Debunking product review myths

Product reviews are a new domain for many online merchants. We explain the most common myths about product review.

Debunking product review myths

The interest for product reviews has increased in the Nordics during the last couple of years. At the same time, we find that the market is not quite mature. Therefore, we decided to look at the many myths mentioned in our conversation with online stores.

Myth 1: Negative product reviews will destroy the company

Many companies are afraid to get negative reviews on their products. Nobody wants to see their products rated with just one or two stars, with additional reviews explaining just how bad it is.

Our claim is that companies that publish negative feedback will come across more transparent and increase their customers’ trust. It is even more interesting to see how proactive companies use negative reviews to optimize their product range and descriptions. In many cases, negative feedback is because of wrong expectations, most commonly because of errors or lacking product descriptions. Companies skilled in eCommerce read negative feedback and correct information as soon as possible. There’s only in exceptional cases there will a need to discontinue products.

Myth 2: Customers only write product reviews when something is wrong

Many companies are afraid of enabling customers to write product reviews because they fear that their website will be a trash can for unhappy customers. This is rarely the case if you have a good technical solution that gathers a representative selection of reviews. Customers appreciate online ratings and reviews and want to share their experience with a product — as long as it’s easy.

Myth 3: Working with product reviews is time-consuming

Online stores and brands that excel in gathering product reviews will get so much feedback that it’s hard to thank every customer. What they should do, is to create automatic alerts whenever there is a negative rating (usually 1 or 2 stars) and follow up these manually by calling or responding to their review. Remember that a lot of negative reviews are a result of lacking or wrong product information. When you take the time to correct this, you’ll quickly see that the number of product reviews that need a follow-up will decrease.

Myth 4: Product reviews affect conversion rate significantly

This myth is, to some degree, true. A product with just a couple of reviews doesn’t give the customer enough knowledge and trust unless the review is comprehensive and trustworthy. Usually, a higher volume of product reviews is needed to reach a critical mass. When considering how product reviews affect the conversion rate, we also need to see what types of products we’re talking about. In some cases, we’ve seen an increased upswing in conversion rate, but in other cases, just a moderate boost.

Myth 5: Product reviews increase SEO traffic

Product reviews don’t affect organic traffic from search engines directly, something Google also has confirmed.. But having a significant number of product reviews will increase the click-rate in a search engine when the online store displays their star rating. It will also increase conversion rate, which again will positively affect SEO.

The online store will also be an encyclopedia for customers looking for your products, knowing they will find helpful product reviews. So, over time, it will increase traffic.

Myth 6: Product reviews are not trustworthy

Not all product reviews give a representative image of product quality. Removing negative feedback and employees writing their own reviews are well-known challenges. Some online stores also gather product reviews for external sources and have no control of the quality or if they use rewards as an incentive for writing reviews. This type of behavior is not acceptable. It is more of a desperate act from online stores that struggle to get enough product reviews more than deliberate actions to manipulate the numbers.

Myth 7: Product reviews are nice-to-have

Most online stores struggle with a never-ending list of technical improvements that should be implemented. Unfortunately, limited time and technical resources often mean that product reviews drop to the bottom of that list.

If we only consider product reviews as a tool to increase search traffic, it makes sense. Considering the limited research on the connection between product reviews and conversion rate, it is also understandable that it’s not on the top of the to-do list. But when we look at product reviews as a tool to better understand your own product range and customer satisfaction, a solution to gather product reviews is critical. It’s not without reason Amazon focused on product reviews from the very beginning.

Myth 8: All solutions to gather product reviews are equal

Online merchants who want product reviews in their store should first consider if they should develop their own solution, use a tool already integrated with their eCommerce platform or buy an external solution. Then, consider price and features to find the solution that will work best for you. Many companies don’t know that there are huge differences in how effective the different solutions are at gathering reviews. The response rate varies between 4,3 and 22,8% for the top five solutions in the Nordics. And these are numbers used in marketing; in reality, the difference can be even more significant.

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