Changing The World, One Review At A Time
The Impact of Online Reviews On Consumers Purchase Decisions
There is no denying it: we are all spending more and more time online. Today, you can do anything from earn a paycheck to buy a new car without ever having to put on pants or leave your house. It’s no wonder then, that we spend a much of that time online—well—spending. Ease and convenience are factors in this equation, for sure, but a big reason we’re abandoning brick-and-mortar businesses in favor of online retailers comes down to one thing: reviews.
Reviews Have Changed The Consumer Buying Decision Process
These days, you can find consumer reviews for just about every product under the sun. You can shop smarter, faster, and have a fairly accurate idea of just how happy you’ll be with your purchase when it arrives two days later.
The entire digital marketplace has a distinct advantage over brick-and-mortar retail. Why? Because online retailers like Amazon offer an almost completely frictionless shopping experience, complete with peer-to-peer product feedback and (increasingly) near-immediate delivery after purchase.
BloomReach found that Amazon product reviews are the most popular and trusted, and that customers will go to Amazon for reviews even if they intend to purchase the product elsewhere.
There are a few reasons for this. Reviews are helpful in comparing similar products. They also help consumers paint a fuller picture and get an impression of a product they’ve only seen in photos and videos. In fact, user reviews often mean the difference between an online shopper deciding to make a purchase and not make a purchase. “A product that has just one review is 65% more likely to be purchased than a product that has none,” states Matt Moog, CEO of Power Reviews. He adds, “One-third of online shoppers refuse to purchase products that have not received positive feedback from customers.”
Reviews Have Change The Way Consumers Purchase
And Amazon isn’t the only one changing the game. With the rise of social media image-sharing platforms like Facebook and Instagram, constant updates and real-time peer recommendations, consumers are now more empowered than ever.
In fact, considering our incredibly socially and digitally connected lives, not surprising that 93 percent of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. After all, reviews provide a first stop for any potential customer to understand a product from a consumer point of view, delivering honest and impartial insight from peers.
With reviews already such an important part of the buying process, it’s easy to see how reliance on them will only increase in the future. Here’s where we’re headed:
Soon, all reviews will be linked to social networks. Anonymous reviews are becoming a thing of the past. And in the near future, everyone will have a review profile. What this means is that you'll be able to click on a reviewer and see that Sam’s is a 31-year-old teacher, living in Park City, Utah and considers himself an expert skier. Then, you'll be able to read every review Sam has written online, no matter the store, site, or service.
You’ll read your friends’ reviews first. Shoppers will first turn to their friends to read their reviews before reading ones from complete strangers. Example: You know your friend, Sam, is an avid skier and you are in the market for a new pair of skis. You will check his reviews before you even start looking at product pages.
Reviews will be personalized. Google Ads and Facebook ads are already doing this. They deliver promoted content to us based on what they already know about our preferences. Online reviews will populate in a similar fashion. Reviews from people who match our user profile and interests will be among the first we see.
It will get easier to find the information you really want. Everyday websites continue to ‘get smarter’ about extracting and delivering the most important information to the customer. Gone are the days of sifting through hundreds, if not thousands, of individual reviews. Sites are beginning to aggregate reviews so that shoppers can get a true "snapshot" of the product in seconds.
Brand management and customer engagement have become ever-present, ongoing, and dynamic conversations—and this can be a very good thing.
Consumer Engagement Effects Loyalty
According to HBR, depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Translation? Keeping the right customers is one of the most valuable things you can do in terms of your bottom line.
They say 91% of Google searches don’t go beyond Page One, which means people have to know your brand in order to find it. Take brands like Rolex, Lego, and Hallmark. According to 2017 data, they're all among the top five most reputable companies in America. Why? Because in the minds of target audiences, their names evoke nostalgia, corporate responsibility, and a commitment to the strength of their reputations.
Consumers have always chosen which companies grow from small to medium-sized businesses to large corporations, but through social media and online review sites, this influence becomes even more concentrated. Shoppers now yield enough power to make or break companies with what they share online. Today's shoppers are deciding which brands stay on top and which become yesterday’s news.
Brands are waking up to this reality. As a result, they’re taking a hard look at a few key factors. How they address each item on the list below either enhances or detracts from their public image:
Transparency: Good news or bad news, the way your brand shares or withholds information shapes how your brand is perceived by consumers.
Social Good: This is about giving back—to your community and the world—even if in a small way. Making the world a better place makes a difference in how you are seen.
Inspirational Branding: When consumers think of your company, are they inspired to be a better version of themselves? We hope so. We all want to feel good and will associate with brands that help us to exactly that.
Employee Happiness: What is your staff saying about your company? Do you treat them with respect and fairness? Do they enjoy coming to work? Refer their friends? This makes a big, big impact.
Response to Negativity: Bad things happen to even the best of companies. We get it. It could be an individual customer experience or a large product-related fiasco. But when these things happen, ask: how is your damage control? Were your customers heard and made to feel cared for? Did you respond to the negative feedback in a proactive and public way?
With the rise of online reviews and socially-empowered consumers, retailers and brands are realizing they need to do and be better. Their reputations and longevity depend on it. But we’re all in this new era together. So next time you’re asked to leave a product review, please do. And remember, your words make an impact.
Want help managing your business or brand’s online reputation?
We can help! Reputation Studio is an Enterprise Online Reputation Management (ORM) platform that consolidates customer reviews into one dashboard, automates the routing of reviews to teams, posts responses in real-time, and applies AI to provide actionable insights and track the sentiment and intent.