Exclusive Research Reveals Remarkable Shift in the Growing Influence of Online Reviews

Overall online reviews grew 10% in 2021 and Google dominates with a 71% share

Birdeye, the #1 online reputation management and customer experience platform for local businesses and local brands, published its annual benchmarking report on the current state of online reviews, which reveals how consumer behavior has evolved through the pandemic and how businesses are managing their reputation amidst a changing digital landscape.

The data, which was collected from over 80,000 local businesses, shows that the pandemic-driven digital transformation has altered consumer expectations and behaviors at a faster pace than anticipated. Consumers are more vocal about their experiences, share more information about their preferences, and are shifting to new sites for reading and leaving reviews.

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Key findings from the report were as follows:

  • Consumers wrote 10% more reviews in 2021 vs 2020, indicating that in the absence of in-person or in-store experiences, reviews have become an even more important way for consumers to showcase their experiences and share feedback
  • Google has emerged as the review platform of choice for most consumers. Birdeye found that Google’s share of online reviews grew from 67% in 2020 to 71% in 2021. With over 85% of online searches taking place on Google, this is hardly surprising.

Birdeye’s report also discovered that:

  • Businesses proactively sent 15% more review requests in 2021
  • 49% of review requests were sent via text (SMS) in 2021
  • Businesses responded to more reviews than ever at 41% in 2021

In an era where consumers rely on online reviews to make purchasing decisions, understanding the evolving online reputation dynamics is essential for local businesses that want to grow.

“Reviews have always been an important part of how we attract new customers and keep a pulse on current customer satisfaction,” said Denise Johnson, Communications Manager, Black Bear Diner. “This report is a valuable resource that helps us understand the evolving trends of online reviews so that we can proactively adapt to what customers are expecting of us.”

With more customers turning to online channels to discover and choose brands, local businesses need to sustainably improve and manage their online reputation. A deep understanding of where and how consumers are leaving reviews by industry is critical to help businesses outpace their competitors on local search results. The benchmarking report includes an analysis of online reviews for several industries including healthcare, property management, legal, restaurants, and home services to help businesses modify their online reputation strategy and stay ahead.

“This report is a reflection of how businesses rely on customer reviews more than ever before. Reviews not only help businesses improve their online reputation; they are also a great way to connect with customers and actively engage with them about their experiences. This makes a comprehensive experience platform like Birdeye invaluable to businesses that want to stay connected with their customers and create great experiences through messaging, surveys and referrals in this hyper-digital world.” – Dave Lehman, Birdeye President, and COO

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