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The Reviewer Exposed: What you need to know!

Online reviews have a major impact on your business, but who are the reviewers and how can you motivate them?

What do personality types have to do with writing product reviews? Everything!

On June 26th, 2018, we conducted a webinar based on proprietary research that focused on what motivates a consumer to write (or not write) a review, personality characteristics of a great reviewer, how to get more people to write reviews, and how to target the right reviewers. If you missed the session, no worries! Here is a link to the recorded session:


Here are some of the questions and answers from the Q&A session at the end of the webinar:

What were the demographic differences between Reviewers and Non-reviewers?

  • Reviewers tended to be women who are 35-55 years old and are college educated.
  • Non-reviewers were more typically male and at least 55 years old.

How can I get more reviews?

  • Make it easy! It is human nature to take the path of least resistance. Behavioral Economics calls it “affect heuristics,” or Shortcuts; being efficient is how brains are wired. Don’t make people jump through hoops to leave a comment about your product.
  • Start with articulate product descriptions – it will help set the right expectation. Detailed information can prevent misguided expectations and derail negative criticism.
  • Be clear about what you expect and set goals. Without clear goals you could end up with the wrong content and wasted time. I’ve had review pages tell me I haven’t written enough and let me know they needed 150 characters. And I DID it – you can always ask. Let them know to talk about color, shipping, packaging, design, and ease of use.
  • There can be other behavioral influences, like the Bandwagon and Underdog effect. The first is when reviewers jump on the current sentiment, following suit; the second is when they defend the product against harsh criticism. Keep in mind: Studies have shown less-frequent posters are typically more positive (exhibiting the Bandwagon effect) and more active posters lean toward the negative side. Look for first-time buyers, and show “best reviews” first and others may follow.
  • Confirm receipt/use of the product before asking about the experience – timing is everything. If you ask for a review before someone received the item, you look misinformed.
  • Always thank people for ordering – follow up with offers to help if they are struggling. A quick response quells any poor remarks most of the time. You won’t want to leave it up to extremely dissatisfied people to leave comments.
  • Appeal to the people who are already writing reviews.
  • Solicit new reviewers by segmenting them into people who demonstrate higher degrees of Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness
  • If you aren’t able to make that segmentation, use a short survey to acquire some of that data on your customers and route requests to respondents with high correlations to Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness.
  • You can also segment based on demographics, including women who are 35-55 years old and are college educated – they’re the most likely to write reviews.

Are there categories that benefit more or less from reviews? Do reviews on industrial products have the same impact? 

Electronics, appliances, experiences, and expensive or complicated items all benefit from User Generated Content. According to Google, consumer electronics, apparel, furniture, and household goods are the best categories for reviews. Reviews on services are more important because the consumer of the service can’t return it once it’s used. Dinner was consumed, the movie was watched, the Uber ride was taken – once they’re done, they’re done and paid for. However, a physical product can be returned, which makes the reviewer’s positions less meaningful to the reader.

Do only Extroverts write reviews? 

Not at all – it’s not that simple. Our research indicates the groups with the highest correlations to writing reviews were those that included people high on the Extroversion scale. However, you don’t have to be an Extrovert to write a review – there are other motivations and aspects to those who write reviews. For instance, reviewers also correlate highly with people high in Agreeableness, meaning they sympathize well and care about other people’s feelings, and with Conscientiousness, meaning they like order and get their chores done on time. Depending on your product and your customer base, any of these attributes could be represented among your reviewers.

Why do people say one thing and do another? 

The Say-Do Gap, or preference reversal, is a foundational principle in behavioral science. Cab drivers say they like money but on rainy days when the demand increases for their work, the supply of cab drivers goes down (because they have more fares and quit early). People who say they would write a review are expressing an intention or a preference; however, an expression of personality is a much deeper guide to their actual behaviors and should be weighted as such.

Should reviewers be paid / compensated?  Are there ethical issues with that? 

It’s okay to reward reviewers with in-kind products or even cash as long as their review states it – so it’s transparent to the reader.

Also, research indicates that such a declaration has little impact on readers of reviews. The reviewer must understand that they are to deliver an unbiased review, and be willing to offer their time and insights to deliver the feedback in a timely matter. Influencing the review or suppressing bad reviews would be unethical and not acceptable according to FTC guidelines.

What mode of survey works best, online, in person, or paper?

We believe people are most comfortable with online modes. It does depend on the type of survey and information you are trying to garner. In the instance of getting product reviews, online is the clear choice. Using the EAST (Easy, Attractive, Social, Timely) model, the online survey is, for many people, the easiest and timeliest, making it the preferred method.

What is the right number of questions before surveys get abandonment?

We have found that it’s more of a ‘timing’ issue. Compensation usually is expected if the survey takes longer than 10 minutes, but a survey under 10 minutes is most often not paid. There are many factors to consider; the expertise required, if there is travel or detailed answers, and the compensation can be in many forms. For online reviews, it is customary to offer the product in exchange for the unbiased review.

Our Presenters:

Wally Balden 
Managing Director, Online Research
Focus Pointe Global

Wally Balden has been in the marketing research business for the past 38 years, with the last 20 dedicated to online research. He has served on the supplier side, client side and as an end user of research in various product management and marketing positions. He is a recognized authority for online data collection methods and data quality and has been a frequent speaker on these topics at research events around the globe. In his current role he is responsible for creating, developing and managing all online qualitative solutions at FPG.

Tim Houlihan
Chief Behavioral Strategist

Tim is a bridge connecting the corporate world with fresh ideas by means of research, analysis, executive education and design. For Tim, behavioral sciences are a lens to apply to strategic business issues using research and executive education with companies around the world. He has partnered with researchers at Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Harvard, Quinnipiac and Monmouth Universities and is always on the prowl for new insights into human behavior.

Before he launched BehaviorAlchemy, he was the Vice President of Reward Systems at BI WORLDWIDE.  He was responsible for the development and marketing of a $300 million portfolio of global reward systems, the firm’s thought leader in behavioral economics, and for partnerships with academic colleagues from leading universities around the world.

Penny Trenter
Director, Emerging Business
Focus Pointe Global

Penny Trenter has consulted with the Fortune 1000 for 20+ years to deliver solutions that turn client’s objectives into reality.  Her ability to establish, nurture, and expand solid relationships while managing complex programs is the foundation for her measurable successes as a sales strategist. As FPG’s Director, Emerging Business, Penny is focused on expanding our Emerging business lines, including our new FPG Think Tank™ platform.