Many years ago I read about an experiment where they took three monkeys and some bananas and put them in a cage.
If any of the monkeys touched the banners it would shock the other two monkeys. It didn’t take long for the two monkeys getting shocked to figure out what was going on and attack any monkey that went near the bananas.
A new monkey was added to the group and one of the original three removed. When the new monkey headed for the bananas the other two attacked him. So the new monkey never tried to touch the bananas again. However one of the originals were again removed and replaced by a new monkey.
Only one of the three remaining monkeys had ever been shocked or even knew what happens when you touch the bananas. Yet the one that doesn’t know why he is not allowed to touch the banners joins in on beating the new monkey for touching the banners.
The test went on and eventually none of the monkeys were the original three, yet none of the monkeys would touch the bananas. They even removed the mechanism that shocks the monkeys but none of those monkeys would touch the bananas and if any one monkey got near the bananas the other two would attack him.
Humans are the same way.
You follow and do what the group does. When in a group setting, you look to see what everyone else is doing, to see what is and what is not the correct thing for you to do.
An example, the other day I went to my son’s end of the year party. As kids got on stage and sang or performed, when one parent started clapping everyone else would join in.
It’s rooted in your DNA, you want to fit in, and you want to belong.
For this reason when you are in a social situation you will look to others to see how to behave. It’s not something you unconsciously do. You don’t even know you are doing it.
There was an experiment where a person went on the street and pretended to have a seizure. They found that if someone approached alone there was an 85% chance that the person would stop and help.
However, if there was a crowd of people there was only a 35% chance that someone would stop and help.
People look to see what everyone else is doing before doing something on their own.
Okay, I know you’re wondering how this applies to your website, let’s say you are standing in a store looking at refrigerators. You are trying to decide between two different refrigerators when a guy stops and says, “I’ve got that refrigerator right there at home and it is the best one I’ve ever used”.
What just happened will have an influence on the refrigerator you decide to purchase.
If you have a website where people are able to leave reviews about a product or service, those reviews will influence people’s decision.
Don’t believe me?
Do a test for yourself, you’ll find that products with low reviews are totally skipped over by the consumer.
People care what other people think!
But how can we apply this to our website?
There are actually more ways to set up a rating system for your website than you might imagine.
And of course some are better than others.
For example, a site that doesn’t put the rating information on the product page and causes the consumer to have to click on the product to see the rating system, is not using this system as well as they could. By waiting until the second screen to show the rating information you risk losing the customers attention. You want to make sure the website visitor sees the rating information.
Of course the more reviews you have the stronger the impact on the website visitor.
There was a study done in 2007 as to whether recommendations influenced website visitor’s decisions.
The researchers were interested in whether recommendations would be equally influential for products and experiences. They used a digital camera shop for the product and they used a tourist destination for the experience.
A product that was recommended sold 20% more volume than if there was no recommendation.
For the travel destination that had a review it sold 10% more than a destination with no review.
If there was a picture along with the review then the travel recommendation increased to 20%.
Of course, another way to do this would be to show the percent of people that buy that product from that page.
Say 74% of the people that visited this page bought camera A, and 7% bought Camera B and so on and so.
Now keep in mind they were talking about good honest reviews.
In addition to reviews you can also use graphs.
It can be data, charts, graphs or statistics anything that will help build trust and make the end-user understand that he’s making a wise decision.
Things like statistics and bar charts appeal to our unconscious logical based part of the brain. Of course the most powerful ratings and reviews involve narratives and storytelling.
By adding statistics along with storytelling and the ability to leave reviews we are able to create a greater impact. It’s quite simple; the more information about the person who wrote the review, the bigger the impact on the end user. The end user now has a sketched out mini persona of that person.
This helps to make the review more powerful.
And customer feedback should not be limited to the product itself, customers should be able to post reviews about the company as well. Reviewer feedback becomes more powerful when we know more about the reviewer not just their name and date. We listen more closely to people we know and trust. When it is someone we don’t know we unconsciously try and determine whether we like that person or not.