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When out in the infinite space of the Internet, how does a consumer know which content and contributors are trustworthy? This is a concern that is becoming more and more prevalent as fake reviews are in the news, and 83 million Facebook accounts are reported to be either fakes or duplicates.
You no doubt want shoppers who come to your site to feel as though they can trust the content being published, both from your company, and from contributing consumers. There are a variety of steps you can take to boost consumer confidence in your site content. One of these is actually a simple and easy feature you can add to your product reviews: Review Characteristics.
Review Characteristics are attributes, usually demographic, furnished by reviewers. They give consumers a broader picture of who the reviewers are, beyond their name. When this information is filled out, the reviews become more meaningful to both the consumers and the business customers. This information helps potential buyers find other users with similar demographic characteristics or with similar needs for a particular product, which increases the value of the information provided. Additionally, business customers can mine this data for potential demographic trends on products. I know that, as a former ballet dancer, I am much more likely to trust and relate to reviews on a dance class from a former/current professional dancer over someone in walking in for their first class.
So then why do these characteristics continue to be so underutilized? A quick, unscientific look at 100 reviews from major retailers on the web shows that review user characteristics average a 69% completion rate per review; only 47% of the reviews sampled had all of the characteristics completed, and 20% had no characteristics completed.
Given the importance of Review Characteristics, and with so much room for improvement in completion rates, why aren’t websites making these required fields? Would it scare potential reviewers away to have so many fields to fill out when all they wanted to do was tell the world how much they love their new pair of pumps? There are a few options to ensure you are getting this information completed, at low cost to your review volume.
First, you could make the demographic user characteristics part of your site profile registration. In this way, the information is captured and stored only once, and then displayed every time a user writes a review or completes a social action on your site. This cuts down on the number of fields a user is challenged with completing on a given form.
Second, you could make the user characteristics required fields, but design the review form in such a way - by splitting the questions up over two pages, for example - that it does not feel daunting and your users are more likely to fill it out.
Lastly, you could try using gamification within the review. For example, instead of making the fields required, you could reward not just writing a review, but completing all of the fields within the review form in order to capture all of this important information.
Review characteristics are just one of the many underutilized tools available to increase your users’ feelings of trust on your site, and to provide you with invaluable information. I would love to hear your thoughts on why, or why you don’t, agree.
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