59 Percent of Consumers Say Online Reviews as Trustworthy as a Friend

59 Percent of Consumers Trust Online Reviews as Much as a Friend's Opinion

Worried about the online reviews of your business? You should be.

Nearly 3 in 5 shoppers say they find online reviews as trustworthy as a friend’s review.

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Consumers Trust Online Reviews

So, if a potential customer is considering your business or products and they don’t ask a friend about it, they’re likely to decide based on your reviews. Those are the findings from a survey by ReportLinker on the trustworthiness of online reviews.

According to the data, 59 percent of the 535 online respondents say online reviews are as trustworthy as a personal recommendation. In fact, 7 percent said that online reviews are actually more trustworthy than a review from a friend. Conversely, 34 percent of that same pool say online reviews are less trustworthy than one they would get from a friend.

Even from your own shopping habits, you know that you don’t rely on a friend’s recommendation for every purchase you make online — or at a store. And these numbers suggest consumers, if possible, would check both with a friend and with an online review before making a purchase.

What’s In a Good Online Review?

Consumers are more likely to trust online reviews of your business or store if the reviews have some substance. Glowing and superficial emoji and exclamation points won’t win over the person who just happens upon your site or business.

ReportLinker identified what respondents want to see in a good online review:

  • 62 percent say they evaluate the content of a review. But respondents also believe a mix of good and bad reviews builds credibility.
  • 58 percent say the number of reviews is important. 32 percent say that 30 or more online reviews builds credibility.

As much as consumers trust their friends, they really don’t seem to need to know much about online reviewers when gauging trustworthiness, however. Just 26 percent of respondents said overall credibility of the author of an online review is important to them.

Word-of-Mouth Still Rules

The data from ReportLinker definitely shows the increasing value in online reviews. But few customers will actually leave a review of your business. And when they do, it’s generally positive.

According to a report accompanying the data, “It turns out that a negative experience drives far fewer people to write a review than conventional wisdom seems to imply. Almost half of respondents say a very satisfying experience will inspire them to contribute a recommendation, while just 34 percent say a very dissatisfying experience sparks the need to review the product or service.

The report also shows that 89 percent of those asked still would trust a friend over an online review if presented with both.

Woman at Laptop Photo via Shutterstock

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Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

4 Reactions
  1. This goes to show how integrated consumers are with the Internet. They now view reviews as if it is coming from their friend even if they don’t know the person who gave it.

    • So true, Aira. I think the online reviews give you product-specific information. And it’s more likely that someone online will have purchased it for the same reason I’m considering. A friend may have different intent with a product. Like a phone or laptop — if they want to play games, they’ll be expecting more than someone like me, who uses their phone for mostly emails.

  2. A single very detailed mixed review is the ‘type’ I zero in on. By ‘mixed’ I mean a single review from one person which points out the good AND the bad. I usually assume this is the type of reviewer who’s hyper-critical, like myself. Speaking only for myself, it’s rare for me to love a product or a business unequivocally without even a tiny critique to throw in; that’s just not me — I’m hyper-critical — I’ll ALWAYS nit-pick. Maybe I was born that way? I give more weight to mixed product reviews written by other hyper-critical people. Speaking only for myself, a video review carries even more weight.

    • Excellent point, Alex!

      And I always like to see why a person did or didn’t like something.

      A lot of times, negative reviews are the result of someone buying something that was never going to suit their needs.

      Pros and cons lists really help, too.

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