Advocately Blog

The anatomy of an online review

The anatomy of an online review

A customer review is a written representation of a person's experience with a business' products or services.

The format of a customer review can be as simple as a rating from zero to five stars, up to a lengthy questionnaire about pros and cons, an example of how a customer used a product, photos, and comments on price and quality.

The vast majority of online review sites keep it simple and stick a rating between zero and five stars, followed by a short comment about your experience (100 - 300 characters minimum).

We can group customer reviews into three major types; a negative review (zero to two stars), an okay review (three stars) and a positive (or good) review (four or five stars). Customers often use positive reviews as a method to thank a business for a good experience, as a customer was so pleased with their experience that they wanted to tell people about it. Three stars, or an okay review, indicates relative apathy towards the experience; due to this apathy, we rarely see these reviews as the customer does not feel strongly enough (either positively or negatively) to bother with writing a customer review.

Negative reviews, on the other hand, are often seen as a “punishment” for a bad experience. In most cases, they are usually just a method of getting the attention of a business to get help with their product or service; the public nature of the feedback forces businesses to respond quickly to mitigate any reputation damage. Yes, there are examples of bad reviews that are entirely punitive, but in general, they can often include useful information about your business, products, and services that could/should be improved.

Managing your online reviews is vital to your success as a business. Given that 90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchasing decision and 90% of consumers say that they will only purchase from a business if their rating is over three stars, it is important for your business to be generating reviews regularly, monitoring your reviews to catch any negative reviews (and attempt to solve the problem and get the rating changed) and to respond to those customer reviews, thanking your customers for their feedback and letting them know that they have been heard and that you are working on improving based on their input. We have some steps you can work from when (responding to your customer reviews here)[].

Potential customers will read seven reviews on average before making a purchasing decision; The best way to ensure they are reading positive reviews is to provide a great product or service to your customers and to get them to review you regularly.

Anyone can publish a review online, even if he or she is not (and never has been) your customer! Just by listing your business on a review site, you are likely going to accrue reviews from your customers as time goes on.

There are so many review sites online; it is critical for your business to ensure that you have claimed your listing on each website that is relevant to your business (especially if someone has already written reviews about you there). The largest online review sites are Amazon, Facebook, Google Reviews, Yelp, G2 Crowd, and Amazon. If you have not claimed your Google Business listing, we've previously written a guide on how to claim your Google business listing!

Outside of your customers giving you reviews of their own accord, we encourage you to ask your customers for reviews. Businesses that ask for customer reviews tend to have an average review rating of 4.3, whereas businesses who get reviews organically tend to have an average of 3.7; this is likely due to the fact that people who have bad experiences are much more motivated to share their experience.

Now that you are getting reviews, we recommend that you start tracking your reviews online. We hope our free tool for tracking reviews about your company will come in handy :)