Online reviews are one of the most effective ways of promoting a product or service online. Let’s analyze why their effectiveness is so high.
The Omnipresence of Online Marketing
The share of the marketing budget that online marketing occupies grows larger every year. This can be said for most consumer products and services. One of the reasons why online reviews today have increased effectiveness is because of the platform they are present on i.e. the internet.
Consumers today spend time on the internet more than ever. This is due to greater compatibility between web platforms such as websites and applications, and devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. The more time consumers spend online, the more they tend to visit forums related to product sales as well as reviews.
The Sizzle of Social Media
Another reason why online reviews of products and services spread like wild fire is the popularity of social media sites. Facebook is the biggest player on the block. It provides the perfect balance between socializing amongst consumers and promotion of products. This makes the reviews on Facebook much more appealing than those on other sites. LinkedIn too has been used repeatedly as a platform for posting reviews of products targeted towards professionals.
Social media allows people to bring the attention of their friends present on the same platform towards products on sale and their reviews shared by other users. This makes the reviews reachable to a greater number of people.
The Power of Word of Mouth
Once the gossip i.e. reviews hit a certain popular site, there is no turning back! Certain controversial reviews supported with evidence such as photos or reviews can wreck havoc on a brand’s reputation.
Certain groups on Facebook are dedicated to reviewing products of a single industry within a geographical location such as cosmetics in Paris or food in New York. These groups may be open or private. In either case, if the forum is fairly moderated by the admin, the members appreciate each others’ posts about experiences related to brands.
Given the nature of online communication, it is difficult to perpetrate false news about a brand. Someone praising a brand in exaggeration will be considered an outlier and the same can be said for someone accusing a generally-perceived-as-good brand as persistently bad.
The decreased chances of outliers increases the credibility of reviews on platforms. Increased credibility makes way for greater believability and a higher chance of the reader forming an impression intended by the reviewer hired by the business.
Reviews written by genuine consumers are usually succinct. They revolve around one, two or maximum three central ideas – unless, the consumer had an extraordinarily good or bad experience.
Many businesses do the following to gather good online reviews for their product or service:
- Attract a large number of past customers to comment on their experiences on a platform that they own. A good example of this could be a Facebook product page.
- Create conversation threads on various platforms where people are likely to engage with each other regarding that product. E.g. a user might create the question, ‘Which sunscreen should I wear on oily skin? – can’t find my regular at the mart on Yahoo! Answers. If your product has been doing well, you mustn’t worry about here such a question might get led.
- In case a business really wants to push positive word of mouth, it may plant reviewers/ members on a certain forum. While such an act might be considered unethical, it might not be so if the business has made a recent effort to improve product and/or service standards.
- Once a business receives many reviews on different platforms, it may create a collection of the top ones and send them to potential or/and current clients. US Data Corp provides businesses with lists of various consumer demographics.
Given the ease and relative low amount of time with which threads and comments can be generated, the cost involved in this marketing activity is low while the effect is high.