The influence of online customer reviews is growing—is your brand generating good ones?

by | May 5, 2021 | Public Relations

Marketers understand the incredible impact that online reviews can have on their business and on the ability to bring in new customers. However, the world has entered into uncharted territory as consumer behavior rapidly evolved due to the pandemic—which begs the question: How have online reviews been impacted?

New survey research from multi-location businesses experience marketing platform Birdeye sought to understand the effects of the pandemic on online review generation and management, as well as the resulting takeaways for industries, such as retail, automotive, healthcare, and beauty and wellness.

The influence of online customer reviews is growing—is your brand generating good ones?

Additional data uncovered in the firm’s 2021 report, The 2021 State of Online Reviews, found that:

  • 45 percent of all review requests were sent through text messaging in 2020
  • Retail businesses sent more review requests than any other industry in 2020
  • In 2020, the average consumer open rate for review request emails was 69%
  • The conversion rate for emailed review requests is 21 percent, and 30 percent for text messages
  • Only 28 percent of reviews are currently responded to by businesses, across all industries

The influence of online customer reviews is growing—is your brand generating good ones?

To secure online reviews, many marketers send out requests for reviews via email or text messages. While the pandemic required many businesses to close their storefronts, the overall review request numbers only decreased slightly. In 2020, the average business sent out 1.2 percent fewer review request emails and 4.6 percent fewer requests texts, per location, than they did in 2019. This shows that once businesses reopened, they generally picked right back up where they’d left off, highlighting the value of online reviews for businesses.

SMS vs Email: Which channel are businesses using?

The influence of online customer reviews is growing—is your brand generating good ones?

“During the pandemic, we had to quickly shift our business strategy from in-house dining to offering curbside pickup,” said Carissa Newton, director of marketing at Cunningham Restaurant Group, in a news release. “We’re fortunate that many of our customers over the past year have left us reviews, in which they thanked us for the cleanliness and safety precautions we have provided during COVID. Those reviews helped our restaurants stay open, even when our foot traffic decreased.”

The influence of online customer reviews is growing—is your brand generating good ones?

In the first three months of the pandemic, Google turned off its reviews to safeguard the online reputation of small businesses. Yet, even without those three months, the research uncovered Google’s disproportionate impact on reviews. According to the report, 67 percent of all reviews posted online are written on Google, and Google is quickly gaining traction on sites like Facebook and Yelp.

Where are reviews being written?

The influence of online customer reviews is growing—is your brand generating good ones?

“The pandemic changed so many consumer behaviors that marketers naturally wondered if online review traffic would be impacted,” said Dave Lehman, president  and COO of Birdeye, in the release. “Our report illustrates how much the marketing world has shifted in the digital age. Consumers will make their voices heard—even in the middle of unprecedented circumstances. Multi-location businesses have a real incentive to not only listen to their customers but actually understand them, connect with them and act.”

The influence of online customer reviews is growing—is your brand generating good ones?

Download the full report here.

For its first annual report on the reviews economy, Birdeye analyzed its own customer data, comprised of 60,000-plus businesses.

Daily PR Updates

Essential PR industry news, opinion, and analysis delivered to your inbox daily.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

RECENT ARTICLES

6 strong ways to strengthen your public relations skills

6 strong ways to strengthen your public relations skills

To be great at public relations, you need to be skilled in very diverse areas. Critical thinking, storytelling, communicating and connection with people are all important skills to have. Skills like writing and networking come into play too though, so what should you...

New consumer trends put CMOs at risk of missing revenue targets

New consumer trends put CMOs at risk of missing revenue targets

New research from the CMO Council explores how the self-reliant buyer and a chaotic, digital-first customer journey have flipped much of the sales action to the top of the funnel, making marketers responsible for nearly half of a company’s revenue—yet scarce...