If you have ever wondered if online reviews have an impact on consumers, it turns out they really do. According to BrightLocal’s “Local Consumer Review Survey 2015,” 92 percent of consumers read local reviews and they affect how a business is perceived.
The annual study analyzed results from over 2300 respondents over a range of questions and topics including frequency of use, reputation and trust, and willingness to recommend a business.
Only nine percent said they never use the internet to search for a local business, and six percent said they searched only once in the past year. The remaining 85 percent said they were searching daily (14 percent), weekly (17 percent), or monthly (12); others were less frequent, but still acknowledged searching.
Readers trust those reviews, as 80 percent think they are as reliable as personal recommendations. However, there is a caveat with this – consumers must believe the reviews are genuine, not paid for or posted by someone with a vested interest in the business.
The quality of the reviews is highly important as well, as more stars resulted in a greater likelihood of conducting business. Businesses with four or five star reviews were likely to be visited by 94 to 100 percent of consumers who read them; 57 percent said they would only visit a business that had at least three stars. A business garnering reviews of two stars or fewer would be considered by only about 14 percent of the respondents.
Positive reviews were important on other levels as well, as 81 percent said they provided the impetus to visit the website (48 percent), the business itself (23 percent), or to place a call (9 percent). The survey noted the decision to visit a business may be directly related to the type of business it is. Regarding what positive attributes a business must have in order to gain the trust and continued patronage of a consumer, almost two-thirds of those responding indicated a combination of reliability, value, and professionalism as the key elements.
The survey also found that consumers are forming their opinions much more quickly, with over 70 percent saying they learn what they need to know after reading one to six reviews, and most of those said they only needed one to three reviews to gain needed information (this group increased by 11 percent over 2014).
The businesses reviewed ran the gamut from restaurants and cafes to medical professionals to general and specialty retail stores and services, and consumers confessed to reading reviews for almost four different businesses, and increase over each of the past two years.
There was a perceived correlation between the age of the review and its relevancy, with about 7 in 10 saying reviews older than three months had lost their cachet, and about 40 percent of those said one month was the expiration date.
PC and laptops were the most common devices for conducting local searches (73 percent). However, mobile browsers (38 percent) and mobile apps (24 percent) were gaining ground, and a related study found that over 60 percent of consumers said they were more likely to contact businesses with sites optimized for mobile devices.
Anderson, Myles. “87 Percent of Potential Consumers Won’t Consider Businesses with Low Ratings,” BrightLocal. August 25, 2015.
BrightLocal. “Local Consumer Review Survey,” July 2015.