Word-of-Mouth vs Online Reviews


It wasn’t so long ago that word-of-mouth was the single most important way to market your business as well as building your reputation and attracting new customers. Even as recently as 2007, a study found that word-of-mouth was far more credible to consumers than online reviews. Whilst some businesses may still feel that way, a lot of research, studies and surveys are showing that consumers most certainly don’t!


For instance, a recent Bright Local’s Local Consumer Review Survey shared these incredible results:

  • More consumers are reading online reviews than ever before. In 2021, 77% of consumers ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read them when browsing for local businesses (up from 60% in 2020).
  • 67% of customers will consider leaving a review for a positive experience, whilst 40% will consider leaving a review for a negative experience.
  • 89% of consumers are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all of it’s online reviews.
  • 57% say they would be ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ likely to use a business that doesn’t respond to any of their reviews.
  • More consumers use Google to evaluate local businesses than ever before. In 2021, 81% did, but in 2020 it was just 63%.
  • The amount of people who only pay attention to reviews left in the previous two weeks has dropped from 50% to 22%.
  • In 2021, just 3% of consumers said they would consider using a business with an average star rating of two or fewer stars. That’s down from 14% in 2020.


Results like this really do underpin the fact that more and more consumers are viewing online reviews as their primary, go to resource when researching products and services to purchase. Then we read this from the same Bright Local survey:

  • 49% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family


No longer do we have to call our Mums and ask for the best local dry cleaner to use. Instead, the vast majority of us hop onto the internet and research it for ourselves. Here’s something else to note too; in a recent report we read on ‘word-of-mouth vs online reviews’ it said, “Even if word of mouth marketing is working for some businesses, they are finding that it requires some digital assistance. Marketers who use tools to power their referral programs are three times more likely to get more referrals. Whilst word of mouth can be a good way to make new customers aware of your business, you still need a great online reputation to hook those word of mouth referrals and turn them into customers”.

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