Podium announced new research that demonstrates how online reviews shape consumer engagement with businesses.

Until recent years, word-of-mouth among consumers could really help businesses to establish their brand and validate their offerings. Today, the digital landscape has changed how people share their customer experience. The first Podium State of Online Reviews survey illustrates the power online reviews have in amplifying customer word of mouth.

“Any business owner knows that your most authentic and impactful advocate is a happy customer, and technology has made every customer’s voice extremely powerful,” says Eric Rea, CEO of Podium. “Our data shows just how much consumers trust each other, and therefore how much these advocates can drive purchase decisions and grow brand recognition through online reviews.”

Some of the most noteworthy findings that Podium uncovered were that:

  • Reviews Matter: 93 percent of respondents said that online reviews have an impact on their purchase decisions
  • A Consistent Touchpoint: Almost 60 percent of consumers look at local reviews on a weekly basis
  • Quality over Price: More than two-thirds of consumers (68 percent) are willing to pay up to 15 percent more for the same product or service if they’re assured they’ll have a better experience
  • Content is King: People aren’t just looking at the star rating -- they’re actually reading and absorbing online reviews. Review content ranked as the most influential online review factor on whether or not a consumer would engage with a business; A vast majority of those surveyed (82 percent) indicated that the content of a review has convinced them to make a purchase.

To summarize, customers trust and engage with online reviews on a consistent basis, and these reviews prove to be very influential when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

And yet, Podium found that many businesses are still missing the boat when it comes to engaging with customers and asking them to leave reviews. Podium’s research found that 77 percent of consumers would be willing to leave an online review if prompted by a local business; 61 percent of consumers leave online reviews to help others. And yet, data suggests that only 13 percent of SMBs ask customers for reviews.

“In essence, happy customers do your best marketing and they do it for free,” says Rea. “And yet, many businesses don’t take advantage of the golden opportunity to engage with their brand advocates and help them share their experiences online. There’s tremendous potential to amplify customer voices online -- for businesses of all sizes.”

The survey comes as Podium is seeing rapid growth in the industry. In the past year, Podium saw revenue increase more than 600 percent. The company added more than 2,000 customers, as well as 100 new employees in 2016, and reached more than 70,000 users on its platform.

Podium partnered with market research company Survata to collect responses from 2,000 online respondents. For the complete report, visit Podium.com. You can also find an infographic here.