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How Online Reviews Influence Decision-Making

Stepping into the world of online reviews can seem daunting. All of a sudden, you’re putting a lot of your product or service’s appeal in the hands of consumers. Frankly, people really care about reviews. So while this is a big leap to take, opening up your business or products for review will ultimately increase your conversions, since reviews have a big impact on decision-making. We’ll explore a little about why that is in this article.

Fixing fear of the unknown

Reviews, even average ones, can help your business succeed. Once people see that someone has bought a product, it takes away a bit of the “fear of the unknown” when it comes to shopping online. They’re no longer treading into unfamiliar territory, informed only by what the company is saying. Products with at least one review get huge boosts in both traffic and conversion ratings. Companies with enough Google reviews (five) to have star ratings appear on their search results get a similar boost in traffic. Online shopping has enough mystery attached to it. Reviews help take some of that away, and consumers appreciate it.

BrightLocal does a great Consumer Review Survey yearly. In 2016, they found that 84% of people “trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.” That’s pretty huge. Think about how much more likely you are to work with a company or purchase a product with the blessing of a friend. I certainly helps! Word-of-mouth, whether organic or marketing-driven, casts powerful influence. In today’s digital world where so much research and purchasing is done online, online reviews have truly become the new word-of-mouth.

If online reviews can be that effective, it seems worthwhile to get them rolling on your business’ search listings, social channels, websites, and products (if you have any).

More choice, more information, more misinformation

We just talked about how much research and decision-making people do online. Access to information has never been higher. But the amount of misinformation on the Internet can be high too. People do appreciate your efforts to make your business look professional, and your product information transparent. But, there’s something to be said for having third-parties sharing their thoughts as well. It just seems a lot more authentic to consumers when the gospel is being preached by those who have actually used the product or service, not solely by those who are delivering it.

A recent study by Pew Research found “...82% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time, including 40% who say they always or almost always do so.” And the younger the audience, the more they check reviews. This trend isn’t going away.

So, people are reading user/customer reviews to make decisions. And are they influenced by them? Absolutely. Customers are significantly more likely to trust information coming from peer reviews than from your site. Some studies quantify this as high as TWELVE times more likely. So, if people read a lot of reviews and are more likely to trust them, having your reviews available alongside your website’s content or products can go a long way to influencing decision-making.

Make reviews a priority

Starting to notice a trend? Reviews matter. Ensuring every potential customer has access to yours is huge.

While your site probably gets a lot of its traffic from social media or search results, some people will visit you directly as a result of your other promotional efforts. Our plugin ensures they won’t miss out on your reviews. When you see how important reviews are, you can see why having them visible on your site is so valuable.