8 Elements to Test in User Reviews

Reviews are an incredibly powerful tool to use to your advantage, but collecting them simply isn’t enough. User reviews are the most under-tested element on product pages – and can have significantly positive effects on conversion rates.

It’s challenging to think of ways to test reviews because you haven’t created the content yourself. You can’t tell people what to write, but you certainly have control over the tools you give them and the way you choose to present the content they provide you with.

Here are eight elements you can test in your user reviews:

1. Icons

Stars are typically the most common rating icons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t personalize them to fit your brand. Here’s an example from Bloomingdale's who use purple hearts instead of yellow stars for product ratings:

bloomingdale-review-hearts

2. Dimensions

Your customers aren’t copywriters and not all shoppers will take the time to read lengthy reviews. Create different rating dimensions for your products and this way you can ensure that:

  1. Reviews are tackling the most important aspects of your product.
  2. Reviewers have the option to click, write, or do both.
  3. Readers can get a visual “at-a-glance” snapshot of the review.

Here’s an example:

review-dimensions

3. Experts

Getting a review from an expert or celebrity is great but, believe it or not, it’s still something you need to test. According to a study by Bizrate.com, 59 percent of users considered customer reviews to be more valuable than expert reviews. Based on that, you should either test having an expert review, or show that you have a mix of regular and expert ones.

youre-in-good-company

4. Formats

Check if your review platform allows for formats other than text and encourage buyers to upload pictures and images of themselves.

Here’s a video review of Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Note that you’ll need some sort of filtering or moderating mechanism in place so you don’t end up with ChatRoulette type of content.

user-video-review

5. Location

Above or below the fold? On the product page, or on a separate one? Where you place your reviews matters and the best way to find out is by testing which location contributes the most positively to your success metrics.

Here’s an example of P90X where on a small snapshot of the reviews is visible on the product page and the rest on a separate one.

reviews-on-product-page

6. Summary

Review summaries are great for shoppers who don’t necessarily want to take the time to read multiple reviews. Going beyond average stars and ratings, the following website does a great job of summarizing reviews against the most important product dimensions and splits them up by pros and cons:

summary-of-customer-ratings-reviews

7. Identification

Some reviewers prefer to be anonymous, and every site should offer them that option. The downside, however, is that some (if not most) anonymous reviews can be perceived as fake, insincere, or robotic.

Here’s a great example of how you can add more personality (and less identity) to a review. Ask for things like location, age bracket, gender, and shopping frequency:

anonymous-review-add-personality

As for non-anonymous users, offer them recognition, status, or badges to reward them for their contributions and create elements of trust around their content.

top-10-contributor-review

top-rated-seller-badge

8. Zero Reviews

Realistically, it’s challenging to get reviews for every single one of your product. But you also don’t want to end up with something that looks like this:

zero-reviews

In this case, consider other forms of interaction like the bar below:

like-want-own

Some interaction is better than none, even if all you end up showing is a number of people who “own” the product but don’t necessarily have something to say about it. Think of the effect of something like “over 3 Million copies sold” without actually needing to see the feedback of some of those buyers. That’s the same concept you’re trying to achieve here.

Which of these test elements do you think would be the most effective for your site? Have you tested any of them before? If so, what kind of results did you see? Share your thoughts and comments below.

About the author

Named one of the top 20 most influential PPC experts by PPC Hero, Noran is a digital marketing consultant, columnist, speaker and instructor. She is a board member of the local Los Angeles chapter of SEMPO, as well as an Associate Instructor of the Master Certification in Conversion Optimization Course at Market Motive.

She specializes in analyzing the PPC customer journey, creating buyer momentum and optimizing their experience from click to conversion. Her passion for understanding today's customer is a key driver to her analysis of industry trends and keeping up with the latest in PPC, voice of customer, analytics, and conversion optimization.

In addition to writing for publications such as SES Magazine and ClickZ, Noran is also a frequent speaker at the SES conferences, the Internet Marketing Conference and the Online Marketing Summit.

When Noran is not online, she is either traveling or diving with sharks in the Red Sea.