10 predictions about the undeniable power of online customer reviews


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As an avid online shopper, checking out a merchants’ review statistics or percentage before a purchase is made, has become a thing of second nature. I read an interesting article on entrepreneur.com, written by Tomer Tagrin, the co-founder of Yotpo. The article is titled, ‘The 5 predictions about the growing power of online review sites.’ It would form a bit of premise to this article- and my independent study has generated more trends to the online review space. Companies, tend to be a lot quicker in responding to negative reviews from customers, with a comprehensive understanding on the effects of such feedbacks. If you doubt the wielding impact online reviews have on a business- and the colossal effect of negative reviews on any business, then have a read on Michael Fertick’s article on Inc.com, where he revealed these:

• 89% of consumers viewed online sources of product and service reviews as trustworthy–and another 80% have changed their minds about a purchase based solely on the negative reviews they read.
• In 2011, 85% of those surveyed said they’d be more likely to purchase if they could find additional recommendations online
• A one-star difference in a restaurant rating is considered to impact revenue between 5% and 9%.
These stats will not come as a surprise to most readers but the attainable evidence is that online review platforms have become knowledge or information bank for customers to vet merchants, before purchases are made. There are currently a wide array of online review platforms like Yelp, Feefo, Trustpilot, Tripadvisor, City search, Google + local/places, Epinions and a host of other sites. Let’s have a look at some predictions of online reviews:

10 predictions of the online customer review space

1) Reviews will be linked to social networks: The fight against fake and anonymous reviews have led to some review platforms like Trustpilot linking reviewers to their social profiles and revealing details like the user’s location and profile pictures. This would aid to breed credibility and reliability of feedback.

2) Great reviews will prioritize service over price: In my independent research over a plethora of online reviews, I have come to discover that more and more great reviews are stating the service and then the price as the differentiator. Akin to the chicken or the hen argument- service or price will still be evident in the future of online reviews, as more and more potential buyers will base their decisions more on service due to the surge in excellent reviews, that is more premised on service than price. A good example is a review left by a customer about O2 recycle that goes thus: “Good service and decent price for my old IPhone.”

3) Eye catchy and keyword-rich review headlines: Reviewers love to attract attention to their feedback, from the company in question and other potential customers. The best way a reviewer would get a necessary reaction or effect from their review is through eye-catchy headlines- the future would see more of these headlines as a prime example is: “From Parcelforce to Parcelfarce.”

4) Social-Sharing of reviews: Not just popular contents or articles could be shared on social circles like: Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ but reviews would have a place as well. Online shoppers who find reviews very helpful would be willing to share them in their social circles.

5) Companies replying to bad reviews within six hours: It is not surprising that currently some companies reply to bad reviews in more than 24 hours. This is never a good sign to potential customers, as it clearly shows a company that does not hold the views and experiences of her customers in top priority. A look at the feefo.com review site shows a company like booking.com, with an impressive annual review score of about 95% on a volume of about 33,100 reviews. A deeper look into the comments indicates that booking.com replies to bad reviews within six hours. On the contrary, a complaint/negative review that was left for a company, early learning centre on the 2nd of October, is yet to receive a reply to date. The future would witness more companies following leading customer-centric companies like booking.com.

6) Companies customizing and not blanketing replies: Nothing does irate some customers than receiving an automated, replicated and rehearsed reply- that has been used for a previous customer- verbatim. Customers would respect companies more that reply to their reviews with specific mentions to the original complaints. A company that does this very well is low cost holidays on the Trustpilot review site.

7) More animations, emotions and drama: Some current online review platforms and the ones in the future would be very social in nature- presenting rooms for likes, comments and following. The social nature of these platforms will attract more emotional and animated reviews- as this helps attract replies from the respective companies and gain followers. It does also show the severity of the experience endured by the customer, as customers would be more emotional in a social review platform as a good example is a customer that left an angry and somewhat animated review on Trustpilot that goes thus: “Rubbish- 3 deliveries, 3 set of damaged goods.”

8) Reviews taking the place of product description: Product description is a very important element for e-commerce businesses but the future would see potential customers spending more time reading reviews than product description. In no time, the reviews from customers would serve as a product description- as reviews stating how big the sizes of a pair of jeans is or how dark the shade of the jeans is, would be more helpful than traditional product reviews.

9) Multimedia reviews taking prominence: The emergence and dominance of micro-video apps like Instagram and Vine has impacted upon the review space as online review giant Yelp, a few months ago, introduced a 12-second micro video review facility. Going forward, more online review platforms will incorporate this functionality as it helps more with an evidence-based review, as companies could see things in a crystal clear fashion and would help to reduce fictitious reviews.

10) Online reviews forming a bulk of a company’s content strategy: The future of content marketing would derive a lot of muscle and insights from reviews. This would see online reviews being a great source or reference material for contents like product description, case studies, whitepapers, sales letter, ad campaigns and SEO strategy.

Most companies are realizing the undeniable importance of online reviews and how this impacts on profitability. The future of marketing is looking at online reviews and to this regard the Nielsen’s global trust advertising report, indicates that online reviews are the second highest most trusted source of brand information and communication.

Dateme Tamuno
Dateme Tamuno (Tubotamuno) is currently working as part of the SEO and PPC delivery team for UK based digital agency, Cariad Marketing. He has also completed a book on user-generated content marketing.


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