Ratings & Reviews: 5 reasons why they really matter

  • On April 4, 2019

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Ratings and reviews, one type of user-generated content (UGC), are online consumer testimonials and ratings of products or services. Not only are ratings and reviews a powerful tool that directly influence what shoppers buy and where they choose to make their purchases, but they also help brands grow their business both online and offline.  Here are a few reasons why online ratings and reviews are so important to brands.

Highly valued by Consumers

Most online shoppers are looking at ratings and reviews to gain an understanding of product performance, purchaser satisfaction and product quality, in that order according to a study published in November 2018 by the tech company, TurnTo.  With research indicating that 78% of online consumers in the US place the same level of trust in online reviews as they do in personal recommendations, reviews clearly matter a great deal to consumers.  Indeed, businesses ignore them at their peril;  the TurnTo study found that 76% of US shoppers are less likely to make purchases from an online store with no UGC. 

A further finding published by TurnTo was that consumers will choose to shop with an online store that has slightly more expensive products if the website provides high-quality UGC.  When choosing between two similar items, 73% of US shoppers could be swayed to purchase the item that cost $2 more if it had a higher star rating than the cheaper item. In addition, the American shoppers said that they considered high-quality UGC to be as important as free shipping, with 20% saying it was more important.

Trusted source of information

Ratings and reviews are specifically designed to enable shoppers to provide honest feedback and are not influenced by retailers or brands.  This helps to explain why online consumer reviews are the second most trusted source of brand information with 92% of consumers trusting organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising, according to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index.  Given that Amazon makes up almost half of the US eCommerce market,  it is hardly surprising that over half of US online shoppers consider Amazon to be the most trustworthy source of product information, ahead of both Google and brand websites (Salsify Survey 2018).

eMarketer-graphic
Source: eMarketer

The more shoppers buy, the more the reviews there are which in turn help generate more sales, creating what Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst at eMarketer, has called “a virtuous cycle”.

Consumer insights

Ratings and reviews offer brands an invaluable source of consumer data, helping them to gain a better understanding of consumers and what they are looking for in a product.  They enable brands to see their products through the eyes of their clients and understand clients’ likes and dislikes.  These ‘outsiders’ perspectives’ can then be used to shape future marketing campaigns as well as generate new leads and ultimately increase sales.

Personalization

UGC also provides brands with insights that can be used to personalize their marketing initiatives and give them the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competitors.  Research by the digital marketing performance agency Adlucent found that 71% of consumers prefer advertising that is tailored to their interests and shopping habits.  Reviews enable brands to understand their customers better.   In responding to reviews brands are able to create an online community that builds the brand’s credibility and strengthens the relationship between them and their customers.

Impact on SEO

Another reason why reviews and ratings are so important to business is that they help a brand’s search engine optimization (SEO) and can influence a brand’s position in search rankings.  For searches on brands or products, search engines not only display business websites but also the results from review sites such as Yelp, often on Page 1 of the search results.  What is crucial is that businesses respond to consumers’ reviews and make it known that they are taking the feedback, whether positive or negative, on board. 

Ratings and reviews are an invaluable asset for brands and those brands which successfully harness the power of user-generated content will benefit from increased credibility and customer loyalty as well as a competitive advantage over rival brands.

At the eBusiness Institute, our experts have been advising brands on eContent since 2013.  We help our clients to utilize eContent successfully in order to win in the eCommerce space. Contact us for more information.

 

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