Customer Reviews: Social Media Content Supports Sales [Charts]

 Social Media Builds Consumer Trust With Reviews [Research]

Without trust consumers won’t buy from you. Further, research shows that consumers don’t trust marketers or their advertising. So how do you persuade prospects to buy from you? Leverage the power of social media to enable your customers and fans to persuade and sell prospects through the use of customer reviews.

In today’s content rich media landscape, consumers don’t purchase without first doing some form of research across multiple sources. Where do they turn for information? For three out of ten consumers, Amazon is the first place they go to research purchases regardless of where they finally buy according to Forrester.  This is more than twice the number of consumers that turn first to Google! 

This should be no surprise since Amazon, the granddaddy of customer review sites, is the Wikipedia of retail product information. The problem for many retailers is that Amazon is both their sales channel and their competitor.

Retailers and marketers should take a lesson from Amazon and use every sale as an opportunity to collect customer input. Amazon sends a follow up email to ask buyers to review products.  Don’t underestimate the power of using this feedback to build your customer relationships and to follow up on any issues you may discover since you want consumers to come back to buy again. 

While consumer trust reviews from other consumers, they prefer to see input from people in their social circles. This makes sense because people have insights into the people they know.

Customer reviews are more important for larger or less frequent purchases. Research shows that about 70% of car buyers check reviews before purchasing, which is no surprise given the negative image car dealers have. Look deeper and you’ll find that 14% of consumers chose their dealer based on reviews and 5% of consumers changed dealers based on negative reviews.

Understand that you can’t just select the reviews you like (or who like you!) To earn consumer trust you must show all reviews whether good or bad. The positive reviews, of course, should outweigh the negative (otherwise you need to revamp your business.)  Be advised, if reviews uncover issues, respond to these immediately. Find out what the problem is and work with the customer to fix it. This is critical to changing a poor customer relationship to a good one.

What many marketers overlook is that consumers are savvy and have their own ways of sifting through the massive amount of information available. For example, as a New Yorker, I’m not dissuaded by a poor review on TripAdvisor complaining about the small size of the room in a city hotel (they’re all small.) By contrast, I’m wary of establishments that don’t have any reviews.

The bottom line for marketers is that, although customer reviews can be a double-edged sword revealing the good and the bad about your offering and your firm, you can use this opportunity to build your customer relationships while increasing content marketing.

What has your experience been using customer reviews? Do you recommend using them?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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