We trust real people more than ever. And consumers trust companies and organizations less.
The pandemic has brought great uncertainty, and online reviews are the deciding factor when deciding whether to go to a local business, make a purchase online, or select a competitor.
The message is clear: if you’re selling to consumers, you need to encourage and manage your customer reviews.
Podium’s fascinating new report on online reviews, the 2021 State of Reviews, confirms consumers are analyzing and reading online reviews more than EVER before.
If you haven’t already grabbed your copy, I want you to download the entire report and see it for yourself. This is the most important research on customer reviews you will read this year.
Here are my favorite online review statistics from Podium’s State of Online Reviews report.
1. Reviews are 2x more likely to be an important factor in choosing a local business than loyalty, and 7.4x more likely to be an important factor than traditional marketing.
If you haven’t shifted budget from traditional advertising to review management and word of mouth, consider doing it in 2022.
2. Half of consumers are reading reviews to validate local businesses’ safety practices.
Most businesses have communicated safety practices via email and on their website. But as you are probably aware, the safety practices are not always followed or enforced, so customers confirm the safety of businesses by checking reviews and photos in advance. Moral of the story, consumers read reviews and there is no better time to get your review strategy in place than during the Pandemic.
3. Only 9% of consumers would consider engaging with a business that had a 1- or 2-star average rating.
This is precisely why review management is so important. If any of your locations have a 1- or 2-star average rating, there is no question you’re losing business. There are several review management softwares that can make responding to negative reviews seamless, especially free ones.
4. Approximately half of consumers are willing to travel farther and pay more in order to patronize a business with higher reviews.
Consumers are willing to pay more if a business has positive reviews. Incredible. Customer reviews can make price irrelevant. This is all along the principles of trust. Positive reviews reveal trust in a business.
5. Most consumers have read a review in the past week.
In fact, 23% of consumers have read an online review in the LAST DAY. Reviews are here to stay, and this number will only continue to increase.
6. 28% of consumers say they have looked up a business’s reviews while standing or being parked right outside to decide if they should go in or not.
Yes, checks out. I do this all the time.
Whether you’re a small business owner or enterprise managing multiple locations, encouraging and managing local reviews is NOT optional. How sad would it be to scare a customer away when they’re 20 feet away from your business?
7. 31% of consumers say they are more likely to look at a local business’s Google listing before visiting it than they were pre-COVID.
Encouraging and replying to reviews is an incredible opportunity to grow your business NOW.
8. Only 24% of businesses respond to negative reviews all the time.
The premise of my book, Hug Your Haters, is that responding to your most vocal, negative customers can turn them into your most vocal, happy customers. I’d wager to say responding to negative reviews is more important than responding to positive reviews. Make THAT your priority.
9. Over 60% of consumers are likely to leave a review if the business follows up with a link asking for a review.
Don’t be shy about asking for reviews, whether via email or text. If the customer had a positive experience, you’d increase your rating. And if it was negative, you’ll know, be able to address it, and hopefully salvage the relationship. I’ve also seen studies showing consumers trust reviews MORE if there are some realistic, negative reviews too. A profile with ONLY positive reviews can be suspicious.
10. Local businesses are 1.4x more likely to have an average star rating of 4.5 or higher if they are proactive about their online reputation vs. if they are passive about it.
We all know local businesses that have flourished because of positive reviews. I hope yours is next.
Encourage your customers to leave online reviews by texting them.
The state of online review statistics paint a clear picture: reviews are more important than ever.
Make it super easy for customers to leave a review on the websites that matter most. The best way to do this is by texting them with a local messaging platform like Podium.
Don’t forget to reply and engage with those customers too. They’re relying on reviews to make decisions about your business — you should use customer reviews to grow yours.
If you haven’t already, download the full 2021 State of Reviews Report now. It’s the best piece of content on customer reviews you’ll read all year.
Podium is a Convince & Convert partner and client.