From gaining new skills to setting new goals, most of us kick off our new year by making resolutions to grow. Why not make a resolution to grow your business, too? If you own or manage a company, the start of a new year is the perfect time to reevaluate your business strategy, assessing what worked — what didn’t — and most importantly, where you’re headed next. But it’s not enough to gain insights into how your business functions — you also need to gain insights into how your customers function, leveraging data to make better and more efficient decisions in 2021.
While consumer behavior varies across industries, regions, and demographics, there’s one trait most consumers share in common: the majority read online reviews (a trend we’ll explore in this article, among others). That means every review your business receives is an opportunity to attract customers — especially if you take the time to give your reviewers great responses.
Learn why responding to customer reviews is one of the most important strategies your business needs to start implementing in 2021. Read on for three surprising statistics that show how online reviews — and, just as critically, the responses they receive — are having a larger and larger impact on consumers’ buying decisions.
Statistic #1: 96% of Review Readers Also Read Owner Responses
A quick note before we dive into the data: the following statistics were sourced from the 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by SEO service BrightLocal, which publishes the survey annually. As BrightLocal explains of its methodology, the 2020 version “was conducted in November” and looked at “a representative sample of 1,013 US-based consumers,” including a mix of “representative” age groups.
The survey, which we encourage you to read in full, yields a wealth of statistical information about the intersection between online reviews, owner responses, and consumer behavior. For the purposes of this article, we’re zooming in on three key data points we think businesses should be paying special attention to.
Here’s our first: according to the survey, 87% of consumers “read online reviews for local businesses in 2020,” a sharp increase from 81% in 2019. But here’s where things get even more interesting: among those consumers who read online reviews for local businesses, a whopping 96% also reported reading owner responses.
So why does that matter from a business standpoint? Because, as the survey also revealed, about 70% of consumers say they “are more likely to use a business that has responded” to their comments. As you may be surprised to learn, this percentage stays consistent even when customer feedback is negative, underscoring the importance of replying to every — yes, every — review your business receives.
For more information on that topic, check out our article featuring step-by-step instructions for how to respond to negative reviews online. (Or, if you’re having the opposite issue, try our strategies for responding to positive reviews.) Otherwise, let’s move on to our next fact, which deals with expected response speeds.
Statistic #2: 1 in 5 Reviewers Expect an Owner Response within 24 Hours
Reviewers expect you to respond — and they expect you to do it quickly. When surveyed on owner response times, exactly 20% of respondents told BrightLocal they expected a business to reply within 24 hours of being reviewed.
That means one in five consumers would be disappointed with a later response — and the longer you wait to reply, the more consumers you’re going to turn off of your brand in the process. In addition to the 20% of consumers who expected a response within 24 hours, another 26% said they expected a response within 48 hours, while a combined total of 30% hoped for a response within either three days or one week. Past the one-week mark, the data showed a dramatic drop-off, with just 4% of consumers saying they expected a response within two weeks. At three weeks, that figure shrunk by half (2%), which happened again at the four-week mark (1%). In fact, consumers were more likely to expect no response (9%) than a slow response, though the vast majority of respondents (91%) did expect to receive a reply from the business owner at some point.
Even if math isn’t your strong point, it’s easy to see what these percentages indicate: that when it comes to response times, faster is better. Reviewers don’t simply appreciate responsiveness — in 2021, they demand it. If your business isn’t prepared to keep up, you’re already starting the new year at a competitive disadvantage.
Statistic #3: Only 35% of Reviewers Receive Responses to All of Their Reviews
BrightLocal’s survey data is clear: not only do many consumers read online reviews and responses, they also expect swift replies from business owners. That’s why the next statistic is so baffling — and such a great opportunity for business owners to stand out from their competitors. According to BrightLocal, a mere 77% of consumers could “recall receiving a response to their review,” while an even smaller portion — just 35% — said they “received a response to every review.”
If only 35% of reviewers always receive owner responses, that leaves about two thirds whose comments go unacknowledged, at least a portion of the time. The size of that portion varies, with 21% of survey respondents saying “over half” of their reviews were responded to; an additional 21% saying “at least one review” received a response; and, perhaps most interestingly, 18% saying they received no response at all. By comparison, only 5% said they were unsure whether they had received responses. The takeaway here is that most consumers — 95%, to be exact — do have a sense of whether business owners reply to their comments. If your business fails to respond to reviews, even half or a quarter of the time, the majority of your customers will notice — and likely, experience disappointment with your brand when they do.
Don’t let valuable customers slip away by failing to respond to reviews. Instead, let the experts at Shout About Us provide the review response solutions your business or agency needs, so that you can focus on making 2021 your year.
Hire a Response Scribe to Manage Your Business’ Online Reviews This Year
2020 was a challenging year for everyone. Now that it’s behind us, let’s focus on moving your business forward. Start 2021 off strong by taking control of your online reviews with a dedicated response scribe from Shout About Us.
At Shout About Us, we specialize in creating personalized responses to online reviews, including but not limited to Google reviews, Yelp reviews, and Facebook reviews. With 24-hour turnaround, easy-to-use custom dashboards, and the option to preview responses before publication, our response scribe service makes online reputation management effortless.
Join Chick-fil-A, Jersey Mike’s Subs, CertaPro Painters, Wyndham Garden Hotels, PostalAnnex+, and the thousands of other businesses who have already made the switch to our professional response scribes. Respond to your customer reviews with confidence — all without having to write a word. Ready to see how it works for yourself? Contact Shout About Us online to schedule your demo today.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter based in Philadelphia.