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Should you trust a review?
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Should you trust a review?

Fake reviews, fake influencers, fake news. How can we trust anything online anymore!?

In a recent Which? news story, you may have come across a major boo boo about Amazon and their reviews. More specifically, their hundreds of fake 5-star reviews.

This raised the very valid question – can we trust reviews? If a giant brand like Amazon can’t control fake reviews on their platform, can anyone else?

We know that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations – although that figure may now be skewed!

It seems that everything online these days is fake. Fake followers, fake recommendations, fake influencers, fake news. It’s no wonder people are so untrusting.

With all the untrust out there, why should businesses bother to invest marketing budgets into a review platform? Well, I’m still a firm believer in reviews for many reasons, but you can’t just take my opinion on it – it could be fake after all. So, I went around the office and spoke to three different generations of people to get their views on whether or not they trust reviews and why.

First up we had our MD Chris, the baby boomer generation.


Second was Imogen, our millennial.


And last was Connor, our Gen Z.


What I wanted to find out was if different generations of people had a different view on reviews and whether or not they used or trusted them. And from this, I could start to form a better opinion on whether or not a business should focus on a review strategy.
Now obviously just speaking to 3 people is not enough of a focus group to base a whole strategy on, but it gives me a bit of flavour to understand how different generations engage with or seek out reviews.
So what did I find out? Well, in summary:

  • All three generations read reviews before purchasing
  • Price of purchase didn’t matter to the baby boomer or Gen Z when seeking out reviews
  • The millennial didn’t read reviews for anything under £5 or other “cheap buys”
  • The review platform used mattered to both the millennial and baby boomer
  • Gen Z was the most influenced by reviews in their decision-making process
  • All three seek out the negative reviews and don’t believe a brand who has none

What I found interesting in talking to my “focus group” was that Gen Z was more heavily influenced by reviews than the other two generations. Now that’s not to say that my baby boomer and millennial weren’t swayed by a review or not, but my Gen Z was so conscious on reviews, that he flat out refuses to buy anything with less than 3-stars! Harsh. Apparently, 92% of users will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating. So guys, get working on your review ratings because you could be missing out on a whole generation!

The other interesting find was that the millennial didn’t care about reviews for anything she considered a “cheap buy”. The reason being because returns are so easy to do these days. She has a busy work life and needs things to be flexible to fit in with her lifestyle, so therefore doesn’t care if the product isn’t quite right. Interestingly, this ties in with the stereotype that millennials are the “hardest working generation” so are therefore time poor. From a brands perspective, I’m sure you’re thinking well why would I invest into a review strategy for an attitude like that? Particularly in retail when returns can eat into your margins considerably. Well firstly, if you’re only targeting millennials you’re very much focusing on the short term, and secondly, reviews are part of the bigger picture. They help build your brand equity, they develop your customer service, and they grow your keyword density. Although my millennial (and a couple of others who wanted to join in on the interview) don’t read reviews for the “cheaper” products, a study found that 8 out 10 millennials will read a review before buying. So perhaps my colleagues are all just inefficient with time management?

What was good to hear is that all three generations seek out the negative reviews. Everyone dreads getting a negative review on their business, but 82% of shoppers seek these out. By deleting them or worse, ignoring them, you are actually doing more damage to your brand than you think.

The key is to develop a positive take on negative reviews, and make the most of the opportunity they provide to shine on a public stage. This will help build your community reputation for excellent customer service.

One our clients, Vevox have a great review strategy, and were recently voted Trustpilot’s highest, independently reviewed live polling and Q&A app on the platform with a TrustScore of 9.6 out of 10. The great thing these guys do is that they follow up with every single one of their customers and have even tested to see which timeframes get them the best chance of getting a review. With over 300 reviews to their name, they’re doing a pretty good job.

This is what is great about using review platforms like Trustpilot. You have the ability to send out automated review invites to your customers so that you will never miss the opportunity to get those reviews. Trustpilot have a feature that allows you to set how long after your customer has purchased from your site to ask for a review. This can be set for immediately, 1 day, 5 days, 1 week etc. Apparently 41% of consumers say that brands who reply to reviews make them believe the company really cares about their customers.

And what other benefits do reviews offer a brand?

Well! If you’re interested, we do actually have a 30-minute webinar around the benefits of reviews and SEO over on our YouTube profile which we co-hosted with our reviews partner Trustpilot. But for those time poor millennials who may be reading this, let me quickly summarise the key points for you:

  • Reviews are worth 10% of your organic ranking factors – that’s a lot!
  • Implementing reviews through a preferred Google Seller Rating platform (like Trustpilot) will allow for your PPC ads to show stars
  • Adverts with stars get a 10% higher CTR than ads that don’t
  • You can implement schema mark-up on your pages to get your stars appearing in your organic results
  • Displaying reviews can increase conversion rates by 270% 

Pretty impressive huh?

Implementing a proper review strategy is crucial for the success of any business, and yet, so many businesses still don’t do it. Today, 84% of consumers have stopped trusting adverts simply because they can compare cost, quality, customer experience and more in just a couple of clicks. Customer feedback is one of the most impactful ways to build any business’s online reputation. And don’t forget, you can also do this through platforms like Twitter and Facebook. You should be making sure that your customer service on your review platform, and your customer service on your social channels all match up. People will do their research!

Earning and keeping your customers’ trust is key to long-term success and is the core principle of having a reputation management strategy. After all, an honest reputation is the path to consumer trust.

It’s important to recognise that building trust and credibility is far from easy, but with 88% of consumers incorporating reviews into their purchase journey, online reviews have become the best tool for companies to build their reputation, and influence new visitors positively by building and earning trust throughout the buying journey.

In a nutshell, you should invest in a review strategy, particularly if you sell products or services online. Even though some people may question whether a review is real or not, if you’re providing genuine customer service and showing this in your responses to your reviews, people will trust you. Don’t be afraid of a bad review, spin it into a positive with your glowing customer response. It’s only if you’re a little bit dodgy that you’ll see ramifications, and I’m sure you’re not, right?

Posted 1 June 2019 by Virginia Girtz