What’s more important: quality of reviews vs volume and rating

When it comes to reviews affecting the purchase decision of your online customer, three factors play a huge role: number of reviews, a perfect star rating and a quality review. Yet, many companies wonder what’s more important: volume, valence or content?

If you would compare volume, valence and content you’d find out that all factors are equally important. However, they impact different stages of the online customer journey.

Importance of volume and valence

When consumers are aware of their needs, they start considering which type of product they need and from which brand. At this point, search engines are their best friend. According to a survey conducted by BrightLocal, 63% of consumers use a search engine to find online reviews.

Why is this important?

Volume and valence of your reviews are instantly visible on listing pages like Google search results or the product listing page on an re-tailer website.

The number of reviews and the average rating of your product affect your ranking in the search results. You are being rewarded for sharing user generated content and selling a product that people care about.

In other words: the more reviews you have online (with an ideal average rating) the more likely the consumer is to find you.

Example

If you were shopping for an umbrella and the search results or product listing page showed you two options: one with 12 reviews and an average rating of 4 stars and one with 6 reviews and an average rating of 4 stars. What would you do?

My guess is that you would click on the first umbrella. You already understand the whole concept of an umbrella – it keeps you dry on a rainy day – but you just want to make sure that you buy one that works.

The number of reviews and the positive star rating give you confidence:

  • umbrella nr. 1 is more popular
  • more people are happy with their purchase of this umbrella
  • more people care enough about the brand to spend time on giving their feedback
  • if you click through you can get valuable information from your peers

Once you have clicked to view more about this umbrella, chances have increased that you’re gonna buy it.

This is where review quality comes into play.

Importance of review quality

“Companies more and more often employ consumers to write reviews for a remuneration. Such reviews are basically advertisements. That is allowed, but this should be made clear to consumers”, ACM says. To maintain the quality and reliability of online reviews in the Netherlands, ACM calls for increased transparency, which should be taken seriously by all parties that are involved in the aggregation, publication, and management of online reviews.

This is the stage where the consumer is actually on the product page. When consumers are only one click away from buying the umbrella.

It now comes down to the quality of the review.

A quality review reflects the personal experience of a consumer and is:

  • authentic (stories from real people)
  • helpful (enough user information)
  • honest and unbiased (no incentives)

Quality reviews are helpful when they can provide additional information. For instance about the sound of a speaker. Or, in this case, the usability of our umbrella. It might work perfectly for walking, but maybe it’s too big to take it on your daily bike rides to work.

Whether the product is perfect for you, really depends on who you are, what you value and how you plan to use the product. Consumers therefore look for reviewers they can identify themselves with. The more personal a review is, the more likely a consumer discovers common values and ultimately rely on their peer’s judgement.

There are only winners

It’s hard to tell which one is more important: volume, valence or quality content. But the question seems irrelevant. We know by fact that the number of reviews plays a huge role (and the ideal number of reviews starts at ten). But without a perfect rating, your potential customers probably won’t even bother clicking through to your product page. And if they do, they expect to find helpful product information coming from user experience.

If they can’t find it on your page, they will move on to the next.

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.

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