Each year, market agency BrightLocal releases its consumer survey, chockfull of good insights on how consumers find local businesses online and how they interact with their reviews. Now in its eighth year, the Local Consumer Review survey is back with more data to help local furniture and lighting stores step up their digital marketing games.
If you don't have time to read the full report (and who does, really?), here are the three lessons you need to know right now.
Don't sweat a bad review
Online reviews on Google, Facebook and Yelp matter to anyone discovering your business for the first time. Reviews on your Google My Business page also help you rank higher in search results. A whopping 86 percent of consumers read reviews of local businesses, and 95 percent of consumers ages 18 through 34 read them. On average, consumers read about 10 reviews before they feel that they can trust the local business. But if you have one bad review, don't panic.
BrightLocal's research shows that 40 percent of consumers only take into account reviews posted from the past two weeks, and that number is growing every year. It's up 18 percent over last year.
Local businesses especially don't often get a ton of reviews every week, so if that's your business, assume most consumers will value reviews that are six months to a year old. That's not to say that older reviews don't matter. They do, but if you have more positive recent reviews, readers will guess that either those reviews were a fluke or you addressed your issues and worked to do better.
Consumers want the most up-to-date information, and they expect businesses to be reading and addressing reviews. Set an alarm for yourself and check your profiles every week so you never miss a thing.
Younger consumers are reading — and writing — reviews
Think you don't have to concern yourself with how younger consumers (young Millennials and Gen Zers) shop online? You may be wishing you did when those consumers start buying lighting and furniture. Take a look:
- 80 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds have written online reviews, compared to just 41 percent of consumers over 55.
- 91 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
This is a group of consumers that isn't afraid to tell you what they think, and if you provide exceptionally good service — or bad — you will likely be reading about it in an online review. When you consider how this group trusts good reviews like personal recommendations, businesses that have few or no reviews may find themselves wondering why fewer people seem interested in visiting their stores.
And here's the biggest kicker: 57 percent of consumers (of all ages) will only use a business if it has four or more stars. Think of all the business you could be losing because you've not tried to cultivate a good number of reviews or because you never addressed the negative reviews.
Your response matters
If you've ever scrolled through reviews for property management companies or even more vocal businesses, then this shouldn't come as a surprise. Eighty-nine percent of surveyed consumers read responses to review from businesses.
A back-and-forth review can quickly devolve into a Jerry Springer-like episode with angry he-said-she-said responses, but neither the reviewer or the business is going to win that fight in the eyes of the reader.
So with that in mind, it should always be your goal to respond in a helpful, empathetic and respectful manner to any negative review. The writer may still fire back — and you should let them — but prospective customers who read the exchange will notice you took the time to respond and guess that the writer may be on of those customers who will never be happy.
What stats from BrightLocal stood out to you? Share with us in the comments!