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The Good Thing about Bad Reviews

Bad reviews really shouldn’t get such a bad rep. Reevoo, a social commerce company, recently ran a study and found that 68% of consumers were more trusting of a company’s reviews if both positive and negative reviews were displayed...

Bad reviews really shouldn’t get such a bad rep.

Reevoo, a social commerce company, recently ran a study and found that 68% of consumers were more trusting of a company’s reviews if both positive and negative reviews were displayed.

This creates an interesting dilemma because most business owners are very concerned when it comes to negative reviews. While reviews should still be carefully managed, they found that a few negative reviews can actually increase conversion rates by as much as 67%.

Surprisingly, the secret to optimizing your sales may be found in an imperfect star rating.  Based on research from Northwestern University, consumers are more likely to make a purchase if a product has a rating between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. As you approach a perfect 5-star rating, the likelihood of purchase can actually decline, because consumers start to become concerned that the reviews may be “too good to be true”. In fact, 95% of consumers assume fake reviews if there are no negative ratings.

Trust isn’t the only factor increased by negative reviews. Engagement also increases significantly when negative feedback is available. Consumers looking for negative reviews spend up to 26 minutes on a website while other consumers only spend 4.6 minutes.

Why Are Consumers Reading Bad Reviews, and How Can It Help Me?

There are actually two very compelling reasons why consumers actively look for and read negative reviews, and both of them can work directly in your favor:

1. To discover any common issues with a product or the company selling the product. If consumers know what to expect and how to potentially avoid or deal with any problems that they might find, then the fear of the unknown no longer becomes an issue for them. They simply want to get a balanced perspective. Consumers inherently know that it’s highly unlikely that any company or product is going to be perfect, and reading negative feedback helps them effectively manage their expectations.

.2. To verify that the product is real. The reality is that customers expect minor flaws and issues, and become naturally wary when a product doesn't have any. When a product or a company, depending on the type of reviews, only displays 4 or 5-star reviews, savvy consumers are immediately wary that the reviews are fake, and may be less likely to make a purchase.

When it comes to negative reviews, the goal should never be not to get any, but rather to effectively manage the negative reviews you do receive.  There are some key strategies that come into play when it comes to managing your negative reviews that can turn virtually any negative ratings or comments into positives for your product or company.  (Here's an article that shares 6 strategies to effectively manage negative reviews.)

The bottom line here is that as long as they’re few and far between, negative reviews can actually help your business. Knowing why they're needed and how to effectively manage them is the key to your success.

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Duane “DJ” Sprague is a conversion rate expert, a Certified Behavioral Design Coach by the Online Influence Institute, and a certified expert by the Behavioral Design Academy, the Mindworx Academy, and the Interaction Design Institute. As CMO of a billion-dollar national franchise, he leveraged the power of social proof and online reviews to improve SEO and accelerate growth, as he developed and managed a comprehensive online reputation management strategy that spanned nearly 200 websites. He has written for Forbes, Small Biz Daily, and several industry trade magazines, contributed to several books and university course packs, and is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as a subject matter expert. He holds a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication and has received the 1st Place Gold Award in a global integrated marketing competition. Duane is the CMO of Shopper Approved, where he works with thousands of ecommerce websites to improve their SEO and CRO.

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