One of the first nuggets of information to come out of the 3XE Digital Conference held at Croke Park in Dublin yesterday was that 90% of consumers are influenced in their purchasing decisions by online reviews.
More than 600 digital marketers attended the event, which saw 16 talks, 20 speakers and six workshops get together to discuss all things online, but this stat served well to highlight the importance of having an effective and efficient web presence for your business.
It was also obviously the stat that piqued the interest of the media on the morning of the event at the hallowed ground that is GAA headquarters. (A nod towards traditional free advertising there – well played 3XE)
It’s not a new stat. Last year, it was rolled out here by Bloomtools, citing a report by Zendesk, but it was trumpeted as far back as 2013, when MarketingLand cited the same report, though they did include the subtle difference that it is 90% of positive reviews that are influential.
The fact that this stat has remained the same for several years, and is highlighted whenever it becomes convenient to do so, shows that it is extremely relevant to any business looking to increase their profits, because it points to the importance of putting the customer first, guaranteeing them a positive experience which they will hopefully then relay to their peers.
A negative online review, on the other hand, is said to influence 86% of consumers in that having read it, they choose not to make that purchase. It doesn’t matter if some of those reviews are the work of trolls (I long for the day when they simply lived in caves or under bridges), they still have an influence.
Social media, particularly Facebook, is where most positive reviews are found, while online review sites see the most negative ones.Whether it’s on social media or review sites, consumers today do their research before making a purchase decision. They place an enormous amount of trust in the online community, look to peer reviews, and are influenced by the views of those who show authority and expertise.
But the fact is that, wherever those reviews are to be found, your business needs to be able to do two things:
- Create the type of positive user experience the consumer wants to ensure the good reviews increase, and the bad ones decrease
- Manage both positive and negative reviews to take advantage of the food and undertake damage limitation on the bad
You need to go beyond the Buy button to make sure that consumers feel confident in finding the relevant information they want about an issue, challenge or painpoint they face, can determine that your business is the one who can offer them a solution, and can proceed through a hassle-free journey from research to transaction – all on the one site!
That means having a fully-optimised website that brings consumers through the customer journey, attracting them as initial visitors through great organic content, then converting them into leads through further relevant and useful information that encourages them to find out more, and provides them with the opportunity to make a purchase when, and only when, they are ready to do so.
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That’s all well and good for online businesses, but how does it relate to a traditional business trying to promote themselves online, you might say. Well, the principle is the same. Your website is, or should be, your number one sales guy, and its job should be the encourage people to finally go and make that purchase, whether it’s online or not.
The content you create and provide needs to be able to do that, so you need a fully integrated digital marketing strategy that attracts people through blogs and social media content, then channels them through the conversion stage with relevant and dynamic landing pages where consumer data is given in exchange for further content, from where potential customers can be turned into buyers when the sales team steps in and uses that contact information, and other useful segmentation, to drive home the sale.
Regarding the management of reviews, it is important to include social listening within your strategy. The concept is simple – fish where the fish are. Your target market is online, on review sites and on social media, and you need to be there too. If you are not listening to what is being said about your business, how can you act upon the feedback and reviews you are getting?
There’s vital information being shared out there, not just about your brand, but about your customers. Finding out where they are and what they are talking about (and it’s hopefully you), means you can use that information to build a truly customer-centric strategy that aims to offer the solutions to the problems they face.
According to a report by Forrester, only 13% of people generate up to 80% of the content on social media. These are the drivers, the ones others follow, so it is important to know who they are. In terms of influence, it is important to focus on the quality, rather than the quantity, of people you engage with.
Know the trending keywords: Consider not only the subjects central to your business, but also the words your target market might use to describe and search for them. You might make waste disposal receptacles for the Irish metropolitan capital area, but your potential customers will type ‘Dublin bin’ into a search engine, for example.
Get the right listening tools: There are many free or low-cost analytics tools available, so use them. These include Hootsuite, which monitors all your social media channels from one suite, BuzzSumo, which helps identify influencers, Followerwonk, a Twitter analytics tool, Icerocket, which can capture blog activity on social media platforms, Social Mention, which does what it says on the tin, as well as Topsy, to name but a few. The information gathered must be analysed to see how it relates to your brand’s objectives
Let’s face it, nobody is perfect, so from time to time you may face negative feedback, but as this blog explains, response is half of the social listening effort.
If you are monitoring mentions of your brand, you will see what is being said and can react, preferably in real time, to a bad review.
Respond appropriately, even if you think the reviewer is an idiot, address the issue, and remember that though most people don’t comment, they will still be viewing your reply, so this is a chance to show how engaged your business is and how it solves problems, not just for that one reviewer, but for all consumers. This creates a level of trust that encourages people to come back to you.
Good reviews aren’t just call for a pat on the back, they need to be acted upon. Use social media to thank the reviewer (remember, others will be watching and social media reach expands exponentially through shares and likes, so even those who didn’t see the original review will now be more aware of it). Share and share alike, not just with your customer base, but internally with all of your staff, so that they can use this positive feedback to create better campaigns.
You can also do things like create a ‘hall of fame’ type webpage giving the best reviews you have had. This not only makes your business look better to potential customers, but those included will usually be delighted to be involved, further increasing engagement and a positive customer experience.
If 10% of consumers are not influenced by what others say about your business, that’s great, but making sure the other 90% who are, are seeing not just positive reviews, but also your engagement and dedication to providing a great buyer experience, it won’t just be your customers who are happy, your company will be too.
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If you want to find out how we can help you help your business with a great digital marketing strategy that generates leads and increases sales, go to the phonebooth and ask us to give you a call.