Negative Reviews: Should Businesses Fear Them or Not?
In today’s digital world, consumers can easily sing high praises to your business or vent their frustrations over your products or services online.
Near Perfect or Perfect Rating is “Too Good to Be True”
High praises or 5-star reviews are instinctively embraced by businesses. Negative reviews, on the other hand, are instinctively feared. But should bad reviews be avoided altogether?
A new study from Spiegel Research Center found that, across product categories, purchase likelihood usually peaks at review ratings in the 4.0 to 4.7 range and starts to dip as review ratings approach 5. Put it in another way, the new study suggested that products with an average rating in the 4.7 to 5.0 range are less likely to be sold than those in the 4.0 to 4.7 range.
“This suggests that shoppers see ratings at the far end of the spectrum as ‘too good to be true,’” Spiegel Research Center said. “Readers are skeptical of reviews that are too positive and, in many cases, a negative online review is seen as more credible.”
Another study from the Northwestern University arrived at the same conclusion as the Spiegel Research Center study that a near perfect or perfect rating is “too good to be true”. The Northwestern University research results showed that the probability of purchase increases with rating to about 4.2 to 4.5 stars and starts to drop as the star rating approaches a perfect 5.
The two studies from Spiegel Research Center and Northwestern University showed that a small proportion of negative reviews can make a product or service more appealing to would-be consumers.
The Inevitability of Negative Reviews
An earlier PowerReviews research found that 82% of buyers seek out negative reviews; and among buyers under 45-year-olds, this number jumps to 86%.
“Shoppers are smart: they know that every item can’t be the newest, fastest, cheapest and highest quality,” PowerReviews study said. “As a result, they question products that claim to be all of the above.”
The PowerReviews study said negative reviews help businesses establish brand credibility and trust. Would-be buyers are skeptical about the lack of negative reviews, the study said.
Google's retail industry director John McAteer told the Economist that a few bad reviews are worth having. “No one trusts all positive reviews,” he said.
The Spiegel Research Center study, meanwhile, stressed that business should embrace negative reviews. Showing negative reviews on your site, Spiegel Research Center study said, helps build credibility with customers. “While it may seem counterintuitive, negative reviews can have a positive impact because they establish credibility and authenticity,” the researcher center said.
The research center recommended that instead of trying to eliminate negative reviews, it’s important to monitor them and respond to them.
Negative Reviews as Baseline for Worst-Case Scenario
According to PowerReviews, negative reviews offer a baseline for the worst-case scenario when buying a product or availing a service of a company. For instance, if the negative reviews center on the complicated way in which the product can be assembled and the other features of the product are given good reviews, a would-be buyer may proceed with the purchase if he or she doesn’t care about complicated assembly.
Other Factors that Affect Online Sales
In addition to the presence of negative reviews, the following factors affect online sales:
1. Price of the Product
The Spiegel Research Center study showed that online reviews have a greater conversion rate for expensive products. The study showed that when reviews are displayed for a higher-priced product, the conversion rate increases by 380%. For lower-priced product, on the other hand, the conversion rate increases by 190%.
2. Degree of Risk Involved in the Purchase
A product can be considered as “risky” based on its price. Aside from price, a product can be considered as risky based on its effects on health and safety. The Spiegel Research Center study showed that online reviews have a greater conversion impact for risky items.
3. Number of Reviews
The Northwestern University study called “Too good to be true: the role of online reviews’ features in probability to buy” published in the International Journal of Advertising in June 2016 found that “although the majority of extant research suggests that larger numbers of reviews bring more positive outcomes, we show that it is not always the case.”
“It’s easy to assume that having more and more reviews will continue to help drive sales,” said Spiegel Research Center in the study called “How Online Reviews Influence Sales” published on its site in June 2017. “Our research found that more reviews help, but only to a point – and that point is much lower than many might assume.”
Spiegel Research Center’s June 2017 report showed that nearly all of the increase in purchase likelihood happens within the first 10 reviews, and the first five reviews propel the majority of this increase.
4. Number of Verified Reviewers
According to PowerReviews, consumers take into consideration, not only the review but also the reviewer. “If the author of a negative review seems unlike the reader, the reader may discount the authenticity of the review for them personally,” PowerReviews said.
This is evident in the way consumers view the reviews left by verified and non-verified reviewers. In the Spiegel Research Center, verified reviewer is defined as a consumer whose purchase can be confirmed online, while anonymous reviewer is defined as someone whose purchase can’t be confirmed.
The Spiegel Research Center study showed that purchase likelihood rises by 15% when consumers read reviews written by verified buyers as opposed to anonymous reviewers. This shows that reviews written by people who have direct experience using a product or service are more trustworthy and credible, compared to anonymous reviewers who may be paid to write reviews or from those who have ulterior motives against the company.
According to the research center, verified customers give an average 4.34-star rating, while anonymous reviewers give an average 3.89-star rating. This shows that having more reviews from verified customers can help boost the value of the reviews in a number of ways.
Monitoring and responding to online reviews can is a time consuming and a tedious task. Connect with us today to learn how we can fully automate the process of getting verified customer reviews, monitor and respond to both negative and positive reviews to boost your brand, and increase sales.
5 Avenues to Build Your Positive Online Presence and Reputation
Paid. Owned. Shared. Earned. These four media avenues are readily available if you want to build your positive online presence and positive online reputation.
Avenue #1: Paid Media
This type of media refers to advertising and sponsorships. Simply put, you pay for this type of media. It includes online video ads, ads served in search engine results, ads on social networks, ads on mobile devices and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.
Avenue #2: Owned Media
Owned media refers to your company’s websites, newsletters and blogs. There are two views on whether your company’s social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be considered as your company’s owned media.
The first view holds that the content that you share on your company’s behalf across various social media sites is owned media. The second view holds that accounts on social media are “rented”, not owned. “Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are your landlords and you just lease the space,” said Mark Bonchek, in the article "Making Sense of Owned Media" published on the Harvard Business Review website. “But as your landlord, they can enter your apartment at will, renovate the building whenever they like ….”
Avenue #3: Shared Media
Your company’s interaction with consumers on your company’s social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are part of “shared media”. Shared media also includes social media postings shared by your consumers.
Avenue #4: Earned Media
This type of media refers to “word-of-mouth” marketing and public relations. For this type of media, you convert your prospects and customers as your brand advocates and influencers. Paid, owned and shared media can inspire earned media.
Control Factor of Paid, Owned, Shared and Earned Media
Who controls the cost and content in these four media avenues?
In paid media, the advertising company that you choose sets the costs, while you control the content.
In owned media, you’ve full control of the cost in getting your audience’s attention, and you’ve full control of the content.
In shared media, your company has full control of the company’s social media accounts, but your company has no control over what other social media users say about your business. With shared media, you control the cost of your time you spent earning your audience’s attention.
In earned media, your audience controls the content, while you control the cost of your time you spent earning your audience’s attention.
Trust Factor of Paid, Owned, Shared and Earned Media
Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising survey found the following interesting consumers’ media habits:
“The power of digital ad formats cannot be underestimated, as they offer many advantages for achieving effective reach,” said Randall Beard, president of Nielsen Expanded Verticals. “But few brands have mastered online word-of-mouth marketing techniques, the results of which can go viral very quickly.”
The Nielsen’s consumers’ media habits study was released in September 2015. Since then, the online landscape has changed a lot. The 2017 Edelman Global Trust Barometer gives new insights into consumers’ media habits. The new Edelman survey released in January 2017 offered the following interesting findings:
While owned media or business websites are more trusted than social media in the 2017 Edelman survey, this doesn’t mean that the public trusts business leaders more. The new Edelman survey revealed that a person like yourself, a technical expert and an academic expert tied as the most credible spokespersons, with 60% of the respondents trusting them. A company employee, meanwhile, is more trusted (48%) than the company CEO (37%).
Another important insight in the 2017 Edelman survey is the finding that 62% of company's social media are more believable than its advertising (38%).
Paid, owned, shared and earned media may have different approaches but they share the same purpose: to create awareness and engagement. A good mix of these four media avenues is important in getting the attention of your target audience and engaging them.
Avenue #5: Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an Emerging Media Platform
In May 2017, Forrester released a report called “The End Of Advertising As We Know It”. The report found that people aren't engaging with ads, with 38% of US online adults have installed an ad blocker; 50% of US online adults actively avoiding ads on websites; and 47% of US online adults actively avoiding mobile in-app ads.
The Forrester report said that online ad interruptions only work because consumers conduct their searches using interruption-friendly devices like desktops and mobile phones. But once consumers use anti-interruption devices like voice interfaces or AI-driven background services, consumers will feel even more hostile to ad interruptions according to Forrester.
The Forrester report said it isn’t hard to imagine a world in which intelligent personal assistants like Alexa would answer most of your questions you search on Google via your laptop or mobile phone today. James McQuivey, one of the authors of the Forrester report, said that today’s marketers can choose to invest in AI in order to build deeper relationships with their customers.
“That intelligent conversational relationship with the customer can begin now in chatbots on websites, in chat interfaces on mobile apps, in Alexa voice skills,” McQuivey said. "The tech will make conversations more satisfying to customers, but it's just as important that marketers learn how to make those conversations sparkle with the brand personality the CMO [Chief Marketing Officer] has committed the company to."
7 Steps to Choosing the Right Online Reputation Management Company
Businesses survive and grow because of good reputation. In the past, reputation was spread through word of mouth or through traditional media like television and newspapers. In the advent of the internet, one’s business reputation comes down to search engines and social media results.
If your customer types your company’s name, what comes up in the first few pages of search engines like Google? Would the first few pages lead them to your company’s website or would they be exposed to sites that gave your company negative reviews or to your company’s past legal woes?
What is Online Reputation Management
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the practice of implementing online strategies that influence public perception of an individual or organization. Online campaigns are implemented by an online reputation management firm in order to increase the visibility of a business brand, while at the same time, making the negative publicity of the business brand less visible in search engines or social media results.
In the past decade, search engine and social media results have changed how people get and share information. According to StatCounter, from April 2016 to April 2017, Google controlled 92.31% of the search engine traffic, followed by Bing (2.74%) and Yahoo (2.41%).
Based on Pew Research Center’s 2005-2015 Social Media Usage report, nearly two-thirds of American adults (65%) use social media sites – a nearly ten times jump in the past decade – affecting how people get and share information about health, civic life, news consumption and communities. Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update 2016, showed that 68% of all U.S. adults are Facebook users, while 28% use Instagram, 26% use Pinterest, 25% use LinkedIn and 21% use Twitter.
Increasing the positive visibility of your business brand on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter is a challenge. Wading through search engines and social media sites is a complicated and a time-consuming task. This gives rise to a number of firms offering online reputation management service.
Here are 7 steps to choosing the right online reputation management company for your brand:
1. Conduct an Online Research about the Company
Similar to what your audience and customers are doing when looking for information about your company, the task of choosing the right online reputation management firm for your brand also requires you to do the same: search online.
What comes up when you search the online reputation management company’s name? Be wary of companies with negative search engine results. How can they help build your brand a positive online reputation if they can’t even help themselves? On the other hand, be equally wary with companies with glowing reviews as this could mean that they have spent a lot of time and money on this, but giving less attention to actually helping clients build a better online reputation.
2. Get to Know the People Behind the Company
Knowing the people behind the management firm is essential. Who are the firm’s founders? Who are the current members of the management team? While an online search about the people behind the company helps, it’s important as well to directly contact the people who will be working on giving your brand a better online exposure.
3. Ask Them about Their Strategy
Ask the management team how they will go about giving your brand a better visibility online. Ask them about their specific SEO strategies. SEO stands for search engine optimization. There are many legitimate SEO ways called “whitehat SEO” to optimize a brand for search engines. Some ORM companies are, however, employing deceptive techniques called “blackhat SEO” to try and trick search engines and users.
“It’s important to distinguish between the two methods (whitehat SEO and blackhat SEO) since blackhat SEO actually damages your site and reputation, instead of improving its ranking in organic search results,” Google said in a statement.
Google has issued its own guidelines for the search engine giant to find, index and rank your brand. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have also issued their own guidelines. It’s, therefore, important to stay away from companies that employ blackhat SEO, and to see to it that the management team working for your brand’s online reputation adheres to Google and other social media sites’ guidelines.
4. Ask for Case Studies
One of the effective ways to see to it that the ORM team is the right fit for your brand is to look into their past and current clients. Conduct an online search on these supposed clients and see their past and current reputation in search engines and social media sites.
5. Ask for the Time-Frame
The time-frame for improving an online reputation is different for every client. Consider it as red flags when an online reputation management firm promises quick suppression of negative search results or promises that it will work for your brand until such time that the negative results are suppressed.
6. Ask for Cost
Similar to time-frame, the cost of improving an online reputation depends on a case by case basis. Consider it a red flag when an online reputation management firm won’t give you a rough estimate of the project cost. In the absence of an agreed price, the cost of your online reputation project may skyrocket without you knowing it, and this may cause further misunderstanding. After getting all the details about your online problems, the firm should be able to give you a rough estimate of the total cost.
7. Understand the Contract
Before committing to a particular online reputation management firm, ask that a contract should be signed between you and the management firm. The contract should stipulate that the management firm should adhere to the guidelines set by search engines and social media organizations. The contract should also include the time-frame of the project, the total cost, and a non-disclosure clause. Equally important to be included in the contract is the provision that your company will have full access and ownership of all the websites and social media pages that will be created by the ORM firm. After all, it's your intellectual property.
Dead Simple Ways To Protect Your Business Online Reputation in 2017
How long would a business with a bad reputation last in your town?
Not long, and it's no different online.
Maintaining a good reputation in the digital world is essential to the success of your business.
In fact, 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews.
A bad online reputation will lose you sales - it's as simple as that.
Luckily, online reputation management isn't complicated.
Follow the tips below and you'll be well on your way to building a great reputation for your business online.
Let's do this.
Google your business before starting online reputation management
Getting to know what's already out there is essential when managing your online reputation.
Even if you haven't posted anything about your business online yet, doesn't mean nobody else has.
You should look out for:
If you're lucky, you won't find anything negative.
But if you do, there are plenty of ways to remedy the situation.
You can't start to improve your reputation without seeing what's already out there, so don't let fear hold you back.
Register domain names
You might already have registered a domain name for your business.
If so, that's great.
However, it's also important to register similar domains, to prevent these being purchased and used to imitate your company.
Having fake versions of your business operating online can be a huge reputation killer.
You should consider purchasing:
There are often discounts available when purchasing domain names in bulk, so plan before you buy.
Secure your business name on social media
Imagine if someone joined Twitter under your business name and started posting offensive messages.
It would be a reputation nightmare.
That's why it's so important to secure your business name as a username on as many social media platforms as you can - even if you don't plan to use them.
Unused social media accounts should link back to your website or to social networks you're actually active on.
You don't want customers to be left wondering how to get in touch with you.
Social media is a huge part of online reputation management, particularly as it continues to grow in popularity.
Don't make it easy for others to impersonate your business online.
Write high-quality blog posts
Writing blog posts is an excellent way to boost your reputation and show off your expertise.
Writing posts for your own site will help drive traffic and gives you relevant content to share on social media.
This helps you build a reputation as an expert in your industry.
It's also beneficial to write for other sites, also known as 'guest posting'.
Getting your business associated with sites that people already know and trust is worth a lot and can do wonders for your online reputation management.
It's also a great way to generate backlinks to your site, which will help it to rank higher in search engines.
Not sure how to write blog posts?
Try the following ideas for inspiration:
Make sure all posts are relevant to your business and help to build the kind of reputation you want.
The wrong blog post can seriously hurt your reputation online, so plan your content carefully.
Encourage good reviews online
It's been shown that restaurants with good reviews online are more likely to be fully booked at peak times.
And the concept is the same, no matter what kind of business you're running.
Positive reviews reassure potential customers, while negative reviews put them off.
If you've spotted some negative reviews online, here what to do:
Acknowledge the problems highlighted in the review, and explain how you've solved them.
Get in touch offline
Talking to a customer over the phone or in person is often easier than communicating online. Apologize for their bad experience and they may remove the review.
Contact the review site
Have your suspicions that a negative review was left by a competitor, not a real customer? Some sites will work with you to remove fake reviews.
Having no reviews can look almost as bad as having negative reviews.
How many customers will want to risk venturing into the unknown?
If you don't have any reviews online yet, try these strategies:
Reviews are a huge part of online reputation management.
Don't sweep them under the rug.
Got a tweet from a disappointed customer?
Or noticed an angry comment on your business Facebook page?
Don't ignore it.
You wouldn't brush off an upset customer in the real world, and you shouldn't do it online either.
By responding quickly, calmly and helpfully to all comments, positive or negative, you build up a reputation as professional and responsive.
Customers won't be left frustrated by vague, canned replies, which makes them less likely to post negative things about your company online.
Responding to positive comments is just as important as addressing complaints.
Customers love getting friendly replies from brands on social media.
In return, they're likely to become even bigger fans of your business, posting more positive messages that help build your reputation.
You cannot afford to ignore your online reputation in 2017.
Manage your reputation by keeping on top of what's out there, encouraging positive reviews, and being responsive on social media.
What's the next action you'll take to protect your reputation online?
Your Competitors Are Claiming Your Business Listings!
Here is why you must not ignore your online business listings
In today's competitive environment, your business listings and/or citations truly matter. A few months ago, I've met with a GM of one of the largest car dealership networks in the country. While we discussed the key challenges related to ever-changing online consumer behavior, online reviews and digital marketing opportunities, the citation issue came up is such way that simply floored me.
His marketing department complained that some of the online business listings have been claimed by competitors whereby they don't change the name of the company, but rather change the main phone number, email address and/or a website link.
Since virtually everyone shops online prior to buying or leasing a new car, people that found the listing for a Honda dealership, ended up buying from Hyundai, because someone on their end had decided to take the extra step, and sabotage Honda’s unclaimed listing.
The worst thing was, there was no recourse and marketing folks were now admitting that it was virtually impossible to maintain accurate business listings across so many online sources.
You need to manage your listings
You need to make sure that your listings are truly managed, and it may take a tremendous amount of effort to do it manually.
At the Reputation Mart, we offer a fully automated business listing synchronization and monitoring solution that will not only synchronize your listings across dozens of online directories, but will also claim and lock your listings so that no one could re-claim your intellectual property.
Secure your business listings today >>
ReputationMart.com - passionate digital marketing team.