You know you need to get online reviews for your business, but just exactly how many do you need to reach new customers? We've got the answers for you.
Some people love cilantro, others think it tastes like soap. Yankees or Red Sox? Talk about strong opinions. And if you ask 10 people about the best TV show on right now, you'll probably get at least five different answers.
People have wildly different opinions about a lot of things, so when you're looking for guidance on where to shop and who to hire, it can be hard to make a choice with confidence unless you can get some sense of a consensus: this business is basically good and trustworthy, that business is not.
That's where online reviews come in. They give us the chance to learn about a lot of different people's experiences with a business. If the overall consensus is good, that can be the deciding factor in determining whether you'll use that business.
As a business owner, you can use that to your advantage... assuming you put the effort into making sure that your customers are having a good experience.
You deserve good reviews, but how can you make sure that you're actually getting them?
And how many reviews do you need to convince prospective customers that you're worth using?
Numbers to Know
Let's start with good news: You probably don't need as many online reviews as you think.
Research shows that most people read just a handful of reviews before deciding whether or not they can trust a business. In fact, 90 percent of consumers read 10 or fewer reviews before making this determination, according to a recent survey. Furthermore, 68 percent read between only one and six reviews before deciding.
Another thing worth noting? Consumers are actually reading fewer overall reviews now than in past years. It seems they've realized that they can get an accurate picture of a business by reading 10 or fewer reviews, and that it's not necessary to read dozens of reviews of a business before using it.
Written in the Stars
So if you can get customers to write 10 reviews on each of the review sites that you're on (like Yelp, Google, Facebook and niche industry sites), you're good to go, right?
Well, not exactly. The number of reviews that you have doesn't tell the whole story.
Research shows that consumers care about two other factors: the recency of your reviews, and your overall star rating.
First, "recency". Nearly three quarters of consumers think reviews older than three months are irrelevant, according to the above mentioned survey. In fact, 23 percent of consumers say that in order for reviews to impact their buying decisions, those reviews should be no more than two weeks old.
Second, "stars". Your overall star rating is the single most important factor that consumers consider when reading online reviews, but you don't have to have a perfect five-star rating to earn their business. Most consumers will use a business that has a minimum overall rating of three stars. Only 14 percent of people will use a business with a one- or two-star rating.
Seriously, consider this for a moment: Don't be scared of attracting a few three-star reviews, or even the occasional one-star rant. People want to know they're reading real reviews written by real customers, so a few negative ones can actually make the rest of your reviews seem that much more real.
So here's what we know:
- Your customers aren't reading a ton of reviews before making up their minds about you.
- They want to see recent reviews.
- Your reviews should be mostly positive, but a few bad ones won't spoil the bunch.
Those positive reviews you've collected over the years are great for your overall rating average and attracting consumers to consider you in the first place, but you need recent positive reviews in order to close the deal and turn the review reader into a customer.
What Should I Do?
So how many reviews do you need, exactly? It depends on your overall star rating.
If you get a bunch of negative reviews, you'll need to attract even more positive reviews to get your star rating back above three stars.
In general, though, you should aim to get at least 10 new reviews on each of your review sites in every three-month period. (Remember, most people read 10 or fewer reviews before making up their mind about a business.)
That adds up if you're on a lot of sites, though. If you're on Yelp, Google, Facebook and two niche sites, that's a total of 50 reviews every three months, or 200 reviews a year. That's a lot of reviews. You're going to need an easy way to make sure those reviews come pouring in.
You can use an automated system like ReputationStacker to do the heavy lifting for you.
It's super simple. All you have to do is enter your customers' phone numbers or emails into the system, and ReputationStacker reaches out to them with a single-question survey, identifying dissatisfied customers (and directing them back to you) and directing satisfied customers to the review site of your choice where they can post a glowing review.
It's All In The Numbers... And The Recency
No matter what business you're in, you could probably benefit from more online reviews.
Research shows that customers place a ton of confidence in what they read in reviews, so if you want to attract more business, attracting more reviews is the place to start.
Both the number and type matter when it comes to reviews - you want a steady stream of positive ones coming in all the time.
Make it easy using an automated system like ReputationStacker.
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.