With all these requests, did the reviews influence consumers to take the time and change their behavior to support the brands and businesses?
Birdeye researchers analyzed data from their customers — more than 60,000 businesses — to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on reviews related to retail, automotive, healthcare, and beauty and wellness. The report — The 2021 State of Online Reviews — was fielded from data gathered in 2020.
“We’ve entered the era of experience marketing,’ said Travis Bickham, vice president of marketing at Birdeye, citing data from the study. “It is shocking, the number of reviews on Google.”
The report reveals that 67% of all customer reviews were written on Google — although the company shut down its review process in the first three months of the pandemic to safeguard the online reputation of small businesses, according to the report.
Despite this move, Google, rather than Facebook or Yelp, had a greater impact due to reviews.
Still, the average number of new Google reviews per business location by industry fell from 81 in 2019 to 58 in 2020, likely due to Google turning off its reviews for local businesses for about three months. Hospitality and retail industries were impacted the most and transportation was impacted the least, according to the study.
Automotive ranked highest, at about 138, for the total average number of new Google reviews by industry in 2020. Hospitality followed with 128, while consumer goods ranked 63 and the lowest was property management, at 27.
About 95% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. The average open rate for review request via emails was 69% in 2020. Businesses on average have about 2 review sites configured within their review requests. Businesses across all industries respond to 28% of reviews
While email at 54.8% remains the preferred way to request reviews, SMS at 45.2% has closed the gap and increased in popularity as a channel of choice.
Retail, automotive and healthcare businesses send a higher volume of review requests via email than SMS messages. In 2020, nearly all industries, except business services, finance and retail, sent more review request emails compared with 2019.
The conversion rate of emailed review requests was 21%, and the SMS conversion rate was 30%.
The industries that garnered the most positive reviews are likely not the ones that first come to mind. In the Birdeye study, transportation, property management, and hospitality ranked as the top three when it came to the most negative reviews. Consumer goods, healthcare and finance were among the most positive.
Birdeye also looked at the average star rating per industry. Advertising and media ranked No. 1 with 4.4 stars, followed by transportation with 4.17, beauty and wellness at 3.81, consumer goods at 3.64, and tied for fifth place, arts and entertainment and healthcare at 3.51. Business services received the least stars at 1.88.