Almost a fifth of small businesses ask consumers via email to review them, according to The Great Conversational Divide, a study by the Local Search Association, commissioned by SOCi.
Good move, although an even higher percentage don’t ask at all. Two-thirds of consumers are influenced to purchase by positive reviews. And good notices are more prevalent than you might think.
Of the consumers surveyed for this two-part study, 47% are motivated to write reviews by positive experiences. In contrast, only 22% are driven to write them by bad ones.
In addition, 18% say they wrote a review simply because the business asked them to, and 12% because they wanted to make recommendations for improvement.
But not all SMBs get it: Most think they can squeak by with 3- or 3.5-star ratings, whereas shoppers demand 4 stars. This misperception results in lost business, the study notes.
Upbeat reviews are the main influence on purchase decisions. Those are followed by discounts/attractive pricing (61%), convenient business location (50%), and recommendations from a friend or family member (45%).
The study also shows that 66% of consumers conduct online research before making online or offline purchases.
What do they expect to see in reviews? For 30%, recency is the big factor. In addition, 21% apiece are impressed by critical reviews and favorable ones, 18% by the number of stars received, 8% by the total review count and 2% by other information.
As for the reviewers, 77% comment online, expecting the business to respond. Perhaps more importantly, 89% will change a negative review, depending on that response. And most expect a response within 24 hours.
But businesses take their time. Of those polled for this research, only 21% say they respond immediately, and 40% do so within 24 hours. Worse, 20% say, “I usually don’t respond.” In addition, 12% react within a few days, and 7% when they can get to it.
And while 61% of SMBs agree that reviews influence purchases, 39% do not, or are uncertain about it. Among those polled, 50% don’t ask for online reviews or don’t have any. But 19% apiece ask for them verbally or bye mail, and 12% offer contests or prizes as incentives.
Reviews play a bigger role in some verticals than in others. For instance, 72% specify restaurants, 70% retail and 67% personal care, vs. 66% overall.
The most popular channels for consulting reviews? For 47%, it’s social media, followed by search engine rankings (41%), web sites (34%) and ratings/review sites (32%). Push channels like email don’t even figure.