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On Christmas day I was with a group of people attempting to go to lunch at a deli located near the hotel where two members of our group were staying. After being informed that there was a two-and-a-half hour wait for a table, and it would take two hours just to get sandwiches via take-out, we decided to go elsewhere. Since we weren’t familiar with the area, someone did a quick Google search for nearby restaurants that were open. Why did we ultimately choose “option A” over “option B”? Because its online rating was ½-star higher!

This experience got me thinking about the impact of customer reviews…the topic of this month’s article.


They say that word of mouth is the best form of marketing. Based on a recent survey1, it appears that recommendations from total strangers are almost as good as those from long-time friends: 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

The study also found that positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more, and that when people take the time to read the reviews (versus just looking at the number of stars), they trust the business even more. But most people need to read an average of seven reviews before giving a business their trust.

Do online reviews really matter? If you’re marketing to consumers, the answer is a resounding “yes!”

Do people really trust online reviews?

In general, yes. But, as another survey2 showed, companies that attempt to delete negative reviews are doing themselves a disservice. As it turns out, having nothing but 5-star reviews just doesn’t seem credible. People know that it’s impossible to please everyone, and they begin to suspect foul play if 100% of the reviews are glowing. Seeing a few negative reviews in a sea of positive recommendations increases the believability factor so much that it’s likely to actually increase sales.

What about business-to-business sales?

Online reviews can be important in B2B sales as well. After all, many B2B sales are for high ticket, high impact products and services. The riskier the decision, the more important it is for buyers to feel confident that the solution is a perfect fit for their needs. Reviews give prospective buyers independent validation that others just like them have been thrilled with the quality and service you provide.

Plus, often your customers will describe features and benefits differently than you do. This can give you invaluable marketing insight…and increase sales in the process!

1 BrightLocal, 2017 Consumer Review Survey.

2 Spiegel Research Center, Northwestern University, “Ecommerce Chart: Star ratings’ impact on purchase probability,” August 2017.

What Others Are Saying

"Holy mother of God...this first draft is perfect! Like perfect! It's everything I wanted to say but just couldn't! Thank you thank you thank you Linda!"

Mark McManus
President, DisasterFree