Helping Win Hearts & Minds on
the Battlefields of Online Media



    4 out of 5 consumers
    reverse buying decisions
    due to negative reviews

    Like most businesses, you provide a worthwhile product or service, and you'll go the extra mile for your customers. Most of them appreciate you. But in today's world of crowd-sourced web media, it's inevitable that you'll be attacked on review sites, blogs and forums, and other social media.

    As the use of social media continues to escalate, you can expect more attacks.

    Consumers Read & Trust Reviews for Local Business Services
    The latest annual BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey, which explores how consumers read and use online reviews of local business services, found the following:

    • 88% of consumers read reviews to assess the quality of a local business (57% do it more than 6 times a year, 39% do it at least once a month, and 15% do it nearly every day).
    • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (vs 79% the prior year).
    • 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more. (Can we then infer that negative reviews make them trust a business less?)

    Based on four years of the survey, the trendline shows annual increases in the reading of online reviews as a factor for deciding which local businesses to patronize.

    Consumers Seek Opinions for All Goods and Services
    Market intelligence research firm Mintel published a report that covers consumers seeking opinions before purchasing all goods and services—not just local business services (Mintel American Lifestyles 2015: The Connected Consumer—Seeking Validation from the Online Collective—US 2015).

    The Mintel report says that before purchasing goods and services, 7 in 10 Americans seek out opinions on review sites and 57 percent seek out opinions on social media networks. Some specific findings:

    • 81% of consumers age 18-34 seek out opinions from others before purchasing.
    • 63% of consumers age 25-44 agreed that opinions posted to company review pages are from people like me. This is a trust issue, as consumers place more trust in reviews from people they believe are like themselves.
    • Opinion seeking is correlated with a higher household income and these consumers are therefore able to consider other factors beyond price in their purchase decision.
    • Compared to the average consumer, opinion seekers are spending more this year compared to prior years, across all categories.

    Consumers Go Online to Verify Buying Decisions
    A 2011 survey sponsored by Cone Communications called Online Influencer Trend Tracker found that 89 percent of consumers use and trust online reviews for products and service, and use them to verify offline recommendations.

    The study found that four-out-of-five consumers have changed their minds about a recommended purchase based solely on negative information they found online—up from 67 percent a year earlier. Specific findings:

    • After getting a recommendation about a product or service they want to purchase, 85% of consumers go online for additional research.
    • 81% of consumers say they conduct online research for products & services because they can easily access the Internet almost anywhere.
    • 64% search for consumer or user reviews.
    • 78% would conduct additional online research for low cost purchases; 89% would for moderate- and high-cost purchases.

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    All this data means that your reviews are being read by potential customers, primarily those who have money and are spending it. Even when they are ready to buy based on a recommendation, they will conduct on research. And 80 percent will change their mind and not purchase a recommended product or service based on negative information they find online.

    To be clear, the point being made by these studies is that consumers are actually READING reviews. It's not about ratings on some review site. It's about what people are actually saying about your service or product: the information delivered and the impression that is made.