Why are online reviews so influential?

Online customer reviews are an enormous part of the web and their importance seems only to be on the rise. A 2013 study conducted by Dimensional Research showed staggering numbers of online customers, “were influenced into buying a product or using a service based on their reading of positive reviews.” But why are online reviews so influential? Part of the reason is that reviews work because they provide people with the reassurance that their decisions and actions are the right ones. That being said, reviews are an integral part of an online retailer’s success, but they are also vital for local businesses, whether or not products are sold online. I’d like to focus on this latter statement regarding the significance of online reviews for local businesses.

Online Reviews Help Local Businesses.

One key reason that reviews are so important for local businesses is that online customer reviews can influence search engine results. As a business owner, this is something you want to be aware of and use to your advantage. When one uses Google to search restaurants, for example, the top results listed are those restaurants registered with Google My Business, that have good reviews. A Google My Business listing is essential to increasing your site’s Search Engine Optimization visibility, and the best part – it’s free! So if you haven’t already done so, create a page for your business and put yourself out there!

Online reviews are imperative for local businesses due to the sheer number of people that not only read reviews, but also, trust reviews. In a 2014 study of consumer usage and attitude toward customer reviews, “88% have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business” (Anderson 2014). The trend shows that people are reading reviews more and more, and it highlights the importance of a company having many reviews and upholding a positive online reputation. The same study noted that, “72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.” Conversely, negative reviews affect customer confidence and in turn, company revenue.

But, how many positive reviews does a company need to have conviction? Anderson’s study also found that, “eighty-five percent of consumers are satisfied once they have read up to 10 online reviews for a local business”. However, there is a greater proportion of consumers who now read in excess of 20 reviews.” The significance of this is that even though the majority of people surveyed trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, their trust is contingent upon the quantity of reviews. Quality is also an equally important factor that must not be forgotten.


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