How important are online reviews and recommendations for your business? In terms of sustainability and growth immensely important. When you consider all the various digital platforms that allow for reviews and or recommendations, this is a huge influence on your business whether you like it or not. The process cannot be ignored and must be managed effectively to have a positive impact on your enterprise.
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Lets take a brief look at some of the statistics as of 2019.
- 90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 33% looking every day.
- 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews.
- The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business, more when the buying decision is complicated.
- Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars, however, all 5 stars can raise red flags.
- The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews and or recommendations before making a buying decision.
- Among consumers that read reviews, 97% read businesses’ responses to reviews. It is all about the thank you culture. It also allows for review management.
- 67% of consumers have now been asked to leave a review for a local business – with 24% of these being offered a discount, gift, or cash in return.
- Read on for more knowledge on how reviews and recommendations will grow your business.
As the stats have clearly shown that online reviews is an ever-more-common part of consumers’ purchasing decisions. But, with reviews now being a huge part of online search results, a poor star rating or the feedback of unhappy customers can be hard to miss. However it can be managed and turned into a positive reflection of your business or brand.
Let’s look at some key trends in 2019.
In 2018, consumers aged 18-34 were leading the charge for reviews and consistently coming out on top in terms of their review-reading and activity. However, the demographic has widened. It is worth noting that the younger age group becoming less likely to research a local business online and directly look for reviews and recommendations.
Across every age group, those that do read reviews are doing so far more regularly – with one-third of consumers searching for a business or solution every signal day. With two-thirds of consumers always researching reviews and recommendations prior to making a buying decision, including a huge 93% of consumers aged 35-54.
Reviews will have a colossal impact on the behavior of consumers, and it’s clear to see that a business’s online reputation strongly affects whether customers choose to use a company. Positive comments about a business will influence 91% of consumers. While 82% will be put off by a poorly managed negative review. As mentioned earlier an average consumer will read at least ten reviews before feeling able to trust a business, so businesses with lower review counts or negative feedback within their top reviews risk losing a significant proportion of potential customers to competitors with better online reputations.
The report finds that trustworthiness is crucial to consumers – but how can this be the case when fake reviews are becoming more and more common. Human beings are the most dominant species on the planet as we learn quickly. Consumers are already knowledgably on how to identify the authenticity of reviews. It would be nice if they felt able to trust that reviews were accurate and legitimate.
97% of consumers not only read the reviews but any conversations between the reviewer and the business, making it extremely important for businesses to ensure they are monitoring their reputation across every review site, and responding quickly and professionally to any feedback. Have you identified which sites you need to be on?
The number of consumers writing reviews is growing, with businesses reporting that two thirds of their consumers have written reviews. With the average consumer now leaving 6-8 reviews a year.
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Many businesses are incentivizing, bribing consumers to leave a review. Be cautious with this strategy as many platforms will remove these or all your reviews if this is against their policies.
How do you track the multitude of ways for consumers to find information about local businesses online?
It’s important to consider how behavior differs among different segments of consumers. 75% of 18-34 and 35-54-year-olds search for a local business on a weekly basis, with the younger age group a little more likely to look every day. Over 55s are far less likely to search for nearby businesses regularly.
However, it’s not as simple as saying that younger consumers search for local businesses more than over 55s. In fact, consumers aged 18-34 are less likely to have made a local search in the past year – with 15% saying they’d never searched. Could this indicate that some younger consumers are interacting with businesses in a different way – perhaps opting for online-only businesses, or finding nearby businesses through recommendations, and discoveries on platforms such as Instagram or Facebook?
Top Devices for Reading Reviews.
- PC or Mac
- Mobile internet browser such as safari
- Mobile app.
After reading a positive review, consumers are most likely to go on to visit local businesses’ websites. While this has declined compared to the 2018 report, local businesses’ websites remain a critical part of the journey for consumers. This could be a direct influence of Google’s objective of providing all the information for the viewer without having to leave their search engine.
Negative reviews can happen to anyone. But, how you deal with them can help consumers understand what your business stands for, and what they should expect by choosing you. While you may receive a poor review for a customer that doesn’t like your service, always stay polite, and respond quickly to provide further details and a clear solution to anyone who may be reading. A bad review doesn’t need to be a disaster.
Online reviews are undoubtedly a critical tool, but with the growth of recommendations on Facebook, as well as the growth of Nextdoor, and the normality of influencer recommendations, online reviews could be losing their place on the pedestal.
But remember, it’s not enough to focus your attention on just one review site. 70% of consumers look at multiple review sites when choosing a local business.
Unsure of how to strategically manage your online reputation, please get in touch for a free initial consultation.
September 1st, 2020