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5 visual stats to show the power of online reviews

Last month we published the 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey; an annual exploration into how consumers read & use online reviews. The results gave us the ability to quantify the value that users place on reviews & how much they can affect the average consumer’s decision process.

We asked 13 questions which gave us some great insights. There were some stats that stood out more than others and made us want to explore them further. Earlier this week we looked closer at review star ratings – and what is deemed acceptable or too low to consider using a local business. We’ve turned that into a handy infographic which you can see here.

Top 5 stats from the Local Consumer Review Survey 2014

Now we’ve picked 5 of our favourite (and what we consider to be the most important) stats which came from the survey. To make this list even more useful, we’ve turned them into a set of unbranded graphics which illustrate each statistic. These can be downloaded and reused as you see fit. The full set of graphics can be accessed in PDF format here: 5 visual stats to show the power of online reviews.


Consumption of online reviews

1. 88% have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business

 

Reading reviews for local business

 

It was apparent that almost 9 out of 10 consumers have consulted online reviews in the past year to help with their decision on whether to use a local business or not.

Of this 88%, 49% said they read reviews occasionally and 39% said they do so regularly. Only 12% of consumers do NOT read online reviews. For all local businesses this underlines the importance of reviews & the priority that business owners should put on managing their reputation.


Trust & influence

2. 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

 

Importance of positive reviews

 

72% said that positive reviews make them more trusting of a local business, whilst only 10% said they didn’t take any notice of online reviews.

Positive reviews are having a measurable impact on the fortunes of local businesses and it’s clear that they cannot afford to let their online reputation slip. Any negative reviews can directly impact acquisition & revenue.


3. 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

 

Online reviews are like personal recommendations

 

Nearly 9 out of 10 consumers will trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. This is up from 79% (or 8 out of 10) in 2013. I think this is the stand-out stat from the whole survey. It really highlights the the power of reviews, and shows that the perceived trustworthiness of online reviews is on the increase.

30% said that they will trust a review just as much as a recommendation if they believe it to be authentic, which of course underlines the importance of authenticity. Only 13% said they DON’T trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation – which is also down from 21% in 2013.


4. 72% of consumers will take action after reading a positive review

 

Local consumer reviews

 

The 72% is divided into two clear actions:

  • 57% say they will visit the business’s website after reading the review
  • 15% say they will phone the business up after reading the review

With 7 out of 10 consumers taking positive action towards a business after reading positive reviews the importance of having a good online reputation is magnified. Reading reviews is one of the final stages in the purchase path and has a direct impact on converting customers.


Reputation traits

5. Reliability (27%), expertise (21%) & professionalism (18%) are the most important reputation traits for a local business

 

Reputations traits for local business

 

Reliability is the single most important trait for a local business to demonstrate to potential customers if it wants their business. Local businesses could take advantage of this information to better pitch their products & services to potential customers, and the above traits should be promoted & highlighted throughout all marketing communications.


manage online reviews

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11 thoughts on “5 visual stats to show the power of online reviews”

  1. We have found that most businesses have some sort of review written about them, both positive and negative. For businesses that don’t have a review collection and monitoring system, they are at a loss as to what to do about the negative ones. Many of them say something like, “nobody believes those things. That guy was an idiot and everyone can see through it.” The reality is as you pointed out: 72-88% of people believe anything written about a business online. It is important to monitor and properly respond to negative reviews. What works better is to have a system whereby the negative reviews can be responded to before they get posted, then a customer can be saved and a lot of headache can be prevented.

    The next thing needed is for businesses with positive reviews to be able to promote them and show the world what people think. In this way they are using the most powerful form of advertising, word of mouth, in a more dramatic fashion. These should be shown on their website and other review directories so people can see about their experience. They should be posted on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ so they can promote them in a way that brings in more customers. They are better than any kind of advertisement because they are real.

    Thank you for your post.

  2. I agree. Having a system in place that allows you to uncover unhappy customers before they review your business on the Internet is very important. It’s just as important to make it as easy as possible for your happy customers to leave you a positive review on sites like Google and Yelp and all of the other sites where people go to look for the products and services you offer.

    If you don’t pay attention to your customers, your unhappy customers can quickly ruin your reputation and your business. If you do pay attention to your customers and make it easy for them to reward your service with a great review … and a referral, you will reap the benefits for a long, long time.

    1. If poor reviews are well responded to then I think they can almost ‘flip’ the negativity surrounding them & show that this particular business values customer feedback & will strive to correct any issues that may arise. I think that’s just as important – and also reassuring to see a local business respond to reviews.

      Also, when you see a very ‘defensive’ response from a business, that can be very off-putting. I think everyone can accept that different customers have different standards & a business shouldn’t use a review response to try and ‘win favour’ from neutrals by arguing a point with a customer.

      The recent relatively high-profile case of a hostel in Glasgow arguing with a customer over FB is a good example!

  3. I find that since to start of feedback on the likes of ebay more and more people are leaving reviews of businesses and local companies, I agree with what ross says above that if negative reviews are responded to in the right way, they can be turned into a positive

  4. This article is great and should be eye-opening to all businesses. If these statistics don’t make you want to pay more attention to your reputation then you are missing out!

    There are three parts to taking positive action towards your online reputation:

    1. Monitoring: Most businesses do not pay attention to what is being said about their business. It is important to have a system in place to monitor reviews that are left for your business on various sites. It is always eye-opening when a business starts to realize what is being said about their business (whether good or bad). If you have bad reviews you can do as Ross states and respond in a timely and professional manner. That will often flip the negative into a positive.

    2. Management: It is one thing to monitor, but as stated in a couple of comments above, it is important to have a strategy in place to capture reviews. Is your company culture built around capturing positive and negative feedback right when the customer has an experience with your business? If not, you need to have a system in place and create a culture around actively engaging with your customers at the time that they do business with you. This will allow you to take action on any negative feedback and give you the best chance to keep that customer coming back.

    3. Marketing: As Kelly states above it is important to promote your positive reputation. If you are going to take the time to gather reviews and create a culture around engaging with customers it is important to make sure that you share those reviews with the world! With how valuable reviews are to potential customers why would you not want to let your potential customers see what people are saying about you!

    Great article and very timely for what is becoming a hot topic in the industry!

  5. I think that reviews need to be looked at carefull. Generally, and I dont mean to imply that this is always the case, most people do not take the time to write positive reviews and will take tons of time to write a bad review. It’s human nature.
    My experience is that hose people that are writing the “scathing” reviews, the reviews you cringe a are not the most reiable people. I look at ALL the reviews and what I also do is ask for references if I am having work done on my home ( for example) or if dining out check with friends to see what their experience was like. I would never rely entirely on online reviews. People fake reviews. They use reviews to vent and even competitors have been know to sneak in and do drive by reviews on their competition. Until the review process can be reasonably guaranteed that people reviewing actually were customers, Id not be too comfortable on the legitimacy of the reviews.
    Online review services seem to be the new SEO gimmick ( by the way we still get inundated with this nonsense… everyone can do it bigger, better, faster).
    Steer clear of any company promising to manage you online reputation for money!

    1. I agree with Paul that in many cases a customers motivation for writing a review in the first place often arises from a particularly bad experience they might have had. This of course, might give a company an unfair online representation of negative reviews vs actual satisfied customers. As Jeff Bezos at Amazon is quoted as saying – “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends”.

      However, this is surely a reason for businesses to encourage (and make it easier) for more users to leave reviews, so that this balance can be re-addressed. We know from the Local Consumer Review Survey that people are READING more reviews (88% have done so), but businesses really need to try to increase the amount of customer (happy ones!) that are writing them too.

  6. Hi Ross,

    Some useful actionable stuff here e.g. I never thought about posting reviews on Twitter or Facebook.

    Can you clarify one stat please? The first sentence in point 5, states Reliability (72%) but the graphic states Reliability (27%.). Which one is correct?

  7. Online reviews are so important, the first place many consumers look before they buy anything. It is a good idea to encourage your customers to leave one, give them a direct link to your Google+ page or ask for their feedback for your website if possible.

    This is a great blog post, showing the effect of reviews in a clear way, so people can not ignore it. Though of course we must look out for fake reviews, whether they are positive or negative.

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