What did we do when we needed a plumber before all this Social-Media-Web-Stuff?
Have we all forgotten – We asked a friend, asked a neighbor or asked the concierge. “Hey, where’s a great place to get a steak?” or “Know a good plumber?” Simple, right! Well, nothing has really changed except the face-to-face interaction. Today, we scour the net for our recommendations. We search reviews on Amazon before buying a summer read, we check Google before buying a new car and we certainly take a peek at Rotten Tomatoes before wasting $20.00 and two hours on one of Hollywood’s self-proclaimed “Blockbuster.” Today’s consumer is informed, well informed. They are socially connected through Twitter and Facebook and honestly, they won’t waste their time or money on a product, service, movie or meal without doing a quick on the web or within their social sphere.
MAKE IT EASY TO SAVE TIME.
Reviews save your customers time and time is a very valuable commodity today. How many times have you been searching for a product, any product, and just bought the one with the best reviews? It happens all the time. I do it. You do it, too. In fact, most online retailers will allow you to sort or filter results according to the best reviews. Do you have the time and energy to drive to each electronics store and try-out every new 32” LCD. No, neither do I. I look for the features I want and then read the user reviews of the sets on sites like Best Buy and Amazon and then purchase from whomever has the best combo of price, customer service and availability. Would I buy a set with no reviews, probably not…I’ll let some other adventurous soul waste their time and money, mines too important.
- When making purchase decisions, North American Internet users trust recommendations from people they know and opinions posted by unknown consumers online more than advertisements on television, on the radio, in magazines and newspapers, or in other traditional media. (Nielsen Online, April 2009)
- 91% of millionaires say they always or often look at reviews before buying luxury goods; 68% of ultra-affluent shoppers use consumer reviews. (Unity Marketing/Google study, reported in AdAge, October 2008)
- 90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users. (Econsultancy, July 2009)
- 83% of all holiday shoppers are influenced by customer reviews. (ChannelAdvisor “Consumer Shopping Habits Survey”, August 2010)
MAKE MORE SAVE MORE.
We all want to make and save more money. Certainly we can see how great reviews spur consumer confidence and thus result in higher conversions. When was the last time you purchased something with bad reviews or no reviews at all? Sure you might take a chance on that low budget spend like lunch at the local greasy spoon, but what about that higher ticket item or personal service. That new $1000 video camera you’re counting on to capture little Johnny’s state championship game or the local plumber who’ll be installing your new master bathroom suite or even your dentist that recommended you get a root canal. Reviews build confidence and I’ll certainly be thinking about what past clients had to say before the Novacaine takes effect.
One of the relatively unknown positive effects of having great reviews is less returns and refunds. It seems customers are happier and less likely complain or request a refund if they believe that others have had success with your product or service. They are also still likely to recommend your services to others, even if they themselves have had a less then desirable experience. Chock it up to human psychology – people like to feel accepted and no one wants to be the odd man out, even if the group is someone you’ve never met. Tell me you’ve never heard someone recommend a restaurant and say “Well I didn’t really care for what I had, but Joe loved it. So I would try it again.” Again, more reviews help you convert more and save more in less returns.
- Products with reviews have a 20.4% lower return rate than those without reviews. (Bazaarvoice PETCO Case Study, 2007)
- 92% shoppers have more confidence in info sought online vs. anything from a sales clerk or other source. (Wall Street Journal, January 2009)
- 67% of shoppers spend more online after recommendations from online community of friends. (Internet Retailer, September 2009)
- Consumers were willing to pay between 20 to 99% more for a 5-star rated product than for a 4-star rated product, depending on the product category. (comScore/Kelsey, October 2007)
- High product rating will increase likelihood of purchase for 55% of consumers. (eConsultancy, July 2010)
MORE REVIEWS EQUALS MORE CUSTOMERS
As we’ve already seen more reviews will get you more sales, less returns and higher margins once your customers find you. But how can reviews help me get found? That’s just how search engines work. They love fresh and relevant content. If clients are consistently leaving reviews about your business, each individual review creates a new link with to your name. The more links that mention you, the easier your website is to find. Of course, if you could control the review process and own the site where the reviews are left, then all the better. The links would point directly back to your company. But what about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the plethora of other popular social media sites? Are your reviews working for you here too or are you missing a huge piece of the pie. Social media is another critical distribution and search tool for your company’s positive reviews. In fact, a recent article in The Telegraph (UK) found that traditional social network ads fail to engage 96% of users; users of social media sites such as Facebook “are looking for buyer reviews.” Are your reviews posted on Facebook? They should be because content on Facebook and LinkedIn also shows up on search engines too.
- Majority of consumers (74%) rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions. (Gartner, July 2010)
- 44% of Moms use social media for brand/product recommendations; 73% trust online community recommendations. (BabyCenter LLC, July 2009)
- Facebook, blogs, Twitter and customer reviews are considered the most effective tactics for mobilizing consumers to talk up products online. (Etailing survey of 117 companies, September 2009)
- Users put great trust in their social networks. 50% of respondents said they considered information shared on their networks when making a decision—and the proportion was higher among users ages 18 to 24, at 65%. (eMarketer, October 2009)
- In a study of online UK retailers, 59% reported that the consumer-generated activity leads to better search engine optimization. (eMarketer, 2007)