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Do People Write Reviews Differently on Their Smartphones? You Bet.

May 23, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Are your shoppers leaving fundamentally different reviews on their smartphones than they would on PCs? Some new research from a few business professors suggests that’s exactly what’s happening.

In their paper, “Selectively Emotional: How Smartphone Use Changes User-Generated Content,” authors Shiri Melumad of the Wharton School, J. Jeffrey Inman of Pitt Business, and Michel Tuan Pham of Columbia Business School found that reviews written on smartphones were shorter than those composed on PCs—no surprise there.1

But the researchers also found that smartphone reviews had a higher amount of emotional content when compared with reviews from PCs.

Smartphone Reviews Tend Toward Positivity

Even more interestingly, the study revealed that user-generated content (UGC) written on smartphones tended to be largely positive in nature.

The researchers suggested that the trends they discovered were likely to be seen across a number of platforms and topics, and not just the ones they examined in their study.

In addition, they noted that previous research had shown that an increase in positive sentiment in Amazon reviews led to higher customer conversion rates.

They also offered a simple recommendation for companies: use a content collection strategy that encourages customers to submit reviews from their smartphones.

“Research shows that content that’s more emotional is more likely to go viral, or be shared and discussed by others,” lead author Melumad said in an interview on the Knowledge@Wharton podcast. “From the firm’s perspective, knowing that reviews have been written on phones–and thus more likely to be emotional—can help the firm identify which customer-generated content may be the most influential.”2

Key Takeaways from the Research:

  • Reviews written on smartphones, are shorter, have more emotional content, and are more positive than those written on PCs.
  • Other data shows an increase in positive sentiment in Amazon reviews led to a higher conversion rate.
  • Reviews with more emotional content are more likely to go viral or be shared.
  • eCommerce sites should consider encouraging shoppers to submit Customer-Generated Content (CGC) on a smartphone to take advantage of its more positive nature.

How to Capture Positive Sentiment

One key insight from the paper: eCommerce sites should ensure their Customer-Generated Content (CGC) collection strategy is optimized for mobile if they want to capture as much positive sentiment as possible.

One way online stores can do that is by making sure they use responsive web design—essentially ensuring that their web pages are being displayed correctly regardless of what device a shopper is on.

TurnTo, for example, gives users the ability to set configurable breakpoints in the widgets for our four products—Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews, and Checkout Comments. That ensures product detail pages always look their best on smartphones, tablets, desktops, and laptops.

Not only that, but TurnTo’s review collection process identifies customers on smartphones and offers them a tailored user experience designed to make it as easy as possible to get content.

Another way TurnTo eliminates friction points is with our Inbox Submission feature that lets your customers submit reviews directly from the body of an email, instead of being sent to a browser.

That simple change has resulted in some significant gains for our clients; with the less intrusive approach, content collection rates can increase by as much as 200%.

Measurement matters too. That’s why TurnTo’s reporting tools include breakdowns by device. Say, for example, the word counts of your reviews drop, but overall positive sentiment spikes. With TurnTo reporting, you can analyze the data to see if the change resulted from an increase of reviews coming from mobile devices.

Want to learn more?

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Sources:

1 Selectively Emotional: How Smartphone Use Changes User-Generated Content; Journal of Marketing Research, January 2019

2 User-Generated Content: The Medium Impacts the Message; Knowledge@Wharton, May 2019

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