For over a decade BrightLocal had conducted and published the results of its annual “Local Consumer review Survey”. Last year’s survey results were released a few weeks ago, but hey, we are in a global pandemic, so who is going to call them out for tardiness? As is the case every year, the survey points to the absolute dominance of online reviews as the largest factor influencing consumer behaviour and the 2021 study illustrates that growing trend.

There are a few standout points but let’s begin with the most affirming finding. “98% read online reviews for local businesses.” There’s little doubt then that for any and very business online reviews are the essential ingredient needed to thrive. “We can safely say that the importance of having a good review profile is growing. More people are regularly using the internet to find businesses, and more people are regularly reading reviews when they do so.” (Source: “Local Consumer Review Survey 2022,” BrightLocal, January 26, 2022).

The survey also establishes consumer trends in actively leaving reviews and confirms what we have learned at NoCowboys over the past 16 years – customers have increasingly become accustomed to the practice of reviews and will leave feedback for a business, if asked.

  • “74% of consumers left reviews for local businesses in the last 12 months.
  • 67% of consumers will consider leaving a review for a positive experience, while 40% will consider leaving a review for a negative experience. A crossover of 33% will consider both.
  • 7% of consumers only leave reviews for negative experiences, while 34% of consumers only leave reviews for positive experiences.

In total, 67% of consumers will consider leaving a review for a positive experience, while a comparatively low 40% will do so for a negative experience. This shows that the benefits far outweigh the risks associated with growing your review profile. And as we’ll see later, negative reviews can actually help your reputation!” (Source: “Local Consumer Review Survey 2022,” BrightLocal, January 26, 2022).

One finding that I found hugely interesting dealt with the issue of bad experiences or results that were subsequently remedied by a business. “80% of consumers say they would be ‘likely’ or ‘highly likely’ to leave a review if they initially had a negative experience that was turned into a very positive experience. (Source: “Local Consumer Review Survey 2022,” BrightLocal, January 26, 2022). Again, this affirms something we have learned at NoCowboys – customers who are ‘turned around’ by initially bad experiences greatly value the effort a business owner takes to put things right. That 80% of people in those circumstances would then leave feedback speaks to the benefits to a business in prioritising customer service. Those customers then become the most useful advocates and mouthpieces for the business itself and its online vitality.

Also of interest are the things that consumers look for in reviews. “The top three review factors that make review readers feel positively about a local business are: the written review describes a positive experience (75% chose this); the review has a high star rating (58% chose this); and the business owner has responded to the review (55% chose this).

Anyone trying to decide whether to start responding to reviews should pay attention to the fact that 55% of consumers said that a response from the business owner makes them feel positive about that business. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider that only 3% more said that a high star rating would do the same, leaving us with the conclusion that consumers care about star rating and responses roughly the same.” (Source: “Local Consumer Review Survey 2022,” BrightLocal, January 26, 2022).

There are other key findings that are worthy of a subsequent instalment to this article but the absolute takeaway for every business owner is this – you need to commit to marketing your reputation through online review and the cost of not doing so is the cost of not doing business.