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How to Get the Most Out of Online Reviews

smartphone shopping
. / Credit: Smartphone Shopping via Shutterstock

Positive online reviews of businesses mean more to potential customers when they know the reviewer had recently visited the establishment, new research suggests.

A study by researchers at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business and University of Connecticut revealed that one way to overcome consumers' overreliance on negative reviews is to encourage satisfied customers to include language indicating that they wrote their online review soon after they bought their product or received their service.

Zoey Chen, a doctoral student in marketing at Georgia Tech and co-author of the study, said that in order to boost the value of positive reviews, which past research has shown holds less value than negative ones, consumers need to use temporal cues, such as "this morning" or "I just got back from the best lunch."

"If people learn that you just went to an establishment and had a positive experience, they might think it's more about the experience than the individual," Chen said.

Chen notes that positive reviews are often considered less informative than negative ones because the writers might be perceived as bragging about the good decisions they make in their lives.

"Negative reviews are generally seen as reflecting more about the product or service than the lifestyle choices of the writer," Chen said "Therefore, they tend to be seen as more credible."

Chen and co-author Nicholas Lurie, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Connecticut, came to their conclusion after examining more than 65,000 restaurant reviews on Yelp and conducting their own lab reviews.

While positive reviews are enhanced by temporal clues, the researchers found that they don't have a significant effect on how negative reviews are perceived.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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