Consumers have always been savvy, looking for the best combination of product, service, and price point to meet their needs. With the advent of digital technologies and social influence, however, your target audience now has tools to better inform their decision-making process, informing that savvy with thorough insight. Along the way, consumer expectations have risen dramatically, leaving little room for error on the part of innumerable companies all competing for the same sales.
Therefore, your brand and message face a far more scrutinizing eye than ever before. To navigate such a thorough vetting process by your customer base, your brand should heed and embrace the tremendous power of consumer commentary, making it a focal point of marketing and product development strategies. Failure to do so could very well mean those scrutinizing eyes pass over your products in favor of competitors that use ratings and reviews as both a barometer and compass to steer through a complex marketplace.
Needless to say, the importance of reviews will only continue to grow in both the digital and retail space, so companies must foster those critical sources of influence -- both from internal and external channels -- to meet skyrocketing expectations. When coupled with the insights Oculus360 (O360) brings to the messaging table, brands can equip themselves with the information needed to engage continually shifting demand.
Participate in Your Success
Speaking of consumer expectations, absolute convenience is another necessity in the digital marketplace. Your target audience not only wants reviews to drive their decisions, they also want them immediately available and always at their fingertips. Call it part of the Amazon Effect or merely the natural evolution of commerce, mobile technology and an entire world of product and brand commentary drive a modern consumer's buying decisions.
Aside from the popular rating and review sites that are already a primary source for information, your audience wants additional channels to inform their buying decisions. Therefore, brands should foster an authentic, unbiased review environment within their own websites and social media channels to develop another trustworthy wellspring of consumer commentary.
Even if you’re playing catch-up to the competition and just starting to integrate reviews into your site, you’ve already cleared a critical hurdle -- just having a few authentic reviews is better than having none at all. If you are still on the sidelines, looking in on the consumer commentary push -- particularly reviews -- these statistics should be enough to convince you to take action:
- Roughly 95% of consumers look at ratings and reviews before buying
- 97% of online shoppers state reviews have an impact on their purchase decisions
- Providing online reviews can increase conversions by as much as 270%
- 92% of online consumers will hesitate to make a purchase if a brand or product lacks reviews
- Nearly 75% of customers place more value on reviews than ratings
While third-party review sites have become a mainstay in the digital environment and can work to a brand’s favor if the company takes a proactive approach to them, you should not view those sites as a substitute for commentary within your own site. Fostering a healthy atmosphere that promotes sincere opinions not only puts that vital information under your own banner but, just as importantly, allows you to curate the environment. You have control over unfair, biased opinions and can encourage robust conversation concerning your products or services. When combined with the insights uncovered by O360’s platform, those opinions can inform your message, refine your product innovation plans, and help you better engage your target audience.
Context Is Key
An overarching sense of sincerity is what gives consumer commentary its power in a customer’s decision-making process. When it comes to reviews, an old idiom rings with absolute truth -- if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Not only are buyers savvy, but they are overwhelmingly suspicious as well. Reviews that are too positive and effusive in praise are looked at through a squinting focus, making consumers wary of their credibility.
Therefore, once you have established the proper forum for consumer conversation around your products or services, the next critical step is to maintain underlying objectivity and truthfulness throughout those threads. Once again, recent research demonstrates how credibility is an absolute necessity to meet consumer expectations and provide them with reliable, pre-purchase information.
- 95% of consumers are suspicious when there are no negative comments about a product
- Conversions peak between 4.0 and 4.7 stars, but decrease at higher ratings due to a lack of trust in their veracity
- 82% of online shoppers specifically look for negative reviews to better inform their research
Simply put, modern shoppers place significant importance on the honest opinions of their fellow consumers and will seek the guidance from numerous commentary channels to fully inform their decisions. In fact, 61% of the coveted Millennial and Gen Z segments of the audience value opinions from consumer reviews more than those from friends and family. Like it or not, that dependence on customer commentary and conversation will only increase in the future.
O360 Leverages Commentary to Your Benefit
Obviously, consumer commentary needs to be a focal point in your ongoing strategy. However, establishing a healthy commentary environment while continually monitoring third-party review sites are only the initial steps in the process. As always, it’s not the data itself that is so beneficial to a brand but, instead, what a brand does with that data. A few simple best practices can help companies extract insights from consumer commentary that can be instrumental in molding future strategies.
- Identify Product Defects: A wave of negative reviews is likely to quickly crash upon a brand’s shores when a product has defects that slipped through the quality control process. Actively monitoring reviews can help you immediately identify such issues and rectify them before they cause further damage.
- Analyze Trends: Aside from defects, everything from product design to a misleading marketing campaign can spur negative reviews. Use commentary channels to identify, analyze, and act upon burgeoning trends to, once again, take action and remedy the complaints so they don’t further impact conversions.
- More of a Good Thing: Reviews, of course, are just as beneficial in revealing what customers like about your brand and products. Isolate the positive aspects of reviews to expose the functions and features that are particularly useful to your audience. Build on those insights to further guide your marketing and product development.
- Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer: Commentary will also reveal what the competition is doing right and how they are failing to meet customer expectations. Learn from both the good and bad in the competition’s online reviews to inform your own strategy.
Suffice it to say, your customers are trying to tell you something. As a brand, there are incredible insights to be found and utilized if you know where to look and listen. Between third-party review sites and your own commentary environment, there’s a wealth of data just sitting there, waiting for you to grasp and integrate into your marketing and product strategies. Along with the customer sentiment information mined by O360’s platform, leverage your audience’s voice -- even when they whisper -- to guide your approach, maximize engagement, and generate lasting growth.