The Shelf Life of Word of Mouth Marketing Reviews

The Shelf Life of Word of Mouth Marketing Reviews

Few would dispute the impact of positive brand reviews and ratings as a word of mouth marketing tool. What may surprise you is just how important those ratings are to consumers and how much time must pass before a bad review or rating no longer matters.


New data from BrightLocal puts the spotlight on the importance of positive brand reviews and ratings as it pertains to sales.  In fact, only 8% of survey respondents in 2015 said they don’t consider reviews and ratings when making buying decisions, down from 12% in 2014 and 29% in 2010.  It’s downright dangerous for any marketer to disregard bad reviews, customer complaints left on social networks and poor ratings and the negative impact they might have on future sales.

Do Brand Reviews and Ratings Really Matter to Word of Mouth Marketing?

Yes, brand reviews and those 5 star ratings really matter.  In the survey, 44% of consumers said a brand had to have a 4 star rating or better (out of 5 stars possible).  And 94% of consumers said they would buy from a business with a four star or better rating.  Conversely, only 13% said they would even consider a business that had a 1 or 2-star rating.

factors consumers consider bad reviews

Stars are the starting point. Two few stars, and most consumers won’t even take the time to find out why or whether your brand is really that bad. In the survey, consumers said that when researching a brand, they paid most attention to these ranking factors:

  • 60% – overall star ranking
  • 44% – quality of reviews
  • 38% – sentiment of reviews
  • 33% – age of reviews
  • 26% – brand response to reviews

Do Bad Brand Reviews Ever Die?

Yes! As it turns out, there is a shelf life to bad customer reviews and the negative impact of bad reviews does subside over time.  In the BrightLocal study, consumers indicated that that the age of a review matters. Reviews that were less than three months old were the most relevant to 69% of consumers. By contrast, reviews 3 months old or older were relevant only to 31% of consumers and those that were 2 plus years old mattered to a mere 3% of those surveyed.

bad word of mouth marketing reviews

Not only is this good news for marketers who have been wondering how to deal with a bad customer review, but it’s actionable, too.  Now that you know how important positive reviews are as part of your word of mouth marketing strategy, here are some ways to extend the shelf life of positive reviews and reduce the chance that a bad review will hurt sales or damage your brand.

4 Ways to Extend the Shelf Life of Word of Mouth Marketing Reviews


Seems simple, doesn’t it. But if you are not asking for reviews and ratings from customers every time they do business with you, you’re not getting the max benefit from this powerful word of mouth marketing tactic.


Setting up scheduled posts soliciting reviews and ratings from happy followers on social networks, triggering request for review emails or simply adding a link to review sites on digital and printed customer receipts can all help generate new positive brand reviews from satisfied customers.


You don’t have to sell online to let customers leave ratings and reviews on your product and service pages or solicit feedback that can be used in testimonial sliders and other online content.


Why leave it up to chance? Asking questions as you gather feedback can help steer customers to leave specific information in their reviews. You can guide customer reviews relative to your brand, customer service or product or service quality by asking questions or even suggesting scripts which customers could incorporate into their online reviews.

You might also like: The Changing ‘Face’ of Word of Mouth Marketing, an article I wrote for a client’s blog that talks about the top four word of mouth marketing channels by generation, including Gen X, Millennials and Baby Boomers.  For each generation, you’ll see how face to face, email, social media and texting are now influential as word of mouth marketing channels, including the rise of social, especially with Gen X consumers.

***customer loyalty marketing ideas

Elizabeth Kraus is the author of the 2015 Small Business Marketing Calendar, featuring 12 Marketing Ideas Your Mom Would Hate with hundreds of ideas that can help better lead and grow your own small business.


word of mouth marketing shelf life of bad reviews