That review you wrote on Amazon? Priceless – USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCOÂ âÂ Chances are, a week or two after you buy something online youâll get an email asking, âHowâd we do?â and a link to review the product. Your response and those of other customersÂ areÂ worth aÂ lot: $400 billion, according to one analyst.
âItâs a virtuous cycle âÂ the more reviews, the more buys. The more buys, the more reviews. The more buys, the higher your rank in search and the more sales you get,”Â said Alice Kim,Â owner of onlineÂ cosmetic brand ElizabethÂ Mott.
Even a single comment can make a huge difference. Just going from zero review to one increases the rate at which online window-shoppers actually click the “buy” button by 65%, said Matt Moog, CEO of Power Reviews, a company that makes ratings and review software.
He estimates 20% of sales are driven by reviews and Â one-third of online shoppers say straight out they wonât buy a product that hasnât been positively reviewed.
Increasingly, online reviews matter for all buyersÂ even though online sales made up just 8.3% of U.S. retail sales in the fourth quarter, according to the Department of Commerce â and Amazon’s reviews matter most of all.
Fifty-five percent of shoppers start their buying research on Amazon, a survey by marketing firm BloomReach found, and half of all shoppers sayÂ they rely primarily on Amazon for reviews, according to Market Track, an e-commerce analysis firm.
Almost a quarter check AmazonÂ even when they’re physically standing inside a store. “They can be in Best Buy or Home Depot, but they go on their phones to check Amazon reviews,â said Greg Perry of One Click Retail, an e-commerce data company.
Amazonâs reviews rank so highly in partÂ because theyâre considered the most trustworthy, even though â like other sites â it’s not immune from people using the reviews for ancillary purposes, say last November’s flood of one-star reviews of anchor Megyn Kelly’s book hours after it went on sale,Â which the LA Times said was orchestrated by a pro-Trump forum Â on Reddit.
The Seattle retailer has gone to great lengths to root out fake reviews, launching over 1,000Â lawsuits against those who post them, according to the company. It also marks and gives more weight to reviews by people who actually bought the productÂ and has introduced a machine learningÂ algorithm that gives more weight to newer, more helpful reviews.
InÂ OctoberÂ Amazon began requiring that any review of a product given to the reviewer for free or at reduced cost be marked as such.
“Our focus is to make sure our reviews are authentic and helpful,” said spokeswoman Angie Newman.
Which kind of a reviewer are you?
Whether consumers realize it or not, the notes they hastily type out, whether glowing or scathing, wield tremendous power.
âBefore, you might have told ten people about a product. If you publish your thoughts on Amazon you might reach a million,â said Daniel Lemin,Â chief of consulting at Convince & Convert, a digital marketing strategy firm.
Those reviews are worth a lot of money. Power Reviews data shows that reviews impact about 20% of sales on sites that have implemented them well. With global e-commerce product sales pegged at $2 trillion, thatâs $400 billion tied to the collective voice of consumers.
All of which comes from the 5% to 10% of customers who actually write reviews.
Moog’s research finds they tend toÂ fall into four main categories.
FirstÂ are those who really love a product and then those who really hate it. Next come the more altruistic ones who have a pay-it-forward mentality. They use reviews, so they feel itâs only fair that they write them. Finally, there are those whoÂ have strong loyalty to the retailer or brand theyâre buying from and want to help out.
Negative reviews, surprisingly,Â can be beneficial.Â Research shows that if all the reviews areÂ uniformly good, nobody will believe them. On Amazonâs 5-star rating system, it turns out that between 4.2 and 4.4 is optimum, Moog said.
Overall, the first bunch of reviews for a newly-launched product are the hardest to get but also the most important.
âYou need to get 20 reviews and youâre golden,â said Keith Anderson, strategy officer at Profitero, which helps online sites price their products competitively.Â Â
After that itâs a numbers game. If there are a thousand reviews, one more good or bad doesnât matter much. And at a certain point, reviews take on a life of their own, becomingÂ a way for the community of buyers to interact.
Neel PremkumarâsÂ company Dyla makes Stur, a popular organic drink mix. When he launched in 2012 he read every review and responded to every negative one immediately.
âNow if someone hasÂ a negative review, our customers will go in and respond to it themselves,â he said.