Selling your products or services in a competitive marketplace is not easy, especially if you are a small business challenging the big guys with big marketing budgets.
The good news for the little guy is that more people use social media as a highly influential and trustworthy forum to find product reviews from friends and even complete strangers. But bad customer reviews are equally, if not more influential, so it’s worth going above and beyond every time to create happy customers.
Death of the salesman, rise of the consumer reviewer
Product ratings and recommendations are popping up all over social networks and review forums. People now turn to social media to ask friends, family or even complete strangers for advice and recommendations as part of their online research.
“Crowd spruiking” has become the new way for customers to find a business. Large online retailers will tell you that consumers are now more comfortable than ever buying products online without ever stepping foot into a bricks and mortar retail space. The try-before-you-buy ethos has shifted to trusting the opinions and advice of others who have purchased before you.
Recommendations are trusted more than advertising
This consumer-led trend of crowd spruiking is growing in volume and influence. Nielsen’s latest Trust in Advertising research discovered that trust in word-of-mouth recommendations increased 6 percentage points since 2007.
Recommendations from friends and family were found to be the most trusted, with 84 per cent of consumers around the world saying they trust these above all other sources of advertising.
Sixty eight per cent trust consumer opinions posted online, up seven percentage points from 2007. Nielsen’s research found word of mouth recommendations from family and friends prompted the highest levels of purchasing action with 84 per cent, while consumer opinions posted online prompted 70 per cent of respondents to buy.
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Consumer recommendations build SEO
The volume of these comments and the prominence they command on search engines should not be underestimated. If a consumer is confused or nervous about buying a product online, sight unseen, they might find dozens, if not hundreds of real user-generated reviews or experiences to help influence their decision and mitigate the risk of buyer’s remorse.
Happy customers make the best reviewers
Sam Leader’s observations about why word-of-mouth advertising matters and Dave Gillen’s article about going the extra mile for your customers both explore why you can’t take existing customers for granted in the age of social media.
Word-of-mouth discussions on social media are not the same as a typical “feel good” customer testimonial – you have no control over what is posted online for all to read. At best, a business might have a right of reply. But if your product doesn’t match what was promised, it will be judged accordingly.
Check out WOMO or Productreview.com.au to see consumers’ views, good and bad, about a range of products and services. If you want to harness the power of positive word-of-mouth for your business, you must first go above and beyond to make customers happy with great products and consistently amazing service. Focus on becoming the kind of business that you would rate well yourself, and it will pay dividends.
Are customer reviews helping your sales?