We’re generally quite critical of companies that try to squelch negative online reviews, astroturf them, or just bribe customers for positive ones. Not only is this behavior bad for consumers, but the experience of one company shows that it’s bad for businesses, too.
When the niche site AlpacaDirect.com (no, it doesn’t sell live alpacas) began posting customer reviews, good and bad, for selected items on their site, they noticed something interesting starting to happen.
It was a risky move for the four-year-old company, based in Brentwood, Calif. Hobart was effectively paying to host bad press — such as posts by customers who described AlpacaDirect’s golf cardigan as “kinda sweaty” and a “poor fit.” Both awarded the cardigan three out of a possible five stars.
But a month after installing the PowerReviews service, Hobart saw sales climb 23% on items that had customer reviews (even that cardigan, which garnered an average of four stars).
“People are really researching their purchases,” he says. “We knew our customers liked our products, and we wanted them to tell one another.”
The company found that not only were customer reviews a valuable way for customers to interact with each other and discuss the products, but were also a venue for honest feedback that helped the company improve their products and the site.
And what, astroturfers, is wrong with that?
Even bad reviews boost sales [CNN Money]