Supercharging Your User Reviews
"98% of users recommend this newsletter"
Hey there 👋 - Abhi here!
Happy Thursday to the 26,753 marketers reading today :)
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And with that, let’s get into today’s piece: 3 science-backed tactics to increase conversion rates through your user reviews.
Reading Time = 3 minutes 42 seconds
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Supercharging Your User Reviews
My family came out to Chicago last week, and as the “Chicago local,” I was asked to find them a reasonable hotel. Lazy as I am, my process involved 3 simple steps:
Googling for “the most reasonable hotels on the magnificent mile”
Picking the one with the best reviews - overall, and especially in terms of location
Sending the reservation on my family group chat and taking immense credit for it
My family thinks I spent hours on that booking, so let’s just keep this between us. And Dad, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re enjoying your stay :)
But between all that hard work, there was one part of the process that caught my attention - the reviews. What made me pick the hotel I picked? How much did the reviews matter? And would the same reviews influence someone else differently?
Curious about the same? Luckily, for you and your business, I did the research…
3 Science-Backed Tactics That Influence The Impact Of User Reviews
1/ The Perfect Medium For Exaggeration
We’ve all seen the “98% of users recommend this product” headline, but how many of us really believe it? Turns out, if the same exaggerated numbers are in the user reviews, they can be a lot more influential.
Why? Because studies have shown that when information from testimonials conflicts with base rates - the naturally occurring frequency of an event - people neglect the latter. Instead, they are more likely to believe the exaggerated data from testimonials.
So drop those self-acclaimed, exaggerated stats, because they only matter if they’re in your testimonials.
2/ Find Your Location Rating
In a study from 2015, two researchers looked at the role of customer reviews, recommendations, and rank order in search listings in the context of online hotel bookings.
The biggest insight: Location ratings overpowered both overall and service ratings for hotels. So this was not only true for the booking I made, but it extends across the spectrum.
Now, as a business, this changes things. We focus all our attention on that overall rating. But instead, you should be talking to your customers, finding that one dimension that is more powerful than all others, and talking more about that.
Specific Feature Rating >> Overall User Rating
3/ Imitator or Innovator?
In the broadest sense, there are two kinds of customers:
Innovators - the ones that are not afraid by, or are excited to, try a new product
Imitators - the ones that feel comfortable trying a product only once it’s been verified by others (a.k.a. me)
And based on this research paper from the International Journal of Advertising, your user reviews should vary depending on the kind of customer you’re serving:
Innovators are more heavily influenced by the review’s textual characteristics such as the emotionality of the content
Imitators are more heavily influenced by the review’s numerical characteristics such as the review volume, rating, and variation
So if you’re building breakthrough technology, I’m picturing an AI-based startup, you want to focus on the emotionality of the reviews. But if it’s a long-established product, say a bottle, focus on the numbers - higher volume, higher ratings, lesser variation.
Bonus: Blemishing Effect
A couple of months back I wrote a piece on the Blemishing Effect, and it was one of my best-performing posts. You can read the full piece here, but a quick summary below:
Most brands focus exclusively on the positives of their product - that’s not optimal.
But based on a study, when product reviews showcase the positive aspects of a business alongside one negative aspect (a.k.a. a blemish), conversion rates increase.
So make sure to start with the positives, ensure the negatives are mild, and focus this effect primarily on low-effort decisions - that’s when it works best.
Here’s how Amazon leverages the blemishing effect in their product reviews page:
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📍Meta did its best ninja impression and stealthily removed some location targeting options which could impact your campaigns. Read more here.
🐦 Twitter will allow publisher to charge users on a per-article basis. Not sure if that is a worthwhile monetization avenue but certainly interesting to follow, and maybe even test out. Meanwhile, Bluesky, a Twitter competitor, is gaining traction. More details here.
🪟 Roku joins the Microsoft Audience Network. And that’s just the biggest update along with a longer list that Microsoft rolled out for its Ads business. Learn more here.
*This is a sponsored post.
ICYMI, last week we analyzed the Door In The Face Technique.
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A Review From A Fellow Marketing Psychologist...
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I appreciate all your feedback and read every comment.
I look forward to reading your feedback :)
See you next Thursday,
Abhishek "Review Me" Shah