Expert-Driven Reviews You Can Trust

Why You Can’t Really Trust Negative Online Reviews

Expert-Driven Reviews You Can Trust
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The Great Wall of China has more than 9,000 Google reviews, with an average of 4.2 stars. Not bad for one of the most astonishing achievements in human history.

But you can’t please everyone.

“Not very tall. Or big. Just sayin. I kinda d it. Sort of,” wrote one ambivalent visitor of the structure, which stretches thousands of miles. Another complained, “I don’t see the hype in this place it’s really run down and old … why wouldn’t you update something this? No USB plug ins or outlets anywhere.” Someone else announced that he’s “Not a wall guy. Laaaaaaaaammme.”

Even Shakespeare can’t escape the wrath of consumer scorn. One reviewer on Amazon awarded Hamlet just two stars: “Whoever said Shakespeare was a genius lied. Unless genius is just code word for boring, then they’re spot on. Watch the movie version so you only waste two hours versus 20.”

It’s no wonder why we live and buy by online reviews: The Washington Post recently reported that a third of American adults use a computer or phone to buy something at least once a week — “about as often as we take out the trash.” Last December, 75 percent of Americans said they would do “most of their holiday shopping on Amazon,” according to CNBC’s “All-America Economic Survey.”

We use reviews to vet our options. In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that 82 percent of American adults say they sometimes or always read online reviews for new purchases. And more than two-thirds of regular review readers believe that they’re “generally accurate.”

Marketing data indicates that negative reviews in particular dramatically influence our buying behaviors. But research on the biases and demographics of online reviewers — and our own, often errant interpretations — suggests that our faith in reviews is misguided.

There are many more positive reviews online than there are negative ones, studies show, which creates a scarcity of negative reviews that we associate with value.

For instance: In a data sample from Amazon, just 4.8 percent of reviews with a verified purchase were rated one star, whereas 59 percent had five stars, according to a study published in 2014 by The Journal of Marketing Research and led by Duncan Simester, a marketing professor at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management.

“The infrequent nature of negative reviews may help to distinguish them from other reviews,” Dr. Simester wrote in an email. We consequently pay more attention to them.

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We also think of negative reviews as windows into what could go wrong. Is this camera’s memory card going to go kaput in the middle of my honeymoon? Are these socks scratchy? Dr. Simester pointed out that people may see negative reviews as more informative, and therefore more valuable, than positive ones because they highlight defects — even if they’re not actually more accurate.

“We want to feel secure in our decision-making processes,” said Lauren Dragan, who analyzes consumer feedback as the audio tech products reviewer at Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products. We use negative reviews to understand our risk and reduce our losses, studies show.

Plus, after reports that five-star reviews are frequently fake, people may depend on negative reviews more than positive ones because they see them as more trustworthy.

The credibility of all reviews — even real ones — is questionable. A 2016 study published in The Journal of Consumer Research looked at whether online reviews reflected objective quality as rated by Consumer Reports. The researchers found very little correlation.


Reviews are subjective, and the tiny subset of people who leave them aren’t average.

People who write online reviews are more ly to buy things in unusual sizes, make returns, be married, have more children, be younger and less wealthy, and have graduate degrees than the average consumer, according to Dr. Simester’s 2014 study. Online reviewers are also 50 percent more ly to shop sales, and they buy four times more products.

“Very few people write reviews. It’s about 1.5 percent, or 15 people 1,000,” Dr. Simester said. “Should we be relying on these people if we’re part of the other 985?”

What’s more, reviews are often capricious and circumstantial. For example, the sentiment of travelers’ reviews hinges on their companionship.

A study published last fall in Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, looking at 125,076 online reviews, found that people traveling with significant others wrote the most positive reviews, followed by those traveling with friends or family.

Reviewers traveling alone or for business were the most negative. Our experiences change depending on our expectations, travel expertise and who we’re with.

People’s motivations also taint their neutrality.

Take TripAdvisor’s “Super Contributors,” whose reviews tend to be more negative than those by less active members, according to a forthcoming study from Ulrike Gretzel, a communications professor at the University of Southern California and the director of research at Netnografica.

Having formed identities around being expert travel reviewers, Super Contributors may “write more critically to appear more professional,” Dr. Gretzel said. Nevertheless, consumers disproportionately value and trust reviews professing expertise.

Put simply, we should distrust online reviews “because emotions are involved,” Ms. Dragan said.

Another reason to be wary is roughly one in 15 people review products they haven’t actually purchased or used, according to Dr. Simester.

These “self-appointed brand managers” write speculative, unsolicited negative reviews to offer the company “feedback.

” The problem is consumers are bad at determining which reviews are actual experiences and which aren’t, said Dr. Simester. “We are easily fooled.”

Still, reviews can be helpful gauges when you’re buying stuff — so long as you keep in mind all the caveats around them.

First, weed out the most polarized perspectives. People are much more ly to write reviews if they have extreme emotions about something, said Eric K. Clemons, who teaches information management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. This is why you see so many rave reviews and so many rancorous ones.

Even people who don’t initially have strong feelings often develop them in response to survey questions — something called the mere-measurement effect.

“We are socially conditioned to give answers when someone/something asks us a question,” Dr. Gretzel wrote in an email. So if we don’t have a pre-existing, well-defined opinion, we make one up.

When you’re reading reviews, try to find ones that are closer to the median, Ms. Dragan advised. She deliberately looks at three-star reviews first because they tend to be more moderate, detailed and honest. Unfortunately, research suggests that most of us instinctively do just the opposite: We prefer extreme reviews because they’re less ambivalent and therefore easier to process.

Second, ask yourself: “Is this person me? Are the problems mentioned ones I care about?”For example, Dr. Simester recently bought a pair of ski pants online. He read the reviews and most people d them, but one guy didn’t. “It turned out his body shape wasn’t the same as mine,” Dr. Simester said, so he disregarded the review.

Dissecting people’s preferences can be useful even if you don’t agree with them. Dr. Clemons, an I.P.A. fan who uses, said, “If a Scandinavian who really s lagers complains that a beer tastes way too hoppy, that may mean I should buy it.”

Finally, pay attention to contextual details and specific facts rather than reviewers’ general impressions and ratings. The number of stars someone selects often has “very little to do with” their review text, Dr. Gretzel said. People have different rating standards, and written explanations are inherently more nuanced.

Focusing on the most thorough reviews may also protect against getting duped by fake ones. In experiments where Dr. Gretzel and her collaborators presented both real and fake reviews, readers distinguished between the two better when reviews were longer.

And if you’re still not sure whether a review is fake, scan the reviewer’s profile. Dr. Clemons said that “someone who’s paid to write reviews probably isn’t doing a lot of writing under the same name.” His own research omitted reviews from profiles containing fewer than 10 reviews, “and that took care of a lot of paid nonsense,” he said.

All that said, real reviewers are usually genuinely trying to help: Research consistently shows that people are most motivated by helping others make decisions.

“They feel that they have benefited from other people’s reviews, so they want to give back,” Dr. Gretzel said. “They think it’s for the greater good.”

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The 40 Online Reviews Statistics You Need in 2020

Expert-Driven Reviews You Can Trust

As marketers, we understand how crucial a positive online reputation is, but, we know it can be a little more difficult to sell the need to your clients.

That’s why we’ve created this ultimate list of online reviews statistics to help you demonstrate to clients and prospects why they need to put their reputation first – complete with free-to-use images to add to your own sales collateral – updated for April 2020.

Stats are pulled from our own extensive research, as well as trusted external sources to provide all the facts you need to prove to clients:

  1. Why they need to invest in online reputation management
  2. How many reviews they need, and the star ratings they need
  3. The benefits to be gained from monitoring, growing, and responding to reviews

And, if you wanted a helping hand to build a 5-star reputation, our Reputation Manager can save you time and effort by managing all of your clients’ online reviews. Find out how it works.

Why Businesses Need Online Reviews

  • The most valuable local marketing services: 1) GMB optimization, 2) On-site optimization, 3) Reputation management, 4) Citation management, 5) Website design. [Source: BrightLocal, Local Search Industry Survey]

How Online Reviews Impact Trust

  • A positive reputation online helps customers trust businesses, converts searchers into leads, and boosts local search rankings. [Source: BrightLocal, Online Reputation Management Survey]

Why Businesses Need More Reviews

  • Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business. [Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey]
  • The purchase lihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than a product with 0 reviews. [Source: Spiegel Research Center, How Online Reviews Influence Sales]
  • 74% of local businesses have at least one review on Google. Hotels, restaurants, and bars have the most. [Source: BrightLocal, Google Reviews Study]
  • The average local business has 39 reviews on Google My Business. [Source: BrightLocal, Google Reviews Study]
  • Businesses ranking in Google’s local positions 1-3 have an average of 47 reviews, while businesses in positions 7-10 have 38 reviews. [Source: BrightLocal, Google Reviews Study]
  • The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision. [Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey]

What Star Rating Businesses Should Aim For

  • The average Google Reviews star rating is 4.42 stars. Senior living services, car dealerships, and hotels have the lowest ratings. [Source: BrightLocal, Google Reviews Study]
  • Only 5% of businesses have a Google average star rating below 3 stars, while 61% have 4-5 stars. [Source: BrightLocal, Google Reviews Study]

Why You Should Ask For Reviews

  • Consumers that write reviews for local businesses wrote an average of 9 in 2019. 18-34-year-olds write twice as many reviews as people aged 55+. [Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey]
  • The most common ways local businesses ask for reviews: 1) In person, 2) Via email, 3) Over the phone, 4) On receipts, 5) Via SMS. [Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey]

Why Businesses Must Respond to Reviews

  • 45% of consumers say they’re more ly to visit a business that responds to their negative reviews. [Source: ReviewTrackers, Online Reviews Survey]
  • 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. [Source: ReviewTrackers, Online Reviews Survey]

How Fake Reviews Are Threatening Local Businesses

We hope our list of online reviews statistics is useful in setting your online reputation management strategy. If you have any questions about managing your online reviews, or wanted to share any useful research, please let us know in the comments!

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Hijacked Reviews on Amazon Can Trick Shoppers

Expert-Driven Reviews You Can Trust

Review hijackers also exploit Amazon’s mechanism for letting companies list variations on their product. This system, when used for its intended purpose, allows sellers to list shoes or a sweater in different sizes or colors, with each size having its own page and with the reviews aggregated together.

The system makes sense when used by legitimate sellers. However, review hijackers can use the system to lump together reviews from entirely different products—often from other sellers.

Judah Bergman says review hijackers use a software tool to search for dormant listings that are stock, but still have positive reviews attached. “Those are usually the ones that are easiest to just take over without anybody noticing.”

From there, hijackers bundle together the product page listings and use a variety of tactics to get the listings uploaded into Amazon’s back-end system. “These [products] will be stock, but their reviews are all connected together,” says Bergman. The only item in stock will be the item that the review hijacker is hoping to sell, boosted with positive reviews from other items.

“What happens is now you've got products that definitely don't follow the variational rules, but if you've got an [Amazon] seller support rep who's not really paying attention, that may be a way you can hijack a listing,” says Thomson. McCabe and Thomson both say these problems have persisted for years.

In the case of the posture correction brace I found, the different reviews were labeled as size variations including “Size: later452” (a paper card printing service), “Size: S-5” (dish-washing wands), and “Size: SS-34” (the adult-oriented spanking paddle).

A few days after I forwarded the posture correction brace example to Amazon, the spokesperson emailed a statement that read, in part, “We have clear guidelines about when products should be grouped together and we have guardrails in place to prevent products from being incorrectly grouped, either due to human error or abuse. The detail pages in question have been fixed.”

While Amazon acknowledged removing the reviews and product listings I had sent, it declined to discuss in detail how these apparent abuses of the selling system had taken place.

I also wrote to 10 sellers whose products seemed to be benefiting from review hijacking; using Amazon’s internal messaging system, I identified myself as a reporter and asked for an explanation.

Most sellers did not respond, and I didn’t get much clarity from those who did. HaoXin Store, which had a listing for iPhone headphone dongles that included reviews for iPhone cases and watch-face screen protectors, responded, “Sorry, I don't know what about it! Thanks!” The seller didn’t respond to my follow-up inquiry.

Enjoyable Experience was listed as the seller for an Amazon’s Choice 5-pack of FEEL2NICE 3-foot iPhone charging cables, on a page overflowing with reviews for other products, including a gaming headset, zip ties, and shaving brushes.

This seller did respond, and seemed to indicate that his company had been a victim, not a perpetrator, of review hijacking.

“Dear reporter friend Hello, I am Adam Marks, the head of this FEEL2NICE brand, and I am very grateful for your comments on our products,” he wrote.

“Our products have been modified by other sellers and changed to sell other products, which led to other products in my product evaluation.”

The seller provided an address with QQ, a popular Chinese email service, for follow up questions, but failed to respond to further inquiries.

I found the “FEEL2NICE” brand trademarked by a company called Shenzhen Senmaite Technology Co. Ltd., which is based in China. The company has four additional brands trademarked in the United States selling products on Amazon.

If FEEL2NICE had been the victim of review hijacking, its four sister brands, which also sell iPhone cables, had suffered the same fate.

One brand’s cables had more than 200 reviews for a hands-free dog leash, while another brand’s listing included reviews for a reusable stainless steel straw.

After I emailed them to an Amazon representative, the products were either removed or had the majority of their reviews deleted. 


Tampa Landscape Lighting – Elegant Accents Lighting – 813-629-2228

Expert-Driven Reviews You Can Trust

Effectively designed and implemented landscape lighting can bring your Tampa home’s exterior to life, as well as provide a great level of safety around your home.

If you’ve been searching for the best Tampa landscape lighting company around, you’re in the right place—with over two decades of experience and a firm focus on quality products and services, Elegant Accents is the team you can trust for comprehensive outdoor lighting services.

Dial 813-629-2228, or schedule a consultation online for landscape lighting services from Elegant Accents!

Landscape Lighting Services

Our clients enjoy a broad range of quality products and superior, expert-driven services. Whether you’re looking to improve visual appeal, you want to add more functionality to your outdoor spaces, or you want to enhance your home’s security, our experienced outdoor lighting designers and skilled contractors can meet your needs with precision.

Our Tampa landscape lighting offerings include, but are not limited to, all of the following:

  • Uplighting – This landscape lighting uses simple, dynamically-placed fixtures that light up a specific item or section of your yard. Uplighting is excellent for highlighting favorite hardscape features, trees, or home visuals.
  • Path and drive lighting – Path lighting is great both for enhancing the beauty of your landscape and for outlining safe walkways for you and any guests you may have visited.
  • Floodlighting – Flood lighting is used to heavily illuminate sections of your landscape. Generally, floodlights are more functional, and not necessarily chosen for beauty. However, in the hands of a skilled contractor, there is no reason why you can’t have both!
  • Wash lighting – Wash lighting features evenly-spaced light fixtures to create uninformed lighting. Most often wash lighting is used along the home’s exterior walls.
  • Silhouette lighting – Very similar to uplighting, silhouette lighting is frequently used to highlight favored features. The major difference is that the light bulb and fixture are less visible, and the light provided is a bit less bright and more understated.
  • And more – Our experienced Tampa landscape lighting teams can offer so much more than what we have listed here. If you can dream it, visualize it, or if you just have an idea and need a professional’s guidance, we’re always happy to help you in designing the ideal outdoor lighting to suit your needs.

Why Choose Elegant Accents?

When you connect with an exterior lighting contractor, you want to be met with three things: experience, friendly guidance, and a team that is dedicated to superior workmanship and results.

Elegant Accents has offered professional Tampa landscape lighting services and Hillsborough County for twenty years! When you want dependable services and top-class results, our Tampa Bay service teams are always happy to assist.

Feel free to reach out to our team to ask about a free, no obligation Tampa landscape lighting demonstration! We’re happy to showcase what we can do for you, and we can offer you an estimate on what you’re looking for so that you can be certain that you’re making the right call. We offer consultations online, over the phone, or in person at your discretion!

Schedule Tampa Landscape Lighting Services with Elegant Accents

Regardless of the size or scope of your Tampa landscape lighting needs, Elegant Accents has the experience, training, and dedication needed to ensure you receive the quality that you deserve.

Connect with us online to schedule a consultation, or call 813-629-2228 to discuss architectural lighting, Tampa landscape lighting and outdoor lighting in Tampa.



Expert-Driven Reviews You Can Trust

Richmond, Va. — January 29, 2020 — CarMax, Inc. (NYSE:KMX), the nation's largest retailer of used cars, today announced it is partnering with, and investing in, Edmunds, one of the most influential and popular automotive research sites in the world. CarMax is investing $50 million to acquire a minority stake in the company.

Edmunds has been consistently recognized as one of the most trusted online resources for automotive information, and an industry leader in digital car shopping innovations.

This strategic relationship further strengthens CarMax's new omni-channel experience, which empowers customers to buy a car on their terms, whether completely from home, in-store, or a seamlessly integrated combination of both.

“Edmunds' proprietary content, comprehensive automotive market insights and streamlined user experience across the car buying and selling journey will allow us to deepen our engagement with customers shopping online,” said Bill Nash, CarMax president and CEO.

“Consumers trust Edmunds for its in-depth, expert-driven automotive editorial content and unbiased reviews.

Edmunds has also made significant investments in digital innovations over the last several years that align with our continued focus on enhancing the customer experience online.”

“We're excited for this opportunity to collaborate with another well-respected industry leader that is dedicated toward making car shopping easier for consumers,” said Avi Steinlauf, Edmunds' chief executive officer. “With our expanded resources and capabilities, we're confident this will be a mutually beneficial partnership for many years to come.”

About CarMax
CarMax, the nation's largest retailer of used cars, revolutionized the automotive retail industry by driving integrity, honesty and transparency in every interaction.

CarMax continues to innovate and is currently rolling out an omni-channel experience, providing customers the option to complete transactions entirely from home, in store, or in a seamless combination of both. CarMax has more than 200 stores nationwide, and during the latest fiscal year sold nearly 750,000 used cars and 450,000 wholesale vehicles at its in-store auctions.

With more than 25,000 associates, CarMax is proud to have been recognized for 15 consecutive years as one of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®. For more information, visit

About Edmunds
Edmunds guides car shoppers online from research to purchase.

With in-depth reviews of every new vehicle, shopping tips from an in-house team of experts, plus a wealth of consumer and automotive market insights, Edmunds helps millions of shoppers each month select, price and buy a car with confidence.

Regarded as one of America's best workplaces by Fortune and Great Place to Work, Edmunds is based in Santa Monica, California, and has a satellite office in Detroit, Michigan. Follow us on , and Instagram.

Forward-Looking Statements
We caution readers that the statements contained in this release about our future business plans, operations, opportunities or prospects, including without limitation any statements or factors regarding expected benefits of the transaction with Edmunds, are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. You can identify these forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “outlook,” “plan,” “predict,” “should,” “will” and other similar expressions, whether in the negative or affirmative. Such forward-looking statements are based upon management's current knowledge and assumptions about future events and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from anticipated results. Among the factors that could cause actual results and outcomes to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements are the following:

  • Edmunds' financial performance.
  • Our ability to develop, maintain, and realize the benefit of commercial arrangements with Edmunds.
  • Changes in the competitive landscape and/or our failure to successfully adjust to such changes.
  • Events that damage our reputation or harm the perception of the quality of our brand.
  • Changes in general or regional U.S. economic conditions.
  • Our inability to realize the benefits associated with our omni-channel initiatives.
  • Changes in the availability or cost of capital and working capital financing, including changes related to the asset-backed securitization market.
  • Our inability to recruit, develop and retain associates and maintain positive associate relations.
  • The loss of key associates from our store, regional or corporate management teams or a significant increase in labor costs.
  • Security breaches or other events that result in the misappropriation, loss or other unauthorized disclosure of confidential customer, associate or corporate information.
  • Significant changes in prices of new and used vehicles.
  • Changes in economic conditions or other factors that result in greater credit losses for CAF's portfolio of auto loan receivables than anticipated.
  • A reduction in the availability of or access to sources of inventory or a failure to expeditiously liquidate inventory.
  • Changes in consumer credit availability provided by our third-party finance providers.
  • Changes in the availability of extended protection plan products from third-party providers.
  • Factors related to the regulatory and legislative environment in which we operate.
  • Factors related to geographic and sales growth, including the inability to effectively manage our growth.
  • The failure of or inability to sufficiently enhance key information systems.
  • The effect of various litigation matters.
  • Adverse conditions affecting one or more automotive manufacturers, and manufacturer recalls.
  • The inaccuracy of estimates and assumptions used in the preparation of our financial statements, or the effect of new accounting requirements or changes to U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.
  • The volatility in the market price for our common stock.
  • The performance of the third-party vendors we rely on for key components of our business.
  • Factors related to seasonal fluctuations in our business.
  • The occurrence of severe weather events.
  • Factors related to the geographic concentration of our stores.

For more details on factors that could affect expectations, see our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2019, and our quarterly or current reports as filed with or furnished to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Our filings are publicly available on our investor information home page at investors. Requests for information may also be made to the Investor Relations Department by email to or by calling (804) 747-0422 x7865. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements after the date they are made, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Investors: Media:

  •, (855) 887-2915


Social Proof Statistics: Powerful Facts That Will Help You Boost Your Brand

Expert-Driven Reviews You Can Trust

In this article, we’ll go over some social proof statistics to show how powerful using social proof can be for your business.

What is social proof? Here’s a quick example:

Imagine you are walking down the street and you have to choose between three different ice cream shops. One of them is empty, and the other two have a few people in them. Which one are you going to choose?

If you’re most people, you’ll ly choose one of the two with people in them.

That is the basic concept of social proof, and most smart marketers know to use this in their marketing tactics in order to improve brand presence, drive more traffic, and increase sales.

The Psychology Behind Social Proof

Whether we realize it or not, humans are pack animals. We need one another, we need to feel a sense of belonging, and we need socialization. And because of this, our decisions are consciously or subconsciously influenced by the choices, opinions, and actions of the people around us.

When making a purchase decision, our brain looks for a mental shortcut that will allow us to make a decision, pass judgment, or solve a problem quickly and with the least amount of mental effort.

In other words, to learn what is correct, we look at what others are doing or have done in the past.

Not only do we look to others for buying decisions, but we also depend on it for almost everything else we do.

Psychologist Robert Cialdini writes in his bestselling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, “Whether the question is what to do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theater, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important in defining the answer.”

In short, social proof is a shortcut to decide how to act.

What Social Proof Can Do For Your Business

Incorporating social proof into marketing efforts has allowed many startups and small companies to grow in popularity and see a spike in sales.

Implementing social proof such as recent customer activity takes less than five minutes to set up and deploy on your site with a great social proof tool TrustPulse. And, it can boost conversions by up to 15%.

An example of social proof would be displaying something : “Laura from Vancouver, Canada recently purchased the Turbo Traffic tool”, or including customer reviews on your product pages.

In particular, social proof has helped companies:

  • Build customer trust.
  • Validate and simplify customer’s buying decisions.
  • Add credibility for your business, and improve brand presence.

Let’s take a closer look at these three factors in the form of statistics.

Related Content: How to Use Social Proof & FOMO Marketing for Monster Growth

Use Social Proof to Build Customer Trust

Savvy consumers are often unwilling to trust marketers over honest real experiences from actual customers who have used the product.

Marketers have a reputation of often coming off as spammy, making people question whether the marketer’s product is actually any good, or if they’re just boasting about it to convert you into a customer and make a quick sale.

That’s why it’s so important to make your company reviews available for everyone to see.

After searching “plumber” in Google, this company’s reviews page popped up first. This is a great example of social proof as it helps put potential customers at ease.

Social Proof Statistics: Building Trust

Customer reviews and testimonials can be so crucial for sales that Casper went as far as suing a blogger for not recommending them as the best. They later ended up just purchasing the blog outright and putting themselves at the top of the list.

Use Social Proof to Validate and Simplify Customers’ Buying Decisions

It’s hard to make buying decisions when the market is saturated with so many options. The number of options often put buyers into decision paralysis.

Often times, reading reviews and testimonials are what push people towards the final buying decision.

Social Proof Statistics: Buying Decisions

  • Testimonials can increase conversions on sales pages by 34%.
  • For 50% of all consumers, their very next step after reading a positive review about a company is to visit their website, which is one step closer to the checkout, or even getting them on your email list.
  • 57% of consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating.
  • 97% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions.
  • 93% of people who use mobile to research complete the purchase of a product or service.
  • Consumers will engage only with a minimum business star rating of 3.3.
  • Customers are willing to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews.
  • one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
  • Between similar products online, 35% of consumers said better reviews have driven them to spring for the higher priced option.
  • Positive reviews make 68% of buyers more ly to use local businesses.

Influencer marketing: A Near-Instant Way to Build Credibility and Grow Brand Awareness

People follow their idols.

If someone you trust and respect uses a product, you automatically assume that it’s high quality and “worth using.” And in a sense, if someone the influencer Pewdiepie is using it, it makes the product seem cooler.

Social Proof Statistics: Influencer Marketing

Related content: Want more stats? Here’s a giant list of blogging stats and facts.

How OptinMonster Uses Social Proof

There are so many ways to use social proof and OptinMonster uses a few tactics.

First of all, we have an entire page of customer testimonials from real people.

Research says that people are more ly to believe claims if there are images. Plus, we know that people enjoy seeing other human faces on the internet, so including photos of the people who are giving the testimonials works well.

Here is an example of our testimonials page.

Second, we sometimes use social proof with urgency.

Using a countdown timer can make people think they’re going to miss out on a great opportunity, triggering fomo (fear of missing out), which has worked for us to increase conversions.

We showcase our popular posts and products in the sidebar. This shows that other people are interested in them, making it more appealing for new visitors to visit what is shown.

Lastly, we include real-time stats. This is not only a great way to show what other people are doing, but it adds to the fear of missing out.

Those are just a few examples of what OptinMonster does for social proof. You can include these tactics on your website as well. But you don’t have to stop there.

There’s a ton of other ways to include social proof in your marketing strategies. The ones you choose will all come down to who your audience is, your goals, and what looks appropriate for your website.


The inversion of trust

Expert-Driven Reviews You Can Trust

This is the first of our three-part investigation into the state of consumer trust in 2016, driven by the release of Edelman’s trust barometer.

The entire series:

Part one: Meet socially driven media
Part two: The new CEOs?
Part three: The good kind of peer pressure

The power returns to the crowd

What kind of media do you think people trust most? Expert reviews? Newspapers? Industry rags? According to new research, people consider socially driven media the most trustworthy.

It’s something we’ve been preaching for a while (it began to occur around 2005, as you’ll see below) but it’s now undeniable; the ownership and wielding of influence has shifted. Informed, ‘expert’ opinions are no longer valued as highly or as exclusively as before. Now, it’s peer reviews and opinions driving behaviour and consumption.

The Trust Index

In the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, a report published by the leading global communications marketing firm, a number of international trends are emerging concerning the phenomenon – and the commodity – of trust.

According to the Edelman report (and contrary to what you might imagine if you watch the evening news), public trust is actually increasing once again.

Trust took a significant downturn over the previous decade, aided by the perceived shadiness of governments and other large institutions that led in part to the global recession.

Now, however, trust is picking up again, driven by a better-informed population.

Edelman trust barometer

Edelman highlights what it calls “an accelerating disparity” in its Trust Index – a calculus of the total trust placed in a certain institution by a certain demographic. As Edelman points out, a gap is developing and growing between the Trust Index scores of what they identify as the “Informed Public” and the “Mass Population”.

These demographics, representing the top 15% (the “Informed Public”) and bottom 85% of the population (the “Mass Population”) – as determined by education level, income, consumption of news and information, and other indexes – are reinvesting their trust at different rates.

Edelman trust barometer

The Informed Public, privy to greater volume of more accurate information, now trusts institutions at a significantly higher rate than the Mass Population.

Specifically, compared to the Mass Population, the Informed Public trusts media at a rate of +7%, government at a rate of +8%, businesses at a rate of +9%, and NGOs at a rate of +11%.

Edelman trust barometer

The less-informed but far larger portion of the population, the Mass Population, still makes up a full 85% of potential customers, and an interesting phenomenon has begun to occur.

The Edelman report calls this larger trend “the Inversion of Influence.

” It used to be that a select, relatively small group of “experts” influenced decision making, and the rest of the laymen audience was expected to trust the judgement of this oligarchy of influence.

But with the global recession, banking scandals and the occurring over the past several years, the population has lost a significant amount of faith in these so-called “experts,” and are – once more – learning to trust themselves.

Edelman trust barometer

According to the data below, a full 59% of respondents reported having recommended a company or companies to their friends over the last twelve months. A walloping 75% reported that conversations with friends helped them make decisions about purchasing. Peer-to-peer trust is the new expert opinion.

Our research confirms this as well. In a survey we conducted earlier this year, 69% of millennials stated that they are very ly to read customer product reviews to help inform their purchase decision about a luxury product or service. Only 49% say they are very ly to read an expert product review.

Trust is the only currency with buying power when it comes to marketing; these new influencers are wielding it. So as the dynamics of trust change, are these the new influencers your brand should be courting?

Edelman trust barometer

Peer-to-peer trust is the driving trend of today and the future, and companies that wisely leverage this fact stand poised to win.

Transparent reviewing processes (sometimes bilateral) and user-generated content (UGC) hubs are ways that customers can communicate with one another in a controlled manner, all while allowing your company to publicly embrace this type of peer-to-peer exchange of information.

This applies to luxury brands, manufacturers, tech companies and nearly every industry under the sun. Good companies promote trust by facilitating discussion themselves, and inviting transparent feedback. The smartest brands know this.

The inversion of trust witnessed in recent years is just as critical and potentially fruitful a business trend as any in the market, and companies who can capitalise on it are positioned to succeed in a changing world market.

Trust us on it.

This is the first of our three-part investigation into the state of consumer trust in 2016, driven by the release of Edelman’s trust barometer.

The entire series:

Part one: Meet socially driven media
Part two: The new CEOs?
Part three: The good kind of peer pressure

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