Fixing Typos in Online Reviews May Improve Sales

The Story

New research shows that well-written online reviews -- even if they are negative -- may increase sales. At first, this may seem counter-intuitive. But the research proves an interesting point for business communicators: posts that are grammatically correct have more credibility. The discovery also has raised an ethical issue: should companies change online reviews, even if they edit them only for accuracy without changing the content of the review? By one estimate, Zappos, for example, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars looking at 5 million reviews and has seen possibly millions in revenue increases as a result.  Read more.

Shoe Review Example
 Discussion Starters

  • How are you influenced by online reviews? Do you find well-written reviews more credible? Why or why not? Although the above (fabricated) example is poorly written, the customer rated the product with five stars. Would you find it helpful?
  • Do you consider Zappos' corrections ethical? Use the ethical decision-making guidelines in Chapter 1 as your guide.

Assignment Ideas

  • For quick editing practice, correct the above (fabricated) review. Perfect it so that, according to the research, more people will find it helpful.
  • Do a few searches online for reviews of products you may consider buying. Which reviews do you find most helpful? Does the quality of the writing affect your perspective?