Since I seem to be emptying my “possible posts” research folder this week, here is something recent that comes to us from the good folks at Weber Shandwick.
It’s a study called “Buy It, Try It, Rate It” and you can read the study here. While this may fall into the “duh” category of research, the study found that consumer reviewers trump professional reviewers as the key purchase influencers and further shows that 65 percent of potential consumer electronics purchasers are inspired by a consumer review to select a brand that had not been in their original consideration set. It turns out that the average buyer consults 11 consumer reviews as they get ready to purchase. A few other key findings:
- Consumers report that they pay more attention to consumer reviews (77 percent) than professional critic reviews (23 percent). The gap between consumer and professional reviews closes noticeably, but not entirely, for more advanced technologies like tablets and computers.
- The most influential reviews include certain elements. In consumer reviews, the most helpful ones are those that seem fair and reasonable (32 percent), are well-written (27 percent) and contain statistics, specifications and technical data (25 percent).
- Shoppers trust consumer reviews on Amazon.com (84 percent) and BestBuy.com (75 percent) the most, topping Consumer Reports (72 percent). Consumers show no apparent discomfort in getting their research from a seller of the products they’re considering.
This gets to the notion of authenticity. I’ve remarked to some people that the next review I find in a golf magazine which gives a bad review to a piece of equipment will be the first. It’s pretty obvious that without golf manufacturers advertising in the books most of the publications would be in deep financial trouble. Professionally generated content about electronics, cars, and other goods can have the same skew, or at least raise the issue in consumers‘ minds as the study shows. What can you do as a brand?
First, be transparent. This means, among other things, don’t do everything you can to have negative reviews pulled down and certainly don’t censor them on your own site. Second, as the study suggests,
companies need dedicated resources to manage social network communities for purposes that go beyond branded content. An online community manager should be encouraging customers to review products, disseminating positive customer and professional reviews through social channels, and working in tandem with customer service to respond to customer feedback or issues quickly.
Third, be authentic. Don’t use marketing speak – write as if you are a consumer. Finally, don’t be afraid to engage on other sites – Amazon, for example – which have become so influential in the process. Do so openly though.
The most effective marketing words are those coming out of consumers’ mouths. While we as marketers can’t put them there, we can listen carefully and respond honestly That can help make sure those words are positive. You agree?