Online Reviews. Do They Really Matter?
It’s funny. As children, we were taught “don’t talk to strangers” and “don’t take advice from someone you don’t know.” Yet, somehow these wise words have slipped through the cracks in the online world we live in today.
As a business, you have few online allies more powerful than customer-written reviews. You could say people trust reviews—but that wouldn’t even be the half of it. One thing that’s no longer up for debate is that reviews can have a huge impact on your business and your bottom line.
Do Online Reviews Really Matter?
Let’s throw some numbers at you. In BrightLocal’s latest consumer survey report, they found:
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before establishing an opinion about a business
- 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
- 58% of consumers say that the star rating of a business is most important
Science defines social proof as a psychological phenomenon in which people follow the actions of others in an effort to reflect what is considered correct behavior for any given situation -- including online experiences. Simply put, social proof influences people's decisions on how they should behave.
We've usually turned to a number of useful sources as social proof. These include credible experts, thought leaders, celebrities, and friends. But today's diners or foodies rarely go to a restaurant without first visiting Yelp, and shoppers don’t go ahead and make a meaningful purchase without first reading what verified buyers have to say. Online reviews have major effects on purchasing behaviors. Certainly, they've emerged as one of the most compelling forms of social proof.
The Google Impact
While both are vital for small businesses, studies say Google is more important for reviews than Yelp. Google is the biggest search engine in the world (accounting for around 64% of all searches worldwide) and when potential customers search Google for local businesses, reviews and star ratings show up.
Google was also found to be the most important review site for purchase decisions, and consumers are 38% more likely to visit and 29% more likely to consider buying from a business with a complete Google My Business page.
Lastly, reviews on Google can also increase your click-through rates. In fact, 56% of searchers will choose to click on a business's listing just because it has a good star rating or positive reviews (even if it isn't the top result).
Are Negative Reviews Hurting Your Business?
Negative reviews are tricky. On one hand, one negative review can damage your business. On the other hand, consumers sometimes don’t always trust a business’s reviews if they’re all positive.
Still, negative reviews do come at a cost. They can cause four out of five consumers to reverse purchase decisions.
So that potential customer might be ready to buy until they read a few negative reviews, at which point they will simply move on. Additionally, one bad Yelp review can cost your business 30 customers, and bad reviews in Google search results can cause you to lose 70% of those potential customers.
However, if you fix the problem, you can turn the bad experience (and possibly that bad review they left for the world to see) around. When businesses address unhappy customers (and actually resolve the problem) that customer is more (70%) likely to use the business again. All you have to do is respond, apologize, and genuinely try to make it right.
The modern-day marketer can conclude that ratings and reviews have become one of the most influential ways for retailers and brands to engage consumers at the point of purchase. For businesses and consumers, a star can make all the difference.
Building a strong and strategized brand is the first step in creating a positive online presence, which involves so much more than responding to a negative review. If you’re not sure where to begin, let’s talk.
As an Orlando marketing agency, PH3 Agency + Brewery has helped businesses increase their exposure and quality leads through branding, content development, digital/web, search and social strategies since 2003.