How negative reviews benefit your online sales

Are you thinking of activating an online review campaign to boost your online sales? Then you’re probably nervous as a pig in a bacon factory. You’re wondering: “Will they give me a standing ovation or will they write negative reviews?”

Believe me, you’re not the first to wonder if online reviews can hurt your reputation. It’s scary, yes. Unlike traditional advertising, there are no guarantees about the outcome of your investment. But don’t worry, there’s a positive side to negative reviews. And the other way around.


Remember when you searched online to buy a camera and you stumbled upon a five-star product? Did you read only the positive reviews, or did you go looking for the negative too? I know I did the latter. And research from PowerReviews confirms that many others do too (82%). Apparently, consumers who see only 5-star reviews become suspicious. Instead, they prefer to see more moderate reviews and even negative ones. And they have several reasons for it:

1) Consumers want to hear both sides of the story

First of all, when consumers rate a product on a five-point scale, a mean rating of three may indicate a variance in reviewers, suggesting that both positive and negative product attributes are discussed. This builds credibility and reduces reporting bias.

2) Extreme ratings are perceived as lower quality

Online reviews are often posted by either extremely satisfied or extremely disappointed customers, which may diminish their usefulness. In addition, positive reviews are more prominent, which (1) causes a contrast effect with negative reviews, enhancing consumers attention to negative reviews, and (2) may be responsible for the fact that consumers seek out negative reviews to get assurance the company is not hiding anything.

3) Extremely positive online reviews could be dishonest and biased   

Very positive online reviews may be seen as not reliable because of consumers’ intentions. Some people just love to present themselves online as an expert. Finally, consumers also know that firms could alter or remove reviews, or stimulate positive reviews by incentivizing the writers. A marketing mistake that Huawei is still regretting.

Too good to be true

What’s so interesting about this, is that everyone expects that high ratings lead to better sales results. But surprisingly, that relationship is nonlinear. At some point, reviews will start looking as too good to be true. Having 5-star reviews is great, but only as long as there are also some moderate ones or even negative ones. And this how negative reviews can benefit your online sales.


So don’t censor your negative reviews, don’t remove them. You would only lose your credibility and that is not in your best interest. Instead, we advise you to learn from them and take your product or service to the next level. Embrace the benefits! It’s been scientifically proven that more reviews relate to better sales.

In the meantime: if you have a product and you acknowledge the importance of more reviews, schedule a call with us and we are happy to explain our solutions to you.