Online Reviews Survey: Majority Consider Social Proof Important

The importance of online reviews and social proof is becoming increasingly prevalent for consumers. Due to the growing popularity of sites like Yelp and even reviews on platforms like Facebook and Google, finding that social proof before making purchases is becoming more and more possible. In fact, a recent Moz study found that online reviews can have a major impact on consumers and their buying decisions, especially when they rank highly in search results. So just how important are online reviews to consumers? We asked 1,000 respondents their thoughts on reviews and social proof.

online reviews

Online Reviews

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 20% of respondents said that they always check online reviews before making purchases. 30% said that they check reviews most of the time. 25% do so about half the time. 16% said that they rarely ever check online reviews. And 10% never do. In addition, 73% of those who read online reviews said that those reviews are at least somewhat important to them. Amazon was the most popular site listed by respondents who check online reviews before making purchases. But Google, Yelp, Walmart, Facebook and Consumer Reports were also mentioned.

70% of consumers said that they regularly check reviews before purchasing technology or gadgets. 46% check reviews for home items. 40% check reviews for restaurants and hotels or travel businesses. 35% check them before buying clothing or accessories. 34% check them when buying books or entertainment. 29% read vehicle or transportation reviews. 23% check reviews for local stores. And 7% check reviews for other types of products, like cosmetics and food.

Buying Decisions

When making buying decisions, online reviews are seen as important – but not quite as important as a few other factors. 22% of overall respondents said that cost is an important factor for them when making buying decisions. 21% said that quality is important. And 16% said that positive reviews are important to them when making purchases. Those reviews are seen as more important than other factors like recommendations from friends, brand name, convenience and style.

Writing Reviews

So exactly how reliable are the sources of those reviews? Are people likely to leave honest feedback on a variety of different experiences? Or do a lot of people only speak up when they’re particularly happy or upset with a business? 6% of overall respondents said that they always leave online reviews after making purchases. 15% said they leave reviews most of the time. 24% do so about half the time. 35% said that they rarely leave reviews after making purchases. And 20% never do.

Just 1% of those who leave reviews at least on occasion said that they normally leave reviews that are very negative. 2% leave negative reviews. 15% leave neutral reviews. 37% said that they normally leave positive reviews. 9% leave very positive reviews. And 37% said that their reviews vary.

Key Takeaways

Online reviews are clearly a big part of a lot of people’s buying decisions. While those reviews might not outrank things like cost and quality, they can offer social proof that the products people are buying do hold value. In addition, by learning that sites like Amazon and Google are popular places for consumers to see reviews, it suggests that customers might not go far out of their way to see reviews before making purchases, since those sites are often part of the buying process anyway. So if businesses want to show off their positive feedback and social proof to encourage people to make purchases, it could be beneficial to display reviews on product pages or on easily accessible parts of your website. Asking for reviews on sites like Facebook and Yelp might also be worthwhile to appeal to the customers that visit those sites.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: People Love Us On Yelp by Michael Dorausch under CC BY 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on July 7 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.