Why businesses need to care about user-generated reviews

With online reviews influencing 70% of customers when it come to purchasing decisions, the power of consumer feedback can’t be underestimated...

Today, pleasing consumers has become a top priority for brands worldwide. In fact, according to Moz.com, online reviews impact nearly 70% of customers when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

The importance of reviews has continuously grown with the ability to disseminate information across borders, in thanks largely to the power and platforms provided by social networks, forums, and blogs. These online communities often represent very loud consumer voices, ones that brands need to pay attention to.

Tapping into user-generated content

The importance of online reviews has produced a number of platforms that give brands the ability to utilise the power of the crowd. These solutions exist to simplify the process of retrieving authentic, and much desired, customer feedback.

Yotpo, a user-generated content (UGC) solution for online businesses, taps into real-time purchases and generates authentic user-generated content – such as online reviews – by directly reaching out to buyers’ right at the time when a purchase has been completed. This leads to powerful user-generated content, with the potential for immense traction that goes beyond traditional reviews found on various online marketplaces.

Another player in the space is Singapore-based Trii.be – acquired by India’s Mobikon – equipping merchants with a visual customer feedback management tool to be able to effectively receive immediate feedback from recent visitors.

The power of reviews: In numbers

In light of the importance of authentic customer reviews, it’s no wonder a slew of solutions has appeared into the marketplace to help brands leverage their most important asset: the customer.

Indeed, customer reviews impact purchasing decisions from the initial point of consideration, all the way until the actual moment of purchase. A survey released by BrightLocal revealed that “[…] almost 9 out of 10 consumers have consulted online reviews in the past year to help with their decision on whether to use a local business or not. Of this 88%, 49% said they read reviews occasionally and 39% said they do so regularly. Only 12% of consumers do NOT read online reviews.” According to global management company McKinsey, the main factors influencing the customer decision process include: past experience with that particular product/brand, recommendations made through word of mouth, advertisements, and exposure to online information that best resonates with your intentions.

The McKinsey graphic below illustrates the impact of particular influences on the customer’s purchasing decision (notice the impact of ‘word of mouth’ among developing markets at the third and final pivotal stage):

 

Image_Where it counts_1

Image source: Mckinsey

But with the seemingly endless options for consumers to spread their thoughts about products and services, where is the thin line between authentic product feedback and fake praise and/or criticism?

To answer these questions, it helps to look at a number of different leading thought leaders and sources. Firstly, according to Nielsen’s infographic below, advertisements in the form of recommendations from people you know lead the pack (84%) in terms of their trust factor:

Under-the-influence-consumer-trust-in-advertising

Image source: Nielsen

Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, there are inherent consequences of artificially soliciting reviews – in other words, advertising or presenting fake reviews to better position your product and/or company reputation may cost you: “Fake reviews undermine the credibility of the Internet […] For the service companies, buying reviews seems a shortcut to the better reputation they are unlikely to achieve on their own.”

Omitting it can lead to lawsuits and fines, such as the major one brought forward against fake product review sellers by Amazon last October. According to an official Amazon statement, such “false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews” provide sellers with an “unfair competitive advantage for their products”. Furthermore, the complaint stressed that “these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand.”

This and similar cases illustrate the need for authenticity among product and company reviews.

Wrapping up

If you are an online merchant, chances are you need to rethink your approach to product reviews and refocus your efforts on retrieving authentic customer feedback. Customers have become increasingly more vocal about positive and negative shopping experiences, are deemed trustworthy sources of product information, and are considered to have significant word-of-mouth influence among potential consumers.

Therefore, brands need to reconsider how to generate authentic reviews from consolidated consumers and move away from simple, fake customer feedback. Thankfully, there are tools that can supply much-needed solutions by directly reaching out to real, actual users at the point of sale.

Comments

(will not be published)