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Survey: Online reviews are critical to local business success

If local businesses are wondering who reads online reviews, a vast majority of their customers probably do.

According to the new “2020 State of Consumer Reviews” study from customer messaging platform Podium, online reviews influence 88% of surveyed consumers in discovering a local business. This includes 21% who say that reviews play a big role in discovering a local business. 

Online reviews come in fourth among the top characteristics respondents say are most important when choosing a local business, with 41% selecting them. The top three characteristics are location (61%), price or promotions (55%), and personal recommendations (50%).

Approximately half of respondents are willing to travel farther and pay more in order to patronize a business with higher reviews. Close to six in 10 (58%) agree or somewhat agree with the statement, “I am willing to travel farther to a business with higher reviews,” while 47% agree or somewhat agree with the statement, “I am willing to pay more at a business with higher reviews.”

Not just any online review will positively influence a potential customer. Almost four in 10 (38%) respondents require at least a four-star (out of five stars) average rating to consider engaging with a local business, and only 9% would consider engaging with a business that had a one- or two-star average rating.

Other interesting findings include:

•    83% of respondents agree or somewhat agree that they don’t trust a high review rating unless there is a high quantity of reviews.

•    Since COVID-19, almost 50% of respondents are also reading reviews to validate local businesses’ safety practices. 

•    After having a good experience with a local business, consumers are 12% more likely to leave a review if they see a sign asking them to, and 36% more likely if they receive an email invite to leave a review.

•    85% of respondents say that employee attitude is the most likely motivation to leave a one-star review.

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