A study done this year titled Local Consumer Review Survey (2012) has shown a significant increase in the amount of customers who are trusting online reviews when making a decision on which business to give their business to. 72% of the people who were surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 52% of the people surveyed said that a positive online review would make them more likely to choose a local business.
The survey was conducted from the middle of January to March 1, 2012. 18 questions put to a survey of 4500 local consumers in the US, Canada, and UK. They had over 2800 respondents. This is the second phase of the study. The first phase was conducted in late 2010 and early 2011. The following is a list of key findings from part 1 of the 2012 survey which looked at “Consumer Attitudes & Consumption of Online Reviews”:
• Do you read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business?
o 27% of consumers regularly use online reviews to determine which local business to use (vs. 22% in 2010)
o 24% of consumers never use online reviews. (vs. 29% in 2010)
• How many online reviews & ratings do you need to read before you feel that you can trust that business?
o 65% of consumers read between 2-10 reviews (vs.58% in 2010)
o Just 7% of consumers read more than 20 reviews (vs. 12% in 2010)
• How do online customer reviews affect your opinion of a local business?
o 58% of consumers trust a business which has positive online reviews (vs. 55% in 2010)
• How do online customer reviews influence your decision to use/select a local business?
o 52% of consumers are more likely to use a local business if they have positive reviews
o Just 28% of consumers cite location &/or price as main decision making factor (vs. 28% in 2010)
• Do you trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations?
o 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
More consumers are reading online reviews now compared to 15 months ago. There has been a decline in the number of reviews that a consumer needs to read in order to make a buying decision. In other words, consumers are reading fewer reviews, but putting more trust in them. The study notes that although consumers are reading fewer reviews, the quantity of positive reviews that a business has is still important. Having a high number of reviews gives the users more confidence in star ratings and allows them to put more trust in the few reviews that they do actually read.
The value of the online review continues to grow as consumers trust online reviews more than personal recommendations. It makes a lot of sense. If a close friend or associate tells you about a great restaurant, chances are that you will check it out online. Checking out the online reviews for the business gives you an overall consensus that helps you form your opinion and ultimately decide where you will be spending your money.
Finally, do not create fake reviews for your business. Consumers are very smart and can pick up on this right away. On top of that, search engines and business directories have filters in place that are designed to weed out the tricksters. In the end you could end up losing all of your reviews as a consequence.