Have you ever bought anything online without looking for customer reviews first? If you’re like most adults in the U.S., your answer should be a straight “No!”.
Studies suggest that 72% of online consumers read between two and 10 customer reviews and testimonials before actually making a purchase. Having no online reviews about your company is not a choice either.
Because, according to research, even if you get one negative review from a dissatisfied client (or a shrewd competitor who hires fake reviewers to defame you), you’ll need about 12 positive reviews to counter its effects.
Therefore, you need to have a comprehensive strategy to get more positive reviews and encourage your satisfied customers to spread the word for you. Positive online reviews not only increase your chances of making more sales but also significantly improve your brand’s online visibility.
Here are a few reasons why your target customers are likely to find your reviews online.
People actively search for online reviews
The biggest reason why people will find your reviews (positive or negative) online is because more than 90% of consumers actively search for reviews before visiting an outlet or making a purchase.
This is a staggering statistic considering the fact that many businesses with an online presence still do not have a well-defined online review management strategy.
A separate study by Pew Research Center shows that 82% of adults in the U.S. say that they at least sometimes check online reviews before making a purchase. This tendency is even higher in millennials.
The study also notes that 67% of weekly online shoppers think it’s important to check the latest reviews of a product before they even consider buying it.
In short, positive online reviews give you a distinct advantage over your competitors and increase your chances of turning strangers into buyers.
People trust online reviews more than other people... weirdly
As unbelievable as it sounds, about 64% trust online reviews—even from complete strangers—as much as they trust their friends’ recommendations. Consider the practical implications of this for your business. Online reviews have a direct impact not only on your brand image but also on your sales numbers. According to a study at Harvard Business School, an increase of one star on Yelp leads to a 5–9% increase in sales, while a single negative review can cost you up to 30 customers.
This does not come as a surprise since other studies have found that 92% of customers prefer buying from businesses with an average 4-star rating. On the other hand, 86% of customers hesitate to buy from a business that has a negative online review.
Clearly, reviews have a much greater impact on buyer psychology than most people think.
More reviews mean higher search rankings
One of the primary goals of Google Search is to serve the most relevant results to its users. Google knows that people trust online reviews, actively search for them and love to read user feedback. In fact, people trust search engines more than any other form of media when they’re looking for information about a business.
This is why Google’s local search results incorporate business ratings from sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and many others.
A high rating on these sites means you have a higher chance of appearing at the top of Google’s local search results.
And that’s not all.
If a customer is specifically searching for reviews about your business or products, Google is likely to display results from a variety of third-party sources like review sites, customer feedback forums and social media posts.
And having a product review section on your own store or website will not only help you increase your credibility but also generate new unique content for your site, which can help you rank higher in search results.
Negative reviews spread much faster
There’s a reason why negative news dominates most news channels, magazines, and other media outlets.
Because bad news and controversy sell faster and travel further. This human trait is closely related to negativity bias.
The same is the case with negative reviews.
According to ZenDesk, 54% of people share negative brand experiences with more than five other people (who are then likely to share it forward).
But only 33% share good experiences with anyone, online or offline.
This means that negative reviews are not only posted more frequently than positive reviews, but also get more online exposure.
So if you’re not doing anything about your online reviews yet, your target customers are likely to find more negative reviews about you than positive ones.
How many reviews do people read before making a purchase?
Studies suggest that 72% of online consumers read between two and 10 customer reviews and testimonials before actually making a purchase.
How do people find online reviews?
People actively search for online reviews. People trust online reviews more than other people. More reviews mean higher search rankings. Negative reviews spread much faster.
Why are online reviews important?
Online reviews are important because they give people an idea of the quality of service or products that you provide. Prospective customers, employees, and business partners all use online reviews to judge your company.
How do I improve my position in Google’s local search results?
A high rating on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor means you have a higher chance of appearing at the top of Google’s local search results.
About the author
Kent Campbell is the chief strategist for Reputation X, an award-winning online reputation management agency. He has over 15 years of experience with SEO, Wikipedia editing, review management, and online reputation strategy. Kent has helped celebrities, leaders, executives, and marketing professionals improve the way they are seen online. Kent writes about reputation, SEO, Wikipedia, and PR-related topics, and is an expert witness for reputation-related legal matters.