By now, you’ve likely heard the stats about how user-generated content — particularly
ratings and reviews — drive traffic and sales. But in case you haven’t…on average, when a product adds one or more reviews, that product experiences a 108% lift in traffic, a 65% lift in conversion and a 92% lift in sales.

In addition to driving traffic and sales, reviews — both positive and negative — are also full of valuable insights that can help you improve your business. Read on to learn six ways you can start using the insights from customer reviews to improve your products and the overall customer experience.

1. Fix a Product Flaw
A negative review or two may tip you off to something that is a legitimate – and correctable – gripe. For example, Hammacher Schlemmer, a PowerReviews customer, noticed that a watch they sold on their website had an average star rating of 2.7. After digging into the reviews for the watch, the company noticed that several customers mentioned the clasp on the watch wasn’t working. Hammacher Schlemmer took this information to their manufacturer to change the clasp, and the average star rating for the watch climbed to 4.7.

2. Add a New Feature
If enough shoppers mention a relatively easy enhancement that could provide a benefit, consider adding it. For example, let’s say you’re a sportswear brand. You observe that several reviews suggest adding a zipper to the pocket of one of your running jackets, to ensure personal belongings don’t fall out while running. So, you work with the manufacturer to add a zipper to the product. Once you add this feature, you notice that many reviewers sing the praises of the new zipper and your overall star rating soars.

3. Enhance Your Product Descriptions
Sometimes, a negative review is the result of a buyer not having a clear understanding of the product’s details. For example, you’re a luggage brand, and you notice for one particular suitcase, several reviews mention that they expected the handle of the suitcase to be leather, when it’s actually foam. You use this as an opportunity to add a statement similar to this in the product description:

“Foam handle for more comfortable carrying.”

Now, future shoppers have a more accurate picture of what to expect from your product, and they can use this information to find the products that best fit their needs.

4. Improve Instructions
Imagine you’re a brand that sells home furnishings. You note that the reviews for a children’s dresser aren’t so great. Shoppers love the design, but several mention that it’s extremely confusing and time consuming to assemble. Use this as an opportunity to simplify the assembly instructions that are sent with this item.

5. Highlight an Unsung Feature
Most likely, there are certain product features that you tout the most. But by examining your product reviews, you might identify other product features that you’ve overlooked — but are important to your customers. Consider adding these features in your product descriptions.

6. Build Customer Loyalty
If you improve your product or another element of the customer experience based on feedback from reviews, let your customers know. People want to feel like their voices are heard. And acting on their feedback — then letting them know you’ve done so — will help you forge even deeper connections with your customers.

Start Identifying Actionable Insights Today
Ready to start identifying insights that can help you  improve your products and the customer experience? If you’re an existing PowerReviews customer, contact your Client Success Director to learn more about identifying actionable insights in your review content. If you’re not an existing customer, schedule a demo today to learn how you can drive traffic, sales and insights with ratings and reviews.

An Analysis of 7.8 Million Reviews in the PowerReviews Open Network

There was once a time (in the not so distant past) when the idea of asking for feedback from customers — then displaying that feedback for the world to see — was a pretty radical concept. But now, the importance of ratings and reviews is largely understood by brands and retailers as a key part of the consumer’s purchase journey. In fact, nearly all consumers consult customer reviews, and 86% consider them an essential resource when making a purchase decision.

Clearly, consumers find reviews helpful when identifying the products that best fit their needs. But not all reviews are created equal. While one review may be full of great insights, another may fall short. At PowerReviews, we allow consumers to give individual reviews “helpful” or “not helpful” votes to indicate how useful a given review was during the shopping experience.

A helpful review example.

So what makes one review more helpful than another? To shed light on this question, we analyzed 7.8 million reviews from the past year in the PowerReviews Open Network to determine the common features of reviews that have been voted by consumers as helpful. We explored the impact of various review characteristics — including review length, sentiment and recency — as well as the types of products that are most likely to have reviews with helpful votes.

During the most recent PowerReviews webinar, I shared the results of this analysis. Read on for a summary of three key findings that I shared during the webinar, as well as some recommendations for brands and retailers to start generating and displaying the content that’s most helpful to consumers.

Longer Reviews Aid Consumers

We found that review length is the characteristic most correlated with helpful votes. The longer the character count of a review, the greater its average number of helpful votes. While a review that’s under 20 characters has an average of 2.3 helpful votes, a review with 500 or more characters has an average of 5.3 helpful votes.

Longer Reviews are More Helpful
Longer review helpfulness infographic

Recommendation for Brands and Retailers: Longer reviews provide greater detail, which make them more helpful to future shoppers. One way for brands and retailers to generate longer (and likely, more helpful) reviews is to tie in review generation to an existing rewards program and award points for longer reviews, regardless of the star rating. Then, once a consumer accrues a set number of points, they receive some type of award, such as a coupon or a code for free shipping.

One-Star Reviews Have the Most Helpful Votes

Our analysis also found that one-star reviews, on average, generate more “helpful” votes than any other star rating. Why? Because—in addition to adding a level of authenticity to your review content, negative reviews steer consumers towards products that best fit their needs.

Consumers want to hear the worst thing someone has to say about a product. In fact, 82% of consumers seek out negative reviews. Reading negative reviews helps a consumer determine if negative elements are relevant to their needs.

For example, let’s say you’re a brand that sells running shoes. One particular style of shoe has a one-star rating, with a review that notes that the shoe doesn’t work well for trail running. A future shopper finds this review helpful because she does all of her running on a treadmill. The previous consumer’s comment about trail running is irrelevant to her.

Average Helpful Votes By Star Rating
How helpful a review is based on star rating

Recommendation for Brands and Retailers: Though you certainly don’t want to aim for negative reviews, this content is a helpful tool that allows consumers to identify the products that best fit their needs. In addition, negative reviews provide a level of authenticity to your content. Previous research found that nearly half (44%) of Generation Z shoppers wouldn’t trust a product’s reviews if there were no negative reviews present. And finally, negative reviews allow you to identify insights to improve future iterations of your products, as well as the overall customer experience.

Visual Content Boosts Helpfulness

A growing number of consumers are seeking out reviews that include user-submitted visual content, such as photos and videos. In fact, recent research on the role of visual content found that 88% of consumers look for visual content—such as photos and videos—submitted by other consumers prior to making a purchase. And a product experiences a 69% conversion rate lift, on average, when that product adds at least one user-generated image.

Since consumers are actively seeking out this content, it makes sense that reviews with helpful votes include more photos and videos than those without. Reviews with helpful votes have 16% more videos and 13.8% more photos than those without visual content.

Recommendation for Brands and Retailers: More and more consumers depend on user-generated visual content to inform their purchases. Ensure you’re making it easy for your shoppers to submit photos and videos as part of their reviews. This visual content makes product reviews even more helpful to future shoppers.

Curious what else I covered during this webinar? Watch the on-demand session now!

Arend Henderson

Arend is the SVP, Analytics for PowerReviews. He is responsible for leading the analytics team, which develops behavioral insights and other optimization and measurement solutions for our clients.

Later this month, myself, along with other members of the PowerReviews team, will be headed to Los Angeles, California for Shop.org 2017, a three-day ecommerce conference hosted each year by the National Retail Federation.

This year’s agenda is packed with sessions on all things digital, from creating omnichannel experiences, to using data to drive personalization, to making your company fit for the future with new technologies. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from industry leaders, including Walmart, Kohl’s and Wayfair, among many others. Plus, there will be plenty of time for ecommerce pros to network with their industry peers. It’s going to be a fantastic time, and I’m looking forward to it.

If you’re going to be at Shop.org, don’t miss these two opportunities to connect with the PowerReviews team:

Hear about the Transparency Economy
I’m not a neuroscientist, but I’m playing one at Shop.org. On Wednesday, September 27 at 9:00am, I’m presenting a tech talk session on the Transparency Economy. Today, consumers have access to more information than ever before. They expect it, but even more importantly, their brains require it to make better decisions in all aspects of their lives.

During the session, I’ll explore how the human brain makes decisions, and its connection to how transparency through authentic feedback from other consumers (both positive and negative) drives the Transparency Economy.

Meet with the PowerReviews Team
Our team will be at booth #732 in the expo hall, so be sure to stop by to find out what’s new at PowerReviews, win prizes and discuss the opportunities and challenges your business is facing and how PowerReviews can help.

We’ll be in the expo hall during the following shifts:

  • Tuesday, September 26 from 9am-5:30pm
  • Wednesday, September 27 from 9am-3pm

If you’re not currently a PowerReviews client and would like to schedule a time to meet with a member of our team, reach out to us and we’ll get something scheduled. If you are a current PowerReviews client and want to schedule time to connect with the Client Success team while you’re at Shop.org, feel free to reach out to your Client Success Director and they can make that happen.

I hope to see you September 25-27 in LA!


There’s no longer any doubt that reviews are a helpful tool for consumers. 95% of consumers consult customer reviews and 86% consider them an essential resource when making a purchase decision.

But here’s the thing — when it comes to helpfulness, not all reviews are created equal. While one review may be full of detailed insights to help a customer make a smart purchase decision, another may provide no insight at all. 

Let’s say you’re an expectant mother shopping for a rocking chair for your baby’s nursery. There are two reviews for one model you’re considering. The first review is full of details and even includes a photo of the chair in a nursery, to give you a better idea of what it looks like “in the wild.”

“I live in a small condo in Chicago and searched forever for a rocking chair that would work for my son’s small nursery. This one was exactly what I was looking for. It’s high quality and sturdy and has a high back to accommodate my tall husband. As an added bonus, the chair is very stylish so once we no longer need it in the nursery, we’ll move it out to the living room.”

This review helped you determine that you want to add this rocking chair to your shortlist, so you give it a “helpful” vote.

The next review is also five stars, but provides short, vague feedback, with no visual content.  

“Great chair.”

Since this review didn’t provide very much insight, you give it an “unhelpful” vote.

What Makes a Review Helpful

So what makes one review more helpful than another? Recently, we analyzed 7.8 million reviews from the past year in the PowerReviews Open Network to identify common characteristics of reviews that have been voted by consumers as helpful. Here are four of our key findings:

1. Longer is Better: The longer the character count of a review, the greater its average number of helpful votes. This makes sense, since longer reviews likely provide more details, as illustrated in my example above.

2. Visual Media Matters: Reviews with helpful votes have a 16% higher volume of videos and a 13.8% higher volume of photos than those without. This comes as no surprise, since previous PowerReviews research found that 88% of consumers look for visual content (think photos and videos) submitted by other consumers prior to making a purchase.

3. Product Price Makes a Difference: Reviews with helpful votes tend to be on higher priced items, most likely because shoppers are spending more time consuming reviews for expensive products and taking the time to indicate a review’s helpfulness.

4. One-Star Reviews Pull in the Most Helpful Votes: One-star reviews, on average, generate more “helpful” votes than any other star rating. In addition to adding a layer of authenticity to your review content, negative reviews steer consumers away from a product that doesn’t meet their needs, and steer them toward products that do.

Six Tips for Collecting and Displaying the Review Content Most Helpful to Your Shoppers

Reviews are a key tool for helping consumers make smart purchase decisions. But, as our analysis found, not all reviews are created equal. Here are six recommendations for generating and displaying more of the review content that’s most helpful to your consumers. 

1. Identify Your Most Helpful Reviewers
Analyze your review content to identify contributors of helpful content. For example, look at the number of reviews your consumers have written, as well as the components of those reviews — including helpful votes, visual content and length.

2. Reward Reviewers for Optimal Content
Once you’ve identified your helpful reviewers, ask them to contribute additional content. Consider tying review generation to your existing loyalty program and awarding points to reviewers whose content meets certain criteria. For example, give points to reviewers that write reviews that are a certain number of characters long or include a photo or a video. Then, when the consumer accrues a certain number of points, he can redeem the points for a reward such as free shipping or a percentage off a future purchase.

3. Focus on High Priced Items
We know from previous research with Northwestern University that reviews are more impactful for items that are higher priced in their category — for example, an organic cereal that is more expensive than a non-organic variety. And our most recent analysis found that reviews with helpful votes tend to be on higher priced items, likely because consumers are spending more time reading reviews for items that cost more.

Identify higher priced items in your product catalog, and prioritize generating reviews for these products. There are many ways to do this, but the most impactful way is to send a post purchase email to shoppers, asking them to contribute reviews for products they’ve recently purchased. In fact, we’ve found that more than 60% of reviews are written as the result of a post purchase email.

4. Allow Consumers to Sort By Review Helpfulness
Most likely, your website allows visitors to sort reviews for a given product by a number of different factors, such as star rating (highest rated vs lowest rating) and recency (most recent vs oldest). Be sure you’re also allowing consumers to sort reviews by helpfulness. This allows shoppers to easily identify the content that has been most helpful to others like them.

5. Prominently Feature Helpful Reviews
Once you’ve generated plenty of reviews, make it easy for shoppers to find the most helpful review content for each of your products. Ask your ratings and reviews provider if they offer a review “faceoff” that provides consumers with an at-a-glance summary of the most helpful positive and negative reviews. This faceoff will help your shoppers more quickly determine if a product is right for their needs.

6. Embrace Negative Reviews
Our analysis also found that one-star reviews, on average, generate more “helpful” votes than any other star rating. And though you certainly don’t want to aim for negative reviews, this content is a helpful tool that allows consumers to identify products that best fit their needs. In fact, 82% of consumers seek out negative reviews. And 44% of Centennial shoppers (age 13-18) don’t trust a product’s reviews if there’s no negative feedback present.

In addition to helping shoppers make smart purchase decisions, allowing negative reviews to be posted on your website provides a level of authenticity to your content, which helps you build trust with your shoppers. Plus, negative reviews allow you to identify insights to improve future iterations of your products in order to better serve your customers.

Want to find out what else we learned about helpful reviews? Download our latest report: Anatomy of a Helpful Review.

 

How consumers navigate the grocery shopping experience online and in-store

Today, consumers have a growing number of online grocery shopping options. And with Amazon acquiring Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, the trend of shopping online for groceries only increases. But the majority of consumers still do a good amount of grocery shopping in store.

PowerReviews surveyed U.S. consumers to understand typical grocery shopping habits and how today’s consumers navigate the grocery shopping experience both online and in store. In this this guide, we cover topics such as:

  • Where consumers are shopping for groceries today
  • What types of information they’re using to make purchase decisions
  • Where they want to find key product information
  • How retailers can better attract, convert and retain grocery shoppers across channels
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