Each year BrightLocal releases its much respected Local Consumer Review Survey. Since 2010 it has become an important tool for analysing consumer behaviour and online reviews. The 2018 survey, released this week, indicates some interesting shifts in consumer expectations regarding the currency of a business’ reviews – how recent they are, as well as the regularity of online searches for reviews.

In the past few years the percentage of consumers actively seeking recent reviews, and ignoring older ones has steadily increased. Unfortunately, too many businesses attain a particular number of reviews and then believe that all the work is done – incorrectly thinking that it is size that matters, not substance. The number of reviews is irrelevant if they are old and each year, the definition of what constitutes ‘recent reviews’ has become narrower.

Key Findings

  • 85% of consumers think that online reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant
  • 40% of consumers only care about reviews submitted within the last two weeks (18% last year)
  • 64% of 18-34-year-olds are only impacted by reviews from the past two weeks
    (Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey, 2018).

It is a telling finding that 85% of survey respondents ignore a business if its online reviews are older than three months – it is even more significant that a growing number of general respondents, and a substantial number of younger consumers, are looking for even more recent reviews before considering contacting a business.

“The whole bedrock of consumer faith online is that what they are seeing is relevant, timely and accurate.”

Why? In simple terms recent reviews provide assurance – that a business is still trading, that its reviews reflect the ‘now’ and not the ‘then’. The whole bedrock of consumer faith online is that what they are seeing is relevant, timely and accurate. A business that presents with recent reviews gives that assurance and those reviews act as a beacon to online searchers.

Now, more than ever, a business needs to ensure the currency of its online reviews – or risk the reality that a potential customer will go to a competitor. Having hundreds of reviews is pointless if they are old, and maintaining currency is a sure fire way to attract motivated online customers.

In another key finding, the 2018 Local Consumer Review Survey says consumers have markedly increased the frequency of their searches for reviews.

Key Findings

  • 27% of consumers looked online daily for a local business in 2018 – more than double the proportion in 2017
  • 69% look online for local businesses monthly (up from 54%)
  • 56% search for local businesses weekly (up from 41% last year)
    (Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey, 2018).
“In the past ten years, reviews have evolved from a novelty, to an essential facet of both consumer behaviour, and a business’ marketing strategy.”

These figures point to the reality that online consumer reviews are the greatest motivation for customers, and that they are actively seeking them with even greater regularity than before. In the past ten years, reviews have evolved from a novelty, to an essential facet of both consumer behaviour, and a business’ marketing strategy. Every business, now, more than ever, needs to be marketing its reputation online, or risk falling even further behind those that do.

Marketing is the connection between a business and its intended and desired customers. Bridging that gap is no mystery – it involves a keen understanding of consumer behaviour and putting in place strategies that will bridge the gap. In this way, this year’s BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey is yet another reminder of the growing importance and power of online reviews.

To read the BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey, 2018 go here.