Anonymous Reviews – Good or Bad Idea?

Anonymous Reviewer

Are Anonymous Reviews a Good or Bad idea?  ReviewInc put this question to a test. In July 2015, we asked 3,001 U.S. Consumers about writing a business review anonymously. We gave each of them the choice of multiple answers. In general, 63.1% of the consumers provided reasons in support of anonymous reviews where as 44.6% provided reasons that they would be against anonymous reviews. Reasons in support of anonymous reviews included:

  • Protected Free SpeechScales of Justice - Anonymous Reviews
  • Protects the reviews from retaliation
  • Makes it more likely that a review would be written.

Reasons against anonymous reviews included:

  • Undermining the Integrity of the Review
  • That it is wrong to hide one’s identity (when writing a review)
  • That is should be against the law.

Protection of Free Speech was cited as the most popular response (at 35.6% of all responses), still, the second most popular response indicated that consumers recognized that anonymous reviews undermine the trust (or integrity) of the review.
Anonymous Reviews

There were some significant and interesting differences in responses when comparing demographics such as age group, gender and income level. It was interesting to note that 43% of  Millennials or Gen-Y (18-34 year olds) had a much stronger opinion about anonymous reviews being protected free speech when compared to older groups at 32%. The Millennials didn’t seem to feel that the integrity of the reviews would be as affected, but were nearly twice the opinion that anonymous reviews would protect them from retaliation which would also make them much more likely to write a review (if it was anonymous). Conversely, the older the age group, the more they felt that it was wrong to hide one’s identity (when writing a business review) and maybe should even be against the law.Anonymous Reviews by Age Group

In some cases, responses by gender were quite significant.  While both genders had a near equal opinion that anonymous reviews were protected free speech, men felt more strongly that anonymous reviews undermined the trust (or integrity) of the review. However women, felt more strongly that the ability to write an anonymous review would make them more likely to write a review.

Anonymous Reviews by Gender

When examining income levels associated with opinions about anonymous reviews there was a strange anomaly. On several answers, those with high earnings and those with little to no earnings seemed to respond similarly to those with mid-range incomes. Why?  Presumably, they had more vulnerabilities but for different reasons. Those with higher income were vulnerable financially because they are a larger financial target to something like a lawsuit and have more to lose. Those with little or no income were, well, are just very vulnerable to attack with no meaningful type of protection.

Anonymous Reviews by Income

While internet users can disguise or hide their identity, we agree that reviews associated with an identifiable customer, client or patient carry far more weight and value than do anonymous reviews. Reviews on sites like Google+, Yelp or Facebook have policies against anonymous reviews (as do many other review sites). However, even with a large number of anonymous unique reviews about a business that include detailed text descriptions (not just a rating value), consumers do get a clear picture of a business, establishment, product or service.

ReviewInc can help businesses get more reviews everywhere and enhance their reputation. For a no obligation consultation call ReviewInc at 877-9REVIEW or leave a note here and have an expert contact you.

 

 

When a 5-Star Rated Business Isn’t

SteakhouseReviewsMany Business owners relentlessly pursue 5-star ratings from their customers to earn the highest possible ratings on sites like Yelp, Google, YellowPages and hundreds of other review sites.  They do this because they know how influential these ratings are.  So many studies have shown time and time again that online reviews play an increasing role in the online reputation of businesses.  And the bottom line?  The better the reputation, the more business you get!

So we wondered, how good is a 5 star rated business?  And the results might actually surprise you.

We surveyed 1,236 U.S. internet users about ratings for fictitious steakhouses.  Each user was randomly presented with two ratings, side by side, and asked “Which rating do you trust most?”   A total of four different ratings were tested against each other.  Two of the four had a many more reviewers.

Based on the results of the survey, the Perfect 5.0 rated steakhouse was less trusted than a 4.5 rated steakhouse.  On the other hand the Perfect 5.0 rated steakhouse did beat out the 4.7 rated steakhouse.  So what was the difference?  The trust level seemed to correlate more closely with the number of reviews.

survey-p3tt7prdbfueg-question-1But just to be sure, we ran another survey.  This time, we pitted the 5.0 rated steakhouse against the 4.5 rated steakhouse. The results were even more pronounced.    In this case, the lower rated steakhouse was actually MORE trusted by a ratio of 2 to 1!   It seemed consistent with the first survey that the number of reviews associated with a rating plays a significant role in the trust level of a consumer.

TrustInRating45vs50unequalreviewcount

But we weren’t satisfied.  We wanted to delve deeper into the mystery of the 5.0 rated steakhouse.  Do the number of reviews really matter that much when it comes to highly rated restaurant of business?  So we put it to an even bigger test.  As if the 2nd survey was the semi-finals of this bake off (no pun intended), this next survey would be the finals. And we took no chances.  This time, while we compared the two semi-finalists with the different ratings, but we intentionally kept the number of reviewers the same (at 53 reviewers). We also increased the number of responses in this third survey.  We surveyed 1,850 U.S. internet users from across the country in all different age groups and income levels.  And once again, the 5.0 rated steakhouse lost to the 4.5 rated steakhouse.

TrustInRating45vs50_EQUAL_REVIEW_COUNTDespite having the same number of reviews, the 4.5 rated steakhouse was selected as more trusted then the 5.0 rated steakhouse by 55% of the respondents.  It would seem that the general population has some healthy skepticism about a restaurant with a perfect 5.0 rating.  While it is certainly possible to attain that status, most people know that in life, nobody is perfect.

We also compared responses in the third survey of men vs. women.  Oddly, the men seemed more skeptical then women, whereas the women were slightly more willing trust the 5.0 rated steakhouse then men.  We didn’t have a good explanation for this, but we’ll explore that in a future blog article.

TrustInRating45vs50_EQUAL_REVIEW_COUNT_MenVsWomen

To learn more about how ratings and reviews impact your business reputation and your sales, call the experts at ReviewInc at 877-9REVIEW or send us an email at info@reviewinc.com.

TripAdvisor Fined $600,000

 

43272405_sRecently, TripAdvisor was fined a cool $600,000 for failing to prevent fake reviews.

Italy’s antitrust authority states that TripAdvisor failed to implement mechanisms that would prohibit false reviews from being posted, while still touting their content as “authentic and genuine”.

The Federalberghi federation of hoteliers were largely in favor of the decision due to the fair amount of false reviews being posted throughout the site.

The antitrust authority has given TripAdvisor up to 90 days to find a solution in order to remedy the situation.

In a statement, TripAdvisor said they would appeal the findings and that they stood by their processes which are inclusive of a team that detects fraud as well as automated tools and algorithms which are “extremely effective in protecting consumers from the small minority of people who try to cheat our system.”

This is not the first time that TripAdvisor has come under fire for the way their mechanisms work. A UK regulator previously implored TripAdvisor to stop claiming that the reviews on its British site were written by independent travelers, in essence, insinuating their reliability.

“We firmly believe that TripAdvisor is a force for good – both for consumers and the hospitality industry,’ they stated.

According to TripAdvisor’s FAQ, they have a team of moderators that examine questionable reviews.  The same FAQ states:  “TripAdvisor has millions of reviews and more than one million hotels, restaurants and attractions; therefore, it would be impractical for us to fact check the details of reviews.”

To aid their process, TripAdvisor employs an fraud detection algorithm that was developed based on techniques that were developed to contend against credit card and insurance fraud. This system checks every one of the 60 reviews posted every minute by visitors, analyzing dozens of characteristics of each review to determine whether or not someone is trying to manipulate TripAdvisor.

There are over 200 million reviews and more that 890,000 hotels on TripAdvisor’s site.

The takeaway is that every business should ensure the integrity of their reputation by getting real reviews from real customers. One of the ways to do that is to implement a system just like ReviewInc that will aid in the process of doing that. Contact us at 877-9REVIEW for a demo today!