Whether it’s a restaurant, a real estate company, a healthcare provider, or any other type of business, online reviews are essential for its long-term growth and success. As we’ve discussed in the past, positive ratings empower businesses to build consumer trust, rank higher in local searches, and ultimately, attract new customers who will drive more revenue. Proactive, diligent review management is key to reaping these benefits — and, key to controlling the damage when you receive a bad review.
Many business owners underestimate the power of online reviews, and worse, miss valuable opportunities to respond and engage with reviewers. But as we’ll see in this week’s article, where we’ll look at some recent stats compiled by Search Engine Journal, it’s a costly mistake to ignore best practices around online reviews.
We’ll help your business avoid those mistakes by zooming in on four compelling stats, and breaking down what they mean in practical terms for your review management strategy. By putting our tips into practice — or, simply letting our response scribes handle the writing for you — you can build brand awareness, turn more leads into customers, and increase your profitability in 2023.
Stat #1: Half of Consumers Trust Internet Reviews as Much as Their Friends or Family Members
It’s difficult to overstate just how impactful reviews truly are when it comes to shaping consumer decisions. According to a survey by BrightLocal, 98% of consumers — effectively all — say that they “read online reviews for local businesses” prior to making purchases. Other sources, such as the review platform Brand Rated, have produced similar findings, with 95% of consumers saying they “read reviews before they buy a product.”
Considering these numbers, maybe the first stat on our list shouldn’t be a surprise — but it should drive businesses to action. In a 2022 survey of more than 1,100 consumers, almost half (49%) said that they “trust[ed] consumer reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.”
With online reviews making such a major impact on your bottom line, it’s crucial to monitor the comments you’re receiving — and make sure you’re receiving enough. Ask about our review monitoring service, or learn how you can get more reviews.
Stat #2: Customers Expect to Receive a Review Response in 1 Week or (Much) Less
Responding to reviews is vital if you want to maximize the advantages we described earlier in this post, like earning the trust of consumers and helping your business rank locally. But it’s not enough just to respond; you also have to be timely about it.
According to Search Engine Journal, over half of consumers (53%) expect business owners to respond to negative reviews within seven days, at most. Ideally, though, your team will respond much sooner, since about one third of consumers expect a review reply within 72 hours. Shout About Us ensures that reviews receive personalized replies within 24 hours or less, making it effortless for your team to deliver swift service to your customers and commenters.
Stat #3: Most Consumers Don’t Trust Businesses with Star Ratings Below 4
Data indicates that nearly half of all consumers — about 40% — are unwilling to trust businesses with star ratings of 3.9 or lower, looking instead to those with ratings of 4 and above. The next largest group of consumers, about 23%, is willing to trust businesses rated 3.5 stars or higher, but not 3.4 stars or lower. And almost zero consumers — about 6% total — are willing to trust businesses with ratings below 3 stars.
As a business owner, can you explicitly control your star rating on platforms like Google or Yelp? No — and in fact, attempting to manipulate your ratings can result in consequences like account suspension. What you can do, however, is enact the following strategies to increase your overall star rating:
- Request more feedback from your customers — without offering any rewards or incentives that would violate platform rules
- Make it painless, fast, and easy for reviewers to leave you a comment or rating
- Harness the power of personalization by customizing your requests to the individuals who are receiving them
- Follow up on both negative and positive customer reviews by delivering timely responses to the authors
- Implement customer feedback where appropriate
- Ensure that your listings and details are accurate and up-to-date
Stat #4: Up to 56% of Consumers Are Willing to Change or Update Bad Ratings
Search Engine Journal writes that more than half of consumers — 56% — “changed their perspective on a business based on how they responded to a review.” Our own recent research turned up similar results, depending on which industry we concentrated on, with 53% of restaurant reviewers and roughly 45% of home service/contractor reviewers expressing the same willingness to update negative reviews based on responses from the business owner.
That’s a powerful testament to the ability of a thoughtful, timely response to change consumers’ attitudes — and in turn, help maintain your brand’s valuable image and reputation. Here are a few collections of tips to help you respond to reviews successfully:
- Does your brand follow these 3 Harvard-recommended strategies for dealing with negative reviews?
- How (and why) to respond to reviews in the education industry
- How 3 of the world’s top brands respond to online comments and reviews
Need a Review Reply Service that Generates Custom Responses in 24 Hours or Less?
From boosting trust in your franchise or brand, to helping more people find you on Google, to converting leads into customers, online review management is a versatile, low-cost, high-efficiency strategy that empowers you to achieve a wide range of goals for your small, mid-size, or large organization. Businesses that reply to their reviews earn 33% more revenue than average, increase client retention rates by as much as 124%, and increase their ranking by 0.12 stars on average.
Discover the ways your brand could benefit when you work with our custom review response service, which provides personalized replies to all ratings and reviews within 24 hours or less. Review generation, review removal, review monitoring, and business listing management offer additional a-la-carte solutions tailored to your organization’s evolving needs. Schedule a demo today, or get in touch with our team to learn more.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.