SMB owners think the online reviews system is stacked against them

Survey: Small Businesses Underestimate the Importance of Online Reviews

Survey: Small Businesses Underestimate the Importance of Online Reviews

Survey: Small Businesses Underestimate the Importance of Online Reviews
Yodle, a leader in local online marketing, today announced results from its first ever “Small Business and Online Reviews Survey.

The study (Warning: PDF), which was conducted in December 2013 through a third party research firm, polled 300 small business owners nationwide across a large array of service industries to get their perspective on online reviews.

The survey covers topics such as whether small business owners think online reviews are important, the extent that they ask for and get reviews, if they monitor for and respond to reviews, and whether they think reviews are fair.

The most significant findings from Yodle’s Small Business and Online Reviews Survey include:

  1. Only half of small business owners think positive online reviews are important.  Many small business owners are not recognizing the importance of online reviews despite the buying decisions of 90% of customers being influenced by seeing positive online testimonials  (source: 2013 Dimensional Research Survey).  Only 50% of survey respondents think that it’s important for their business to receive positive online reviews and almost one in four (23%) believe that it’s unimportant.
  2. Most small business owners aren’t receiving or asking for online reviews. More than half of SMB owners (55%) don’t receive any online reviews, while one in five (19%) get an average of only one to five reviews per month.  Almost 1 in 4 SMB owners (24%) don’t know if they receive online reviews.  Despite the low number of reviews that small businesses are receiving, only 13% of owners are approaching their customers about posting reviews.  The biggest reason cited for not approaching customers is “I haven’t thought about it” (43%).
  3. A significant number of small business owners aren’t responding to or monitoring for online reviews. Although seven in 10 consumers have a more positive view of a company if they see them responding to an online review (source: Bazaarvoice Conversation Index), less than half of our survey respondents (43%) who receive reviews actually do this.  More than two in three SMB owners (68%) also don’t even spend any time monitoring for online reviews and all but a handful of the remainder spend just one to five hours per month on this activity.
  4. Small business owners don’t effectively leverage customers’ online reviews. Only 14% of survey respondents post customers’ reviews to their websites. The remaining SMB owners that have received reviews and have a website (37%) do not post this content.
  5. Many small business owners believe that the online reviews system is unfair. More than six in 10 SMB owners (61%) think that review sites favor businesses that pay to advertise with them, while only 10% don’t believe that to be the case.  Half of SMB owners (50%) also opined that small businesses are unfairly impacted by negative reviews compared to larger business; only 20% of the survey respondents contradicted that opinion.  Additionally, more than four in 10 survey respondents (43%) stated that online reviews are unfair because they do not verify that people who leave reviews are actual customers, with a similar number (41%) “not sure” if they’re unfair.

“We commissioned this survey to examine how small business owners are adjusting to 90% of consumers putting considerable stock into online reviews,” said Court Cunningham, CEO at Yodle. “Our study has found a significant disconnect between small business owners and consumers.  A large number of small business owners don’t see positive online reviews as important and are not receiving them, and are also inactive in a number of other areas where they would benefit from doing more.”