Sunday, January 20, 2013

Online Reviews: Why does it matter?


How many times have you clicked on the rating and reviews for a product or service? Did those reviews become the deciding factor in your purchase? Over the past five or so years there has been a significant increase on the use of websites featuring customer ratings and reviews of products and services. These websites include (but not limited to):

Yelp

Google

Amazon

Tripadvisor

Toptable

Increasingly the importance and weight of online reviews have grown to the point they may affect the profits and returns of businesses. Local/small businesses seem to have the most to gain (or lose) from this, and it shows accordingly. In an article by Myles Anderson, he states that “More local consumers are now taking notice of online reviews and online reviews are an important factor in deciding which local business to use. Consumers appear to best swayed by location and price which don’t represent any guarantee of quality or reliability.” Supporting Anderson’s statement, it is found that approximately 52% of consumers are more likely to use a local/small business if the reviews show to be positive.

However, local/small businesses are not the only businesses heavily affected by the increased significance of online reviews. The success or failure of hotels and restaurants is starting to become heavily dependent upon these customer reviews to the point where even just a half-star increase in rating can prove to have a positive effect on bookings.

With the growing importance of online reviews one must begin to question the legitimacy of some or many of them. It is not an uncommon phenomenon, today, for businesses to go on consumer review sites to post fake reviews in their favor. These reviews are often very biased and overly enthusiastic and often used to counteract negative reviews floating around. Though this is becoming more of a problem as the internet expands in everyday lives, some websites like Tripadvisor are trying to prevent businesses from doing so on their sites.
 
How important are online reviews to you? Will you regard them as much as personal recommendations?

 References:


Anderson, Myles. "Column: Local Search." Search Engine Land. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.

"Customer Reviews Affect 6 in 10 Online Shoppers." MarketingCharts. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.

Doward, Jamie. "How Online Reviews Are Crucial to a Restaurant's Takings." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 01 Sept. 2012. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.

"The Importance of Online Reviews for Local Businesses | US Daily Review." The Importance of Online Reviews for Local Businesses | US Daily Review. US Daily Review, n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.