We have been closely considering the results of a new study of consumer purchasing habits by Nielsen, commissioned by Yelp, which states review sites drive higher conversions than search and social media. The survey of 2,000 adults throughout the United States found that 92 percent of respondents said they made a purchase after visiting Yelp, "at least sometimes, frequently or almost always."
Some experts say the results more or less state the obvious: "At the highest level, this makes sense because reviews have a strong influence on consumer buying behavior, and review sites are generally part of consumers' path to purchase," says Greg Sterling of searchengine.com.
The survey says that most people who made a purchase after visiting Yelp did so within a week or less, and he notes that consumers using Yelp appear to be low in the funnel: "Consumers who use online consumer review sites and claim they make a purchase after visiting Yelp are also reporting they do so faster than before, compared to a Nielsen study from 2014. The number of consumers who report purchasing something within a few hours increased by 212 percent, and the number of consumers who say they make a purchase after a day or less increased by 55 percent."
Nielson's recent survey provides additional findings:
- 74 percent of the consumers searching online for a local business turn to consumer online review sites at least monthly.
- Yelp ranked above other online review sites as "most trusted, most influential and most useful."
- 79 percent of Yelp users say they are looking for a business they can visit multiple times.
- 55 percent of Yelp users searching for restaurants have ordered takeout or delivery from a restaurant they found on Yelp.
Even though Yelp commissioned the survey, and Sterling advises employing a healthy amount of skepticism to the results due to that association, he maintains that other data sources and non-sponsored surveys support the survey's findings.
He points to Nielsen's non-commissioned Global Trust in Advertising Survey that was conducted in 2015, which found that "consumer opinions posted online" ranked higher for trust than most other marketing channels.
There's more research that backs it up as well, Sterling notes. The Local Media Tracking Study, which was non-sponsored and conducted by Burke for the Local Search Association, polled more than 8,000 consumers in 2016. It found they were more likely to connect with a local business via calls, email, or a store visit after visiting a review site vs. other channels.
Sterling also references research that shows a large majority of Yelp searchers' queries now happen in the Yelp app on mobile devices, and that these users are often closer in time to a purchase decision as well.
We feel these studies' results are worthy of every marketer's consideration when planning digital strategy. The evidence clearly points to using review sites if at all possible, and when relevant, to market a large portion of products and services.