The results are in. If you’re not proactively listening to business online reviews, you might be missing out on key insights into how to grow an online business.

This consumer review survey by BrightLocal highlights how customer reviews play a vital role in helping businesses build trust with their audience.


In 2014, 39% of respondents admitted to regularly reading online reviews to gauge the quality of a business, while 49% used online reviews occasionally. Only a small fraction of respondents – as few as 12% – did not consult online reviews.

Why should my business welcome online reviews?

1. Build trust

Transparency is key to trust. Think about it: If you applaud yourself and rate yourself as the best small business in town, it’s bragging. If 90 percent of your customers say this, it’s evidence!

Here’s the evidence:

In 2012, a Neilsen study discovered that 70% of consumers trust online reviews more than any other media format, including newspaper articles, business websites, email marketing, TV ads, magazine ads, radio ads, and online video ads.

This trend appears to be growing, with a recent US study indicating that as many as 87% of consumers trust online reviews. The research also found that this positive effect is amplified if a) there are multiple positive customer reviews, and b) they are authentic.

2. Sales assistance

Customers will only buy from businesses they trust. That’s what makes online business reviews so powerful in generating leads and new business.

With online reviews promoting your business for you, you’ll spend less time and energy marketing, and free up more time for actually running your business and perfecting your business strategy.

3. More visibility on Google

In Google organic search results, there is a positive correlation between online review ratings and higher search rankings. Simply by allowing online reviews to be displayed, you will build your local SEO ranking. High rankings for targeted keywords on Google will result in potential customers being more likely to find you online.

4. Build customer loyalty

5 and 4 star reviews help create a loyal following. Every positive comment on an online review will act as a powerful vote of confidence from your current customers, making potential customers much more likely to engage with your business, even if they’ve never heard of it before.

What’s more, the very act of asking customers for feedback shows that you value their opinions and automatically increases customer satisfaction.

5. Counteract poor feedback

We know what many of you are thinking: ‘Sounds great, but if I open my business up to online reviews, aren’t I just exposing myself to the danger of getting negative reviews?’

Yes, you might get a bad review every once in awhile. But if you’re also doing your best to run a quality business, developing strong customer service and responding quickly to all reviews, one negative review in a sea of positive reviews won’t have much impact.

By demonstrating your commitment to solving your customer’s problem, you’ll likely reverse the damage and strengthen your online audience’s confidence in you too. It’s all about being responsive and sensitive. Also, if you build up a consistent stream of positive reviews over time, this can buffer against any poor reviews and sway customers who have heard negative word of mouth on the street.

Finally, online reviews can be tremendously useful in helping you improve your business strategy, making you more successful in the future. It’s also a great way to gain insights into your customers’ wants and needs, and much cheaper than market research.

What you can do to help your business

Respond to both positive and negative reviews, and always show appreciation to customers.

Bonus tip: Follow up with customers after doing business. This is key to receiving positive reviews!