The Importance of Online Reviews & Reputation Management as Covid Persists
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The Importance of Online Reviews & Reputation Management as Covid Persists

The Importance of Online Reviews & Reputation Management as Covid Persists

Consumer reviews have become more important than ever for today’s shoppers, who increasingly go online as they consider a purchase, whether for a restaurant or a major household appliance. As 2021 draws to a close, we look back at a study on customer reviews and reputation management.

Conducted by Podium, the online survey was conducted 7 months into the pandemic, as homebound consumers turned to online shopping – and reviews. Although the survey was conducted more than a year ago, its findings highlight the importance of consumer reviews to a brand’s bottom line – a trend that has only strengthened as Covid continues to shift in-store shoppers to online buyers.

The survey, “2021 State of Reviews,” was conducted from October 9 to October 21, 2020 in the U.S. Participants included 1,543 consumers (aged 18 to 99+, all regions), 455 SMB owners or managers, and 378 enterprise business leaders in businesses with a local presence.

5 key takeaways

  1. Consumers are reading more reviews more consistently than ever before.
  1. Reviews heavily influence consumer decision-making.
  1. Consumers are looking for review quality, quantity, and responses along with a high rating.
  1. Local businesses have to make leaving reviews convenient, frictionless, and necessary.
  1. Local businesses must be proactive about improving their online reputations.

The study is divided into 5 sections. Here are highlights from each section. For the full 32-page ebook, click here.

1) The importance of reviews

  • Reviews are table stakes in winning today’s consumers.
  • Reviews influence 88% of consumers in discovering a local business.
  • 28% of consumers say they have looked up a business’s reviews while standing or being parked right outside to decide if they should go in or not.

2) Review behavior and expectations

  • High average star ratings are still the baseline required to compete.
  • 38% of consumers require at least a 4-star average rating to consider engaging with a business.
  • 3.4 is the average star rating consumers require to consider engaging with a business.
  • 56% of consumers say that a business’s responses to reviews have changed their perspective on the business.

3) New opportunities and expectations

Covid-19 has created opportunities to win new customers online, but it has also created new consumer expectations.

  • 33% of consumers say they have found a new local business near their home during Covid-19 that they didn’t previously patronize.
  • 31% of consumers say they are more likely to look at a local business’s Google listing before visiting it than they were before Covid-19.
  • Since Covid-19, almost 50% of consumers are also reading reviews to validate local businesses’ safety practices.

4) Review creation

Consumers are much more likely to read reviews than create them.

  • 81% of consumers leave a business review four times a year or less; 20% say they have never left a business review.
  • 85% of consumers say that employee attitude is the most likely motivation for them to leave a one-star review.

5) Reputation management

Local businesses feel the pressure and are taking proactive measures to compete online.

  • 79% of local businesses say they are at least somewhat proactive about their online reputation; 30% say they are very proactive.
  • For 39% of local SMBs, the owner/CEO is held most responsible for their online reputation.
  • 54% of local businesses say they respond to all or most reviews.
  • 16% of local businesses say they rarely or never respond to reviews.

Podium powers more than 100,000 local businesses, helping to facilitate millions of customer interactions and payment transactions, from customer-generated reviews to more seamless communication offerings and contactless payment tools. To learn more, visit

Published: December 14th, 2021

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MSA provides domestic and international franchise advisory services to franchisors and companies seeking to establish franchise and licensing systems.
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