5 min read

Customer Love: How Positive Reviews Fuel Small Business Success

Dmytro Tsybuliak
Why Positive Reviews Are So Valuable To Small Business

Reputation in business has always depended on factors such as word of mouth, social approval which altogether make up the concept of “popularity”. It’s hard to disagree that today it is online reviews that have come to play the biggest role.

Some small businesses, especially those that operate offline, tend to downplay the importance of the internet. They may believe that because they serve local customers, some of whom walk through the door, online reviews don’t carry much weight.

But how wrong they are! If a business has a bunch of negative reviews online, it’s a bust. Even if a business owner places a huge neon “we are the best” sign in front of their store entrance, it won’t do much in 2024. People are more used to trusting other customers than screaming marketing. And we’re ready to prove it to you statistically. Let’s get going!

The Review Conundrum

Sure, it’s pretty straightforward that positive reviews are a win and negative ones, well, not so much. If you have excellent reviews, customers are willing to pay you more, can you imagine? They’re willing to shell out as much as 31% more in that case!

But having no reviews at all can actually throw a bit of a wrench into your reputation. Today everyone is an ultra-savvy consumer. While еveryone’s practically glued to their smartphones, it’s safe to say they’re Googling your business (especially if it’s a new name to them).

Generally speaking, searches for product and service reviews make up 10% of all Google searches. So ignoring this aspect of business is like telling your potential customers “I don’t care about you” to their face.

There are two potential scenarios:

  1. A potential customer looks you up, and there’s little to no information available. Now, they’re left wondering – is it a brand spanking new business, and am I signing up to be their experimental customer? Or, heaven forbid, are you so off the radar that people just don’t care?
  2. But let’s flip the script a bit. A handful of positive reviews, and suddenly, you’re not an unknown entity anymore. You’re worth checking out now.

And while everything is perfectly understandable with Generation Z (they grew up on the Internet), what about millennials? You probably think that millennials rely mostly on TV ads, right? You’d be very wrong, because 68% of them put their trust in online reviews, and only 34% (half as many!) tend to trust TV marketing.

With that being said, you don’t necessarily need to have thousands of reviews. Most customers will read the first ten of them at best. 90% of users read less than 10 reviews before making a buying decision.

Keeping It Real

While it’s tempting to take shortcuts and buy yourself a batch of fake reviews, let’s not go down that rabbit hole. Trust me, people can sniff out those phony comments from a mile away. They are usually too flashy, too similar, and just fishy.

Customers are getting pretty savvy and a bit skeptical.

About 27% of consumers put their faith in reviews, but only if they’re convinced they’re the real deal. Nobody likes a fibber.

By the way, you can even get an invitation to a court hearing for fake reviews! For example, China’s Alibaba Group monitors their e-commerce platform Aliexpress for real reviews of products. Once they were able to sue Shatui.com for helping to post untrue reviews on their platform.

The result?

They recovered over $300,000 from the owners of Shatui.com through litigation. So things are not as innocuous and unpunishable as they may seem at first glance.

Generally, you can lavish overly enthusiastic praise on your business and shout about it on every corner of the internet. But people are still about 12 times more likely to trust real online reviews than your marketing.

Of course, the industry in which your business operates also affects how actively potential customers will try to find reviews about it.

For example:

  • 60% of people always look for reviews of restaurants and cafes;
  • Only 18% of those people will go to read comments about insurance services. 
  • 20% of them will go to read car dealership reviews;
  • Slightly more people, namely 27% of potential customers will be interested in car dealership feedback.

In addition to restaurants, the top searches for comments about businesses include industries such as hotels and healthcare.

Here’s some more information about the hotel business where reviews play the most crucial role. Imagine two hotels in approximately the same price category and with approximately the same accommodation conditions in them. People are almost 4 times more likely to check reviews first and only then book a room in the hotel with more positive reviews.

Unfortunately, statistically speaking, just one negative comment about your product can be more than enough to make a person change their mind about buying it. Let’s root deeper!

  • If there are three negative comments about your product, 59% of customers will give up on your brand. 
  • What if there are 4 or more such reviews? By now, 70% of your potential customers are waving bye-bye to your business and leaving to buy from your competitors.

You might as well take an arithmetic average and look at 1 negative review as 30 lost potential customers.

So, what if you’re faced with a couple of negative reviews?

Instead of burying your head in the sand, the smart move is to tackle them head-on. Believe it or not, research states that when businesses respond to negative reviews on social media or online platforms, one-third of those customers either hit delete on their original gripe or swap it out for a nice positive review.

Well, that’s not all the exciting facts about online reviews. More to come.

Let’s take a look at infographics, because it is the most convenient and fastest way to absorb such a large amount of information.

Here are some of the entertaining facts that will help you realize that reviews DO rule in online and offline businesses in 2024!

Reviews infographic