Over the past 6 months here at CourseHorse we’ve been studying the class purchase process rigorously. We’ve conducted surveys, researched web analytics, overhauled our reporting structure, and consulted industry experts. Over the coming months, we’ll be publishing aspects of our research that will help our educators grow their business and get the most out of their presence on CourseHorse. This article focuses on the power of reviews, which we know to be a critical aspect of the purchase process.
You need 4 reviews of 4-stars or more.
Research has found that consumers begin to trust local businesses when their average rating on a 5-star scale was 4-stars or more. With lower rated averages, buying confidence declines. Additionally, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and the majority of users need to read at least 4-6 reviews in order to feel confident about their purchase.
Most reviews are positive. They’re even more positive when you ask for them.
Over the years, the reviews we have collected at CourseHorse have held an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. This is across nearly 20,000 reviews for over 5,000 classes. We curate all of our educator partners so we’re not surprised that people are generally happy, but in a recent pilot we ran where we tested reviews collected directly from educators as opposed to from us, we saw that average rating jump to 4.9.
Even more impressive: 31.5% of reviews we’ve collected have included written commentary, which are of much higher value to prospective students than ratings alone. In our pilot, we saw that number skyrocket up to 94%. The takeaway for us here is that when an educator asks for a review, students feel more compelled to be detailed in their response.
When educators requested reviews on CourseHorse, we saw a 38.5% average increase in the number of reviews captured.
This number excludes a few participating educators who had not yet accumulated any reviews in an effort to keep the data as clean as possible, but we saw several educators get their first batch of reviews through this pilot. On the lowest end for educators who already had reviews in place, we saw review capture improve by 24%. Our highest increase in capture rate was 62% for an educator who made it their mission after every class to request reviews.
This tells us that students are far more likely to leave reviews when the educator asks them directly vs. CourseHorse requesting reviews.
Reviews are a critical aspect of the shopping experience on CourseHorse.
In a retention survey we conducted with our audience in the Fall of 2015, we found reviews are consistently in the top 3 factors students consider when purchasing a class. Reviews become increasingly important to students who purchase multiple classes.
Reviews Drive Customer Loyalty
In addition, our retention research revealed that users who leave reviews are nearly 64% more likely to take another class at that same location than users who don’t leave reviews. We hypothesize leaving a review and reflecting on the class taking experience builds brand recall and loyalty. This extra point in engagement can lead to increased investment and loyalty by your students in a business or brand.
Reviews will increase your exposure on CourseHorse
There are are a number of things which determine the order of classes listed on CourseHorse and as of Fall 2015, we began counting the quantity and quality of reviews towards the rankings. At that point, we began factoring the total number of reviews a class provider has received into all of their listings on CourseHorse. In a new algorithm, slated for release March 2016, we will adjust the review weight so it only applies to the specific class. This will help both educators and CourseHorse members identify stronger classes and make more informed decisions.
Based on our pilot, we’ve seen that five additional reviews will increase your rankings in CourseHorse search results by an average of 11.5 spots. This varies based on class type, category, and the competition currently in place. However, the smallest change we saw was a three spot move for five reviews, so it’s quite easy to make a dramatic impact.
We’re opening our review portal up to the masses
In short, we believe in the idea of driving reviews as a force behind your classes, and giving you the power to collect them will make them both more positive and more meaningful.
At the heart of our business, the two most important things are:
- Giving students an amazing resource to help them find the classes they’re looking for from quality educators
- Giving our educator partners the tools they need to successfully reach the audience they deserve
We believe reviews will play a large role in both of these things. In order to widen the impact of reviews on CourseHorse and give our educators more control/access to reviews, we will be opening up our review portal to any student, not just those who book through CourseHorse. At the same time, we hope this will make the site that much more informative for our members. We’ll be making other changes as well to strengthen reviews as a product on the site, so keep on the lookout!
Have questions or comments? Feel free to leave them here or contact me at [email protected]!
Jesse & Team CourseHorse