It’s Friday night and you’re trying to figure out which new restaurant you should check out, or your car is making a funny noise and you’re trying to choose a service shop to take it to. In most cases, where are you turning to for information to help you make these decisions?

Well, according to Invesp, 90% of consumers are reading online reviews prior to visiting a business. And there’s no shortage of places they can go to look, though some of the more popular platforms include Yelp, Google, Facebook and TripAdvisor

Online reviews are as relevant as ever, with 88% of consumers trusting them as much as personal recommendations. And the nature of those reviews could be the difference between someone visiting your business or opting for a competitor instead.

BrightLocal’s 2018 Local Consumer Review survey revealed that positive reviews make 68% of consumers more likely to use a business. Conversely, negative reviews make 40% of consumers not want to use a business.

Positive reviews are invaluable. Consider the following:

  • 13% of consumers will contact a business after reading positive online reviews
  • Consumers are willing to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews
  • 50% of prospective customers will visit a business’s website after reading positive online reviews

Star ratings matter a lot for consumers as well. Nearly half (46%) say that four out of five is the minimum start rating a business must have in order for them to use them. Consumers also don’t necessarily believe all ratings are accurate. They admitted to requiring an average of 40 online reviews before believing a business’s star rating.

The more positive reviews that you have, the better your star rating will be. This can lead to a lot of benefits, such as brand awareness, leads and even sales. In fact, according to a paper from Harvard Business Review, a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue.

All of these statistics highlight the influence that online reviews have on the average consumer’s path to purchase journey. Small businesses looking to stay ahead of the game and capture the attention of these online consumers need to make sure that they have a strategy in place for gaining and responding to online reviews.