The influence of online customer reviews

A report from the Opinion Research Corporation in the US shows just how influential customer reviews on websites can be. More details of the report can be accessed here.

Perhaps the most useful statistic in the survey is that 61% of consumers will actively consult a review on a blog or website before buying a product. And even those who don’t actively look for these reviews are influenced by them. 83% of respondents said that if they read a review online it would influence their propensity to buy.

This is a very large proportion of consumers and shows again how important it is to allow consumers to review and discuss products online. If you provide these reviews on your site you are in a position to help to influence purchase decisions in this way.

As Leah Shea, an executive at Opinion Research, says:

Businesses today exist in an era in which it’s nearly impossible to escape the likelihood of being evaluated…there’s nowhere to hide. Companies must be extremely mindful of the power of proliferating online forums and their ability to shape consumer’s perceptions about brands. Even a single negative review, when posted in a very public forum, can have a significant impact on a prospective buyer’s decision to purchase.

Looking at the sector-level, it is clear that consumers are more likely to be looking for and being influenced by reviews when making travel and tourism purchases than they are for food or personal care. But across all sectors, the influence is high.

This report adds some weight to observations we have seen with our clients, that the use of customer reviews can have a significant positive impact on conversion rates. People want to consult reviews and these reviews often have a positive impact on their likelihood to buy the product.