I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but reviews are kind of a big deal. Ninety-seven percent of people looked at an online review in 2017, and I predict that number will stay about the same throughout the next couple of years.
Whether we believe it or not, many of us have become reliant on reviews to influence most of our purchase decisions.
For example, some people won’t purchase from a business if it has too low of a star rating, and others must read as many as seven reviews before they can trust a business.
It’s gotten to a point where we trust online reviews as if they were personal recommendations from family and friends. But, why is that the case?
Today, we’re going to explore why customers put so much trust in online reviews so that you may understand them even more and make adjustments to your review marketing strategy.
Why Do Customers Trust Online Reviews?
It’s easy to see that unhappy customers will sometimes leave negative reviews and that customers who receive great customer service will often leave positive reviews. But, while these reasons are straightforward, sometimes we don’t know exactly why people leave the reviews that they do.
Just the same, we don’t always know why customers trust reviews and it makes understanding the psychology of their trust in reviews a little complicated.
But, I believe there are two reasons why customers trust online reviews:
1. The first reason customers trust online reviews is that they want transparency from local businesses.
Author Jan Vels Jensen from Social Media Today puts it perfectly with the following quote:
“Transparency is king in the shopper’s eyes – they want to feel that the wool is not being pulled over their eyes.” Source
We want to know everything when we shop. Before the Internet, we only had personal recommendations, so shopping at new businesses that our family or friends were unfamiliar with was risky.
Now, we have the tools and resources to learn what we need to have an enjoyable shopping experience and avoid being dissatisfied with our purchase.
So, customers trust these reviews because they allow them to gain even more knowledge about a business and its products or services, especially when that business isn’t very transparent.
2. The second reason customers trust online reviews is that they rely on the opinions of others to influence what they should do.
People will try that new restaurant if everyone else is saying great things about it, but they'll avoid it if everyone is saying that the service was disappointing or the food wasn't great.
Mandy Yoh from ReviewTrackers points this out by saying the following:
“People are more likely to trust a complete stranger because they see that reviewer as a peer, like they’re in it together.” Source
So, although customers trust the reviews themselves, they put more trust in the reviewers because they know that they’re just trying to help them make the best purchase decision.
Do Customers Always Trust Reviews?
Of course not. Some reviews are unreasonable, undetailed or fake.
Although 85 percent of people trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, 13 percent of people are pretty skeptical about online reviews and only trust a few reviews. And, while it’s a small number, three percent of people don’t trust online reviews at all.
Also, 25 percent of people need to believe that the reviews that they read are authentic before they can believe they're as trustworthy as a personal recommendation.
Even half of the people that read online reviews know when some negative reviews are irrational and have empathy towards the businesses that receive these types of reviews.
Obviously, you don’t want to receive any negative reviews, but the good news is that if you receive an unfair review, some of your customers will also most likely see it as unfair and won’t question the quality of your business.
What Kinds of Reviews Will Make a Customer Trust a Business?
We've learned some of the reasons that customers trust online reviews. But, what kinds of reviews make them trust businesses even more?
And, is having a strong star rating enough of a reason for customers to trust your business? Not always.
Don’t get me wrong; you should be working to build or maintain a high star rating. Studies show that 49 percent of consumers will only choose a business if it has a four-star rating or higher.
But, more importantly, consumers trust businesses with an abundance of high-quality and recent reviews.
Take a look at some of these statistics:
- Written reviews make a higher impression on 73 percent of shoppers than just star rating
- Forty-six percent of people look for quantity of reviews when judging a local business
- Reviews older than three months aren't relevant to 77 percent of consumers
As we discussed, customers want transparency, so they'll always consider the opinion of a lengthy, four-star review than a five-star review with no words.
And, even if you have 30 high-quality reviews in the last year, how will a customer know if your business is still trustworthy if only three of your reviews are from the last three months?
If you haven't been asking your customers to leave you a review, now is the time. Almost 70 percent of consumers have left a review when a business asked them to, so don't be afraid to bring it up after the transaction is completed.
Because people have different reasons, we may never know exactly why customers trust reviews. However, we can assume that customers will always trust reviews to gain transparency from businesses and to validate their own purchase decisions.
For these reasons, you need to encourage your happy customers to leave detailed reviews, and you must respond to your negative reviews in a timely manner.
Not only will your customers trust your reviews, but they'll trust your business more, especially if you address all of your customer concerns and comments.
Lastly, if your review marketing strategy needs a boost, our review marketing platform, Renown, might work for you!
For more information on review marketing and reputation management, check out these resources: