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User Reviews Generate More Sales

By Char

I had an opportunity to attend a webinar yesterday with some of the PR group I do a lot of work with. The webinar was hosted by PRNews and titled Building Community & Reputation Online With Social Media Tools.

Sam Decker of Bazaarvoice was one of the presenters and he talked about using User Generated Content, such as user reviews to generate more sales at your site. As a matter of fact, a recent Sherpa study found that 58% of online shoppers prefer sites with reviews.

user reviews

Who do you trust more when getting information on a potential purchase – a sales rep or marketer? Or do you trust someone else like you, who has already purchased the product you are looking at?

I think that there are two main reasons why word of mouth or user reviews are so powerful.

It’s all about the money

For one, we perceive that it is less likely that the reviewer has a monetary stake in the sale of the product, therefore they are really telling the truth as to how good the product is or is not. The sales rep or marketer will most definitely receive some form of monetary gain from the sale of the product.

It’s all about the experience

Secondly, who is going to be able to better tell us the benefits of a product, how it is used, what works great, and what the product’s downfalls are? The user who purchased, used and reviewed the product. After all, word of mouth advertising has been around for a long time has always been perceived as more “authentic”.

The sales pitch could tell us the product benefits, but we are naturally going to be more drawn to the product if other users can sing its praises or warn us of a sub-standard product.

What about paid reviews?

Does the fact that a reviewer was compensated in some way diminish the value of the review? I think it all depends on the source. If the reviewer does a nice job of giving us the products pros and cons and let’s the reader know that it is a paid review, then no, it doesn’t diminish the value of the review (in my opinion).

What does this mean for your business?

Let your customers do some of your sales work for you! Give them a platform to speak their minds whether through user reviews or comments. Then take that information and implement it in a meaningful way at your site by featuring top rated products or in the case of a blog, use the popularity plug in to help you feature your most popular posts.

The webinar was very interesting and over the next few days I will share more of the insights and statistics I found helpful.

Join the conversation! What do you think of user generated content for generating sales? What are some examples of sites that really implement this strategy well?



I have to say that well written reader review DOES affect my purchasing decision. It’s funny that you have a picture from Petco. Just yesterday, I chose one product over another there, based on the reviews.

I do the same thing at Amazon and other stores.

The key is the review has to be good. Meaning that, a “great product!” review doesn’t really influence me, where a writeup of an actual experience with the product will.

As far as paid reviews, I typically just ignore them.


Tony – Petco was the case study site that was used in yesterday’s webinar.

One of the sites that contains reviews that I swear by is
I absolutely won’t make a hotel reservation anywhere without going there first and reading reviews. So far, I have not been disappointed in any hotel reservations I have made based on user reviews.

You are right – the review has to be of value!


Yes I believe it is the strongest image builder.

The best kind of reviews are those which are written in a negative tone towards the product and mention just o0ne advantage that will outweigh the cons in readers’ minds.

I think IMDB uses this concept the best.

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