Modern day shoppers have come to rely on other customer ratings and reviews when making decisions on where to purchase just about everything in this day and age. Ratings and reviews drive more conversions than any other type of user-generated content (UGC).

Ratings and reviews are one of the best ways to improve your SEO.  A steady stream of positive ratings and reviews, and images, keeps your site’s content relevant and fresh. They also provide actionable insights that brands and retailers use to improve their products, services, and the overall customer shopping experience. Below are three key facts retailers should keep in mind regarding ratings and reviews.

  1. People are more likely to trust the opinions of complete strangers over friends and family. 

Family and friends were once the primary source for product information and feedback. Whereas ratings and reviews from complete strangers have now stepped in. While the opinions of a consumer’s personal network still holds great weight. Online ratings and reviews are now the most popular method for gaining other more board consumers opinions. Additionally, those under 45 years old are 61 percent more likely to trust online reviews from consumers they don’t know. Today’s shoppers will continue to seek out recommendations from online sources. Content like ratings, reviews and Q&A will become an increasingly important piece of the shopping journey for not only consumers, but brands and merchants themselves.

  1. 95 percent of consumers read reviews, but only 42 percent leave them. 

While research shows that almost all consumers seek out reviews, only 42 percent of them actually leave one. In fact, only 32 percent of consumers between the ages of 18 to 29 leave a review. Because ratings and reviews are such a vital aspect of the modern shopping industry, brands and retailers need to ask and encourage customers to create more user-generated content than ever before.

To reach rating and review success, brands and retailers must motivate their consumers to leave more reviews. Up to 70 percent of reviews originate from post-purchase emails, so developing a post-purchase email strategy to collect feedback from customers is essential for retailers and brands. Making sure your user experience is mobile-optimized is essential in improving our response rate.   Additionally, brands and retailers can use product sampling and incentives like sweepstakes to increase your number of reviews. In the end, the number of consumers who are leaving reviews just might catch up to the number of those who are reading them.

  1. A perfect 5-star rating is NOT the most desirable. 

You might think that when comparing two products, the product with 1,000 reviews and an average rating of 5-stars is more likely to be purchased, right? Wrong. A study  found that customers are more likely to purchase a product with an average star rating of 4 than that of 5 stars. This realization explains why purchases drop off once the average star rating is greater than 4.5?

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, negative reviews actually help establish trust and credibility among consumers. Its lowered ratings are perceived as more authentic. Consumers perceive ratings which near a 5.0 on the ratings scale are just “too good to be true.”  Instead of deleting or rejecting any ratings less than 5 stars, brands can instead utilize this information as actionable insight.  This gains a clarity of products directly from consumers and using this feedback, to improve their products.

Consumers rely on ratings and reviews to make informed purchasing decisions. This creates an opportunity for retailers and brands to build trust with their consumers. Brands and retailers can collect more of the conversion-lifting content that improves SEO by removing obstacles .  This makes their products easier to find. Perceptive retailers and brands also embrace negative reviews as a way to build a reputation with shoppers.

The role and concept of a review is moving beyond the start ratings.. Reviews are becoming an ongoing discussion between businesses and consumers.  Are you prepared?