What's the first thing you do when you're looking for a local business to help you solve a problem?
For most people, the answer involves using the internet. Picking up one's smart phone to consult a maps app or open up Yelp, or using your computer to search Google is now second nature in solving these kind of problems.
This change in consumer behavior in turn sparked another phenomena: the rise of the online customer review.
For decades, people turned to friends and neighbors to help them find reputable local businesses. As the internet changed the way we talk to each other and consume information, our collective need for referrals led the creation review directories like Yelp, product reviews on sites like Amazon, and the star ratings Google and many other websites feature alongside businesses or products.
Local businesses can take advantage of the rise of the customer review by asking customers to leave them a good review, but many still are not.
Put this blog post to work with our review generation checklist, featuring actionable tips for getting more high-quality business reviews not mentioned in this blog post.
In its annual local consumer review survey, BrightLocal reports these reviews are as important as ever. Here are eight of their data-backed reasons why:
1. 50% of consumers now read reviews on a regular basis
When asked if they use online reviews to "determine whether a local business is good or bad," half said they did so regularly, with an additional 41% indicating they did so occasionally.
Perhaps even more revealing is the fact that the number of people that reported they read reviews "regularly" jumped a whopping 17% in just one year, perhaps due to even more large sites (such as Facebook) emphasizing reviews.
2. 90% of consumers feel they can trust a business by reading 10 or fewer reviews
The more reviews, the better. But even 10 reviews are enough for most people.
Actually, just six reviews are enough for most people, by definition. When asked how many reviews they read before feeling like they could trust a business, more than 2/3 answered with six or fewer.
3. Star ratings are the most important attribute of reviews
Star-ratings are becoming ubiquitous. Nearly 60% of consumers indicated star rating was the most important review attribute.
This illustrates the importance of asking specifically for 5-star reviews.
4. 73% of only think reviews from the last three months are relevant
This presents a bit of a conundrum for local business owners. While it doesn't seem like quantity of reviews is that important to consumers, recency certainly is.
5. 84% of people see online reviews the same way they see a personal recommendation
When asked if they trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations, more than eight out of every 10 people answered with some variation of "yes."
Marketers are always working to earn the trust of potential customers. But you know what consumers actually trust? Other consumers.
6. Seven out of every 10 of your customers would be willing to leave you a review
This one is pretty eye-opening. Many local business owners might be afraid of asking for reviews from customers out of fear of bothering them, but the truth of the matter is this: if your customers are truly happy with their experience, most of them will be happy to leave a review.
Another important point: just two-thirds of all survey respondants said they'd ever been asked to submit a review, meaning there's still a gap between the number of people who read reviews and the number of people who write them.
Consistently generating online reviews is a crucial marketing consideration for local businesses because:
- they're increasingly read by consumers
- they're increasingly trusted by consumers
- consumers don't trust old reviews
- most consumers are willing to leave reviews for local businesses
Don't forget to get our free SEO guide for putting reviews to work for your local business.