Word-of-mouth marketing, feedback and testimonials have been a big part of every successful business long before the Internet even existed. Remember comment cards?
But today, user input and user reviews are more important than ever. Consumers can provide feedback for other users about your product with a single click (clicking a star to rate a product, for example), or reach thousands of people with a single comment - perhaps with a Tweet, Facebook update or a two-sentence review on Yelp.com. Users don't even need to write their own review. There are any number of ways to repurpose another person's review that echoes one's own sentiment - a retweet or 'share this review via email,' for example.
Not only are user reviews becoming easier to generate but also more numerous and prevalent, meaning that others are keenly aware of this resource. A quick search on Compete.com shows traffic increases year-over-year for three important consumer review resources: AngiesList.com (+ 34.3%), Yelp.com (+ 7.46%) and Buzzillions.com (+ 21.97%).
Speaking of Buzzillions.com, it's reported to have increased its total number of reviews on the site by more than 12 million, or 39% year-to-date. The site is also owned by PowerReviews. PowerReviews, in turn, recently cut a deal with Google to provide user reviews on the search engine results pages. And forthcoming is OnSite, a partnership between PowerReviews and Facebook.
"Facebook OnSite goes beyond the 'Like' button by bringing the Facebook experience to the retailer’s site," said Cathy Halligan, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, PowerReviews, in a recent press release. "This opens up new opportunities for retailers and brands to leverage the Open Graph to drive customer loyalty and sales."
Facebook and Google are two of the most visited, highly-trafficked websites in the world. And both of them see the value of user reviews. Now, do you?
There's no doubt that consumers are turning to each other for their purchase decisions. Mostly, becuase they trust each other. It is clear that consumer reviews are becoming a vital - if not involuntary - part of doing business online, and in online marketing. The importance of monitoring feedback and soliciting consumer reviews and responses cannot be overstated.
Don't forget the old adage about how a dissatisfied customer will tell 10 of their friends about their experience while a satisfied customer will tell one. (Or something like that.) Now, multiply that effect by 100. Or 1,000. Or maybe 10,000 - it depends on that particular customer's sphere of influence.
Find that poor review or dissatisfied customer and work to change his or her mind. At the very least, pay very close attention. They're out there and they are talking about you.