Marketing Pilgrim has been on a user reviews kick lately as it pertains to
online retail and has come up with some really interesting nuggets. The crux of
the posts have been about whether user generated content on retail sites helps
or hurts business. Are people more likely to buy from a site that has reviews?
It looks like the answer is a rather easy to believe, “Yes.” But what about
negative reviews? Sure, they may hurt sales of some products, but providing
alternatives to the bashed product provides both a service, conversion, and
happier customer, so it’s a relatively simple issue to address.
Another concern that’s often raised is, “Aren’t people more likely to give
negative reviews?” Well, according to a JupiterResearch presentation by Patti Evans reported on for Marketing Pilgrim by Greg Howlett, that’s not the case:
Customers are about twice as
likely to write user reviews about good shopping experiences than bad
ones. Likewise they are twice as likely to write user reviews about
products they like than products they do not like. This is good news for
retailers and should help alleviate fears about user reviewers hurting
Huh? But doesn’t conventional wisdom say that people are
twice as likely to tell their friends about bad customer service experiences
that good ones? Doesn’t that apply to online retail as well?
Here’s my theory on this: People are more likely to TALK about bad experiences
they’ve had, but they’re more likely to WRITE about their good experiences. It’s
easy to bash a product or service to a trusted friend where you won’t be
challenged in a conversation between friends, but who’s really willing to
publicly bash a company, service, or product in public on the web? That’s a much
higher bar for negativity. Especially if you can’t do it anonymously (or in a
way that only your trusted friends could see).
Going negative – even when justified – has consequences.
Keep that in mind the next time you’re reading reviews for products online.