In this article we will review some important and enlightening statistics that were found in a recent survey about consumer reviews performed by BrightLocal.
Both offline and online, a business’ reputation, as ReputationManagement.com says, is “your most valuable asset. It’s what people find when they Google you, and it shapes their impression of you — sometimes before you’ve even met.”
Now more than ever, people are taking to the web to search for local businesses when in need of a service. Their search results return a list of options that often contain reviews and star ratings. Those reviews are a large part of what entices potential clients to contact you with confidence. In fact, 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Quantity or Quality?
You may ask yourself, “What’s more important? The amount of reviews or what’s written in the reviews?” The answer is… both!
The goal of every company is to obtain five Google reviews — the magic number that makes your ratings show up in search results. There is a common misconception that the more reviews you have, the better your business is perceived. However, potential clients care more about the sentiment and recency of the reviews than the total number of reviews. More reviews can mean that your firm is more likely to show up in search results. But, according to BrightLocal’s survey, consumers claim that the average star rating of a business is the most important factor when judging a local business. Therefore, a multitude of reviews with a low star rating won’t drive business through your front door.
Where to Find Reviews
Google recently added reviews and ratings from third-party review sites to the Local Knowledge Panel near the Google My Business/Google+ reviews section.
This shows that Google knows the importance and significance of online business reviews. And they’re not the only ones — 87 percent of people say that a business needs a rating of three to five stars before they will use it.
According to the survey, 59 percent of people look at two or three review sites before they make a decision about a business. 63 percent find reviews on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, and 37 percent go directly to a review site, such as Yelp.
These statistics should encourage you to focus on gaining more online reviews for your law firm. If you are short on time, there are tools available that can help. For example, Birdeye is a service that can send emails to your recent clients, asking them to leave a review.
Reviews and Mobile Devices
Reviews are still most often read on a PC, though the amount of people searching for local businesses on mobile devices has caused mobile review searches to almost double over the past year. Without a doubt, mobile usage will continue to increase, making a mobile-first website with optimal user experience even more imperative to the firm’s success.
The majority of consumers claim that they read fewer than 10 reviews before they feel they can trust a business enough to make a decision to use its services. We recommend that you pay attention to all of your reviews, thanking people for positive reviews and responding carefully and appropriately to negative ones. Consumers mostly pay attention to the overall star rating of firms and spend their time reading the most recent reviews. If a negative review appears, respond tactfully and know that as you continue to work on gaining more reviews, potential clients will be more likely to focus on the most current information. You can read more on how to manage online reviews here.
After reading reviews, potential clients are most likely going to visit your website to learn more about your firm before contacting you. This is where the user experience and user interface really come into play. Providing clear information on a well designed page devoid of clutter is essential. You want your potential clients to be able to find your contact information without having to dig too deep.
Asking for Reviews
One of the most important findings from the BrightLocal Survey is that “7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review if they’re asked to.” That means over half of consumers asked to leave a review about a business will follow through with it. This is great news!
Ask regularly for reviews, but don’t ask for reviews from many people at the same time. Review sites flag businesses that get too many reviews at one time, especially if you’ve never had reviews before. Remember to never offer compensation in any form to a client in exchange for a review, and never tell a client they are required to leave a good or positive review. Also, make sure that your approach to reviews is in line with bar guidelines, and those set by the platform on which the reviews are to be left.
Evolution of Reviews
Word of mouth is still the most powerful avenue for recommendations. However, the survey reported that the reviews found on social media, particularly Facebook, have dramatically increased. Only 16 percent of people surveyed in 2014 claimed to leave reviews for businesses on Facebook. As of 2016, that number had increased to 47 percent. The percentage of consumers leaving reviews for businesses on Twitter has also increased from 5 percent to 21 percent.
Facebook provides companies with a huge audience, as well as the ability to promote positive reviews to a custom audience in an effort to draw in more clients. The rise we have seen in social media is only expected to continue and should be included in your review-gaining efforts.
Gain More Reviews
We have prepared a client review resource bundle which contains tips for law firms on how to generate more online client reviews. We hope this resource will equip you and your firm to make generating client reviews a part of your firm’s daily agenda.