Customer reviews are particularly important in the age of online shopping and digital decision-making. Customer reviews are like a compass, guiding potential buyers to a purchase that best suits them. But, what factors make reviews convincing and compelling? Does it matter how old reviews are? Let’s explore the recency of customer reviews and compare new and old reviews.
How Recent Should Customer Reviews Be?
The recency of reviews can play a part in how customers view them. Your business’s industry also plays a role, as some industries move and change faster than others. Let’s take a look at these factors in more detail.
Timeliness Influences Customer Opinions
The recency of customer reviews is a crucial factor for many consumers. Products, services, and customer experiences change over time, and more recent reviews provide insights into the current state of affairs. More recent reviews can help customers know what to expect. The ideal age of a review can vary by industry and product lifecycle, but a general rule of thumb is that reviews within the last six months to a year tend to be more reflective of the current customer experience or the state of the business.
Certain industries, such as technology and fashion, often experience rapid changes. In these cases, recent reviews may hold more weight, as they provide information about the latest features, trends, or product updates. On the other hand, products or services with a longer lifecycle, like household appliances, may see reviews from a few years ago still holding relevance.
Why is Recency Important?
In the digital age, consumers are empowered by information. A survey conducted by BrightLocal found that 91% of consumers read online reviews regularly or occasionally. Moreover, 84% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. However, the emphasis on recency is evident, with 40% of consumers only considering reviews written within the past two weeks.
Reviews play an important role in how Google and other search engines rank results when a user enters a relevant search. General reviews indicate to Google that a business is authentic, and positive reviews also show that the business is delivering on its promises. If a business goes for several months or a year without getting reviews, this extra SEO boost can fade. Studies show that businesses that haven’t had reviews in a few months will start to lose their position on search results pages.
Reviews play an important role in purchasing decisions, but some reviews are more impactful than others. For example, reviews that reference specific details of a product, service or experience, are more likely to be seen as genuine. More recent reviews also tend to be more impactful, since they provide more relevant, accurate information for the customer. Customers may assume that reviews that are older than six months no longer accurately show the state of the business or what the customer can expect.
Are Old Reviews Still Valuable?
Though more recent reviews are more valuable, older reviews are still important. Let’s take a look at how older reviews can still be helpful in your marketing efforts.
While the emphasis on recency is essential, old reviews can still hold value, particularly for products or services with enduring features. These reviews can show elements of your business, service, or products that have not changed, and have remained consistent. This can be particularly important to show pillars of your business, such as enduring products or a long record of high-quality customer service.
Old reviews provide a historical context that can be insightful. They reveal the longevity and consistency of a product or service. A product with positive reviews over an extended period suggests reliability and customer satisfaction. It can show the long-lasting elements of your business, and show that customers have enjoyed these elements for months or years. This can show that your business is not reliant on whims or trends, and has long-lasting value.
Changes in Management or Product
Sometimes, companies undergo changes in management, product design, or service quality. Older reviews might shed light on the evolution of a business, helping consumers understand the journey a company has taken. If customers have previously disapproved of an aspect of the business, a comparison of new and old reviews can show that this aspect has changed.
While the recency of customer reviews is a crucial factor in decision-making, the value of old reviews should not be dismissed entirely. The ideal approach is a holistic one – considering both recent and older reviews to gain a comprehensive understanding. Finding the right balance ensures that consumers are well-informed, making decisions that align with their preferences and expectations.
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