Do Online Reviews Matter More Than Word of Mouth Now?

You’re looking for a new product or service. Do you a) ask family/friends for recommendations or b) take to Google and see what others have purchased and/or experienced?

If we were asking you this pre-2008 then offline word of mouth was still far more credible to customers than its online counterpart.

However, that was 18 years ago, and the world is now a very different place indeed.

How Important are Online Reviews?

Even if your customers do ask friends/family for recommendations one of the first things they’ll do after receiving that recommendation is research your business online to see what others are saying about you.

They’re looking for online reviews to give further credibility to the recommendation they’ve received…and that’s if they bother to ask friends/family at all! A staggering 79% of people now say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends/family according to BrightLocal who also report that:

  • 93% of customers have used the internet to find a local business in the last year
  • When looking at reviews readers name star rating as the most important factor and quantity the least important

So, what’s driven this change? Well, over and above the fact that more and more people are using the internet to do the hard work for them, there’s the small matter of the rise of the smart phone which is literally putting the internet into our hands wherever we are and has become our go-to resource.

COVID-19 has also impacted online reviews too (for more information on this see our blog ‘How has COVID-19 changed Reviews for 2021?’) with 31% of customers reporting that they now read more reviews and 67% saying they wouldn’t us a business if reviews said it didn’t have COVID-19 health and safety measures in place.

All this clearly points to one fact which is that whilst word of mouth recommendations may have a place in your businesses growth strategy it’s very clearly online reviews that are the single most trusted source of information and purchasing decisions with 97% of respondents to BrightLocal’s survey also confirming that positive reviews make them more likely to use a businesses.

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