Study Shows Perfect 5 Star Review Ratings Aren’t Best

The old saying that “perfect is too good to be true” applies to online reviews as well it turns out.  A recent review study between PowerReviews and Northwestern University surfaced that a 5 star rating wasn’t the most trusted by consumers to purchase a product. Consumers displayed more trust and were more likely to purchase a product when it’s rating was between 4.2 to 4.5 stars.

ideal review rating

Negative Reviews Can Provide A Positive Impact

When all of your ratings, reviews and testimonials are perfect, a consumer can get the feeling of – “yeah right”. While you’d be best to have almost all 4 star and 5 star reviews the occasional stinker can actually make you look more authentic.

In fact, a 2014 PowerReviews study showed that 82% of consumers actually seek out negative reviews.  They are expected – and if anything consumers want to determine that the flaws in your service or product are one-time issues, not repetitive.

What’s important is that you have a strong ratio of great reviews to those that are poor, and that you respond to any negative reviews posted.  We’ve touched on the benefits of negative reviews in the past.

Authentic Testimonials Can Help You Win Trust Too

The GetFiveStars testimonial widget helps you post customer feedback and ratings to your own site, a great way to feature original content created by your own customers.  We find that many business owners only want to approve 5 star ratings to their website widget, and don’t realize they would benefit from a few 4 star or even 3 star ratings.

“Making mistakes is better than faking perfection” -unknown

Just like with online reviews, you should respond to a negative customer comment in your testimonial widget feed.  You can do this from the customer profile in our platform.

Testimonial Widget GFS

Most of the online review sites allow the business to respond to the review, like the TripAdvisor example below.

review response


Reviews and Customer Content Reduce Risk

Consumers seek the words and ratings of other consumers to mitigate their own risk with the product or service they are wanting to buy.  This is even more true with certain categories when consumers are evaluating safety, higher priced services or products and unknown brands.

The study also shows that if the reviews and comments are short, the consumer needs to see a higher quantity of reviews, but long form reviews require very few to build trust.  This falls right in line with many quantity vs. quality scenarios in marketing.

Pursue Perfect But Market Your Greatness

There is nothing wrong at all with wanting to be perfect and pursuing it.  In fact, our product name of GetFiveStars isn’t about a perfect rating, but striving to be a better business by getting customer feedback and improving. Set your goals high, but also embrace being great.  Spending your time to appear perfect, when consumers might ultimately doubt it, isn’t the best approach.

In closing, the study reminds us the importance of these three things:

  1. Asking ALL of your customers and consistently getting feedback and reviews is huge.
  2. Responding to your negative or less than perfect reviews and testimonials to show you care and own it.
  3. If all your reviews happen to be 5 stars, then so be it, but consumers trust great businesses more than “perfect” ones.





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