“A good reputation is more valuable than money.” – Publilius Syrus, First century B.C.

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It is well established that online reviews are becoming increasingly important in affecting a business’s reputation and generating sales. Two recent studies detail consumers’ trust in and engagement with online reviews. The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising, conducted in February and March of 2013 in 58 countries, asked consumers about the extent to which they trusted various forms of advertising. Sixty-eight percent of consumers reported trusting “consumer opinions posted online.” Consumers’ trust in online reviews was on par with their trust in branded websites (69%) and ranked higher than their trust in TV ads (62%), newspaper ads (61%) magazine ads (60%), radio ads (57%), and even ranked just above their trust in editorial content such as newspaper articles (67%). Global consumers rated only one source of advertising – personal recommendations from people they know – (84%) as meaningfully more trustworthy than online reviews.

 

The BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2014, conducted in May and June of 2014 with a panel of respondents from the U.S. and Canada, explored how consumers read and use online reviews.

Searching for Local Businesses

How frequently do consumers go online to locate local businesses? The majority (57%) of respondents to the Local Consumer Review Survey had searched online for a local business in the last 12 months, and more than a third (39%) had searched for a local business at least once a month in the last year.

Reading Reviews

Who reads online reviews of local businesses? Most people. Eighty-eight percent of respondents reported reading online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business, with 39% reporting they read reviews on a regular basis.

Trust in Online Reviews

The Local Consumer Review Survey 2014 asked consumers if and under what circumstances they trusted online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations. Fully 88% of customers trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations in certain conditions. Thirty-two percent trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations provided there were multiple customer reviews to read; 30% if they believed the reviews were authentic; and 26% for some types of businesses, but not others.

Consumers were also asked how many reviews they needed to read before they could trust a business. Sixty-five percent of respondents reported needing to read at least 4 reviews before they could trust a business. Thus, businesses need to have more than a handful of customer reviews posted online in order to gain customer trust.

Finally, consumers were asked about the average star rating a business would need before they would consider using a local business. Only 1-in-4 consumers (27%) reported that they would use a local business that had an average 2-star rating or lower. This percentage jumped to 72% for businesses with an average three-star rating, and jumped again to 92% for businesses with an average star rating of 4 or 5 stars. Thus, it is vitally important that a business both generates positive online reviews and avoids negative reviews if they wish to gain potential customers’ trust. Don’t wait another moment to improve your online reputation and generate more sales in the process. Call us at 888.268.1282 today.