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Monday, Sep. 10, 2007 at 7:12 am

Webinar: 5 Star Reviews: Optimizing Reviews to Maximize Conversion

By Bryan Eisenberg
September 10th, 2007

Update: This video is no longer available.

In just 15 minutes, I’ll guide you through more than a dozen websites to show you the best ways to capitalize on featuring reviews on your website in order to maximize your conversion rate. Watch it now! (See the video player below to view.)

Featured sites include: Amazon, Best Buy, CircuitCity, Trip Advisor, eBags, Burpee, BackCountry, Dell, Wal-Mart, Petco, Radio Shack, SupermediaStore, emitations, GolfSmith, OverStock, and CoffeeForLess.

If you recently purchased something online, has a review influenced your purchase decision?

Reviews on e-commerce sites are becoming a critical feature over the past couple of years. Roy Williams wrote about why this word-of-mouth feature has become so influential (PDF) when it wasn’t as critical 3 or 4 years ago. New research further illustrates its value:

  • 77% of online shoppers use reviews and ratings when purchasing (Jupiter Research, August 2006)
  • Reviews drive 21% higher purchase satisfaction and 18% higher loyalty (Foresee Results Study, January 2007)
  • In a study of 2,000 shoppers – 92% deemed customer reviews as “extremely” or “very” helpful. (eTailing Group)
  • 59% of their users considered customer reviews to be more valuable than expert reviews. (Bizrate)
  • 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. (CompUSA & iPerceptions study)
  • 86.9% of respondents said they would trust a friend’s recommendation over a review by a critic, while 83.8% said they would trust user reviews over a critic. (MarketSherpa)
  • According to the survey, 92.5% of adults said they regularly or occasionally research products online before buying them in a store. (BIGresearch)
  • 63% of all word of mouth is positive. Across all of Bazaarvoice clients, 80% of product ratings are 4 or 5 stars out of 5. (Keller Fay)

Whether you enable review functionality from your ecommerce platform, or from a 3rd party hosted solution like Power Reviews and Bazaarvoice, it’s important that you test and optimize for conversion and persuasion by focusing on the following areas:

  • Placement for Visibility
    • Above the fold
    • Size
    • Stars or other graphic
    • Near point of attention or action
  • Review Interaction
    • Ease of reading
    • Sorting
    • Rating Distribution
    • Use across the site
  • Single Dimension versus Multi Dimension Reviews
    • What are the key attributes across different categories
    • Can review content influence purchase decision
  • Credibility Factors
    • Negative and Positive reviews
    • Review Approval policy
    • Reviewer Characteristics
  • What does a review mean
    • Number of Reviews
    • What questions are you asking
    • Qualitative versus quantitative

(If video doesn’t load, click here.)

P.S. Congratulations to Bazaarvoice on closing $8.8 Million in their Series B. Brett Hurt and his team continue to deliver wonderful results and service, and deserve the continued success. (Disclosure: I’m on Bazaarvoice’s advisory board.)

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Comments (21)

  1. Great post and thanks for the details! I wished I would have listened to the video a few months ago, when I ran into this “star rater” problem. Well done!

  2. Very thorough look at how to get the most from product reviews. This is a great resource for any merchant looking to add reviews to their site.


  3. Product reviews are the best invention ever made regarding online marketing. It helps the costumer take the right decision (making ecommerce a less frustrating experience and diminishing product returning rates). And it helps the website owner understand the preferences of the customer. All this with the great benefit of giving search engines exactly what they are looking for (making the website more findable)!

    That was an excellent webinar Bryan.

  4. Great job, as always, Bryan. From a marekting point of view, it is complete yet concise with concrete examples. I give you 5 stars.

    Questions from an IT point of view: How much coding/programming is involved in setting up rating systems? What is an expected level of effort to implement such a system?

  5. Thank you all for the kind words. David, it should take well under a business week of IT time with any of the outsourced solutions and usually more if you try and do it yourself. I’ve typically seen from start to launch 3 or 4 weeks of back and forth.

    You can ask the vendors directly those questions and I invite them to respond here for everyone.

  6. David, I’m the Technical Services Manager at Bazaarvoice, which includes the Implementation and Support teams.

    We’ve designed our solution to be as turn-key as possible from our clients’ perspective. We own all of the heavy-lifting which includes the engine that generates the content as well as the look and feel customizations to match your site’s styles. The content is injected into our customer’s pages via a small amount of HTML/JavaScript integration code. This integration approach is pretty standard and it offers the flexibility of new features and product updates that can be distributed to our customers with no further IT involvement on their part.

    We’ve had two customers launch our solution 8 days after kickoff, and a handful of customers go live in less than 15 days. I will echo Bryan’s statement we typically launch within 3 or 4 weeks on average, including a full week for QA. From a code perspective, there is very little actual programming work to be done by our customers – only modifying a very small amount of HTML code provided by us.

  7. David…PETCO would tell you it took them 4 hours of IT time to get Bazaarvoice live, but we can’t assert that all IT teams are that efficient :-) . We’ve built our solution to be easy to get live with minimal IT involvement. It typically takes about 20 hours of IT time to get live, and in our experience Bryan is right…about 3-4 weeks total time. It involves giving a product feed, creating a shell page, and putting javascript on your product page template. Let me know if you have any other questions or email

  8. Excellent screencast, I am fixing to add customer reviews to my site and will use some of the knowledge shared here.

    I have 2 questions:

    1. I was thinking of asking for product reviews, by sending out an email request. I was thinking about 2 weeks after the sell was a general good time to do so. Any feedback on best time after the sell to ask for the review?

    2. What are the best 3 or 4 questions to ask a customer about the product to get the best review to help convert the next customer? “Would you recommend this product to a friend” is a good one. Any other you could recommend?


  9. Hey David –
    The implementation process at PowerReviews involves more than just the IT department as our primary goal is to provide relevant, highly effective reviews on our clients site that drive conversion! For instance, we work closely with marketing/merchandising departments to make sure that within each product category, we identify the right review form that best matches the nature of the product. We don’t just believe it, but our shoppers have confirmed it, that different items warrant different review forms so we do not apply just one form to entire websites offerings. Simply put, dishwashers and microwaves have very different features with unique functionalities and should be treated thusly.

    As others in this space have already stated, it takes on average about 20 hours of IT time. From start to finish, including working with mark/merch teams, admin. training, establishing moderation thresholds, testing, etc..the average implementation among our 100+ clients is approx. 3-4 weeks total time. If you have any questions or need additional information please contact us at

  10. Thanks, guys, for your feedback. Sounds like a consensus on the level of effort, which enables good budgeting and planning.

  11. links for 2007-09-11…

    Optimize Product Reviews for Conversion Free Webinar “In just 15 minutes, I’ll guide you through more than a dozen websites to show you the best ways to capitalize on featuring reviews on your website in order to maximize your……

  12. [...] — and Author of Call to Action and Waiting for Your Cat to Bark — recently created a 15 minute webcast showing best- and worst-practice examples of ratings and reviews implementation. He highlights several points and considerations for an optimal conversion and [...]

  13. [...] influence shoppers…. 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and [...]

  14. Hi,

    I just tried to watch the video on brightcove and it only plays upto 1min 10 seconds then it stops.


  15. Julian,

    I re-embedded the video here, in case that helps.

    It does seem to be intact, though. I suspect it’s your internet connection. Since it’s a 15 min video, it takes awhile to load, so — if you’re on a slower connection — you may need to pause it and let the video load a bit more before watching it straight through. My connection could be faster, but it seems the video is loading just fast enough to watch without interruption.

    Sorry for the inconvenience!

  16. [...] are some tips and a screencast from Bryan to help plan and optimize your review system. Technorati Tags: Consumer Generated Content, customer [...]

  17. First time came across such a concise and still good post on reviews. i have bookmarked it and will be using it soon.

  18. I too tried to watch the video, but it did not load, but I will keep trying, thats for all the great information

  19. why i can’t see or open the video?

  20. As always great advice. I have been following the rules like product above the fold for years. But its the reviews that I have been looking into I mean me myself use reviews to buy most items it can make or break a product for me. I believe that having customer and professional reviews add content and aid the buyer in making their final choice.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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