A consumer is not a moron. Sheâ€™s your wife. Donâ€™t insult her intelligence, and donâ€™t shock her.
David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising, 1981
David Ogilvy was a fairly clever chap. In fact, Iâ€™d go so far as to say that most of his views were so prophetic he may have been some kind of wizard.
Itâ€™s tempting for online retailers to skew the data that reflects how their customers perceive them - product reviews, service ratings, testimonials etc. The minor matter of questionable morals aside, their web presence is their own personal domain and they feel they have the power to choose what is said and how itâ€™s presented through this channel.
This is of course, based on the assumption that the balance of power lies with the retailer. The fact is, thereâ€™s been a seismic shift in this balance over the last 15 years; the convenience of shopping on the web means that consumers hold all the aces in terms of quickly sniffing out best price, best product offering and best service.
So, surely this is an argument for tweaking the facts and figures (ever so slightly!) - in this competitive environment youâ€™ll need every little bit extra you can get your hands on, right? Not quite - a consumer is not a moron. Your users are looking for authenticity. They crave an honest, open shopping experience. In an ideal world theyâ€™ll give you their credit card details. If they get a whiff that all is not as it seems, theyâ€™ll run away as fast as their virtual little legs will carry them. In a world of transparency, people avoid the opaque. Besides, the shop next door on Google will probably offer what you donâ€™t.
Is there a direct link between transparency and improved conversions?
What does this mean in measurable terms? Can we say that an open approach is more likely to generate sales? Well, if we want to encourage positive purchase decisions (we do) then we have to make the process simpler by giving the ratings context - if all products are rated 4 or 5 stars there is no basis for comparison, no solid footing for a purchase decision and, as a consequence, a probable lost sale. There is no light without darkness. Oh and donâ€™t worry about being swamped with absolute stinkers of reviews - satisfied customers are a lot more likely to oblige you with their time in providing a review/rating, meaning that on average, positive reviews will outweigh the negative at around 7 to 1.
However, thereâ€™s even more benefits that negative reviews can bring to your business
Unsurprisingly, allowing consumers to avoid poor or unsuitable products will increase satisfaction meaning greater likelihood of repeat business, and lower returns and all the pesky administration and costs that are associated with them.
If youâ€™re still not convinced, hereâ€™s the really good news. Studies show that customers are twice as likely to purchase products with 4 or 5 star average ratings, meaning that any niggling doubts about the negative effects of the odd poor review is far outweighed by the positive, tangible bottom line of encouraging a sale from a good review.
The very fact that good reviews have such a powerful effect on user-behaviour shows there is still an unsettling lack of trust when buying online - surely all the more reason to nurture a culture of transparency and honesty in your enterprise?