More than words: the influence of affective content and linguistic style matches in online reviews on conversion rates

Stephan Ludwig, Ko de Ruyter, Mike Friedman, Elisabeth C. Brüggen, Martin Wetzels, Gerard Pfann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

406 Citations (Scopus)


Customers increasingly rely on other consumers' reviews to make purchase decisions online. New insights into the customer review phenomenon can be derived from studying the semantic content and style properties of verbatim customer reviews to examine their influence on online retail sites' conversion rates. The authors employ text mining to extract changes in affective content and linguistic style properties of customer book reviews on A dynamic panel data model reveals that the influence of positive affective content on conversion rates is asymmetrical, such that greater increases in positive affective content in customer reviews have a smaller effect on subsequent increases in conversion rate. No such tapering-off effect occurs for changes in negative affective content in reviews. Furthermore, positive changes in affective cues and increasing congruence with the product interest group's typical linguistic style directly and conjointly increase conversion rates. These findings suggest that managers should identify and promote the most influential reviews in a given product category, provide instructions to stimulate reviewers to write powerful reviews, and adapt the style of their own editorial reviews to the relevant product category.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-103
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Affective content
  • Conversion rate
  • Internet marketing
  • Linguistic style match
  • Online customer reviews

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