Before the internet, people used different ways to find out which brands offered the best products based on nothing else but the TV ads released by companies. How was it possible for them to make informed decisions if all they knew about the goods they purchased came from the companies that sold them? By word of mouth, of course.
The internet hasn’t done anything to dispel the usefulness of personal references. These days, such recommendations come in the form of online customer reviews. A survey conducted by BrightLocal confirmed that consumers indeed favor online reviews from their fellow consumers even more than expert opinions. It’s easy to see why too.
Online reviews look every bit like the personal recommendations we’d get from friends and family during the pre-internet era. They are not only detailed but are also unbiased since most consumers aren’t affiliated with the brands they review.
The survey showed that 79 per cent of consumers agree that online review carries almost the same amount of significance (if not more) as a personal recommendation from someone they trust. It also showed that 72 per cent of them trusted a company more if it had positive customer reviews. This clearly indicates that buyers are aware of reviews now more than ever, and are more inclined to go for brands that are received positively by their fellow consumers.
The survey also showed that buyers don’t need to see that much evidence of a product or service being good before they decide to buy. 67 per cent of them only need to read 6 reviews or less before they decide whether a product or service is worth their money or not. This means that companies have to be sharp about maintaining a good online reputation, because if three out of the first six reviews that a potential buyer views are negative, then they cease to be potential buyers—plain and simple.
Companies are now more than ever required to keep the positive reviews flowing in order to outnumber the negative feedback. BrightLocal proved that a review system that consistently generates new positive feedback makes company pages more visible on search engine result pages because they receive much more hits. Negative reviews that are pushed further down the result pages (presumably beyond the seventh review mark) will have little or no impact on a potential buyer’s decision to purchase a product or service.
BrightLocal established that 70 to 90 per cent of consumers read the reviews first before deciding the quality of a business and that they were more inclined to trust businesses that had more positive reviews. This proved beyond doubt that consumers trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation from a close friend, family member, or trusted individual, leaving little question about the importance of online consumer feedback in today’s digitized business landscape.