Bad online reviews are good for business
Believe it or not, negative reviews can help your business. It runs counter to every marketer’s instinct: you don’t want people saying bad things about your brand, your products or services. Every business will receive some bad reviews: you simply can’t please everyone. But the surprising truth is that bad reviews reduce site abandonment and actually retain those more predisposed to buy. According to our data, time spent on a site leaps from just over three minutes to nearly 18 minutes.
The success of social commerce and peer reviews is all down to trust. Consumers value reviews because they trust the unedited opinions of their peers far more than official information sources such as advertising or sales assistants. We’ve built up an excellent understanding of consumers’ attitudes to bad reviews through working with brands, running consumer surveys and extensive testing:
1. Consumers want complete information
We found that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both positive and negative comments. We all know that no product or service is completely perfect – but consumers do want to know the few negatives there are, so they can weigh them up against all the good points and make a fully informed decision.
2. Consumers don’t always agree on ‘bad’ points
A bad point to one purchaser is often irrelevant to another – and can even be an advantage. One guest could hate a hotel because there were ‘too many’ children, but to someone planning a family holiday, that’s an advantage.
3. Consumers don’t look at reviews in isolation
The mere presence of bad reviews isn’t enough to put most consumers off: it’s the ratio of good to bad that matters. A few bad reviews carry much less weight with readers when they appear alongside dozens or hundreds of good reviews. Less than 1% of consumers leave a retailer’s website after seeing one badly reviewed product.
4. Consumers notice when there are no bad reviews
Shoppers are suspicious when reviews don’t include any complaints. Some people even suspect censorship or faked reviews when all your reviews look like they’ve been hand-crafted by the marketing team.
The longer consumers spend on your site, viewing more pages and trusting what they read, the more opportunity you have to convince them to purchase. Consumers who actively seek out negative reviews on a site are 67% more likely to buy a product than those not looking for negative reviews. Strange as it seems, bad reviews are one of the most effective conversion tools available.
Having taken all of the above into account, you may want to think about having reviews on your own site – great! But of course, you need bad reviews in moderation. If you only have negative reviews on your site you will damage your brand and sales. When you make no effort to actively encourage consumers to review products they have bought, only those with a serious complaint or poor experience will take the time to leave a review. They will be driven by anger or disappointment. We found that passive collection of feedback led to 26% of reviews on a site being negative, whereas proactive collection resulted in 6% of bad reviews. Proactively contacting customers inviting them to review gives happy customers the little nudge they need to leave feedback. This will mean the reviews on your site are much more representative, and the bad reviews that will crop up from time to time are set in the correct context.
There is nothing to fear from bad reviews. In the right numbers and right context they will improve customer satisfaction, turn browsers into buyers and buyers into loyal ongoing customers. Trust in the brand is essential and honest reviews are an excellent way to generate this trust.
Richard Anson, CEO and co-founder of social commerce company Reevoo