How User Reviews Can Drive Your Business
In 2013, we covered a The New York Times article looking at how online reviews and social connections are causing a shift in the balance of power from marketers to consumers. The article concludes that no longer do marketers have the ability to fully control their sales messages, as consumers are using online reviews and ratings to inform their purchase decisions.
The article, “There’s Power in All Those User Reviews, ” compared a study from pre-Internet days to a similar one just recently conducted.
The first study compared purchasing decisions by consumers presented with two priced options and by those presented with three.
(The study) “showed how marketers could manipulate consumers. Just by presenting three differently priced options, they could get consumers to gravitate to a midprice one from a less expensive one. This finding further led Dr. Simonson and other scholars to describe widespread “irrational” behavior by consumers who made decisions not based on a product’s actual value but on how the item was presented relative to other products.”
In the more recent study, conducted as part of an ongoing research project at Stanford Graduate School of Business:
“participants were asked which of three Canon cameras they’d like to buy. Before deciding, they were allowed to spend a few minutes reading user reviews and other information about these and other cameras on Amazon.com… That made a huge difference. When given three camera options, consumers didn’t gravitate en masse to the midprice version. Rather, the least expensive one kept its share and the middle one lost more to the most expensive one.”
The article summarizes the conclusions of Itamar Simonson, a Stanford marketing professor and the lead researcher of the study:
“The results suggest that companies should spend less money trying to shape consumer opinions in traditional ads… and more on understanding what and who are shaping those opinions.”
User Reviews, Quality Content and Being Social
Can we use these insights to shape our sales and marketing programs today? Do they change the way we do things? The conclusions drawn in the article reinforce our approach to the work we do on behalf of our clients in two ways:
- A commitment to producing quality online content, from a well-planned, well-written website that speaks to the needs and concerns of customers and prospects to a robust blogging program that demonstrates the company’s expertise and adds value for the readers; and
- A commitment to real online “engagement”, which means using your social media networks to find, understand and interact with your customers and prospects where they are online. It’s not sufficient to auto-post a sporadic blog post; rather, genuine interaction is necessary in order to advance your business; and
- A commitment to reviews management, to actively manage reviews, ratings and comments made about your business wherever they are made across the Web. The goal is to widely leverage positive comments (whether initially made on your site or third party sites, like Yelp) while increasing the satisfaction of customers making negative ones.
We’ve written before about the blurring of the line between SEO and other forms of marketing, and our emphasis on quality in our marketing programs. This article is further proof that today’s marketing requires an understanding of the power of the Internet and continual assessment of how to best use it to support your business message.
Originally published 12/3013; updated 6/2017
Sales Renewal’s insight:
A The New York Times article looks at how online reviews and social connections are causing a shift in the balance of power from marketers to consumers. It concludes that no longer do marketers have the ability to fully control their sales messages, as consumers are using online reviews and ratings to inform their purchase decisions.