BrightLocal, has released its latest local consumer review survey with new data for 2015 showing a marked growth in the number of consumers who are reading online reviews. Since 2010 BrightLocal has conducted the Local Consumer Review Survey with a focus on reviews for local business and exploring how consumers read and use online reviews. By surveying thousands of consumers they are able to gather the data small businesses, marketers and search engine optimizers need to prioritize reputation marketing with customer reviews.

If you are running a local business there are three stand out results that you should pay attention to:

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews (vs. 88% in 2014)
  • 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just 1-3 reviews (vs. 29% in 2014)
  • Star rating is #1 factor used by consumers to judge a business

What do the 2015 Local Consumer Review Survey Results Mean for Local Businesses?

So much of a person’s buying decision is emotional and while there has been a lot of time and money spent researching the psychology of spending money, you probably have better things to do with your time than dissecting the mind of your average consumer. This survey does a great job of quantifying the drivers and activities of consumers when they consider your local reviews (or lack of reviews).

More Consumers are Reading Online Reviews

As local online and mobile search becomes faster and easier, more consumers are relying on search results to give them all the information they need to make the buying decision. Many people wouldn’t think of spending any amount of money without seeing positive online star ratings or reading some positive reviews. This highlights the importance of your online reputation and monitoring what is being said about your business. According to BrightLocal, 29% of consumers in 2010 stated they never read online reviews and that number has steadily dropped to its all-time low of 8% of consumers never reading online reviews in 2015.

92 Percent Consumers Read Online ReviewsTAKEAWAY: Over 90% of your potential customers are reading your online reviews and basing their buying decisions on what they are reading about you online from previous customers.

What should you be doing? Your customer reviews are a huge factor in shaping your online reputation and influencing buyer decisions so you MUST have a system in place to manage your online reputation. Reputation Loop gives you the power to automate an almost hands-free feedback generation process that gets your best reviews posted online frequently and consistently to build a five-star reputation that attracts new customers.

Consumers are Making Quicker Decisions

You’ll notice a nice sized increase in the number of consumers who need on 1 to 3 reviews before they trust a local business. In previous years the sweet spot was higher with most consumers needing to read through 4 to 10 reviews before making a decision to trust your business. That means that consumers are spending less time reading.  That places more importance on your latest reviews and drives the need for fresh and recent reviews for the shorter attention span of consumers who are not going to go digging for your best customer comments. The positive of this new trend is that you are able to bury a negative review faster by consistently generating positive reviews.

Quicker Decisions Fewer Reviews Reputation LoopTAKEAWAY: Consumers are reading less reviews to decide if they trust you so it’s important regularly generate positive reviews online.

What Should You Be Doing? Put a focus on the consistent posting of new and positive reviews so that searchers are presented with relevant feedback from your current customers that they can trust to help make their decision on which business to pick. In managing your customer reviews ensure that you have system that lets you get constant feedback so you can address any problems that could turn into negative reviews while letting you push positive feedback online to create five-star ratings on the sites that your customers use the most.

Star Rating #1 Factor in Judging Your Business

Knowing that humans are highly visual creatures and consumers are spending less time making a decision on which businesses they are going to trust with their money, it should no surprise that 60% of respondents chose star rating as the number one factor that they pay attention to when looking at your online reviews. Your new customers can quickly get a well-rounded view of your business by looking at the overall star rating and how many reviews contributed to that rating without having to dive too deep into reading reviews.

Star Rating No1 Factor Reputation LoopTAKEAWAY: Your star rating is the most important factor when consumers are looking at online reviews but consumers are also interested in how many reviews you have and what people are saying.

What You Should Be Doing? Knowing the importance of a five-star rating you should be doing everything in your power to create a five-star reputation AND make that star rating as visible as possible online. When you use Reputation Loop to handle your customer reviews and online reputation you’re able to utilize a widget that creates the eye-catching gold star ratings that show up in local search results so people see your overall star rating before they even search for reviews.

 

 

Over 90% of consumers are looking to online local consumer reviews to help them make the best decision on where to spend their hard-earned money. When an overwhelming majority of your future customers say something is important to them then it should be overwhelmingly important to you. Find out how Reputation Loop can take all the hard work out of building and maintaining a five-star reputation that grows your business by visiting Reputation Loop online or requesting a demo.

 

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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.