How do online reviews build trust?
Research continues to show that most consumers trust online reviews as much or nearly as much as recommendations from family and friends. The data continues to offer insights into what’s driving that trust.
Among the findings:
- Four-star reviews are often better than five: Research from Questrom School of Business and Stanford University found moderately positive reviews can sometimes be more persuasive than “extremely favorable” reviews because the slightly lower reviews stand out. Researchers wrote, “This deviation effect occurs because reviews that deviate from the perceived default are believed to be more thoughtful, and thus accurate, which enhances their persuasive impact.”
- Negative reviews encourage dwell time: Research by social commerce specialist Revoo indicates that consumers spend five times as long on a site when they interact with negative reviews, trust the reviews more and convert nearly 85 percent more often.
- Mobile reviews are trusted more: Research from Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business found reviews posted from a mobile device lead consumers to have higher purchase intentions. Consumers assume they’re “more physically effortful to craft and subsequently equate this greater perceived effort with the credibility of the review.”
- Brands benefit by responding to reviews: Researchers from the University of Southern California and Questrom School of Business found management responses to online reviews led to higher ratings in part because unsatisfied customers were found to be less likely to post baseless negative comments. Negative reviews also improved because they tend to be longer and are more likely to provide substantive, useful feedback.
- Recency and ratings draw attention: According to BrightLocal’s “Local Consumer Review Survey for 2019,” the top factors consumers pay attention to when judging a local business on reviews are recency, cited by 58 percent, followed closely behind by overall star rating, 57 percent. The remaining factors were quantity of reviews, 50 percent; legitimacy, 49 percent; sentiment, 43 percent; if the business responds to reviews, 39 percent; length and detail, 37 percent; and if reviews include photos, 32 percent.
- 2019 Local Consumer Review Survey – BrightLocal
- How Consumers Really Use Online Reviews – The Wall Street Journal
- Persuasion In Moderation: When Four-Star Reviews Are Better Than Five – Questrom School of Business
- The State of Retail 2019 – Synup
- Bad reviews are good for business – Reevoo
- How Online Reviews Influence Sales – Spiegel Research Center
- When Moderation Fosters Persuasion: The Persuasive Power of Deviatory Reviews – Journal of Consumer Research
- In Mobile We Trust: The Effects of Mobile Versus Nonmobile Reviews on Consumer Purchase Intentions – Journal of Marketing Research
- Why We Believe Mobile Reviews – Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What are the obvious and less obvious factors driving trust in online reviews? What core steps should brands and retailers be taking to ensure online reviews are more of a positive than a negative influence?