Reviews – how useful are they?

Review picture 

There has been a lot of talk about reviews recently.  I’m a big fan, the web is a great efficiency tool, but it lacks the personal touch of a (decent) shop keeper and reviews go some way to solving that problem.  That much is clear from the way they increase conversion rates.

There are still some issues that need to be worked through though.

  1. Guy Kawasaki reported that the average score on a review is 4.2.  By and large people only bother to rate and review products they like.  In fact on a five point scale the result is a j-curve.  A few people are pissed off enough to rate a product one.  The twos and threes simply don’t bother, and then the evangelists rate 4s and 5s.  So the numbers don’t tell you much.  Finding ways to get a more even distribution would make the numbers more useful.  Using words instead of numbers could help – e.g. at U-Lik for content rating they use “Hall of shame”, “Dislike”, “Interest”, “Like”, and “Hall of fame”.  The site is French and the translation could improve a little, but you get the idea.
  2. Looking beyond the numbers to the text is fine, but simply seeing millions of reviews listed isn’t very helpful.  It is pretty inefficient trawling through them all.  Finding a way to draw out the intelligence in text reviews would be great – the way Amazon pushes the reviews that people found useful to the top goes some way towards this.
  3. Revenue is not always following value – people research on review sites and then buy where it is cheapest.  This is probably the most important point for start-ups seeking to monetise a review base.
  4. Combining editorial content from experts with user generated reviews would be interesting.  Too many sites seem to be either one thing or the other, but not both.

There are some great companies out there working in this area – and there should be rich pickings for the winners.  Getting the answers right will help us take e-commerce to the next level.  Companies I like that have reviews as an important part of their strategy include Crowdstorm, Trusted Places, Revoo, and TouchLocal.

  • If I may… two comments.
    First, review come on top of price (crowdstorm is a good example also using kelkoo)
    Second, ranking review is also part of the personnalization. We use affinity because we think that common background is needed when reading a review(especially for content) again popularity is just the first step.

    Other quick notes:
    4 is a very good point.
    What do you get for reviewing ?
    I need my 100k quick !
    TouchLocal seems great ….

  • If I may… two comments.
    First, review come on top of price (crowdstorm is a good example also using kelkoo)
    Second, ranking review is also part of the personnalization. We use affinity because we think that common background is needed when reading a review(especially for content) again popularity is just the first step.

    Other quick notes:
    4 is a very good point.
    What do you get for reviewing ?
    I need my 100k quick !
    TouchLocal seems great ….

  • Metacritic and Wize combine “expert” and “user” reviews. Of course, many are questioning the vaildity of hard-separating these categories nowadays… ; )

  • Metacritic and Wize combine “expert” and “user” reviews. Of course, many are questioning the vaildity of hard-separating these categories nowadays… ; )

  • I agree with weaverluke in that these days the internet has opened up much more opportunity for “experts” to emerge who aren’t journalists or bloggers. My mate next door knows loads about Hi-Fi equipment (and I mean tons!) yet he doesn’t blog or work for a magazine (far from it). Tapping into his knowledge is really beneficial and there are thousands like him who should then be classed as an “expert” and a “user.

  • I agree with weaverluke in that these days the internet has opened up much more opportunity for “experts” to emerge who aren’t journalists or bloggers. My mate next door knows loads about Hi-Fi equipment (and I mean tons!) yet he doesn’t blog or work for a magazine (far from it). Tapping into his knowledge is really beneficial and there are thousands like him who should then be classed as an “expert” and a “user.

  • Mark Hindmarsh

    In a similar vain ‘people power’ and valued opinions could become a contributing factor in the review process. A new site recently launched in this area and positioned to grow is http://humanopinion.org/

  • Mark Hindmarsh

    In a similar vain ‘people power’ and valued opinions could become a contributing factor in the review process. A new site recently launched in this area and positioned to grow is http://humanopinion.org/

  • From a buyer pov I find the best reviews are the ones where some attempt at analysis / comparison has been made. Like Nic I discount star ratings as only the fans and the few truly pissed off tend to rate.

    As Nic also points out, the review is step one – step 2 is finding a good price.

  • From a buyer pov I find the best reviews are the ones where some attempt at analysis / comparison has been made. Like Nic I discount star ratings as only the fans and the few truly pissed off tend to rate.

    As Nic also points out, the review is step one – step 2 is finding a good price.

  • nic

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    Consumers becoming experts (and even defining who the experts are) is a great point.

  • nic

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    Consumers becoming experts (and even defining who the experts are) is a great point.

  • Big problem with reviews in Europe: no one contributes (really). Maybe not a big deal for Crowdstorm (there are not that many products, comparatively) but a major deal for say touchlocal who need tons of reviews. Good reviewers write 30 reviews a year, need 5 reviews per shop or restaurant, that means you need a lot of users before you can go against the yellow pages of this world.

  • Big problem with reviews in Europe: no one contributes (really). Maybe not a big deal for Crowdstorm (there are not that many products, comparatively) but a major deal for say touchlocal who need tons of reviews. Good reviewers write 30 reviews a year, need 5 reviews per shop or restaurant, that means you need a lot of users before you can go against the yellow pages of this world.