Why Reviews are so important for Local Business in 2021
Just recently, a very in-depth survey came out from BrightLocal about local consumer reviews and what it meant for a local business being on the internet in 2020. Now, every year, BrightLocal has been running this survey for the last 10 years. And although 2020 is a very different year than most years because of COVID-19, it took into account how people were staying at home more than usual and how they really used the internet to search for local businesses.
So there are a number of stats that they produced in the survey results, and I’d like to go through those and just touch on each of those because they’re very fascinating. Especially as we move into 2021, we’re going to see a lot of these stats continue because now people are used to doing these activities online.
How many people are searching for your business?
The first stat that I want to talk about is that…
93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year. With 34% searching every day.
This is huge. 93% of people are using the internet to find a local business. Now, this is the key – LOCAL business:- we’re not talking about search in general, but they’re looking for a specific service or specific product from a local business.
And a third of those are searching every single day for local businesses. So, if you are a local business, this is super important, especially during the uncertain times of COVID and lockdowns and whether somebody is open or not.
Google My Business and those other search review sites can be a very, very strong advocate for letting customers know whether you’re open or you’re closed or you have reduced hours and so on.
87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020, which is up from 81% in 2019.
Reviews are the word of mouth of the internet and people are reading them. They are reading them in their droves and it’s super important for you to have good reviews. All of the review sites are constantly adding new features to their services and people are gravitating towards them on a more regular basis.
You can see in the graph below that frequency of searching for local business information has grown steadily over the last 3 years
Is your Business COVID Safe?
Going along with that last stat, I also wanted to share was that
67% of consumers say they wouldn’t use a business if reviews said it did not have a COVID 19 health and safety measure in place.
So this is very important. This is why Google My Business, especially, and even Yelp and those other review platforms are also letting us talk about our practices for COVID-19. It’s letting us tell customers, not only do we have a health and safety policy in place, but it also gives us the ability to let them know of hours and anything else that’s different due to the COVID-19 implications that are happening right now.
What they also discovered was that 22% of people also wrote reviews to support local businesses that were struggling during the pandemic. Love that spirit!
What Industries are the Most Reviewed?
One of the interesting pieces of information to come from this article is the industries in which consumers are most likely to have read reviews.
Number one is Restaurants, and it probably makes sense. Most people want to make sure that they’re not the only person eating at that restaurant and it has a good quality number of reviews.
Number two is Hotels, for a very similar to restaurants
Number three is Medical Services. So lots of medical doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and all those service-based medical professionals are very, very reliant on reviews.
Number four is Automotive. So anyone that’s an automotive repair body shop are super reliant on very effective reviews and then Clothing Stores are the next one that they found to be very, very likely to have people read reviews.
Other ones just from personal experience are service-based industries. So services like plumbers, electricians, gardeners and other people that are coming to your house to do service. People want to make sure that they’ve got the right person coming for the job.
What is important in a Review?
The next one that was very interesting was a stat that…
Only 48% of consumers would consider using a business with less than four stars.
So more than half of the people would not use your business if you did not have more than a four-star rating. Now, how do you get a four-star rating? Well, of course, you’ve got to have a good quality service, good quality product.
But I think the important part is that you’ve got to be actively chasing reviews. And the number of reviews that are on your site can grow rapidly if you are actively chasing those reviews.
So what are the factors of a review that are most important to readers?
As you can see from the graphic below, the most important aspect was the Overall star rating and then followed by the legitimacy… or how real is that review? That’s a big concern in this day and age of ‘fake news’ right?
The other key points were the recency of a review, the tone or the sentiment of the review and also how many reviews a site has.
Asking customers for Reviews
In this report that BrightLocal prepared, they said that
73% of consumers had been asked to write a review for a local business, which is a lot more than 2019.
They also discovered that there were twice as many positive reviews written than negative ones… so it’s not all bad news!
Now, obviously, people are requesting feedback, which is great.
And most businesses asked for a review via email, then the next important one was in person and then on a receipt from a transaction and then social media and over the phone.
So you can see that there’s a number of things that people were asking for a review from. And it’s super important that it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you can meet them where they’re at to get those reviews, you’re going to find that you could grow steadily.
The other important aspect of reviews is that only 73% of the consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last MONTH.
So if you’re not actively asking for reviews, then you’re going to find that people are going to dismiss the reviews that are maybe six months or a year old because they’re not relevant to today’s situation or today’s transactions. So you want to be thinking about how often are you asking for reviews. Hint: Every transaction!
Further to that last stat,
72% of consumers have written a review for local businesses, which is a huge jump from 66%.
So people are out there actively writing reviews. Now you want to make sure that when they’re writing reviews, you be careful about not offering them an incentive. Because that is usually against most terms of service for these review application platforms. So you really want to be making sure that people are doing it because they want to do it and not because you’re giving them some incentive to write a review.
Responding to Reviews
Finally, the last stat was that…
when writing a review, one in five people expect to receive a response to their review within one day.
Now this is uber important because a lot of people don’t do this. They look at the reviews that people give them, they get excited, they may share with their friends, but they don’t respond to the person giving the review. So if you are somebody that is getting reviews often, then make sure you respond to them too. You actually should respond even to ALL the reviews, Good and Bad.
The survey also asked people how long do consumers expect reviews they write to be responded to.
Here it is people… 76% expect their review to be responded to within 1 WEEK! Don’t let this go by the wayside… if you have a Google My Business Account, the app can send you a notification to alert you when there is a new review.
So make sure you’re out there responding to all reviews that people do. Now, this can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’ve got all these different sites where people could be leaving you a review. They could be on Google My Business, could be Yelp, Facebook, could be TripAdvisor.
It could be some of those niche platforms that you may not even know that you’re listed on. So it’s often good to get a service, even like BrightLocal, that can monitor those reviews across all the different services for you, which makes life a lot easier when you’re trying to manage your reputation.
As we can see, reviews in 2020 were very, very much dominated by COVID-19 and the lockdowns and the shutdowns that we’re all going through.
And lots of people spent more time at home more than usual on the internet. They’re looking for new services because maybe now they’re working from home and they need to go and find local services that they wouldn’t ordinarily use because they’ve been at their workplace.
But despite all of these crazy, crazy situations that are going on in 2020, reviews are super vital and a super vital source for making sure that local businesses and customers stay connected.
Most people are now looking at reviews everywhere. You need to have a presence online. You need to have a Google My Business presence. You need to have a very active account on there, and you need to be not burying your head in the sand when it comes to people talking about your business.
Shameless plug: If you need to up your game with your location listing and reputation management, please give us a call and we can send you in the right direction.
Final Thoughts- Why Reviews are so important for Local Business in 2021
As 2021 approaches, we’re going to be expecting that more and more emphasis is placed on reviews for local businesses. We can see very big growth for a lot of local businesses now because most people are moving to a home-based workplace.
So make sure that your reviews are presenting a great opportunity to attract new potential customers. Improve your local rankings and let them know what your story is because people buy into who you are, not what you do.
So good luck with everything and keep us posted on how you go with your reviews.