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Small business owners have a love-hate relationship with online reviews. Reviews are a great way to get discovered online, yet anyone who has received a negative review knows how frustrating it can be.

Yodle, a leader in local online marketing, announced results from its first “Small Business and Online Reviews Survey.” The study polled 300 U.S. small business owners across a large array of industries for their opinions of online reviews.

The survey asks SMB owners if they think online reviews are important, the extent to which they ask for and get reviews, if they monitor for and respond to reviews, and whether they think reviews are fair.

Survey highlights include:

— 50% of respondents think that it’s important or very important for their business to receive positive online reviews.

— 55% of SMB owners don’t receive any online reviews, while one in five (19%) attract between one and five reviews per month. Despite the low number of reviews small businesses are receiving, only 13% of owners ask their customers to post reviews.

— 68% of SMB owners don’t spend any time monitoring online reviews. Most of the remaining SMB owners (29%) spend just one to five hours per month on this activity.

— Only 20% of survey respondents respond to online reviews written about their business. Of those that do respond, more than 3 in 4 generally respond to all reviews.

— Only 14% of survey respondents post customers’ reviews to their websites. The remaining SMB owners that have received reviews and have a website (37%) do not post this content.

— 61% of SMB owners think that review sites favor businesses that pay to advertise with them, while only 10% don’t believe that to be the case. Half of SMB owners believe small businesses are more unfairly impacted by negative reviews than larger business; only 20% disagree.

— More than four in 10 survey respondents (43%) believe that online reviews are unfair because they do not verify that people who leave reviews are actual customers. A similar number, 41%, are “Not sure” if they’re unfair.

BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor? shows SMB advertisers are increasing their engagement with consumer reviews. Currently, 65% of SMBs surveyed monitor comments about their business, with another 15% planning to do so in the next year. Among those that do monitor reviews, 56% use a free or Do-It-Yourself service. Of those that do spend money on review monitoring, half spend between $25 and $100 per month.


Customer Opinions


While there’s no clear cut answer to whether or not online review sites being fair to SMBs, these statistics speak for themselves. Regardless, review sites are here to stay and force businesses to surrender their power to the consumer. They must rethink how they treat their customers.

For more information about Yodle’s Small Business and online review study please read the press release.

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