Seventy percent of consumers worldwide trust online reviews, while only 47 percent believe traditional broadcast and print ads, according to a Nielsen study. People trust these online reviews more now than they have done in the past. Conversely, paid TV, newspaper and magazine ad believability has declined during the last years.
I know I have been helped several times by complete strangers who have written about their experiences of a hotel or the fitting of a shoe in an online shop. I trust it, especially when several individuals are having the same opinion/experience. Thanks to this I know what shoe size to order, depending on what the comments says “The sizes are small, if you are pending between two; take the bigger one!” for example. And regarding hotel reviews, they often help me choose location in a city. I like hotels.com because you get a lot of hotel options, and you can read reviews about every hotel and all hotels are ranked (from 1-5 stars). One thing I have noticed is that customers often are better at describing the location than the hotel web page is. “This hotel is located in a bad neighborhood, not safe in the nights.”, then I know I shall not book that, and if I had not read that review and had booked it, I probably would have been disappointed and felt uncomfortable. So it really is a win-win situation, because the customers find the perfect hotel/shoe/etc. for them and the risk of being disappointed and getting a bad experience is drastically reduced.
So how can companies use customer reviews? Denver Business Journal and the article “Online reviews, word-of-mouth and recommendations generate the most marketing trust” have some suggestions:
- Cultivate and pay attention to online reviews about you. If there are no reviews, start encouring customers to provide them. Attempt to reach out to the reviewer, no matter if the review is positive or negative.
- Tie together traditional, online and family/friends. Use positive reviews in advertising for example.
- Align marketing messages to documentable performance. Say what you are. Be what you say.
- Think mobile. Make sure mobile platforms are up to speed. Make it user-friendly, complete and easily navigable on a mobile device since the Internet use on phones grows quickly.
- Expand your editorial research. Seek out editorial opportunities from trusted media.
My conclusion: Make it easy for customers to trust you by using things you know they are likely to trust. And do not try to fool customers – the world is way to transparent for you to get away with it nowadays!