More and more companies are paying attention to the online product reviews that they get on Amazon, Yelp, and other sites. That’s because their customers and potential customers are reading them too. I’ve noticed that companies that I’ve worked for or consulted to tend to focus only on the first few weeks after a product release. Why? Usually because they shift focus to the next launch and neglect the one in the market. But the early reviews don’t tell the whole story – a company’s most loyal customers are usually the first to buy and review it. More negative reviews appear later in the year. (Of course, as you know by now, I would say that that’s a great opportunity to listen to your customers!) And, even if you stopped reading, your potential customers have not.
So, what can you do to make sure you are getting the most out of your online reviews? You will never hear me say that you have control over these reviews. And, if you are considering gaming the system with fake reviews,Don’t do it! You will likely get caught – and, it is just plain wrong. Instead, consider my tips for optimizing success; but before I get to the tips, it’s first important to…
Understand what and how you should be measuring success
1. Count Impact, Not Stars – Ever notice how most restaurants on Yelp have somewhere between 3 and 4 stars? It’s because generally, for any online review regardless of what’s being rated, this is the mean (average rating). Too many companies focus on the overall star rating when they really should be focused on the impact of the rating. On Amazon, that’s the number of people who say they found a review to be helpful. I helped a company who had over 125 reviews and they had a 3.24 out of 5 rating. Pretty good, right? Not so fast! I calculated how many of the users rated a review as helpful and there were 862 of them. Then, I calculated how many of these helpful reviews were 1 or 2 stars. 68% or over two-thirds of them were 1 or 2 star (negative) reviews, and nearly half (48%) were 1 star reviews. The overall impact of the reviews were that over two-third of the reviews marked as helpful were actually negative. How do you think this affected their product?
Impact vs. Stars
2. Establish a Positive Review Benchmark – Forrester Research found that products with negative reviews under 12-14% tended to be Top 10 products for their category. So, push your company to set a positive review benchmark at 86-88% and measure it often. If your product slips below this level, comb the negative reviews and reach out to those customers to learn more.
3. Ignore the 5-Star Reviews – What?! Really, do I have to? Yes, a review is credible when over 50% of the people reading the review rate it as helpful (Credibility Rating). In my work, I found only 26% of 5-star reviews were credible, while 4-star reviews had a 77% credibility rating, 3-star 87%, 2-star 87%, 1-star 86%.
4. Create a Multi-Function Review Task Force – How many times do you think a negative review is solely about the product? In my experience, negative reviews often have just as much to do with your policies, customer service, sales, etc. If you’re getting lower reviews than you want, don’t leave this to one department (often the wrong department) to understand and solve. If your company has a skeleton that has been ignored, you’ll find that each time you release a product, the negative chatter grows.
Keep an eye out for my next entry where I will be discussing how to get better reviews…