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Ten years ago, nobody really cared about online reviews. People used word of mouth to find out if a product was worth purchasing. Now you go online, type in the product, and can read what thousands of people say about that product. You can see what they have to say about the product or service, and see if they deem it worthwhile. If they don’t like it, chances are, you aren’t going to purchase it. An item that gets 9 stars out of 10 is more likely to be purchased than an item rated 2 out of 10.

Recently BrightLocal conducted a consumer review study, as they do each year. This study showcases a wide variety of numbers to really dig into how important getting customers to review products is. They’ve been conducting the study for five years now, starting in 2010. The study only questions customers in North America, but if you’re selling a product, you’re usually targeting an American audience anyway. 90% of consumers surveyed are from the USA, and 10% are from Canada. The total amount of people questioned was just shy of 5,000, so the data for this survey is fairly accurate, with a decent-sized survey population.

Now we’re going to look at some of the more important takeaways from the study, to see what’s really important to you, the business owner or marketer.

Only 13% of Consumers Consider Using a Business with a 1 or 2 Star Rating:

This essentially means that if your online reputation is shot, so is your business through the internet. If your business is listed in Google Places, you should immediately go check to see what your business rating is. If it’s crumbling down to a low rating (even below a 4 star rating), you should try to entice customers to leave you a positive rating online. More and more people are using the internet to find locations, and if your business has a decent rating, they are more likely to choose it (as you’ll see more about later on).

Star Ratings are The #1 Factor Consumers Use to Judge a Business:

You’re going to see more and more about this as time goes on. More people are using the internet every day. Think about it yourself, as a business owner. When you want to check out restaurants in a foreign town, how do you decide where to go? You probably type in “restaurants in __”, and look at the top rated restaurants on that list. Many people just look at the ones who are highly rated. If your business isn’t highly rated, you need to work on boosting that up as soon as you can.

92% of Consumers Read Online Reviews:

If you haven’t figured it out by now, online reviews are a huge factor when marketing your business. There are a few ways you can really make your business shine online, and one of them is just by getting people to review your business. Let’s give you a quick example.

Say you run a restaurant. People come in, and are ecstatic with your service, but they aren’t going to leave a review online. People rarely do. You can either offer an incentive for them to take the thirty seconds to hop online and leave you a review on Google, or you can just ask them to do it. Some businesses in the Silicon Valley are offering 25% off coupons if customers leave a review on Google. Others are giving away small things like a free beer, free coffee, and other small incentives. For the customers, this is easily worth their time. For the business, it is too. You should be heavily pushing customers to give you an online review if they can. It will make you more money by drawing in more customers.

44% of Consumers Say a Review Must Be Written Within 1 Month to Be Relevant:

This isn’t as relevant to actual brick and mortar shops, but instead to products. Service of shops doesn’t really change all too much, but how a business handles online shipping, for example, is important. Sometimes service turns into garbage after a while for some businesses once they start becoming successful. For newer establishments, as well as online businesses, making sure newer reviews keep coming is key. For older establishments that already have hundreds of raving reviews, this isn’t as necessary.

Consumers are Becoming More Concerned About Fake Reviews:

This is very important to note for any business. You cannot just leave fifty fake reviews yourself, or ask employees/friends to leave you reviews. People can tell when reviews are fake, and it’s just not worth it to fake your reviews. It can damage your business reputation, and drive customers away. As long as your business provides value to your customers, and you push customers to leave reviews, you will end up with loads of positive reviews in no time. There is no need to fake reviews.

80% of Customers Trust Online Reviews Just as Much as Personal Recommendations:

This statistic is shocking. It really shows how we’ve changed as a culture in the past 10 years. You used to just ask for other people’s opinions on places, or rely on word of mouth to help you find places to go. Nowadays, depending on certain stipulations, 80% of customers are likely to trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. This means just by having reviews on your website or on Google, customers are going to believe them just as much as someone they know personally recommending your business.

If this study shows one thing, it’s that online reviews are now more relevant than they’ve ever been before. And as BrightLocal shows in their yearly studies, they’re just becoming more and more necessary as each year goes on. In their graphs shown in their study they compare the year 2010, 2014, and 2015. You can see a huge jump in just about every category from 2010 to 2015. The internet boom isn’t over, it’s just beginning. By 2020, we’re sure to see a huge jump again. Get ahead of the curve. Start asking people to review your business online, and start earning more than you’ve ever made before.


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