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Best Advertising Channel in 2020

Over the last eight years, ReviewInc has conducted annual surveys of consumers asking, “When choosing a service or professional what is most important?” Over 24,000 respondents in total have confirmed that Review Sites are still the most critical to selecting a service such as a doctor, mechanic, plumber, attorney, etc. In between 2015 and 2020, there was a leap of 10% from 40% to 44%, which proves close to half of consumers seek guidance from online reviews to gauge a company’s reputation, even more than a referral or word of mouth, which is the most common sense answer.  For the purpose of this study, “Referral” refers to a recommendation from a peer, close friend, or family member and word of mouth is a more collective, organic recommendation.  The Referral category is an emerging category because of the pervasiveness of connectivity enabled through high adoption of social media and communication platforms (e.g. Facebook, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, and WhatsApp).

A business’s reputation is one of the most important factors for a consumer when deciding to purchase a service or product. Survey respondents were asked to provide one answer to the single question:

When choosing a service or professional (such as a doctor, mechanic, plumber, attorney, etc.) what is most important? 

online reviewsreputationnreputation management software

A multiple-choice list was provided to each person, but they could only choose one answer. ReviewInc conducted the study this way on purpose in order to focus on which factor was the most influential. All surveys were conducted in the same manner from 2013 to 2020.


review management software

Each year, review sites continue to hold the greatest influence on consumers. There was a slight decrease in the numbers for reviews for this year but well within the margin of statistical errors.  This may also be because of the new “referral” and “word of mouth” categories. Not surprisingly,  the Traditional Yellow Pages decreased in influence,.  A company’s website is decreasing each year, perhaps due to a distrust in a business’ own marketing or advertising efforts.  However, we believe consumers are referencing listings and reviews on the review sites rather than reviewing a company’s website (it’s just easier to find). According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, 3 out of 4 people avoid advertising efforts altogether. Interestingly, the influence of ads on TV, newspaper, and online has increased this year.


gender preference in reviews

In the last seven years of surveys, women have repeatedly chosen reviews as the highest influence on services for the family. Women often research and make decisions regarding the family in terms of gifts as well as services, therefore validating the importance of reputation.


With the introduction of “referral” and “word of mouth” this year as separate categories that people could choose, the two combined beats out advertising online, and on TV, radio and newspaper. There is an increasing distrust in a company’s own marketing efforts to promote their services, perhaps due to public knowledge that they are company funded and produced. It is interesting to note though, that the referral and word-of-mouth categories are often influenced by advertising and a company’s website if a consumer has done proper research. However, over and over again consumers trust another form of marketing that cannot be bought; reviews and reputation.


  • Your business’s online reputation is just as important as its website and advertising efforts, if not more, considering how much consumers trust reviews.
  • If you are looking for a way to make more money with your business, maintaining and improving its reputation is a great place to start.

Interested in a free consultation on improving your online reviews and overall reputation management? Give us a call at 877-973-8439 or chat with us at to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

You can also request a FREE Reputation Report or eBook about Reputation Management today to learn more.