March 18, 2024
5 min read

When It Comes To Online Reviews, Consumers Care About More Than Just Star Ratings

No matter what type of product or service you sell, it’s essential to make sure that your business receives a steady flow of ratings and reviews online. With more than three quarters of consumers saying they “‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read online reviews for local businesses,” it’s especially important to make sure that you’re receiving feedback on the most popular platforms: Google, Yelp, and Facebook.

Often, businesses can become preoccupied with trying to achieve and maintain a perfect 5-star rating on Yelp and other review platforms. But while there are unarguably benefits to a perfect rating, it’s actually not the most important part of a review — at least, not from most consumers’ perspectives. In reality, there are other review qualities that the average shopper cares about more than a 5-star rating — including one that all business owners can easily control.

In this week’s article, our response scribes take a look at some of the newest data on consumer attitudes toward business reviews. Keep reading to learn how much star ratings influence shoppers, what other review features are valued highly by consumers, and how your business can leverage its reviews to attract and convert more prospects.

How Much Do Star Ratings Matter, and What Other Parts of Reviews Do Consumers Focus On Most?

Your star rating is important, as we’ll see in just a moment. However, there should be higher priorities than nailing that perfect score every time — and recent research by BrightLocal reveals why.

According to the data, only 5% of consumers require businesses to have a minimum 5-star rating, and only 11% expect them to have a minimum 4.5-star rating. By comparison, a far greater percentage of consumers — 38% — say that they would be open to considering a brand that had a minimum 4-star rating. Those percentages start to dwindle again as ratings dip below the 4-star threshold, with just 21% of consumers saying they’d consider a brand rated 3.5 stars, 12% open to brands rated 3 stars or higher, and only 4% willing to consider brands rated 2.5 stars or higher. Only 6% of consumers said that they were indifferent to ratings altogether.

Ratings also came up when BrightLocal asked survey participants the question, “What review factors would make you feel positive about using a business?”

In 2022, 58% of the participants — the same percentage as the year before — indicated that they would feel positively if “the review has a high star rating,” meaning 4 stars or above.

Clearly, high ratings are important to consumers. However, there are some review factors that consumers value almost as highly or even higher, and it’s important for businesses to be paying attention to those factors.

Here’s what survey-takers said would make them feel positively about a brand — including one thing that’s entirely within business owners’ control.

  1. 69% would feel positively about the brand if the review “describes a positive experience,” which businesses can help ensure by providing outstanding products and services. Other ways to provide the best customer experience in 2023 include personalizing your content, providing self-service options, and offering immersive experiences like virtual clothing try-ons, according to predictions by Forbes and SuperOffice.
  2. 40% would feel positively if the reviewer was named instead of remaining anonymous. (Speaking of anonymous reviewers, find out why writing yourself positive reviews is bad for your business, or, learn how to deal with duplicate reviews that all seem to say the same thing.)
  3. This is the statistic we’re most excited about, and businesses should be, too: 54% of consumers said they would feel positively about a brand if “the business owner has responded to the review.” This effect is especially strong when brands respond to both positive and negative reviews, as opposed to just one or the other, as we covered in a recent post. While they can’t control the reviews they receive, businesses are in full control of their review response strategies, which makes this an opportunity that businesses need to be capitalizing on.
review response

So: are high ratings valuable? Yes, absolutely. But are perfect ratings essential? No. Remember, only 5% of consumers expect brands to be rated 5 stars, while a full 38% are open to brands with 4 stars or higher.

Instead of trying to score a perfect 100%, it’s more productive for businesses to focus on responding to their reviews promptly and engaging with their customers and prospects. As we’ve covered in previous posts on our blog, responding to reviews benefits your business by:

  1. Boosting your local search rankings
  2. Helping more people find and contact your business  
  3. Increasing the overall level of trust in your brand
  4. Creating brand advocates, or customers who will hype up your business to others
  5. Potentially causing a customer to change or update a negative review
  6. Providing you with opportunities to use keywords, mention promotions or deals, and/or spread the word about your company’s values and mission

Learn more about why review responses matter, why they need to be personalized, and how fast you need to be writing and posting them.

4 More Qualities Consumers Love to See in Online Reviews  

Consumers want businesses to respond to their reviews, have reviews from non-anonymous users, and have high (but not necessarily perfect) star ratings. Here are four more review qualities that make consumers feel positively about businesses, according to BrightLocal:

  1. 46% said they would feel positively if the review was “posted within the last month.”
  2. 37% of consumers said they would feel more positively if the review featured “an appealing photograph or video of the product or service” that was being reviewed.  
  3. 35% indicated reviews that featured “spelling and grammar of a high quality.”
  4. Finally, 26% said they would feel positively if the review was “long and detailed.”

Schedule a Demo of Our Review Management Platform and Response Scribe Service

Research shows that consumers are more likely to feel positively about businesses that respond to their reviews and engage meaningfully with their customers. Responding to reviews also increases the likelihood that consumers will choose and return to your business, while helping you rank in local searches and stand out from your competitors.

The only problem? With all the projects your team’s already busy juggling, you don’t have time to write hundreds (or thousands) of personalized responses to all of your reviewers.

Shout About Us’ response scribe service offers a convenient solution. Our trained review responders provide your business with on-brand, personalized replies for all ratings and reviews within 24 hours, including options to review, edit, and request revisions. Through our centralized dashboard, it’s easy to manage and monitor reviews and business listings across more than 125 websites, while our review generation and review removal services make it effortless to collect customer feedback and remove misleading or abusive comments.

Join the 10,000+ brands who have already discovered the benefits of online review management. Book a demo of our platform to learn more.

Emily Homrok

Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.

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