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Yodle Survey: Small Businesses Underestimate the Importance of Online Reviews

Although 9 in 10 consumers say they are influenced by online reviews, a large number of small business owners don’t recognize the importance of reviews in their customers’ decision process, according to the results of Yodle’s inaugural “Small Business and Online Reviews Survey” released yesterday.

Yodle’s December 2013 survey polled 300 SMB owners nationwide across a large array of service industries to get their perspective on online reviews.

The most significant findings include:

1. Only half (50%) of SMB owners think positive reviews are important.

  • In fact, almost one in four (23%) believe that it’s unimportant.

2. Most small business owners aren’t receiving or asking for online reviews.

  • 55% of SMB owners don’t receive any online reviews.
  • 19% of SMB owners receive an average of only 1-5 online reviews per month.
  • 24% of SMB owners don’t know if they receive online reviews.
  • Only 13% of SMB owners are approaching customers about posting online reviews.

3. A significant number of SMB owners aren’t responding to or monitoring for online reviews.

  • Only 20% of SMB owners respond to online reviews.
  • 68% of SMB owners don’t spend any time monitoring for online reviews.

4. SMB owners don’t effectively leverage customers’ online reviews.

  • Just 14% of SMBs post customer reviews to their websites.
5. Many SMB owners believe that the online reviews system is unfair.
  • 61% of SMB owners think that review sites favor businesses that pay to advertise with them, while only 10% don’t believe that to be the case.
  • 50% of SMB owners said they are unfairly impacted by negative reviews compared to larger businesses, while only 20% of SMB owners contradicted that opinion
  • 43% of SMB owners stated that online reviews are unfair because they don’t verify that people who leave reviews are actual customers.

The Yodle survey provides valuable perspective on the large gap between how consumers and many SMB owners view the importance of online reviews. For SMB owners to stay competitive with one another and with larger brands, they will need to adjust their marketing strategies to place more value on managing their online reputation through the reviews medium.

SMB owners who fail to encourage positive online reviews and/or address negative online reviews will be disadvantaged in winning over consumers in their path to purchase. While the online reviews system may not be perfect from the SMB owners’ perspective, they should nonetheless work to improve their presence in it rather than simply neglecting it outright.

For more information, read the full Yodle survey here.

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