It’s no surprise the internet and smart devices have drastically changed how people shop. Rather than speaking to a salesperson in-store, people are using the web to investigate businesses, products, and others. Online reviews may seem subjective and of little importance to some, but they can play a huge role.

To better understand the impact of online reviews and how customers interact with them, we conducted a digital marketing survey of over 1,000 midwest shoppers. We found people are leaving more online reviews than in previous years, and reviews are playing a larger role in the buying process. If you’re wondering how online reviews affect your business, stay tuned. We’ve outlined some important findings from our digital marketing report, Digital State of the Midwest.

Know Your Audience: Who Reads Online Reviews?

For many shoppers, checking online reviews is an essential step of the buying process whether they are shopping for a car or a new coffee pot. Yet, the likelihood of your customer reading reviews depends on a few factors. For example:

  • Those aged 18-34 are the most likely to rely on reviews, 66% stated reviews impacted their purchasing decisions.

  • Women are 18% more likely than men to read reviews.

Reading online reviews isn’t just helpful for the customer but can also provide valuable insight for the company. People are much more likely to leave a review than speak with the company directly. So, reviews can help you understand customers’ feelings and perceptions about the brand.

reasons for leaving an online view bar graph
likelihood of leaving an online review by age bar graph
Likelihod of leaving an online review by industry

Identify Your Influencers: Who Writes Online Reviews?

Although plenty of negative reviews exist, customers are more likely to leave a review, after a positive experience. Our survey showed people are 26% more likely to write a review after a good experience than for any other reason, including incentives.

In addition to shoppers’ experiences, factors like age and gender impact their probability of leaving a review.

  • Consumers aged 18-54 are 25% more likely to leave online reviews than those ages 55+.

  • Men are 11% more likely to leave a review when they had a good experience.

  • Those with children at home are more likely to leave reviews than those without children at home.

When looking at reviews by industry, we found transactional businesses are more likely to get reviews than single purchase businesses. For example, restaurants are the most likely to receive reviews while banks/financial institutions were the least likely.

Locate Your Customers: Which Review Platforms Should You Be On?

Having a high-star rating with glowing reviews can be one of the most powerful local marketing tools as it lets your customers do the selling for you. But not all review platforms are used or trusted in the midwest. Google and Amazon were the most trusted review sources whereas eBay and Reddit were among the least trusted. Alternatively, Yelp is a national review favorite but only 10% of Midwesterners rely on Yelp reviews.

Review trust by platform line chart

Manage Review Platforms in One Place with Stratus

Online reviews are increasingly important. Our data shows customers care about sharing their experiences and hearing opinions from others. Reviews provide sales support, influence your reputation, and offer unique customer base insight. If you don’t have the capacity to manage your business’s online reviews, try Stratus, a location management tool. With tools for generating new reviews and a central reporting database, Stratus (our preferred platform) helps manage your online reputation efficiently.

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Don't miss key insights into how people engage with digital marketing. Read our full report in Digital State of the Midwest to learn more about reviews, their impact, and how to stand out.

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Bailey Wood

About the Author Bailey Wood // Marketing Strategist

Bailey (M.B.A., Creighton University) excels in the details. She brings a discerning, data-driven mindset to every client account, consistently providing keen analysis and useful insights.

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