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Recency Counts: Unpacking the ‘Consumer Review Journey’

No one disputes the influence of reviews and ratings on consumer buying decisions. A 2018 study conducted by LSA for SOCi found that reviews and ratings were the “most important” influence on purchase decisions, outweighing all other factors, including pricing/discounts, business location — even personal recommendations of a friend or colleague.

In addition, 71% of consumer survey respondents said they read reviews before every or almost every purchase. And, of course, Google has made reviews a local ranking factor: “Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.”

One of the many other interesting findings in the 2018 study was what might be called the “consumer review journey.” As the graphic above indicates, most consumers look at multiple variables when evaluating the reviews of a local business, product or service.

The majority of consumers consider at the most recent reviews. After that, consumers look equally at favorable and critical reviews. That’s followed by total number of stars and overall review count.

While this isn’t literally the decision path that every consumer takes before making a purchase; it gives us a ranking of the importance of all these variables. And for some it probably does represent a review evaluation sequence of sorts.

The data shows very clearly that all businesses need a local reviews strategy that will produce a steady supply of reviews. Businesses should also be responding to most reviews within 24 hours, but that’s another discussion. The study found, however, that 50% of all SMBs surveyed did not ask for reviews or believe they had any reviews. In other words: no strategy.

This data comes from the LSA report The Great Conversational Divide: What SMBs Don’t Understand about Reviews and How It’s Hurting Their Business. To access the graphic above, click here.

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