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Customer reviews have gotten more important for local businesses over the years, according to research. And that means positive reviews appear to be having a bigger effect than in the past.
Based on 2015 polling from local search marketing firm BrightLocal, more than two-thirds of US internet users trust businesses more because of positive online reviews. While that’s down slightly from 2014, it still represents a significant increase over 2010 levels of trust in positive reviews. Five years ago, 45% of respondents said they either didn’t pay attention to online reviews at all, or didn’t let reviews influence them. This year, that share is down to 32%.
The increasing import of reviews has gone hand in hand with consumer likelihood to search for information about local businesses. In 2010, just 7% of internet users surveyed by BrightLocal said they searched for local business information "almost every day." By 2014, that share had more than doubled to 15%, and remains at 14% in 2015. In the same timeframe, the share of respondents who searched weekly also almost doubled, from 9% in 2010 to 17% in 2015.
Typically, positive online reviews motivate US internet users to visit the business’ website, rather than the business itself—which was the No. 2 response. That means websites are a key part of local business’ marketing efforts.
That, in turn, means mobile websites are key. According to BrightLocal, 38% of US internet users read online reviews of local businesses on the mobile internet via a browser, and 24% do so using mobile apps. There is likely significant overlap between the two groups, but at a conservative estimate, around two in five internet users are reading mobile reviews of local businesses—and a significant share of that group is likely heading to those firms’ mobile websites if they see something positive on a review site.
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