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The impact of customer reviews and ratings on conversion rates

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 04 Oct, 2011
Essential Essential topic

New data show how number of reviews can lift conversion rate

In the first generation of social commerce, measuring the sales impact of adding reviews to a site was enough. But now it’s time to dig deeper into the real ROI of social. Our ability to measure the ROI of social hasn’t always kept up with the latest developments. We can all count fans, likes and retweets, but businesses often struggle when it comes to tying these figures to their revenue.

This is one of the great advantages of including reviews in your social commerce strategy: with a little effort, it’s possible to track almost every part of their impact.

Why does review volume matter?

By now, most businesses understand that reviews can help conversion. But, what volume is needed to help conversion? Is a handful of reviews enough or should you aim for a minimum number of reviews?

If a few reviews deliver a trickle of extra traffic and a little increase in conversion, more reviews open the floodgates. The reasons seem clear: trust and social proof! High volumes of reviews seems to make the scores you show more trustworthy. After all, wouldn’t you put more weight in a score of 9/10 when it’s based on 200 people’s opinion, than when it’s based on 5?

A healthy number of reviews also means that a handful of negative scores (and every product gets some) tend to have far less impact on consumer opinion and on sales. And all the extra natural-language text that dozens of reviews provide can supercharge your product page SEO to increase purchase-ready traffic.

So how many reviews is enough?

At Reevoo we’re data junkies, not least because we have access to Europe’s largest shopping database. We’ve dug into the numbers around conversion and review volume and come up with a surprising conclusion: there is no magic number of reviews. The benefits just keep increasing as the reviews increase:

Impact of ecommerce on conversion rates

This data comes from 6 of our UK retailer partners using Reevoo reviews on their sites, and is based on more than 1 million product page visits.

I think our new research tells an interesting story. It suggests that without a healthy volume of reviews, you’ll miss out on the full benefits of social commerce - increased traffic, higher conversion rates, invaluable business insight and improved customer loyalty.

It also shows that some of the biggest improvements in conversion rate increments occur between 0 and 10 reviews, so it's worth thinking how to increase the minimum number of reviews.

We did find a deceptive plateau between 20 and 30 reviews, however. It would be very easy to assume you’d reached the maximum potential of reviews when you see an insignificant extra conversion uplift for an extra few reviews after the first 20.

Looking at the real data, however, it’s clear that businesses need to aim higher than just 20 reviews per product. Going from 25 reviews to 50 bumps up conversion by another 18%, which could equal thousands of extra sales.

With this kind of conversion uplift at stake, businesses need to put volume at the core of their review strategy. Make sure you’re chasing every review you can get (or your supplier is): it’s the difference between a lacklustre ROI and reviews powering your business. Improving your post-purchase follow-up emails is one place to start - are these optimised to maximise review? Can incentives help you get more reviews?

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