BrightLocal Study Shows Increasing Importance of Online Reviews for Local Businesses
The annual Local Consumer Review Survey by BrightLocal was released last week revealing findings about the growing importance of online reviews for businesses.
This is the fourth year BrightLocal has conducted this study, which seeks to find customer attitudes toward online reviews and how reviews affect purchase of local business services. In this study conducted from May-June, BrightLocal sent out a questionnaire to a local consumer panel and received over 2,000 responses. 90% of those responses came from the US, 10% from Canada.
Respondents were asked 13 questions which all can be viewed on Brightlocal.com. Some of the most interesting key findings from the study were:
Do Customers Trust Online Reviews Just As Much As Personal Recommendations?
- 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (vs 79% in 2013)
- Only 13% said they do not trust reviews as much as personal recommendations (vs 21% in 2013).
Takeaway: More than ever before, customers are placing most trust in online reviews. 32% will trust a customer review as much as a personal recommendation if there are multiple reviews to read and 30% placed emphasis on the fact that authenticity highly important to trust it was much as personal recommendation.
How Many Times are Customers Searching for Local Businesses Online?
- 57% have searched online for a local business more than 6 times/year
- 39% have searched online for local businesses at least 1 time per month
- 15% have searched online for a local business almost everyday.
Takeaway: Consumer are becoming more comfortable using the internet to find businesses on both desktop and mobile.
What Types of Local Businesses are Being Searched Most Often?
- More people are searching for a wider range of business types in 2014 than in the previous year.
- Restaurants/Cafe — 58% of consumers searched for restaurants (down from 67% in 2013).
- Doctor/Dentist — 38% (up from 35%)
- General Shop — 36% (up from 35%)
- Clothes Shop — 34% (up from 28%)
Takeaway: More people are searching for a wider range of businesses than in 2013. As more consumers get comfortable with search, the number of searches in each industry increases as well, with the exception of restaurants/cafe this year which saw a dip. However, restaurants are still see the most amount of searches. The dip could be a reflection of the number of respondents this year vs 2013 respondents.
What is the Next Step a Customer Takes After Reading a Positive Review?
- 57% of consumers will visit a local business website after reading a positive review.
- 72% of consumers will take some sort of action after reading a positive review.
Takeaway: reading a review is often one of the final stages in the purchase path and has a direct impact on converting leads into customers.
What Factors Make You Most Likely to Recommend a Local Business to Someone You Know?
- 68% say that they would be more likely to recommend a local business if it was reliable and professional (vs 68% in 2013).
- 44% said that being ‘friendly’ & ‘welcoming’ was important (vs 46% in 2013).
- A further 9% of consumers would recommend a local business if asked to (vs 12% in 2013).
Takeaway: Consumers relay professionalism, reliability, and friendliness of a business to others. While most are not inclined to write a review if asked to, about 1 in 10 will. That means that for every 100 requests a business will get 10 great reviews.