While businesses struggle to figure out how to analyze and value online reviews, consumers continue to include them in their purchase process toolbox. In our most recent study, we focused on how consumers use online reviews and which aspects are most important to the purchase process. The results from this study aim to provide businesses better understanding on how to incorporate online reviews in their growth strategy.

Most successful businesses have developed a key set of metrics they use to drive their company forward. For ease of measuring and communication, most of these indicators rely on quantitative measures (sales, revenue, website traffic, etc.). Many stakeholders don’t include online reviews in these metrics because of their qualitative nature. Some may simply relegate the monitoring of online reviews to the customer service department. They adopt a reactive strategy and don’t consider reviews as having a significant impact on business-critical metrics like new customer acquisition.

Let’s flip the perspective.

As a consumer, what’s the first thing you do when you’re preparing to purchase a product for the first time? You probably do online research to ensure you are buying the best product and that the quality will meet your expectations. In fact, our report showed that 99% of consumers use online reviews at some point in the purchase process, and that online customer reviews are held in high regard, with their trust-factor hovering right around that of recommendations of friends and family.

What the survey measured.

This study sought to better understand how online reviews are used by respondents and what ultimately leads to the choice of a suitable brand. Our survey asked consumers how they use online reviews in the purchase process and covered the following major points:

When are online reviews used?

What makes a trustworthy online review?

The importance of review source.

Impact of reviews on purchase decision.

Key findings.

Online reviews are used 2.5x more when buying something for the first time.

Only 9% of consumers ranked reviews posted on a company’s website as the most trustworthy source of information, with the majority of consumers choosing third-party sites for their unbiased reputation.

People trust online reviews nearly as much as they trust personal recommendations from friends and family.

Reviews change minds: A consumer’s opinion of a brand prior to reading online reviews is ranked the least important factor affecting purchase decision.

To read the rest of the findings and learn how to leverage online reviews in your marketing strategy download the full report: The Power of Online Reviews, ConsumerAffairs Report 2018.