How too many positive reviews could harm sales of your product

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Landing a glowing review for your business or product can be a big confidence boost for SMEs and potentially help drive sales, as studies have shown customers are more likely to purchase products from an online retailer with a high amount of positive reviews.

However, one expert argues it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Neuromarketing expert Roger Dooley wrote in a recent post  that too many positive reviews can reduce consumer trust levels and in fact discourage customers from purchasing products.

Citing a report from customer engagement firm Reevoo, Dooley notes 95% of customers suspect censorship or faked reviews when the rating is 100% positive. Additionally, customers interacting with bad reviews were found to have spent five times as long on a website and converted into sales at an 85% higher rate.

“While a preponderance of bad reviews will tank sales for a product, it seems that at least a few bad reviews create an impression of honesty and increase trust,” Dooley writes.

“Furthermore, a bad review that includes the reason for not liking the product helps customers make decisions.”

Informed decisions from customers can lead to greater product and service satisfaction, with Dooley referring to a research paper that analysed more than 600,000 online purchases and found products with overwhelmingly positive reviews sold better, but incurred a higher return rate.

Products with more negative reviews had a lower return rate, and based on this, Dooley recommends businesses seek a review strategy of “quality, detail, balance”.

“More reviews are almost always better. Customers will have greater trust and more data to help them make a wise decision. Encourage customers to leave reviews, make it easy, and send reminders after the product is received,” he says.

Additionally, Dooley adds “5-star ratings and reviews with little or no text (‘Great product!’) are mostly unhelpful and may seem faked. Reviews with lots of detail are both more credible and more useful in evaluating the product”.

To ensure this, Dooley recommends businesses break down the different aspects of the product, such as a hotel being rated across location, cleanliness, and Wi-Fi quality. Giving customers a detailed breakdown will increase satisfaction rates, he believes.

Finally, Dooley recommends businesses resist the temptation to remove bad reviews, instead advising SMEs to interpret them as a sign of a product in need of improvement.

“If your product is getting more than a few bad reviews, it’s a lot more important to fix the product than to manipulate the reviews,” he says.

“Overall, honest reviews are a boon to both consumers and ethical sellers. Strive for 5-star ratings, but recognise that a 4.7 rating may well be better for business.”

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