User Reviews Online

User reviews are a pretty big thing now a days, but how do you know which ones you can trust ? 90% of consumers say they read online user reviews prior to buying. If I know this and now you know this, you can bet that sales teams and big companies know this, so guess what – they’re cheating the system.

Let’s look at the biggest review site : Yelp. According to a 2011 Harvard Business Review study a one star increase in user ratings on Yelp can increase revenue by 5-9% for a restaurant. On travel sites like Travelocity, it can increase rates by 11% (Cornell Study).

You have to be skeptical, you don’t know who’s writing these reviews, it could be somebody being paid $5, or it could be a genuine customer. Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general in New York had his staff look into this and discovered that some companies were in fact paying people to post good reviews, so it isn’t a question of “is this happening?”, but rather “how often does this happen?”.

Another important thing to know : user reviews, fake and real tend to lean toward the positive. Researchers from the University of Texas studied this and found that people who rented movies online were five times more likely to post a positive review than a negative one. About 70% of Yelp reviews are 4 or 5 stars.

> Products with only one review tend to be phony.

> Research how the site you’re looking at verified the reviews.

> Read what Consumer Report and other reputable outlets say.

> Look for businesses with some negative reviews.

If you follow those methods, you’ll be better off. Sometimes it’s easy to spot a faker, if there’s 100 reviews and they are each positive, it’s probably artificial. Even a 5-star restaurant has dissatisfied customers. Look for the odd 2-star review that goes into depth. If every review is 1 sentence, that’s a dead giveaway too.

One Comment Add yours

  1. maxwell street says:

    From a consumer perspective, I totally agree with what you’re saying. I always carefully review both content and distribution of comments (when I must rely on them to make a decision).

    As a business owner, Yelp reviews (real or fake) are a problem beyond online reputation. I actually want to know what people think! Without honest feedback, it is hard to improve. While some online reviews are helpful, most just leave me with more questions. I started a food truck a couple years ago, and we use a local startup (OwnerListens). Customers can text us (anonymously) – it has been a good way of hearing directly and quickly.

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