Let’s start by setting the scene.
Imagine you’re looking for a restaurant or hotel to book. What’s the first thing you do?
Head to Google, no doubt. You read reviews and look for star ratings, right?
You do this because it helps you to make a judgement about the quality or the experience you might get should you book this restaurant or hotel.
Yet, while reviews are useful, it can take time to sift through them and decide how these reviews fit in with your perspective of the world.
Often there’s no context to the review. For example, someone might post a negative review because they feel the restaurant is expensive. They came to this conclusion because they didn’t enjoy their meal.
Of course, what the review doesn’t tell you is that this person doesn’t like coriander, which is a key ingredient in the dish they chose. Had they selected a dish without coriander, they may have posted a more favourable review.
Meanwhile, star ratings are a quick way for people to assess a product, place, or service. Ideally, they also reduce the risk of regret.
In fact, some experts claim star ratings are ‘one of the most important factors consumers rely on to help them evaluate brands.’
Star Ratings Influence Purchase Decisions
A survey of more than 1,100 consumers during 2021 showed that more than half of respondents (58%) claimed ‘high star rating’ as a key influential factor.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking you need to achieve a perfect 5.
Research shows that ‘good’ ratings are often preferable.
One study shows consumers were most influenced by star ratings between 4.2 — 4.5. It’s suggested these were viewed as more authentic. While perhaps a 5-star rating is considered ‘too good to be true’.
The data reveals 16% of consumers will trust a business with at least 3 stars. 23% will trust a business with at least 3.5 stars. 40% will trust at least 4 stars and 10% won’t trust a business until it has 4.5 stars or higher.
But here’s the [really important] thing; not all star ratings are equal.
Find a Star Rating You Can Trust
While more than half of consumers look for a high star rating, three quarters are interested in reading about positive experiences (i.e., reviews and testimonials). Nonetheless, many brands and businesses ask for just one or the other.
Likewise, many star ratings don’t specify what the stars are for. How many times have you read a scathing restaurant review, only to discover the diner still gave 4 stars? What the…?
Think back to the first example, where a patron gives a restaurant a bad review because his meal contains coriander, which—it just so happens—he hates.
Now, if the patron was also asked to submit a star rating, how many stars would he give? Who knows.
But what if the stars were broken down into 5 categories:
A star rating system that clearly states the various attributes being judged is by far the most valuable — for both businesses and consumers.
So, in the example above, the diner couldn’t judge the restaurant purely on his meal (or its ingredients). There would likely be 4 to 7 other factors to evaluate.
A good (and worthy) star rating should have a standardised set of variants, as this allows consumers to easily compare different products in the same category (like for like).
Star ratings should also work hand in hand with review content, as one without the other is less valuable.
What to Look for in Review Content
First and foremost, review content should be housed on reputable platforms and in well-known publications. While it’s not always possible to control where your product/business reviews appear, you can be proactive in driving review content.
Support and promote review sites that encourage a star rating alongside a written review. While most websites monitor and approve online reviews, there are some that don’t, and these are best avoided.
Businesses should be invited to respond to reviews – negative or positive. However, you may not receive an automatic alert each time a new review is posted, so be proactive in monitoring sites.
Responding to reviews is important. Did you know 55% of consumers feel more positively about businesses that are seen to be responsive to online reviews?
What’s more, 89% of consumers would be ‘likely’ or ‘highly likely’ to use a business that responds to reviews (positive and negative).
Other important factors consumer like to see in review content include:
- Real names, rather than anonymous posts
- Images of the product of service
- Medium length reviews – not too short or too lengthy
At PetsForever, our review content comes in the form of our Product Trial campaigns.
As you can see, we include reviewers’ real names (plus dog breed, if relevant) and incorporate authentic images to showcase the product.
Our review content is supported by an overall 5-star rating (see below), which is based on 5 core and 3 variable measuring factors. This ensures consistency across all star ratings, making it fair for brands and useful for consumers.
3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Star Rating
There’s no denying reviews and star ratings form part of the influence mix that drives purchase decisions.
In a world where social proof is so important, we have learned to rely on these tools. We almost unconsciously seek out this information. So, not only should brands and businesses embrace reviews and ratings, but they should encourage them.
There’s the old adage, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. We know consumers value reviews, so they almost expect to be asked.
Being proactive in asking for reviews also shows you care and are interested to learn what your customers think. In this case, the request is almost as beneficial as the review itself!
Whether you do this via automated post-purchase emails, newsletters, or a call to action on your product pages, think of reviews as the pièce de résistance of the sales process.
As previously mentioned, brands and businesses can’t just sit back. You’re expected to respond and reply. For many businesses, this is unchartered territory and it’s scary. It shouldn’t be.
Just remember, it doesn’t matter if the review is positive or negative, a response generates trust amongst existing and potential consumers. Plus, think of a negative review as a chance to resolve a problem. That’s a good thing!
Whether you’re a Business Owner, Marketing or Brand Manager, you no doubt have a list of duties and responsibilities as long as your arm, and now you’re expected to drive reviews and user-generated content.
Take the stress away and put your business in good hands; into the hands of professionals with proven experience in this area.
Running a large or small Product Trial campaign with PetsForever is a great way to generate reviews, a star rating and content on a trusted third-party platform.
Here’s what you get:
- Real customer reviews
- A star rating badge for your product (independent recognition)
- Consumer insights
- UGC (which you can use to drive sales)
- User testimonials
Let PetsForever’s 140k pet parents drive your social proof in the right direction.
Below is a showcase of user-generated content collated for Bestie’s new Gummy Chews.