The Increasing Importance of Customer Reviews

As a business owner (or the point person responsible for managing your company’s marketing efforts), it should be no secret that your company’s reputation is it’s most valuable asset. What people say about your business matters, and that's especially true when it comes to what people are saying and sharing about your business online.

Sadly, too many small businesses don’t make review management a priority. They often think because they serve a localized base of customers that what people are saying about them online is irrelevant. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

Let’s be clear… Online reviews of your business are EXTREMELY important! According to a 2014 Survey of Local Customers by BrightLocal

  • 88% of respondents read/used reviews to determine the quality of a local business; an overwhelming majority of respondents, 93%, said they checked reviews before dining or shopping. This means no matter how good your website is, or how compelling your offering, your customers will seek out other opinions. Having a strategy to earn, manage, and respond to reviews is a must.
  • 85% of respondents to the BrightLocal survey read up to 10 different reviews while researching their purchase, pointing to the fact that customers aren’t blindly accepting the first review they read, but triangulating the feedback they find to get the real story behind a business. (That ought to be encouraging for businesses, as it means one terrible review is unlikely to sink you. But shoppers do weigh reviews heavily.)
  • 88% of respondents said they trusted online reviews as much as they’d trust a personal recommendation (overwhelmingly the most trusted form of advertising by consumers, according to Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising Report), though the caveat is that reviews had to be authentic, and there had to be enough of them to make a judgment call.

The single most important takeaway here is that what people say about your business online matters… A LOT! It could very well be the difference between whether they choose to work with you or call on one of your competitors.

First, Understand That Not All Reviews Are Equal

I know what you’re thinking... it’s obvious that positive reviews are a good thing and negative reviews are a bad thing. However, something to consider as a small business owner is that having no reviews at all can also have a negative impact on your business’s ability to attract new customers. Today’s consumers are much more tech-savvy than ever, so when the average person is glued to his or her smartphone on a daily basis, you can bet your last dollar that they’re Googling your business before using it, especially if they’ve never heard of you before.

The big problem with having few to no reviews is that finding little to no information tells them that you’re either a new business with no social support or worse… people care so little about you that you’re not even on their radar. However, just a few positive reviews can reassure potential customers that you’re worth checking out!

Bottom line, lots of honest, authentic reviews means people trust your business, which in turn is a great marketing tool that has real power to attract new customers.

You Know You Need Reviews, But… Don’t Fake It!

Not having any reviews doesn’t mean you should fall into the trap of buying or creating fake reviews. It’s fairly easy to spot a series of made-up comments, as they tend to be overly descriptive and written in a way that just sounds, well… fake.

95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see any bad scores. If you’re called out with fake reviews, the damage to your business may be irreparable. Nobody likes a liar, so don’t make yourself out to be one.

Let’s Talk About Negative Reviews For a Minute

Did you know that businesses risk losing 22% of consumers who would have bought from them when there is a negative review? This is based off just one poor review! If you have three or more negative reviews, the chance of losing customers jumps to nearly 67%. Four or more negative reviews can turn as many as 86% of your potential customers away. Think about that for a minute- It only takes a handful of negative reviews to deter 86% of prospective customers from contacting you.

The reality is that bad reviews can negate all the time, money and energy you put into building a successful business. This is why it’s so important to take care of your customers! One upset customer leaving a negative review can open the floodgates for many others to add their two cents. Taking care of your customers and providing exceptional service will pay dividends in attracting new customers.

If you are faced with negative reviews, the single best course of action is to tackle them head-on in a genuine effort to improve your service. Research suggests when retailers replied to negative reviews on social media and online review sites, a third of those customers either deleted their original negative review or replaced it with a positive review. In fact, if a business resolves a negative review quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers will return to your business.

Positive Reviews Can Turn Interested Searchers Into Customers

A study by Search Engine Land in 2014 found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. The study also found that 68% of consumers say that positive reviews improve the trustworthiness of a local business. Based on this information, it’s obvious positive reviews can bring customers to your business who are ready and willing to buy. But for the sake of being thorough, here are few additional statistics that will help reinforce the importance of cultivating more positive reviews for your business…

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews
  • Only 8% of consumers never search for a business online
  • 40% of consumers form an opinion after reading just one to three reviews
  • 73% of consumers form an opinion after reading up to six reviews
  • 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews
  • 94% of consumers would use a business with a 4-star rating
  • 57% of consumers would use a business with a 3-star rating
  • Only 14% of consumers would consider using a business with a one or two-star rating
  • 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews
  • Reviews produce an average of 18% uplift in sales

And just in case you doubt the power of Yelp…

  • There are 26, 830 reviews posted every minute by Yelp users

Why Online Reviews Matter for Local SEO

According to MOZ's Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews now make up 10% of Google and the other search engines’ algorithms as they evaluate a given site to determine how it will rank in relevant search results. That being said, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re encouraging your customers to leave positive reviews, as well as address any negative reviews you receive as quickly as possible. At the end of the day, reviews matter more than you realize, so be sure to make managing them a priority for your business!

Fast forward to the end of 2018, and the reality is that the experiences and opinions expressed on review sites like Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, and even Facebook can mean the difference between success and failure, especially if you are in the food, hospitality or residential service industries.

How Do You Ensure Your Customers Are Happy and Won’t Leave Negative Reviews? Give HLM a Call!

If nothing else, we hope this post has opened your eyes to the need to develop a strategy for responding to online reviews. When managed well, reviews can be a huge business generator, as well as key indicators of areas your business is succeeding in and areas where improvement is needed.

At High Level Marketing, the sole purpose behind everything we do is empowering small business owners like you to leverage today’s technologies to best position your brand in front of the very people who are looking for the services you offer and more importantly, drive them to call YOU instead of your competitors.

We’ve worked with numerous businesses of almost every kind throughout the U.S. to develop effective websites and digital marketing strategies that drive traffic and convert leads! Check out our portfolio, or contact us today for a FREE strategy session.


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All stats sourced from, BrightLocal, Business2community, Econsultancy, business2community, Reevoo and Social Media Today