The data from our December 2016 survey reveals that consumers want to see customer reviews for your products and services AND they look for the nitty-gritty details in customers’ written reviews—experiences and problems they’ve had, how you’ve responded to complaints, consensus on whether or not the product/service lives up to your claims and so on. Online customer reviews tell a story that consumers trust.

  • 92% of consumers hesitate to make a purchase if there are no customer reviews
  • 97% say customer reviews factor into their buying decisions
  • 32% say written reviews are the one element that makes them believe a site’s reviews are relevant/useful
  • 73% say written reviews make more of an impression on them than star/number ratings
  • 94% typically read written reviews
  • 35% say one negative review can make them decide not to buy

No Reviews, BIG Problem
If you have no reviews, 8% of people don’t care. The other 92% care very, very much.8993640_20161215_6929521
The 32% who leave your site to do more research, they’re probably not coming back. And, when you have no customer reviews, you’ve created a barrier between customer and conversion. That is one barrier you can, and should, remove. Customers who have had bad experiences are more likely to leave reviews than those who have had a positive experience. So, you have to ask happy customers to leave reviews, which, admittedly, is not easy. Brian Patterson of Go Fish Digital offers ideas on how to ask for and get customer reviews because he says that, “Outside of the food and hospitality industry, it can be a real struggle for businesses to get positive reviews.”

It’s All in the Details
Not only are written reviews the most important element of customer reviews:2nd
94% of consumers typically read the written reviews and 73% say written reviews make more of an impression on them than the star/number ratings.
Additionally, 34% say they like to see a mix of positive and negative written reviews. You’d expect some people to be happy and some, not so much. And that’s what people prefer to see—reviews that feel authentic.

When consumers read written reviews, 37% say they’re primarily looking for details on reviewers experiences because those details help them decide if the product/service is going to suit their needs. 31% scan the reviews to look for descriptions of problems with the product/service.MAINTHING
The Trusted Source
Research shows that 88% of consumers trust reviews they find online just as much as personal recommendations. Most consumers do factor customer reviews into their buying decisions.HOWOFTEN
And, 35% say one bad negative review is enough to make them decide not to buy.NEGREV
You can do something about that. And according to Blake Morgan, thought leader on customer experience, you should, because, “If you try and publicly fix the customer’s problem, others are watching and applauding you for your attitude.” Read The Ultimate Guide to Handling Negative Reviews.

If You Sell Products:
64% of consumers say that Amazon is the best site for product reviews.PROD
Reportedly, Amazon has about 185,000 active marketplace sellers in the US. Most likely, you prefer to sell your products on your own website. It’s easier, cheaper (Amazon does take a cut) and when people are on your website, you have no competitors vying for attention. But as our survey data shows, product reviews help consumers and you might see some benefit from selling your products on Amazon.

If You Sell Services
42% say that Google is the best source of customer reviews for services. 34% prefer Yelp. Though Facebook is the most-widely used of the major social media platforms, only 7% say they go there to look for customer reviews.

Google encourages businesses to ask their customers for reviews. Besides helping your customers with their buying decisions, reviews are also important for local SEO.

And then there’s Yelp. Yelp’s support center for businesses says: “Don’t Ask for Reviews. Don’t ask anyone to review your business on Yelp. It’s that simple.” Yelp wants you to believe that if you provide great customer service, people will be be inspired to write great Yelp reviews for you. (Kinda like Google’s mantra: if you build great content, links will just come—which pretty much happens NEVER!) Yelp reviews don’t just happen and even when you manage to get a legit review, Yelp’s “helpful” algorithm can filter them out. This article, 5 Yelp Facts Business Owners Should Know, decodes the nuances of Yelp’s policies.

An Added Bonus
Not only do customer reviews have tremendous influence on people who are researching products and services, they can also have an impact on your rankings—that according to Jayson DeMers of Audience Bloom. In a post, he writes,“The number of positive reviews you have on external websites might actually have a bigger impact on your rankings than the reviews on your own site. This is because Google’s local search algorithm incorporates data from a number of third-party directories and review sites.”

Consumers are skeptical about buying a product based solely on the seller’s information. Online customer reviews are often as important as photos and product descriptions. Start by asking your best customers to write reviews for you on Google and Facebook and encourage them to provide detail in their written reviews. Tackle bad reviews immediately—always respond and convey your eagerness to help the unhappy customer. Read this article for examples how real business owners have effectively responded to negative reviews.

David Sawyer of ZudePR asserts that “Google Reviews, especially in B2B/service sector industries, are criminally underused.” There’s an opportunity—especially for small businesses! Persuade your customers to write Google reviews and not only will you help your customers with their buying decisions, you’re likely to see better local SEO results too. Put these strategies into play and you can edge out competitors that put no effort into getting customer reviews.