The review genie is not going back in the bottle. In fact, with more people putting more trust in online reviews, and more reviews showing up in more places, that bottle’s been shattered for good. As a just-released survey from BrightLocal notes, just 5% of consumers said they don’t pay attention to reviews when researching local businesses.
In other words, the other 95% do, and as the rest of the survey clearly shows, any business that hopes to reach those consumers should pay attention, too. Here are seven reasons why:
84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
Doctor Takeaway: For many patients, the thoughts of other internet users, anonymous or otherwise, play an outsize role in their healthcare decisions. The numbers take on added significance in aesthetics because of a related disconnect in such decisions: While 78% of doctors surveyed think that referrals are their #1 source of new patients, 34% of aesthetic patients ranked referrals dead last. (And, let’s face it, even those atypical personal referrals are going to turn to the web for confirmation.)
63% of consumers use a search engine to find online reviews
Doctor Takeaway: Google just about any product or service these days and you’ll find review sites in the results. In fact, links to third-party review sites now also appear in Google’s Knowledge Graph. (Hey, if Google thinks reviews are worth highlighting, you should, too.) Have them on your website, in your Google My Business listing, and on your page on review sites that have the SEO juice to show up in search results.
90% of consumers read 10 reviews or less before they feel that they can trust a business, with 68% forming an opinion after reading just one to six
Doctor Takeaway: Consumers are forming their opinions of businesses faster than ever. No doubt, they read more reviews for big-ticket, emotion-laden purchases, but consider the impact if one of those six is negative. If that’s the case, monitoring your reviews and encouraging new ones will help push it further down the list.
58% of consumers pay the most attention to overall star rating
Doctor Takeaway: That’s not surprising, really; star ratings are ubiquitous, familiar, and provide a shorthand for customer satisfaction. But they’re really just the beginning. According to the report, the sentiment in reviews was the second most important factor at 47%, followed by recency, at 41% — another reason to keep ‘em coming.
54% of people will visit a business’ website after reading positive reviews (vs. 48% in 2015)
Doctor Takeaway: Reviews facilitate discovery — they let potential patients know you exist. If that experience is favorable, it’s only natural that most will visit your website to learn more. From layout to text to images, it should reward their curiosity (and respect their time) by clearly demonstrating what you do, who you are, and what differentiates you from the competition.
87% of people say that a business needs a rating of 3-5 stars before they will use them
Doctor Takeaway: Good reviews are obviously a good thing, but don’t get seduced by the pursuit of perfect scores. The fact is that people know no one is perfect, and they’re highly skeptical of those who profess to be. Just as showing a range of outcomes in your before & after photos enhances credibility, a mix of good, believable reviews trumps a parade of impossibly perfect ones.
74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
Doctor Takeaway: Kind of speaks for itself.
From more reviews showing up in more places to more people visiting business’ websites after reading them, the link between online reviews and your real-life reputation is undeniable. Reviews serve as social proof of your expertise and authenticity, helping patients make more informed decisions and with greater confidence than ever.
A great reputation is one of the most powerful assets a business has. Online reviews are social proof that can help influence customers as they decide whether or not to choose your business — or spend their money with one of your competitors. Searching for and reading a business’ online reviews has become part of a customer’s buying process — whether they’re ordering a book or movie on Amazon or trying to find the best cosmetic dentist in their local area.