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The Number of Product Reviews Matters as Much as the Star-Rating

Consumers look to reviews before making a purchase, especially when shopping online. The credibility of these reviews is crucial to a company and product’s integrity. While star rating is a key component in purchase decisions, the number of reviews that create that rating is taken into account.

In a study recently released by Baymard, usability tests revealed that consumers will choose a product with a star rating closer to 4.5 than 5 based on the number of ratings those products have. It’s a matter of trust. This number of product reviews and their influence on purchase decisions is further demonstrated by the quantitative results of the study.

Baymard Study

The 5-star reviews became more trusted as the number of those reviews rose. However, if the number of 5-star reviews was insignificant on the product, people chose the 4.5-star-rated product. Despite a lower average rating, the product with a higher number of reviews was chosen more consistently among respondents.

The dynamic at play here is interesting because many merchants have been most concerned with having high product ratings. The study lays to rest the unreal expectation that merchants should only get 5-star reviews if possible. Negative reviews can have a positive impact if they are few and far between. Consumers aren't convinced solely on 5-star ratings. They want to know that the reviews are credible, and a higher number of reviews collected is deemed more trustworthy.

Because consumers are influenced not only by the rating, but the number of reviews collected, retailers should always display the number of reviews that have been collected for each product. 

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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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