ten reviews already nearly triples your chances of a customer making a purchase.

So allow us to say something obvious:

Reviews are important.

Negative Impacts of Online Reviews

But what about the negative ones?

As important as positive reviews are, having no negative reviews may not be the ultimate goal. A balance of a few negative reviews is normal, natural, and expected. 35% of shoppers look for negative reviews before buying something.

Negative reviews add authenticity to the positive ones, giving people more reasons to trust what others are saying.

Too many negative reviews, however, or those of the wrong kind, can hurt your product sales and brand. Too many and those negative reviews will instead turn customers away.

Therefore, monitoring and cleaning erroneous negative reviews or reviews that violate Amazon’s TOS (Terms of Service) is essential to reducing the impact of your negative review count. Fake reviews, too, can become a real problem, skewing the perception of quality.

Sadly, fake reviews continue to be a challenge for Amazon sellers.

The good news is, when it comes to removing negative reviews on product listings on Amazon, there are ways to remove them using Amazon’s guidelines and support channels.

The better news is that TraceFuse exists to help take care of this for you efficiently and effectively, leaving you to focus on growing your business.

Watch this 6-minute How-It-Works video to learn how.

How Consumers Interpret Reviews

So, what is an ideal ratio of negative reviews to positive reviews?

The general rule of thumb is:

Keep the star rating above 4.0 and under 4.9.

Above 4.9 makes it seem unbelievable; less than 4.0 makes it seem undesirable.

On Amazon, that is your target star-rating zone.

Additionally, any star rating with a 3 (3.9, for example) will show a significant dip in conversion.

Interestingly, this ratio correlates to what is widely considered the magic ratio of positive to negative comments in business.

That ratio is 5:1.

In the field of business psychology, it recommends that for every negative comment you get, counter that by earning 5 positive reviews.

It is a ratio we humans respond best to.

We prefer to see more praise than not, but we expect to see at least a few authentic negative reviews. It is a safe goal to aim for.

However, recent reviews tend to weigh more highly in the customer’s mind than older ones. The authenticity of the reviews is also crucial, or at least their perception of them. Make sure you are weeding out those negatives that are inauthentic, bogus, violate TOS, or are fake.

As you can see, managing your product reviews can hugely impact their purchase decisions.

Strategies for Businesses to Leverage Online Reviews

There are several ways you can influence this vital metric.

To leverage the power of online reviews to drive sales:

  • Give the best service to encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.
  • Manage negative feedback effectively by responding to and resolving issues.
  • Utilize reviews in marketing materials, highlighting testimonials, and so forth.

Remember that in managing negative reviews, your responsiveness to reviews is another factor in customer buying decisions.

Did you know nearly 9 in 10 consumers will likely choose a business if they see that sellers respond to all their reviews, regardless of whether they are positive or negative?

Yes, it takes time to do that. You may want to bring in a Virtual Assistant (VA) or delegate the task to someone. But the truth is you should be answering every customer feedback. These are your customers, your people. They took the time to come to your listing and write something – positive or negative – to be acknowledged.

Handle issues that need handling. Thank the comments that need thanking. But always let them know that you hear them. 

That’s your best business strategy of all.

Parting Thoughts

Amazon is a hugely competitive environment. There are 9.5 million Amazon sellers globally. That is potentially 1 Amazon seller for every 35 people in America (one of the largest markets).

Selling to 35 customers will not sustain your business. To sell to more customers, you need to rise above the rest.

Help your progress to the top by regularly monitoring the quality of your reviews. Reviews do have an impact on consumers’ purchase decisions, a big one. They fastrack your success, so they’re worth your time and attention.

Respond to all reviews. Tackle the ones with concerns and make it clear that you’ve done so to demonstrate your commitment to customer service. And if negative reviews become too tough to handle, offload them to the experts so you can focus on the rest of your business that matters.

Watch how TraceFuse makes it easy to remove negative reviews.

Negative Review Removal: How We Do It

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