Consumers are turning to them more often to make purchasing decisions, they trust them more, and they’re actively reviewing businesses on a more frequent basis.
A recent 2019 study by BrightLocal on local customer reviews backs these findings up (and much more).
The survey reveals some interesting trends in customer review behavior from 2010 to 2019 (the study has been conducted in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2106, 2017, and 2018).
However, the most important information is what this data means for businesses in the modern digital era.
Key Statistic: 91% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is good or bad.
This statistic indicates a vast majority of consumers turn to Google and other online reviews when determining how they feel about a business before engaging with it.
The social proof inherent in reviews and hearing about other people’s experiences is valuable information for an undecided consumer.
Since most people are reading reviews, businesses need to take their reviews seriously.
They are an extension of word-of-mouth–meaning what people say about you can theoretically be read by thousands of people, not just individuals in a customer’s immediate network.
And these reviews drastically affect your reputation in the marketplace.
Key Statistic: 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Word-of-mouth has long been one of the most powerful marketing tools.
A recommendation from a friend, coworker, family member, or acquaintance carries a lot of weight due to the trust inherent in the relationship.
More people are trusting online reviews at a higher rate than ever.
Key Statistic: 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to.
A common concern among business owners is wanting more reviews but also not wanting to pressure their customers to leave them.
This statistic helps to qualm those concerns.
To ramp up your review marketing, you need calls-to-action asking for more Google reviews.
Not only is it difficult to get more reviews without asking (unless your business is gaining customers at a steady rate), but not asking for them while your competitors are will leave you falling behind.
You don’t need to shove it in their face at every turn.
Just place reminders around your store, on your website, or email and text them to leave a review of your service.
Key Statistic: 90% of consumers read 10 reviews or less before they feel they can trust a business.
A quality review system within your review marketing plan helps maximize your positive reviews.
And data shows this can pay quick dividends.
Because 90% of consumers read just 10 reviews or less before trusting (or not trusting) a business.
In decision-making terms, this is an extremely short amount of time.
It’s also a testament to just how much consumers trust the information they gain from local business reviews.
You want to make sure as many of those 1-10 reviews are positive.
If most are negative, consumers will make a quick decision which will most likely lead to them researching your competitors.
If most are positive, consumers will make a quick decision which will most likely end up in increased business and revenue.
Key Statistic: 54% of people will visit the website after reading positive reviews.
After reading positive reviews (and usually 10 or less of them) data shows most people will visit your website.
Here, they will gather more information, learn more about what you offer, and begin making a final decision about whether or not to do business with you.
(For comparison, the study found 19% of consumers will visit the business right after reading positive reviews, and 17% will continue to search for more reviews about the business.)
Key Statistic: 73% of consumers think reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant.
This statistic provides insight which is twofold:
If your more recent reviews are older than three months, they lose most of their trust with the market (and, therefore, their value to your business).
The more recent your reviews, the more trustworthy they are (and, therefore, their potential value to your business increases).
As long as your reviews are positive, a consistent amount of new reviews can be extremely valuable.
They maintain all of their trust with the market and serve your business in a beneficial way.
However, if your reviews are recent but negative, or if they’re outdated (whether positive or negative) they can suddenly become either irrelevant or detrimental to your business.
This means most people go directly from reading positive reviews to becoming potential leads, where your website does the final selling.
Key Statistic: 58% of consumers say the star rating of a business is most important.
87% of people also say a business needs a rating of 3-5 stars before they will use them.
Star ratings provide an overall ranking of your business based on the cumulative reviews of every customer.
It’s a quick and easy way for consumers to gauge the value of a business compared to its competitors and their other options.
For most consumers, a business must have a minimum of 3 or 4 stars before they will use them.
This should be your goal if you are at 2 stars or below.
Bonus: Engage With People Who Have Already Left Reviews
Most review sites allow you to comment or reply to individual reviews.
Use this opportunity to engage with these people, both the positive and negative reviews.
This shows people reading your reviews you care about people’s experiences.
This will increase the likelihood of them leaving a review (because they know you care about the feedback) and it will show people the service you provide is a top priority.
With positive reviews, simply say thank you for the review, address any concerns they might have brought up, and communicate you’re always working on improving your service.
With negative reviews, it’s usually best to acknowledge their concerns, say you will take action on them (only if you are actually going to), and thank them for their honest feedback.
Paul Steinbrueck (along with Mark) founded OurChurch.Com in 1996. As CEO, he leads strategic planning, manages projects, blogs, and directs OCC’s communications. As CTO, Paul oversees software development and technical operations. Paul is married and has three young children. He serves in his church as an elder and small group Bible study leader. He also enjoys playing soccer, hiking, geocaching, and rooting on the Tampa Bay Bucs, Rays, and Lightning. You can connect with Paul on Twitter and LinkedIn.