New Google Review Statistics Show the Powerful Impact on Buying Decisions

Online reviews have become one of the most trusted sources of information for today’s consumers. According to studies, 95% of customers read online reviews before making a purchasing decision. With such a staggering percentage of shoppers looking at reviews, it’s clear that online feedback has a powerful influence over consumer behavior.

For local businesses, online reviews are especially critical. Positive online reviews can drive new customers to your business, while negative reviews can deter them. Reviews also provide invaluable feedback so you can identify weaknesses and improve. If you’re not leveraging online reviews as a local business owner, you’re missing out on one of the best tools for growing your brand and reaching new customers.

Latest Statistics and Facts on Online Reviews

Online reviews have an enormous influence on consumer behavior and purchasing decisions. According to research, 88% of consumers read online reviews before visiting or purchasing from a local business. Clearly, reviews are something no local business can afford to ignore.

In terms of how many stars a business needs to succeed, data shows that businesses with four or more stars average nearly double the conversion rate of businesses with less than four stars. Specifically, businesses with a four-to-five- star rating convert 17% of visitors, while those with one to three stars only convert 9%.

The impact of positive online reviews is also significant. Statistics show that positive reviews can increase conversions on a business’s website by an average of 380%. With such a direct correlation between positive feedback and business growth, it’s critical for local businesses to actively encourage and monitor online reviews.

Reviews Influence Consumer Behavior

Online reviews hold significant influence over consumer behavior in a few key ways.

  • Social proof—According to a 2022 study, 93% of consumers read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business before visiting in person or making a purchase . Positive reviews provide social proof that a business offers good products/services.
  • Trust and credibility—Online reviews lend credibility and make consumers more likely to trust a business, especially when positive reviews accumulate. According to research, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • SEO ranking signals—The volume and quality of a business’s online reviews factor into search engine rankings. Positive online reviews can boost visibility in local SEO results.

Common Mistakes Local Businesses Make with Online Reviews

Many local businesses make crucial mistakes when it comes to managing their online reviews. This can significantly hurt their online reputation and credibility. Here are some of the most common online review mistakes:

  • Not monitoring review sites—Failing to regularly check review platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp means businesses miss out on feedback from customers. Without monitoring, they won’t be aware of rising negative sentiment or review bombing attacks.
  • Only focusing on gathering positive reviews—While positive feedback is ideal, an authentic online presence includes both positive and negative reviews. Trying to hide or remove bad reviews looks suspicious to consumers.
  • Unprofessional responses—Replying defensively or passive-aggressively to negative feedback reflects poorly on a business. Being polite, apologizing for mistakes, and seeking solutions demonstrates professionalism.
  • Not incentivizing happy customers—Studies show over 50% of customers will leave a review when asked. Businesses should proactively request reviews from satisfied patrons.

Best Practices for Managing Online Reputation

There are several best practices local businesses should follow to effectively manage their online reputation.

  • First, it’s critical to respond promptly and professionally to all online reviews, even negative ones. This shows customers you care about their feedback. Use negative reviews as an opportunity to resolve issues and turn dissatisfied customers into raving fans.
  • Additionally, local businesses should claim and optimize their profiles on key review sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook. Completing profiles with photos, descriptions, and contact info makes it easier for customers to engage.
  • Another best practice is to incentivize happy customers to leave online reviews. This could include follow-up emails after a purchase, asking for feedback or offering a discount in exchange for a review. The more reviews a business has, the more it can drown out the occasional negative review.
  • Finally, local businesses should analyze online review data and statistics regularly to identify weak points and areas for improvement. Tracking review volume and rating changes over time provides key performance indicators (KPI) to measure reputation management efforts.

By following these best practices, local businesses can proactively manage their online reputation, build trust and credibility with customers, and turn feedback into insights for growth.

Using Online Review Data to Drive Business Growth

Online reviews provide a wealth of data that businesses can analyze and use to their advantage. Here are some of the key ways local businesses can leverage online review data and statistics to fuel growth:

  • Identify areas that need improvement through review analysis. Look at the themes and specifics in negative or lower-rated reviews to uncover weak spots in your customer experience. Use this insight to target improvements.
  • Showcase positive feedback as social proof in marketing materials. Feature excerpts and snippets from your best online reviews on your website, social media, emails, and other platforms.
  • Track review volume and rating changes over time as a KPI. Monitor your total number of reviews, average rating, and percentage of five-star reviews. Set goals for improvement and measure progress.

Conclusion

Online reviews are a powerful driver of consumer behavior and an important factor in local search rankings. Businesses that embrace user-generated reviews and respond thoughtfully will reap rewards. Key takeaways include:

  • Reviews build trust and social proof, heavily influencing buying decisions.
  • Monitoring review sites and claiming listings is crucial for managing reputation.
  • Analyze reviews to identify weaknesses and showcase strengths.
  • Respond professionally to all feedback to show customers are valued.
  • Proactively encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.

Local businesses should start developing an online review strategy today. Pay attention to review volumes and ratings as key performance indicators. Solicit feedback to uncover areas for improvement. Showcasing an abundance of positive reviews builds credibility and converts more customers. User-generated content is only growing in importance, so leverage reviews as an asset right away.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.

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