Data shows that, as technology expands and expectations change, online reviews are gaining more and more influence over consumers — and their spending habits. For example, one annual survey found that 77% of U.S. consumers either “always” or “regularly” searched for online reviews before shopping in 2021, compared to only 60% just a year earlier. In the same survey, more than 80% and 50% of consumers reported using Google or Yelp, respectively, to help them “evaluate local businesses” — both sharp increases from 63% and 32% in 2020.
It’s clear that, as more and more of us turn to websites and apps to help us choose and purchase products or services, online reviews have likewise gained in importance and influence. But do some reviews carry more weight than others, or do consumers attribute equal value to all reviews? What factor, if any, makes some reviews “worth more” than others? And most importantly, how could the answers to these questions impact your review response strategy?
In this week’s article, we’ll investigate recent findings from Yelp to reveal what consumers value most in a review — and crucially, how you can leverage that data to craft better, more satisfying responses, driving more growth for your agency and your clients. Keep reading to learn what types of reviews consumers care about most according to Yelp researchers, plus get a few expert tips to help your team compose high-quality owner responses.
Why is it Important to Provide Your Clients with a Review Response Service?
Our response scribes have already covered a few of the ways that responding to reviews can benefit your or your client’s brand. For example, as we’ve discussed in the past on our blog, implementing a review response strategy can:
- Improve your customer retention rate — potentially by as much as 43%
- Help your website rank higher in local searches, as Google has previously confirmed
- Encourage consumers to trust (and convert to) your brand, with 89% of the participants in one recent survey, which you can read linked above, reporting that “they would be ‘fairly’ or ‘highly’ likely to use a business that responds to all reviews”
- Give you numerous opportunities to advertise deals, promotions, rewards programs, or other customer service initiatives you’d like to spread the word about — without paying for costly ad space
For all of these reasons, review management should be a high priority for you and your clients in 2022 — especially if you want to remain competitive against the increasing numbers of digital agencies that are beginning to offer these services. But where and how should you focus your initial efforts for maximum return? Learn about which types of reviews make the biggest impressions on consumers — and discover some pointers on “do’s” and “don’ts” when replying.
Customers Value Personalization — Is Your Review Response Strategy Delivering?
From 1-star ratings to 5-star ratings — reviews that were posted an hour ago, to reviews that were posted a month ago — all reviews have the power to impact what other people think about your business, and in turn, their likelihood of using it. Whether a review is positive or negative, old or recent, anonymous or shared under a name, it’s essential to provide each reviewer with a prompt and personalized response — unless, that is, you’re willing to lose out on over half of your potential customers.
With that important caveat in mind, we think it’s worth highlighting some recent research from Yelp (and the consulting agency Kelton), which revealed that certain characteristics make some reviews more influential than others. In a survey conducted October 2021 and published in December, which polled approximately 1,500 U.S. participants, researchers uncovered that “nine out of ten people…are more likely to trust those [reviews] that include a written review over just a star rating with no words.” On the other hand, only a tiny fraction of consumers — just 3% — said they preferred a star rating with no comment.
Among the overwhelming majority who preferred to see star ratings accompanied by comments, most (59%) preferred medium-length reviews ranging from 16 to 50 words. About half as many (24%) preferred short reviews consisting of 15 words or fewer, while the smallest group (14%) preferred long reviews consisting of at least 51 words.
Commenting on these findings, Yelp added, “Not only are ratings with no review text unhelpful to many consumers, they also deny business owners the opportunity to respond and address a negative customer experience.” The statement continued, “Many businesses pride themselves on their customer service, so it’s challenging to make an issue right if there’s no feedback to respond to.”
This research speaks to the immense value and power of personalization in the customer journey — and, should be food for thought for business owners in 2022. The overwhelming preference for written reviews over star ratings indicates — like much other data — that consumers value the personal over the impersonal, the detailed over the generic. If your agency is still relying on identical, boilerplate templates for every review, you’re wasting effort on responses that are out of step with consumer expectations — and worse, could actually be causing “frustration” for a majority of your reviewers.
Virtually all customers place a high degree of value on detailed, unique reviews. Ensure that your agency adapts by delivering thoughtful, custom responses — or risk falling behind your competitors who do.
Not sure how to get started? Explore our tips on writing better responses to negative reviews and positive reviews (and those mysterious 1-star ratings that, as Yelp mentioned, can be tricky to handle). Or, make it even simpler: ask how our 24-hour review reply service can help support your agency, so you can support your clients — and they can support their customers.
Schedule a Demo of Our Response Scribe Service for Digital Agencies
With reviews playing such a massive role in determining where consumers will (and won’t) shop, it’s a dangerous gamble to neglect customer feedback — or your strategy for responding to it. By failing to respond to reviews, you’re also discouraging new and repeat customers from trying, or remaining loyal to, your brand. And that’s not simply our opinion: on the contrary, recent research shows that a whopping 57% of U.S. shoppers are “‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ likely to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews” online, reflecting a clear expectation for companies to engage with their customers. If your agency (or your clients) are ignoring online reviews, you’re losing out on valuable business — a trend that shows no signs of slowing as more and more shoppers look to review platforms like Yelp to help inform their buying decisions.
Regardless of your industry or vertical, responding to online reviews is an essential component of any reputation management strategy. Take steps to avoid losing customers by equipping your brand with a nimble, efficient system for replying to ratings and comments.
Discover why leading digital agencies like CallSource, Curious Jane, Qebot, and V Digital Services all trust Shout About Us to manage their clients’ online reviews — and how your agency could benefit, like saving up to 96 hours of in-house work during the first month alone. To schedule a demo of our custom review reply service and reputation management platform, contact Shout About Us today.
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.