Further data on the importance of review volume

A new study from L2 of the CPG personal care market looks at the relationship between review volume and search engine results and finds:

…products with more reviews enjoy superior search visibility.

SEO is a major reason to maximize the number of reviews you collect, but there are others:

  • A high review count displayed alongside the average star rating signals that a product is popular and also increases trust in the average rating by showing it is based on a meaningful sample.  In fact, a higher review count can more than make up for a lower average rating.  In this recent study, 61% of respondents preferred a product with a 4.5 star average based on 57 reviews over the same item with a 5 star average based on only 4 reviews.
  • Larger numbers of reviews drive higher average ratings by tapping into the “happy middle” of the customer base to dilute the over-influence of the often unhappy extreme that otherwise dominates.  Jockey.com (underwear) recently found that sending an email to request reviews not only increased review volume by 7X, it also increased the average  rating across the site by a half a star – a HUGE effect.

While it’s no surprise that more-reviews-is-better, in practice, we find many brands and stores are so focused on the average star rating for their products that they undervalue the raw volume count and miss opportunities to increase collection.

The L2 study points to review syndication from brand sites to retail sites as an effective strategy for increasing review volume at the point of purchase.  We would add that merchants should consider an open strategy for in-bound syndication, as closed networks can have significant limitations in reach, complexity, and cost.

We would also recommend that stores and brands evaluate their mechanisms for collecting reviews, as  platform limitations can crush the volume of reviews collected.  For example, the furniture store Raymour & Flanigan doubled the volume of verified-buyer reviews they collect by switching to an approach that automatically authenticates known reviewers rather than requiring a separate authentication step.  And for unrecognized users, a flow that enables review creation before requiring authentication is essential.  (Do you make your visitors register before they shop?!?)