For over a decade, MarketingExperiments has stressed the importance of customer reviews.
When our Customer Ratings Tested Web clinic was originally broadcast in 2004, Shopping.com was the third-most popular ecommerce site in America, and Amazon’s annual revenue was a mere 7% of what it has since become.
In the ten years since, customer reviews have gone from being a supplemental component of our marketing strategy to the single biggest influencer of consumer behavior. In a 2013 survey by Dimensional Research, 90% of customers responded that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. A similar study conducted by Retailing Today found that 81% of consumers conduct online research before making major purchases.
With the knowledge that customer reviews are now one of the most vital components of our marketing collateral, how can we make sure that we are presenting our reviews in a way that best serves our customers?
New ecommerce research by Dr. Raffaele Filieri hopes to answer that question.
Filieri specializes in consumer behavior and digital marketing at Newcastle Business School, whose recent double accreditation by the Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) puts it in the top 1% of business schools in the world.
His independent study, “What makes online reviews helpful? A diagnosticity-adoption framework to explain informational and normative influences in e-WOM,” published offline in the Journal of Business Research, not only confirms that customer reviews carry more clout than almost all other marketing efforts but, for the first time, reveals how customers actually process online reviews.
Below are four key takeaways we can learn from his research:
Takeaway #1. Customers process review data quickly
In his study of brands such as Kia Motors and TripAdvisor, Filieri found that customers are not carefully reading review data. Instead, they are scanning it quickly.
When processing review data, users are looking to gather as much information as they can in the shortest amount of time possible. Users don’t want to search for or through reviews; they want quick visual summaries of the sentiments of other customers.
As marketers, we must be aware of this fact and provide prominent, easily scannable customer reviews whenever possible.