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Local Marketing Blog

About 3 years ago, Yelp released numbers on its website detailing the breakdown by star rating of all of its reviews.  Here is an article discussing the fact that most reviews averaged about 4 stars and providing a screen shot of Yelps rating distribution.  This was the distribution for 2009:

I was reading through Matt McGee’s blog summarizing that the majority of online reviews are positive and I noticed that Yelp reviewers have gotten a lot meaner in the last few years.  Here is Yelp’s current review distribution from their website:

1-Star Reviews on Yelp Up 71%

1 Star reviews increase from 7% of total reviews to 12% of total reviews in the last few years.  This is an unwelcome trend for local businesses.  To increase to 12% of their total review base, the number of 1 star reviews in just the last couple of years mathematically had to be much higher than 12%.  Yikes!

Rants Not Reality

According to Yelp reviewers, more than 20% of consumers are dissatisfied (based on 1 or 2 star reviews on Yelp in the last 3 years and the trend line noted in the sentence above).  Does that sound like reality to you?  Do you feel like everyone is very unsatisfied with 1 out of 4 or 5 local purchases they make?  No way.  These are rants not reality that are exasserbated by a self-selection sampling bias.

The challenge with review systems has been creating a system that reflects reality.  The truth is that the vast majority of local business customers are happy.  When we have done randomized and blind phone calls to local business customers, we have consistently found that less than 10% of customers are dissatisfied.

The Solution

The solution to the problem of a small sample size that does not accurately reflect the  total group is to expand the sample size – i.e. get more reviews.  How should a business get reviews?  Ask for reviews and enable every format that potential reviewers want to supply the content back to you:  customer calls, handwritten reviews, email invitations, social-enabled invitations and collection, web forms, etc.

Did I mention that I know a company that offers a complete solution to get reviews?    🙂

 

Comments

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  1. Hi Ted,

    One factor may be that the number of 1 star reviews may have increased with the number of users.

    Have you noticed in what line of business has increased in 1 star reviews? Is there a comparison to the original sample size? BTW, what is the sample size?

    Lastly, this article is about Yelp reviews, yet you plug in a “complete solution to get reviews” at the very end of this article. That implies some type of way to get around Yelp’s randomized filtering, which is highly doubtful.

    1. @Crystal
      The data we cited is from Yelp so I assume that it is not a sample but a summary of their entire reviews database. Yelp, as far as I know, has not released comparable statistics for different industries. I agree that the number of 1 star reviews has increased with the number of users but the striking thing to me is that the percentage of negative reviews has increased so dramatically.

      Yes, I shamelessly plugged our reviews solution but we do not (and do not claim to) syndicate our reviews to Yelp. Our reviews are published on Customer Lobby and are syndicated to other 3rd party review sites around the web.

  2. Nevermind about what line of business, I see your previous comment about restaurants and lodging businesses in the other thread.

  3. Ok, I see. And yes, I have to agree that the increase of negative reviews have risen dramatically. But, at the same time, according to this chart, 5 star reviews have risen by 5% as well.

    From what I can tell, it looks like more people may be aware of Yelp as a platform for consumer based reviews, as opposed to just having Angie’s List (where there’s a fee for membership). I think that in itself is an incentive for consumers to leave reviews in a community that has no financial obligation to join.

    And as for your plug-in, I do appologize if it came off as curt. But, thank you for your reply! 🙂

    1. @Homer
      Although we are now syndicating our reviews to many other reviews sites, we are not syndicating our content to Yelp. In addition, because Yelp explicitly asks that reviews on Yelp not be proactively solicited, we do not enable review solicitation through our Smart Invite system for Yelp. Our Smart Invitation technology is used to solicit reviews on Google+Local and Yahoo Local.

      Are reviews in Yelp important? It depends what industry you are in and where you are located. If you are a restaurant in San Francisco, yes. If you are a home theater installer, not as much. In general, more reviews from more third party review hosting companies helps to add additional traffic to your site, increase the trust and likelihood that potential customers will choose your company and will enhance your search engine optimization.

  • Homer

    Can Customer Lobby help my business get reviews on Yelp? And is Yelp really that important?
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
    • Ted Paff www.customerlobby.com

      @Homer Although we are now syndicating our reviews to many other reviews sites, we are not syndicating our content to Yelp. In addition, because Yelp explicitly asks that reviews on Yelp not be proactively solicited, we do not enable review solicitation through our Smart Invite system for Yelp. Our Smart Invitation technology is used to solicit reviews on Google+Local and Yahoo Local. Are reviews in Yelp important? It depends what industry you are in and where you are located. If you are a restaurant in San Francisco, yes. If you are a home theater installer, not as much. In general, more reviews from more third party review hosting companies helps to add additional traffic to your site, increase the trust and likelihood that potential customers will choose your company and will enhance your search engine optimization.
      UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • Crystal

    Ok, I see. And yes, I have to agree that the increase of negative reviews have risen dramatically. But, at the same time, according to this chart, 5 star reviews have risen by 5% as well. From what I can tell, it looks like more people may be aware of Yelp as a platform for consumer based reviews, as opposed to just having Angie's List (where there's a fee for membership). I think that in itself is an incentive for consumers to leave reviews in a community that has no financial obligation to join. And as for your plug-in, I do appologize if it came off as curt. But, thank you for your reply! :)
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • Crystal

    Nevermind about what line of business, I see your previous comment about restaurants and lodging businesses in the other thread.
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • Crystal

    Hi Ted, One factor may be that the number of 1 star reviews may have increased with the number of users. Have you noticed in what line of business has increased in 1 star reviews? Is there a comparison to the original sample size? BTW, what is the sample size? Lastly, this article is about Yelp reviews, yet you plug in a "complete solution to get reviews" at the very end of this article. That implies some type of way to get around Yelp's randomized filtering, which is highly doubtful.
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
    • Ted Paff www.customerlobby.com

      @Crystal The data we cited is from Yelp so I assume that it is not a sample but a summary of their entire reviews database. Yelp, as far as I know, has not released comparable statistics for different industries. I agree that the number of 1 star reviews has increased with the number of users but the striking thing to me is that the percentage of negative reviews has increased so dramatically. Yes, I shamelessly plugged our reviews solution but we do not (and do not claim to) syndicate our reviews to Yelp. Our reviews are published on Customer Lobby and are syndicated to other 3rd party review sites around the web.
      UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
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