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Recency and Volume in Online Reviews: CXBuzz Interview with PowerReviews

PowerReviews, a CX company specializing in user-generated content, recently published a report on how recency and volume of product reviews can affect purchasing decisions of consumers. Overall, 97% of consumers considered reviews to be important while making a purchase, with almost half of them wanting to be able to find reviews written in the last month. The findings can be particularly valuable for product companies that are incorporating user-generated content and consumer reviews in their CX strategy.

Review recency is key, but that’s not to say that volume of reviews isn’t important. Almost 80% of consumers consider the volume of reviews regularly when making purchases, and while they might read far less than they expect to see, over half of consumers expect 25 reviews before making a purchase, with that number rising in younger generations.

CXBuzz’s managing editor Simone Somekh recently sat down with Andrew Smith, VP of Marketing at PowerReviews, to discuss their recent findings and the implications this has for the CX industry as a whole.

Simone Somekh: Recency, according to your report, is an important factor when it comes to consumer reviews. What are your findings on this issue?

Andrew Smith: We’ve known that intuitively for a long time, but there wasn’t any research to back it up, so people may have underestimated to what extent it was important. In our findings, 97% of consumers said that they consider the date of a review to be at least somewhat important when considering a purchase. For 61% of respondents, recency was very important.

Everyone has always considered review volume to be the more important issue. But our research shows that review recency is probably even more important.

Simone Somekh: Your study indicates that recency beats volume; yet, volume remains an important factor. The higher the volume, the more likely consumers are to purchase the product. How can emerging brands, those with fewer reviews, tackle this issue?

Andrew Smith: You really need both recency and volume. Ultimately, what you really want is a constant stream of reviews hitting your product page. That’s what consumers are looking for, and they want the reviews not to be manufactured in any way. Legitimacy and authenticity are what consumers are after, and there’s a lot of concern over the authenticity of reviews online.

For emerging brands, every time you sell a product you should be asking for a review. For the most part, customers don’t come to your product page and leave a review out of the blue, so you have to ask them. The post-purchase follow-up is critical, and you need to think about how you style it. Asking the question directly helps, but you also need to be user-friendly and keep it clear.

If you’re looking for a lot of content from the get-go, you can ask for a review comment and leave it at that. There are other ways to incentivize reviews — rewards and such — but that might overshadow the legitimacy of the review. It’s probably best to keep this limited to the early days, when the product hasn’t sold much yet. It’s a practical issue really, getting reviews from the start can be tough.

Simone Somekh: What are the main differences you noticed in your study between younger and older consumers?

Andrew Smith: We found that the older the consumer, the more likely they are to value review recency over volume. The generational breakdown sees boomers are most likely to say that review recency is important, while Gen Z are 12% more likely to value volume over recency.

We posed a hypothetical to consumers, asking if all the reviews on a product you are considering to purchase were published three months ago or longer, how that would affect their purchasing behavior. 38% of the respondents said it would make them more likely to explore alternative products, with only 21% saying that they would still buy the product in question.

Simone Somekh: What are your top tips for brands and retailers in light of your findings?

Andrew Smith: These results clearly show that driving review collection is important. Ultimately, what this survey shows is that consumers expect to see reviews on a product page whenever they are shopping online. E-mail follow-up is the top generator of organic reviews, so that would be my first tip — focus on review collection.

My second tip is that you have to think of review collection as a constant, it should be a work in progress that needs to be constantly nurtured.

Finally, once you’ve captured on review content, you need to think about how you are going to display it and how it appears to the consumers as they are shopping around your website. Consider building a display that makes sorting and filtering review content easy. Usually, when someone is reading reviews, they have a specific question in mind.

Simone Somekh: Would you like to tell us in a few words what your company, Power Reviews, does?

Andrew Smith: It’s not all that complicated, as most of what we do can be thought of in terms of return on investment and sales. If I were to sum it up, we are a product ratings and reviews company that partners with brands and retailers can help do more with their user-generated content. We empower them with the data to optimize their programs for conversion in terms of how they collect, display, and share their review content. We also use reviews to generate product intelligence as well, which leads to benchmarking improvements.

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About the author

Simone Somekh
Simone Somekh
Simone Somekh is a New York-based author, writer, and communications manager. He teaches Communications at Touro College. He is the Managing Editor of CXBuzz.


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