What Are the Top 8 Factors Consumers Look for in Online Reviews — and Owner Responses?

If you’ve visited our blog in the past, you’re probably familiar with some of the ways that online reviews — and, just as critically, your responses to them — can help drive and accelerate growth for the business being reviewed. For example, you might have discovered how a cohesive review response strategy can help you rank for local searches, learned about some review management mistakes to avoid, or read why paying for fake reviews is a dangerous way to generate buzz for your clients.

From improving rates of customer retention and encouraging consumers to shop at your business, to controlling the fallout from negative reviews, there are clear and quantifiable reasons why online review management should become an essential part of your greater reputation management strategy in 2022. For instance, leveraging a response scribe service has been shown to help businesses earn up to 33% more revenue than average. 

There’s no question that consumer decisions are influenced by online reviews, or that poor ratings can prevent shoppers from choosing your business — but which types of specific details do consumers hope to see most in a review? And how does that apply to owner responses in a way your agency can leverage? Read on as our response scribes break down the answers. 

Where Did We Get the Data? 

The marketing platform BrightLocal publishes an annual report on consumer attitudes toward online reviews and responses from business owners, providing agencies with valuable insights into topics like the minimum acceptable threshold for star ratings; the prevalence of various review platforms; and incentives for leaving reviews. The most recent version of the survey was published this January and asked more than 1,100 consumers questions about the reviews they read, the websites they used, and — as we’ll focus on today — the review factors they said made them most likely to “feel positively” about a brand. 

Though it’s impossible to control or censor the content of your reviews, it’s still important to understand how consumers perceive them — and, even more crucially, how your responses (or lack thereof) could be impacting your business. Based on BrightLocal’s data, here are eight key details that consumers look for in online reviews — plus, a few of our tips on responding to negative or positive reviews more effectively. 

response scribe

Top 8 Most Important Review Factors that Will Make Consumers Consider Your Product or Service 

If you’ve ever second-guessed whether it’s worth managing or responding to your reviews, the statistics below might change your opinion — especially number three. Here are eight details from online reviews that make consumers more likely to try your product or service, along with some strategies for increasing your number of reviews, minimizing the damage from negative reviews, and more. 

1. Content of the Review 

It’s probably no surprise that the content of a review was the number one factor consumers said would make them “feel positively about using a business.” Specifically, 75% of consumers said they were most interested in hearing about positive experiences with the reviewed product or service — a wide margin over the next factor on our list, which was chosen by 58% of respondents. 

This data also aligns with some recent findings from Yelp. The Yelp survey, similar to BrightLocal’s, found that “for an overwhelming majority of people surveyed, their ideal review includes a description of someone’s experience,” with a whopping 97% preferring written reviews to textless star ratings.

2. Overall Star Rating 

After those who chose a description of a “positive experience” (75%), the second highest number of respondents (58%) chose “a high star rating” as the top desirable factor in a review to make them consider using a business. We covered this topic extensively in our post about the ideal star rating for a business in 2022, where we discussed whether a perfect 5-star rating was really necessary to earn consumers’ trust. 

BrightLocal’s data showed that most consumers didn’t expect a perfect 5-star rating, with significantly higher percentages opting for 4 stars or even 3.5 stars as the acceptable minimum. But while most consumers are willing to accept imperfect ratings, the majority of shoppers still expect your business to earn high marks — and will choose a competitor if you don’t. Brands that take advantage of our response scribe service increase their ratings from 3.9 stars to 4.6 stars on average, along with other benefits you can learn more about here

3. Responses from Business Owners

If you’re a small business or digital marketing agency, this may be the most important point to take away from the entire list. Over half of the respondents to BrightLocal’s survey (55%) said that they would feel positively about using a business if “the business owner has responded to the review,” suggesting that you can effectively reach and convert more prospects into customers simply by responding diligently to all reviews received. 

Our review reply service ensures that all of your clients’ reviews receive customized, on-brand responses within 24 hours, enabling your team to offer review management to clients without having to sacrifice time or divert staff members away from other projects. With our team empowering yours, including US-based customer support, responding to reviews has never been easier or more efficient. 

4. Review Recency 

Nearly half of the respondents (49%) said that they wanted the review to have been posted within the last 30 days. But does that mean you can ignore reviews that are over one month old? 

While that strategy made more sense in the past, the newest data shows that consumers are now more willing to look at non-recent reviews compared to their attitudes in earlier years. In 2020, a full 50% of survey respondents said they would only consider reviews from within the past two weeks, whereas just 22% expressed the same opinion the following year — an evolution that savvy business owners will act on by ensuring they implement a strategy for dealing with old reviews

5. Reviewer Anonymity 

41% of respondents expressed a preference for seeing the reviewer’s name, rather than an anonymous or fictionalized username. For a quick tip, make sure to always include the reviewer’s name in your response to a review or rating. Including a name is an easy way to provide a higher level of customization in each of your responses, a topic we wrote about here

6. Photo Sharing  

40% of respondents — nearly as many as the last factor on the list — said that they feel more positively about a business if “there is an appealing photograph of the product or service accompanying the review.” When requesting reviews from customers, consider encouraging them to include a photograph, which can help boost the credibility and impact of a positive review.  

7. Grammar and Spelling 

A total of 38% of respondents said they were more inclined to think favorably about businesses whose reviews featured “spelling and grammar of a high quality.” This suggests that business owners, though unable to control the content of their reviews, should be careful to respond with appropriate spelling, grammar, and punctuation, which helps to convey a sense of professionalism and attention to detail. 

8. Review Comprehensiveness 

Just over one quarter of the respondents (27%) said they preferred to see a review that was “long and detailed.” This seems aligned with other BrightLocal and Yelp findings that, as we mentioned earlier, most consumers prefer written reviews over star ratings. 

Ready to Start Offering a Review Response Service to Your Clients? Ask How Shout About Us Can Help 

With our personalized review reply service, your agency will receive a dedicated, US-based, professionally-trained responder who will reply to all of your clients’ reviews within 24 hours. Depending on your team’s needs and preferences, you have the option to review and request edits to responses, or simply post each response live directly from your email or mobile device. Combined with our reputation management platform and listings management services, our response scribe service offers a powerful and flexible tool for saving time, converting customers, and boosting revenue. 

Discover why leading digital agencies like CallSource, Curious Jane, Qebot, and V Digital Services trust Shout About Us to provide turnkey review and reputation management solutions. Schedule a demo today, or contact our team online to get started. 

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