Online Reviews -Helpful or Hurtful
Do you use online review sites before you make a purchase? Take a trip? Plan an activity? As this particular form of social media develops I have increasingly become to rely on them to help me make a decision. I depend on them especially when it comes to making a final decision between two choices. I also find them helpful for setting out-of-town plans (hotels, airlines, restaurants). I am not alone. According to The Kelsy Group and ComScore "Nearly one out of every four Internet users (24%) reported using online reviews prior to paying for a service delivered offline." That number is higher for online purchases.
|Kelsey Group Study|
In my personal experience online review sites have been helpful. I get a good sense of the customer satisfaction level after sorting through the weeds. I liken this to asking my friends their opinion. We all have friends whose advice we take with a grain of salt and other friends we count on for a logical, informed opinion. So, I try not to base my final decision on the rantings of one review relating an unhappy experience. However, if that is all there is then I assume it must have some merit. I temper this if the business has responded to the reviewer and taken steps to rectify the situation. I also question reliability if there is only one GLOWING review. I wonder is it a 'true' review or a company-sponsored post.
Tonight on the news they had a spot on how to use these sites effectively. It got me to thinking about the different review sites out there and how they compared to each other. I got to thinking about Angie's List and BBB vs. review sites like yelp and insiderpages.com. How Google and Yahoo Local rank against the online directories like yp.com and superpages. Which one has the better reviews? Are they better than Facebook and Google+? What I found out is that consumers use different sites to research different things, many times multiple sources before purchasing. It is also clear that reviews generated by fellow consumers have a greater influence than those generated by professionals.
Here are a few of the top review sites and what makes them stand out:
- Yelp; is a great site to find many user opinions and reviews on local businesses in the United States.
- Angie’s List; is a site useful to anyone looking to use a business offering home service contracting.It has real user opinions and experiences.
- InsiderPages; offers similar functionality to Yelp however it is much smaller and not as geographically represented.
- Consumer Reports and Amazon; less about peer-reviews and more likely to have a professional provide a fact-based opinion.
- Online Directories; Millions of consumers turn to the Internet each month for help in finding a new job, a new car, or to research any number of local services, said Erin Hunter, Senior Vice President of comScores Media and Entertainment Division. This study provides empirical evidence proving the effectiveness of online local and classifieds advertising. It is abundantly clear that small and large advertisers have a compelling opportunity to leverage the Internet as a powerful medium that drives conversion for local services.
A little personal footnote: While I am deep in thought on these very important questions my boyfriend thinks the blank look on my face indicates that I am just staring blondly into nothing.)