Our friends at BrightLocal have kindly released their annual survey of local consumer reviews. They usually come up with interesting results, and this year is no exception. Marketing on the Internet changes rapidly, and it’s important to keep up with what’s important at this moment. And, at this moment, on-line reviews have reached a remarkable level of importance. Your business needs to pay attention to its reviews!
Here are some of the important findings:
- 97% of consumers read on-line reviews for local businesses, 12% of them doing so every day
- 97% of consumers say that they won’t trust a business unless it has at least a four star rating
- Yelp, Facebook, Google and BBB.org, in that order, are the most trusted sites
- 30% of consumers say that responses to reviews is key in judging local businesses
Using the Internet to Find a Local Business
Use of the Internet to find a local business has risen from 95% in 2016 to 97% in 2017. Virtually all consumers are now using the Internet to find local businesses.
It’s safe to say that the Internet has become a central method for consumers to use to find local businesses; 52% of consumers used the Internet once a month or more often to find a local business.
Now let’s take a look at the importance of on-line reviews in consumers’ search for local businesses.
Reading Reviews on Various Business Types
Virtually all significant business types are included in the use of reviews. Take a look for your business in this list. Are consumers reading reviews for your business?
Regularity of service use has high correlation with the frequency of use of reviews. For example, most people are not looking for accountants or locksmiths nearly as often as they are for a place to have lunch. Note that if your business is near the right side of this chart, then it’s particularly important for you to mind your reviews, since you will tend to get fewer of them, and it’ll be more difficult for good reviews to push a bad review down the charts.
Devices Used to Read Reviews
The desktop and laptop remain the most important reading devices, although we see steadily increasing use of mobile platforms, with the use of mobile apps for reading reviews increasing most rapidly. This growing use of mobile platforms underscores the importance for everyone who has a Web site to be sure that it’s mobile-friendly.
Trusted Review Sites
This data about trust is valuable for targeting review campaigns. Yelp and Facebook are most trusted, followed by Google. But then BBB.org is worth attention, too, at 15%. Of course, if you’re in a travel-related business, this chart tells you where you want reviews.
It’s interesting that, although health care is a top subject for reading reviews, the health-related review sites didn’t make it into the most-trusted category. If you’re in a health-related business, you’d be wise to seek reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Google and BBB.org, and not focus primarily on health-related review sites.
Effect of On-Line Reviews on Opinion
Here we see that positive reviews make consumers trust a business more. However, on the negative side, there is growing skepticism about negative reviews, and a growing willingness to discount them. In addition, a growing number say that they read reviews but that their selection of a business isn’t influenced by them. One must wonder about that answer–if reading reviews doesn’t influence the choice of a business, then why read the reviews?
Minimum Star Rating to be Considered
This result shows a sharp change from year to year in the minimum rating to be considered.
There is a strong shift from 3 as a minimum star level to be considered toward 4, and 4 stars is now the most-cited minimum number of stars to be considered. This may reflect inflation in average star rating, because more businesses are paying close attention to their ratings in on-line reviews.
Currency of Reviews
This result shows that it’s not enough to simply amass a lot of reviews and then relax–consumers are looking for current reviews. It’s important to keep acquiring reviews at a steady pace so that the review sites always have current reviews for your business.
The Bottom Line
On-line reviews matter, and they matter a lot! You can ask your customers to review you, or you can take a more active role in providing a steady stream of reviews for your business by using a review management service line Dave’s Certified Reviews. You can get a free report on your reviews by clicking here.