4.5 vs. 5-Star Reviews: Why Almost Perfect Is Better

Everyone wants 5-star reviews. From contractors to e-commerce stores to dog walkers, you want your satisfied, happy clients telling the world how amazing you are! That can only be good for your business right?

5-star reviews

Well, not quite. Recent research reveals that 5-star reviews have less of an impact on purchase decisions than star ratings that fall between 4.2 and 4.5. Yes, you really can be too awesome.

The “Too Good to Be True” Complex

Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center partnered with PowerReviews and found that sales of products with a 4.2-to-4.5-star ratings were the most influenced by ratings. When products had a 5-star rating, the purchaser was less likely to consider the reviews in their purchasing decision.

What’s wrong with 5-star reviews? Shouldn’t you aim for 5-star reviews all the time? Why can’t modern consumers make up their minds!

It all comes down to the common belief: “It’s too good to be true.”


Most consumers expect a certain level of detraction from the norm. When all they see are 5-star reviews, suspicions arise. There is no way you’re a 5-star contractor — those don’t exist! You can’t possibly have made every single customer happy — that’s ridiculous!

The Modern Consumer Craves Authenticity

The modern consumer is looking for authenticity. When all they see are 5-star reviews, they start to wonder … have you deleted the less-than-favorable ones? Have you unfairly paid people to leave only positive feedback?

A mix of good and bad reviews is healthy. It shows you’re genuine, and that’s what the modern customer wants.

It’s About Review Content Too

While the star rating of your product or service is vital, it’s not everything. The content of the review matters as well.

For example, if you have multiple 4-star reviews with long explanations on why the client has chosen this rating result, it’s going to take fewer of them to convince your target audience you’re authentic. The “meat” of the review matters.

Sometimes the customer’s detailed opinion helps you, even if it’s in the form of a negative review. They may say: This product didn’t come in the dusky orange shade the picture shows, it was actually an orange-pink! But every customer who’s looking for that shade will use that information to take the next purchasing step.


Negative Reviews Give an Opportunity to Grow

Besides showing authenticity to your customers, you should welcome (somewhat) the presence of a few less-than-perfect reviews because it will give you a deeper insight on what your business can do to better serve your target market.

Make sure you always respond to clients who leave negative reviews, as this is a perfect opportunity to show off your effortless peacemaking skills. Then, take what the negative reviewers say to heart and contemplate making changes if it’s in the best interests of the future of your business.

Is Google Messing Up Your Average?

Many small-business owners vying for shining online reviews get worried when Google starts showing less than 5-star ratings, even though all of your feedback has reached the highest level.

Be aware that Google uses a calculation method called the Bayesian average. When the data set is too small, meaning you have too few reviews on your Google profile, Google refers to its larger data set of reviews and estimates what your business’ average would be if you had more reviews.


This can be cause for concern for some business owners, because if they feature three 5-star reviews but consumers see a 4.8 average, the consumer might question whether the business is filtering out the less-than-good feedback. What can you do?

Get more reviews. The more you build up your numbers, the higher the likelihood Google will calculate an accurate average for you.

Are You Stuck?

It’s hard to come up with an efficient, working system to generate enough online reviews to spur business growth, but that’s why Accrue Reviews exists. We are here to help you aim for your goal of endless 5-star reviews — real ones, that the consumer can’t help but trust. Call us today to learn more about what we can do for you!