User Reviews’ Effects On Sales And Search Results

    June 25, 2007

To a business, user reviews can be a valuable asset.  They can also be quite a risk – what if the reviewers don’t like your products or services?  Yet, as usual, knowledge is power (unless you know that you’re screwed), and so here are four things to realize when it comes to user reviews.

These are not four things I found out on my own – as you’ll see, these tidbits relate to JC Whitney, a company with which I’m not too familiar.  Geoffrey Robertson, VP of eCommerce at JC Whitney, actually shared these tips at Internet Retailer 2007, and Greg Howlett was kind enough to relay them to the rest of us through Marketing Pilgrim.

The number one lesson, then, is that “[u]ser reviews have a huge impact on sales.”  Good reviews are, as one might imagine, good.  But bad reviews hurt.  “[P]roducts that rated three stars saw a 10% decrease in sales,” writes Howlett.  “Two stars resulted in a 23% decrease and one star resulted in a 31% decrease in revenue.”

Lesson number two: “Companies need to aggressively solicit reviews.”  People are lazy, and aren’t likely to do much of anything (for you and your business) without a little gentle prodding.  Also, if your reviews sections stay empty, it’ll just look sad.

On another note, business owners should be aware that “[u]ser reviews do not necessarily improve customer loyalty,” according to Howlett.  Not that you’d expect the guy who writes a 600-word complaint in all caps to become a repeat customer, but “JC Whitney saw no correlation between the introduction of reviews and repeat business.”

Lastly, “User reviews do not necessarily drive more organic search traffic.  JC Whitney found no increase in natural search traffic because of their user reviews.”  This seems strange, so Howlett adds, “I would normally have been surprised to learn this, but at Vitabase, we have noticed the same thing.”

So there you have it.  Hopefully this information will be genuinely helpful, and not, in contrast, help you realize you’re in trouble.