It’s no secret that online reviews are important for your online shop. They are the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising. And just like any industry, data about online reviews can reveal some great insights into what works and what doesn’t.

In today’s blog, we’re going to look at the who, what, where, when and why (and how) of online reviews and look at what stories some of these statistics can tell us.

Who?

Who leaves reviews?

Trusted Shops released the findings of their reviews study which analysed over 4 million reviews. They focussed on the 3 biggest markets in Europe (UK, France, and Germany) and discovered a lot of interesting information.

For example, if we look at the genders, it appears that men generally leave more reviews than women. With a closer look, however, we can see that in the UK, those numbers are close to even (52% men), while Germany (59% men) and France (58%) saw a bigger “gender gap”.

If we look at the ages of reviewers, we can see that the age range of most reviewers lies between 25-54, with 35-44 year-olds leading the way in the UK. However, these numbers don’t look the same across the board (see below).

This could be very insightful for business owners who sell across these three markets. If you have a limited amount of reviews or review requests in your package, you’ll want to target the appropriate age group in each market to maximise your reviews.

Where?

We’ve already touched on “where” by looking at the Trusted Shops reviews analysis. We can clearly see that different countries behave differently. No, that’s not any kind of marketing breakthrough, but it is definitely something to keep in mind if you’re growing internationally.

Forget about countries for a moment then. Let’s have a look at:

Where are customers looking for reviews?

In the last 3 years or so, we’ve seen a shift of where reviews are showing up and where people read reviews. From ReviewTracker’s annual study, we can see that Google and Facebook have seen a huge bump in reviews appearing in their platforms. This is especially true for Google.

With Google not losing any ground in terms of popularity, it makes sense that shoppers are reading reviews directly through Google, since that’s where basically everyone who wants to research a company goes. In fact, 63.6 percent of consumers say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business.

Though Google hosts its own (shops) review system, it’s worth noting that they are not exactly a closed review system, meaning anyone can leave reviews for a business, even people who have never actually bought anything from the store.

It’s also worth noting that Google also aggregates many of their reviews from their partner review companies, many of which are indeed closed review systems (Google aggregates all their product reviews from 3rd party reviewers). If you use a 3rd part review system, it’s definitely worth considering a company that uses a closed system and is an official Google partner.

When?

When do shoppers leave reviews?

Knowing when shoppers are most likely to leave a review can help you, as a business owner, optimise the timing of when your review requests are sent out.

Looking back at the Trusted Shops report, we can see that Mondays get the most reviews (and Saturday the least). On top of that, 29% of reviews happen between 8am and noon.

Why?

When it comes to the question “why?”, we can look at the motivations for both retailers and consumers.

Why do consumers leave reviews?

Being an online shopper today may be convenient, but it isn’t always easy. Consumers as a whole have become like a community. They rely on each other for honest, consumer-centric feedback in order to help them make a purchase decision.

In fact, according to a Survata survey of over 2,000 respondents about the motivations for leaving a review35% responded that their primary reason was to inform others about the customer experience, followed by “help other people make decisions”with 26%. In other words, the majority of people leave reviews because they want to help their fellow shoppers.

However, that doesn’t mean you, as a business owner, should forget that the number 3 reason (24%) is to give businesses feedback about their experience. There is plenty of feedback out there to pay attention to. They can help improve your customer experience, so read through those reviews!

Why do you need reviews on your online shop?

An Ipsos survey of 1,000+ consumers asked what impact user-generated content such as reviews has on shoppers.

It revealed some interesting information as well. It reveals that the top 5 answers (all with +50% of respondents saying they strongly or somewhat agree) are all relevant to businesses as they can help improve conversion rates.

For example, the number one answer is about purchasing confidence. When you host reviews on your site, you’re showing you have nothing to hide, and better yet, your past customers are now your brand advocates, thus giving new customers a more authentic experience.

Need more reasons to display as many reviews as possible? Yelp, the famous restaurant review website, is basically a household name at this point. A Harvard study looked at the impact positive reviews can have on a business.

With the help of the Washington State Department of Revenue, the study compared changes in a restaurant’s review scores to the changes in its revenue (between 2003 and 2009) and found a pretty strong correlation. The study had a few findings, but the most interesting one by far was the following:

A one-star increase in the restaurant’s Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue.

Those are very big numbers to any business, especially a small one. Considering the stat mentioned before (about Google’s increased popularity for reviews), you could easily apply this tip for all types of small businesses, not just restaurants.

What / which?

Which industries get the most review readers?

BrightLocal conducted research in 2016 by asking over 1,000 respondents which industries they search out reviews for. What stood out to me was that the top 3 answers were in a service or health industry. The number 4 spot was about physical goods, clothing.

No surprise there. The Trusted Shops study mentioned above came away with the same results.

How?

Now that you know about all the W-questions, I thought we could look at the sometimes forgotten H-question: How? Specifically, I wanted to talk about:

How should you respond to negative reviews?

If you’ve made it this far, then I’m hoping that I’ve convinced you about the importance of online reviews. Hopefully, you’ve done some research and picked out what you think is a great reviews service provider.

The question now is what do when you receive that unavoidable, eventual negative review(yes, even the best shops get a disgruntled customer once in a while).

The basics come down to customer-service common sense. Try to keep your cool no matter what. Whether a customer is right or wrong about their complaint, you can’t respond while you are angry. Take a few deep breaths and try to answer level-headed and with the customer in mind.

Have you ever had a simply great customer service experience? One where you dialled the phone number by stabbing the touchpad angrily, but ended the conversation by hanging up the phone with a smile? Well, if you have, then you know you talked to an experienced customer service rep. I’d be willing to bet that they didn’t yell back at you. In fact, they probably sympathised with you more than you expected.

Naturally, every complaint is different, but if you try to stay positive, apologise (sometimes it’s necessary even if it’s not “right”), and try to resolve the issue in the best way, you might even turn a disgruntled customer into a repeat customer.

It’s important to keep in mind that you might want to answer this complaint publicly, at least the first response. Other potential customers might read this review (and very well might search out the negative reviews), so your response will be crucial.

Shoppers know that even the best shops might make mistakes. They will purposefully search out the negative reviews to see how your company handles negative incidents to gauge if they want to do business with you, so try to imagine that every interaction you have online with your customers publicly will be read by every potential new customer.

Conclusion

Online reviews are a powerful tool for both customers and retailers. With so many websites out there, it’s hard for shoppers to know who will rip them off and who will give them an amazing customer experience.

Online reviews have become a way for cynical consumers to protect and advise each other in a world full of billboards, posters, commercials and pop-ups. The best way to manage your online reputation is to host reviews on your site, pay attention to them and engage with your customers.

Alon Eisenberg

Content Editor UK at Trusted Shops
Alon Eisenberg grew up in New York City and studied at Boston University. He has been the content editor UK at Trusted Shops since 2017 and loves to write about topics ranging from education to ecommerce. When he’s not writing, he’s traveling, working on D.I.Y. projects or watching Netflix.
Alon Eisenberg grew up in New York City and studied at Boston University. He has been the content editor UK at Trusted Shops since 2017 and loves to write about topics ranging from education to ecommerce. When he’s not writing, he’s traveling, working on D.I.Y. projects or watching Netflix.