Survey: How Willing Are Consumers Willing To Write Reviews?

The latest update to our ongoing survey shows consumers are less likely to write a review than they used to be. This highlights the need for a business to do more than just ask for a review.

Over the last six years, we have surveyed consumers to understand how willing they are to leave a review for a local business. From 2014 when we started the survey until 2017 we saw a consistent trend that more and more people were willing to write reviews and fewer and fewer were saying that they never wrote reviews.

Then for the first time in 2019, we saw this pattern of more and more people writing reviews stop. Before reporting on this shift in consumer attitudes, we wanted to wait and do another survey to ascertain if what we were seeing was a one-off aberration or part of a bigger trend.

Consumers review survey data
Consolidated survey data 2014-2020

It does, in fact, appear to be that fewer people report writing reviews regularly. The trend of more and more US consumers writing reviews has not just stopped but reversed. Now, for two years running nearly 40% report never writing reviews. This is up from 31.5% who never wrote reviews in 2017.

Percentage That Never Writes Reviews

Percentage That Writes Reviews

While down from a peak in 2017, the good news is that over 60% of consumers still indicated that they leave reviews for local businesses. And of that 13% do so very frequently writing more than 6 reviews a year.

reviews written annually

The less good news is that almost 23% of those that do leave reviews do so with a frequency of less than one review per year and another 25% write less that five reviews per year.

online review data
Survey given 5/4/ via Google Surveys to ~1000 U.S. adult internet users.

Why Is This Important?

The simple act of asking for reviews, while helpful, doesn’t guarantee that most customers will leave one. It is critical as a business owner, agency, or marketer that you understand that having a process of asking for a review is a funnel; the more folks you add to the top of the funnel the more you will get out of the bottom having written a review.

Many business owners and marketers think that just because you ask the consumer to leave you a review and just because you do a good job , you will get a review. That is just not the case.

In fact roughly 38% are likely to write a review as noted above. Some back of the napkin calculations indicate that if your email open rate is 50% then only 17% of your customers at any given time might leave a review.

What Can You Do To Increase The Number That Leave A Review?

A logical next question is to ask: how do you increase the number of reviews you capture from your existing client base? Here are three tips we always share for generating more reviews from your customers.

  • Make a personal ask IN ADDITION to sending out an email – creating a social connection will increase your odds. We’ve shared in the past that the personal ask combined with the right timing is key.
  • Consistently deliver service that excites your customers – creating joy in your customer base by providing great products and services is guaranteed to create strong promoters.
  • Ask more than once – folks are busy and emails often go unread, so asking more than once will increase your odds. It’s why we have built-in reminders as part of our review requests in GatherUp.

Survey details:

We conducted consumer surveys in May 2020, May 2019, April 2017, August 2015, November 2014, and July 2014 using Google Surveys. The sample sizes were large, averaging 1300 consumers.

In each of the surveys, we asked “After purchasing from a local business, I will take the time to leave an online review for that business:

We offered the following choices of answers:

  • Never
  • Almost never -less than 1 review per year
  • Occasionally -1 to 5 reviews per year
  • Somewhat frequently -6 to 11 per year
  • Very Frequently -12 reviews or more per year

In the chart for this article, we consolidated answer groups to allow for easier reading of the data.

About The Author

Mike Blumenthal is a co-founder of GatherUp and helps oversee our research, industry insight and agency offering. Mike has long been regarded as the foremost expert on local search and Google Maps, earning the nickname “Professor Maps”. Mike also co-founded Local University, which provides small business and agency training in sustainable local search marketing. His motto: All Local All the Time.  He writes at his blog and does a twice a week LocalU podcast about Local marketing. 

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