We’ve been privy to some predictive, informative, and sometimes even entertaining insights from the analysis of Software Advice’s research department. However, a study from the folks at the internet’s most-trusted software review platform takes a look into the topic of online reviews, and the results are possibly the most revealing to date.
More Educated Buyers
Consumers have access to a more immediate and comprehensive library of reviews of product and services today than ever before. Now, with Amazon becoming the largest retailer in the world, the popularity of online shopping has conditioned buyers to even expect reviews to be included in the actual purchasing experience. This should mean that when Software Advice’s research shows that 3 out of 4 purchasers consulted online reviews prior to making a decision, no one should be surprised. What wasn’t immediately clear, though, was how the mix of positive and negative reviews impacted the buying process.
If it Seems Too Good to be True…
There isn’t any company or product that is perfect for all people and under all circumstances. As much as we might want to pretend otherwise, there’s something that seems a little fishy about 100% of reviews being 5 stars. The net result, it turns out, is that having a realistic mix of positive and negative reviews actually improves the authenticity of a company. Sure, positive reviews are what people want more than anything else to steer their decision (43%), but there was a minimal decrease in weight for those with a mix of positive and negative reviews (34%). This underscores the fact that the most important thing in a product review is believability, and that’s something that only comes with a believable distribution of positive and negative reviews.
Trolls Need Not Apply
Speaking of a believable mix of review positivity, the e-thuggery of a disgruntled employee or soured business contact has actually less impact on the online review footprint of a company that you may expect. When polled about the impact of negative reviews that were part of a trend versus an isolated rant, respondents were 4-5 times less likely to let the isolated negative review affect their decision. What this means is that statistically significant outliers are less impactful because they don’t fit into the overall narrative that the entirety of reviews are telling.
It Takes A Village
The most revealing outcome from this most recent research, however, came from an analysis of the motivations most people had for writing reviews in the first place. To set the scene for that, first it’s useful to note that an overwhelming 98% of respondents reported that online reviews were at least moderately valuable or above, and zero respondents cited them as being not helpful at all. With this in mind, it was reassuring to learn that the majority of respondents (59%) wrote a review with the specific intention of helping others facing the same purchasing choices they had. This reciprocal relationship between consumers in the middle of a purchasing decision and those who have recently exited a similar choice suggests that online reviews will only continue to grow in use and, therefore, also in value.
So, How Are We Doing?
It seems only logical to add that we’re pretty active in the review game, ourselves. You can read our reviews on our site, the reviews that are made directly on SoftwareAdvice.com, or you can find us listed on Yelp. We’re proud to make service the cornerstone of our business and, I for one feel pretty confident that our customers agree.