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Reviews provide businesses pre-qualified and pre-sold leads simply because buyers trust reviews as much as family and personal recommendations. A 2013 study conducted and released by BrightLocal found that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations which means that more consumers are reading reviews as part of their pre-purchase research before selecting a local business to use.

This data also showcase that customers are forming opinions faster and they need to read a number of good reviews first before they trust a business or company. This puts increased emphasis on businesses to manage their online reputation closely and ensure that any negative reviews are dealt with in a swift and positive way.

Another data also says that 85% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses before they actually decide to use or buy the service or product. This implies that local consumers are using reviews when researching for local products and services and they actually trust what they read online. Today, it’s no longer enough that sites rank on top of search engines as they also need to have a good online reputation in order to do business and have new customers coming.

Consulting reviews is now a logical step in the purchasing cycle for all types of products and services. The increased quantity and availability of reviews makes the selection process easy for consumers so businesses must adjust and have a reputation marketing strategy in place in order to not lose customers to competition.

Consumers are forming opinions faster now than they were 12 to 24 months ago. They need to read a number of reviews before they feel able to form an opinion about a business and decide whether or not it’s trustworthy.

Fewer consumers are reading more than 7 reviews before they are able to form an opinion about a business. This means that business owners need to manage their online reputations even more carefully, because their most recent reviews are the ones that impact purchasing decisions.

Lastly, businesses need a policy for responding openly to negative reviews and a process for generating new, positive reviews which drive those negative reviews further down the page and ideally out of sight! The path from reading online reviews to purchasing from a business is short, which means it’s crucial for local businesses to have a positive online reputation so they can convert ‘searchers’ into customers.