Consumers today struggle to know where to place their trust. They wonder, “Is this brand advertisement true?” They often distrust marketing, because companies have a strong financial incentive to bend the truth.
Shoppers look to their peers for true stories that help them form expectations of what they might experience with a brand. Word-of-mouth and other forms of social proof have always been important but are even more so in 2020.
But not all customer reviews are equal. Some customers distrust reviews on certain types of websites.
To help you understand the current landscape of reviews, Trustpilot created a detailed report in partnership with the agency Canvas8. We gathered data from 6,000+ consumers in the UK, US, and France, along with interviews with experts.
The following insights will help you understand how to use social proof on the Internet to gain the trust of your prospects and customers.
1. Consumers Increasingly Trust Online Customer Reviews
Our research found these behavioral patterns around reviews:
- 89% of respondents read reviews to help them decide on purchases.
- 49% rated positive reviews among the top three reasons to buy.
- UK respondents rated review websites as a top source of trustworthy opinions.
- Nearly 50% of UK respondents used online reviews more today than they did two years ago.
Consumers trust online review sites to gather the wisdom and experience of the masses. They believe reviews will help them sift through the vast number of offers out there.
2. Shoppers Demand Open and Transparent Review Sites
Consumers only want to read and write reviews on platforms that are open and transparent, meaning:
- Absolutely anyone has access to write reviews within the site’s guidelines.
- Brands are not allowed to delete negative reviews.
Fifty-six percent of UK respondents stated that it’s very important that review sites disclose how they decide which reviews to publish — and whether or not some reviews get preferential treatment.
It can be beneficial to get more customer reviews for your brand on third-party platforms that are considered trustworthy and customer-centered. This trustworthiness can reflect well on your own integrity.
3. Prospects Readily Forgive Brands’ Imperfections
Trustpilot’s research results found that prospects are looking for a sense of authenticity in customer reviews. They’re suspicious of a review record that seems too perfect. We found that:
- 49% of respondents believed some brands manipulate customer reviews.
- 50+% trusted the authenticity of a brand with a lower-than-perfect rating.
- 45% would rather buy from a brand with a lower average rating but a higher number of reviews than a higher average but fewer reviews.
- 64% would rather see a brand’s thoughtful responses to reviews than a perfect rating.
- 53% look for an authentic mix of good and bad reviews.
It smacks of manipulation if you have only positive reviews. It’s smart to leave any negative customer reviews online but respond to each one by trying to solve the customer’s problem.
4. Customers Hate Review Censorship
Our research revealed that customers strongly distrust brands and platforms that censor or change customer reviews:
- 42% agreed that this practice violates freedom of speech.
- 45% stated it makes consumers waste money.
- 62% would not use a platform that censors reviews.
- 70% thought it was a major problem.
Since consumers are unsure who to trust, you shouldn’t give them any reason to suspect that your brand is not completely open and transparent.
Never alter or delete a customer’s review or public feedback. Respect customers’ rights to express their opinions and prospects’ rights to hear from them and get the guidance they need. That’s what the Trustpilot review platform is for — to help you build long-lasting, trust-based relationships with your ideal customers.