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New Study: 92% Now Read Online Reviews to Evaluate Local Businesses

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BrightLocal, a search and research firm, has conducted a comprehensive survey on how online reviews influence internet users since 2010. Their findings reveal some mind-blowing trends and demonstrate how online reviews are skyrocketing in significance, especially with regard to how they affect consumer purchase decisions.
 
Here are some key takeaways from their research:
 
92% of Consumers are Now Reading Online Reviews (vs. 88% in 2014)
 
That’s. Almost. Everyone. This data comes from responses to the question, “Do you read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business?” Of the respondents, 33% answered “Yes, regularly,” and a staggering 59% answered “Yes, occasionally.” So if only 8% of consumers don’t read reviews at all, that means just about everyone looks to online reviews to evaluate your business.
 
40% of Consumers Trust a Company After Reading Only 1-3 Reviews (vs. 29% in 2014)
 
Customers in the group were asked, “How many online reviews do you need to read before you feel that you can trust that business?” Incredibly, customers are requiring less and less data to begin forming an opinion about a business. Take a look:
 

how-many-reviews-do-you-need-to-read
 
Nearly half make snap judgements after only a few reviews, and the other half want more information. So if you want to turn those viewers into a call, you need a healthy amount of reviews and you need recent reviews. Why? Because the first reviews customers see are, most of the time, your most recent. And if customers are only reading 1-3 reviews before forming an opinion, they better be good.
 
Actually, while we’re on the subject of recent reviews…
 
44% Say Review Must Be Written Within One Month To Be Relevant
 
It’s great to have a high quantity of reviews, and totally fine if they were written years ago. These factor into your overall review rating, so if they are positive they are helping to keep your overall star rating high. But those older reviews are quickly becoming reviews that customers don’t take into consideration when making a decision about your business. You could have put a great deal of work into earning those online reviews, you could have even collected hundreds of them. But if they weren’t recently written, more and more customers don’t find them relevant. Stay current, and keep earning new, timely reviews.
 
Star Rating is #1 Factor Used By Consumers to Judge a Business
 
The first thing customers see when observing online reviews is a business’ overall star rating. And now we know that star rating truly matters, and affects the way consumers judge your business. When respondents were asked, “When judging a local business on its reviews, which of these factors do you pay the most attention to?” they were given the option to select two of the following choices, and answered in this way:

  • Overall star rating (60%)
  • Quantity of reviews (44%)
  • Sentiment of reviews (38%)
  • Age of reviews (33%)
  • If business has responded to reviews (26%)

 
Keep making sure that star rating is as high as it can be. It’s also noteworthy that the second most important factor customers use to judge your business is the quantity of reviews. That’s great news because all the work you put into raising that star rating with more reviews matters, as the quantity of reviews you have is something consumers care about.
 
Only 13% of Consumers Would Consider Using Business with a 1 or 2 star Rating
 
We talk a lot about getting positive reviews with a high star count. We also talk a lot about getting a high quantity of reviews. But does it really matter if one of your review sites has a low rating? According to the data, you bet it does. Only 13% of consumers would give you a call if you have a 1 or 2 star rating.
 
80% of Consumers Trust Reviews as Much as Personal Recommendations
 
Consumers trust each other more than they trust you, and as much as someone they personally know! Word-of-mouth marketing has always been the most powerful form of advertising, and it’s exciting how online reviews have flung the door open for a wider audience to share their experiences with each other. This phenomenon gives you a golden opportunity to generate buzz about your business.
 
Obviously this survey reinforces the importance of getting online reviews. Having a lot of great reviews is critical, and it’s critical that those reviews are recently written.
 
In other words…earn more reviews and Be Remarkable!
 
Image:  Courtesy of BrightLocal
 
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