Good News Travels Fast

MikeMerriman
Mike Merriman Director of Strategic Services, Mzinga

Posted on November 4th 2011

Good News Travels Fast

I‘ve been a loyal customer of Amazon.com for years for many reasons – convenience, good prices, but most importantly reviews.  I find that I always look at peer reviews on Amazon when making a purchasing decision.  Given the choice between similar products, I’ll opt for the one with reviews rather than one without.  Some of our clients at Mzinga use online ratings and reviews on their ecommerce sites with directly measurable results of more eyes on site, higher SEO scores attributed to fresh content, and ultimately increased revenues.  Recently I was asked by a prospect thinking about this capability how we could keep negative comments out of the reviews.  Maybe the flippant answer is “build better products,” but the real answer is you don’t.  Think about it for a minute – when you look at a movie ad in the newspaper, you know they’re only publishing positive critic comments.  Do you take those testimonials serious?  Some companies might go so far as to solicit-for-hire positive reviews.  This is deceptive advertising and has gotten the FTC’s attention, already filing numerous suits to attempt to prevent this practice.  

When I look at reviews, I appreciate candor, and digest the reviews with context.  Consider this summary of reviews from an Amazon search:
 
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300 reviews, half giving the highest marks.  I can see that only 50 are what I consider bad and drill into those to see that some were missed expectations and make a buying decision based upon my risk profile.  Now consider this review from another online provider:  
 
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Wow – 5 stars!  At first glance I’m ready to buy, but upon further review no product on the site has any negative reviews.  Not one.  What happened to the few that I personally wrote about a product failure?  Is this deceptive advertising?  Maybe, but at the very least I no longer read any reviews on this site, and bring my business elsewhere whenever possible.  I can only imagine the conversations that took place.
 
Should you, as a provider, offer product reviews and ratings?  I think yes.  American Express reports that nearly half of consumers look online to find out information about a company’s products and services in their American Express Global Customer Service Barometer.  If you’re not providing the forum for the reviews, rest assured your competitor likely is, and I’d take my business to them.  

Should you be concerned about negative reviews?  Sure – but don’t become paralyzed by that concern.
 

An article in eMarketer reports that positive word of mouth is more impactful that negative, is believed to be more credible, is shared more than twice as much as negative comments, and is four times as likely to transform a prospect into a buyer.  Matt McGee reports in Small Business Search Marketing that negative reviews are GOOD for your business.  Amongst other things they build credibility and trust, and provide you an opportunity to address legitimate issues.  

Bad news may travel fast, but good news travels faster.  

MikeMerriman

Mike Merriman

Director of Strategic Services, Mzinga

Mike Merriman has a varied background in product development, product management, customer service, strategic consulting, and industry research with over 20 years of leadership experience. As Mzinga’s Director of Strategic Services, Mike applies this broad background to assist our clients in mapping their business goals to specific community and social media initiatives to maintain competitive advantage.
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