When it comes to online reviews, a 3-star rating is bad

The difference between 4 stars to 3 stars is massive. Consumer trust decreases by 67% with one fewer star, a new survey finds.

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Consumers lose trust – in a big way – when a product or service doesn’t have a 4- or 5-star rating in online reviews, according to a new survey.

Why we care. Some products and services live or die by the online reviews they get. There is a massive drop in trust between a 4-star and a 3-star rating – which can result in lost revenue for those companies.

A -67% decrease in trust. The question: What is the minimum star rating (out of five) a product or service needs for consumers in the consideration stage of a purchase decision? And the results were clear:

Minimum Star Rating Product Service
via Go Fish Digital, 3-Star Reviews Result In A -70% Decrease In Trust [Data Study].
  • Having 5 stars or 4 stars comes with an extremely high level of trust, 95% and 96.3%, respectively.
  • Dropping from 4 stars to 3 stars revealed a massive 67% decrease in trust.
  • Products and services with 2 stars or 1 star basically have zero trust.

This is reminiscent of click curves in organic search results. The higher you rank, the bigger share of traffic you get; the lower you go, the more invisible you are to searchers. Just as trust plays a role in rankings, where you rank is a signal of trust from the search engines.

The takeaway. According to Dominique Jabbour:

  • “Dropping just one star from a 4 to a 3 star rating on a product or service can drastically affect a consumer’s comfort level when it comes to making a purchasing decision. consumers value customer feedback and begin to question their decision when seeing that the overall sentiment surrounding a product or service is less than a 4 star rating.”

The data. Digital marketing agency Go Fish Digital surveyed 1,070 people about online reviews to find out how much they influence purchasing decisions. The results for this particular answer are based on 1,025 survey responses.

About the author

Danny Goodwin
Danny Goodwin has been Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & Search Marketing Expo - SMX since 2022. He joined Search Engine Land in 2022 as Senior Editor. In addition to reporting on the latest search marketing news, he manages Search Engine Land’s SME (Subject Matter Expert) program. He also helps program U.S. SMX events.

Goodwin has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in search and digital marketing since 2007. He previously was Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal (from 2017 to 2022), managing editor of Momentology (from 2014-2016) and editor of Search Engine Watch (from 2007 to 2014). He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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