Understanding your “Review Ratio”

What is the Review Ratio

In the past, people either window shopped or used the Yellow Pages to find businesses nearby. Today, 85% of consumers use the Internet to find local businesses. The most common online tool these searchers use to evaluate your business? Your reviews on sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor.

When consumers look at an online review, they’re looking for a couple things. First, they want to know if you’re a legitimate business and, if so, what kind of business you are. In many instances this is the customer’s first impression of your business — your online presence is your “digital storefront.” So, the look and feel of your business online matters, but they don’t stop there. Consumers who rely on reviews (which is about 97% of people) also look at your “Review Ratio.”

Number of stars: This is your grade; think of it as your business report card. People don’t want average. When it comes to service, food, beverages, and products, good enough isn’t good enough. People using reviews are inherently looking for the best option. An average rating, even with a substantial number of reviews, is still just average.

Number of reviews: This measures your popularity over time. It’s one thing to have a high star rating with only two reviews. It’s something else when there is a high number of stars and a high number of reviews. It’s another way to say the business has passed the popularity test, which, when it comes to consumerism, is precisely what a customer wants to know.

If the vast majority of past shoppers gave your business a similar rating, it’s a good indication that your prospective customer will have a similar experience. Also, recent reviews carry much more weight than old ones. (73% of consumers say reviews older than three months are no longer relevant.)

What makes a good review ratio?

Review ratios can be all over the place. So rather than trying to draw a line in the sand and say this is what makes for a good review, we want to break down three reviews from an actual search and provide insight on how consumers interpret this information.

Restaurant 1: A healthy ratio

Our first example is a dream ratio. Not only does this business have nearly twice as many reviewers as the next highest listing (an indication of popularity), they have a rating of 4+ stars. This denotes quality and consistency. Consumers love consistency. They rely on and expect it. That’s why they double down when they find a place they love and a place that respects their patronage. People want to feel like a person, not a transaction.

HOW CONSUMERS READ THIS: This establishment has passed the test of popularity over time. In order to get that many reviews and maintain a positive review, they must be worth it. This ratio tells me, your future customer, that before I set foot in your store, I will likely be happy with the quality of your service, goods, and support you offer. Why else would so many people give it such praise?

Restaurant 3: A below average ratio

Our next example isn’t the worst listing we’ve seen. It’s not even the worst listing in the top 5 results we found without search, but it’s sorely lacking. 94% of people will shop at a business with a four-star (or higher) rating, but anything under 4 stars is deemed sub-par and below average. People aren’t star struck by average.

HOW CONSUMERS READ THIS: This place is OK, but it’s likely to be a person’s second or third choice — a sort of backup plan in case their first choice doesn’t work out. But even in the context of these results, there are other restaurants that they’d choose first. They have more reviews than several of the other options, sure, but that’s not exactly a good thing. It validates the star rating as average.

HOW TO IMPROVE THIS RATIO: This business has a decent number of reviews. Enough so, if they were to listen to the complaints driving their mediocre review score, they’d be addressing issues that their customer want to have addressed. That matters because up to 70% of complaining customers will give you a second chance if you resolve their concerns.

They should look into their negative reviews for any trends that they may need to address. While negative reviews are never wanted, they are incredibly insightful to how your business is run and how your staff treat your customers, and most importantly, how your customers see you and your business. Join the conversation. They will tell you how you can improve.

Restaurant 4: A relatively weak review ratio

Relative is a key term here. We don’t know why they have so few ratings yet. Perhaps they are new, not very popular despite their quality, etc. but when we compare their ratio to the competing businesses, they have a weak ratio. That’s not to say it’s a bad review but it needs improvement. This listing has a strong rating (above 4 stars) but hasn’t passed the popularity test. Given some time and attention, this could become a strong contender.

HOW CONSUMERS READ THIS: In some ways, this listing is stronger than our last example, but it doesn’t help set expectations. As a prospective customer, I can’t deduce enough about what my potential experience will be. This may or may not be a determining factor in my decision, but there are going to be a lot of variables that come into play with a review like this in the context of these other reviews. Chances are I will go with one of the other listings.

HOW TO IMPROVE THIS RATIO: This review needs more reviews. Looking at the other listings, it’s clear that there is an opportunity to seriously increase the number of reviews they have listed. They have access to the same market. They are located in the same area and serve similar foods to those listings with thousands of reviews.

There are also several listings with a high number of reviews, meaning it’s not an isolated incident. While we don’t know what their review strategy is, we do know that inviting customers to review a business leads to more reviews. Seven out of 10 people will leave a review if asked. Start there.

Take action

Understanding your Review Ratio is key to understanding how your customers view your business, and when you understand how your customers and future customers view you, you can improve and increase loyalty. That said, it’s not a fair representation if you’re avoiding review sites and neglecting your online reputation. Opening the door to allow people to speak about your business is scary, but it’s what turns lookers into shoppers and shoppers into loyal customers who sustain nearly half of your business.

It seems intimidating at first, maybe even like a waste of time, but managing your online reviews doesn’t have to be unwieldy if you keep an eye on it and welcome the feedback. Womply’s reputation management software helps you encourage your happiest customers to post online reviews about your business. Then, check out our post on how Womply helps you save time with some aspects of review automation. Customers will appreciate that you’ve listened to them and feel respected and they will rate you accordingly.

To learn more about how Womply can help you improve your Review Ratio, check out Womply’s marketing solutions for small businesses. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

DISCLAIMER: The examples used in this post are real restaurants. We’ve removed their names and business addresses. Our goal is not to embarrass or diminish any businesses. We want to highlight real-world reviews, their strengths and shortcomings, so we can give you an insight into how your shoppers perceive your business based on your reviews.

It’s also important to note that while we are highlighting a few restaurants, this principle applies to businesses across all sectors and industries, as well as all review sites. Foodies are a particular crowd. They tend to be a bit more conversational with the restaurants they frequent compared to the average consumer of various services and retailers. As such, they provide a strong example of the role reviews play in consumer decisions.

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