Sharing customer feedback has revolutionised the foundations of marketing. Nearly 9 out of 10 consumers check online reviews before making a purchase. This free and public way for customers to express themselves is an undeniable game-changer. One thing is for sure—marketing directors can no longer ignore customer feedback.
THE RELEVANCE OF TRADITIONAL MARKETING TECHNIQUES
Listen up, marketing professionals. The days of outbound marketing are long gone. Buying up masses of online ad space no longer has the same impact. Major publicity campaigns on your products have never been less effective. According to a Nielsen study, only 35% of today’s consumers buy into TV adverts. As for newspapers, the statistics show 32% and just about 31% for radio.
Why? Over time, consumers have become only too wise about marketing tactics and are increasingly sceptical about advertising. Traditional forms of media are no longer the advertiser’s weapon of choice.
Even the impact advertising has online is dwindling. Banner blindness is a phenomenon affecting more and more Internet users. In France, 30% of users have an ad-blocker to hide online ads. Similarly, marketing emails have a click rate of only about 3.3% according to an Experian study from 2016. And this figure keeps going down.
Users no longer want information about products they don’t need. Forced advertising is off-putting, and users would rather do their own research online when they have a specific need. In 2016, 85% of French people said they regularly use the Internet to research a product before buying it. Thanks to the web, they can easily get information and compare it to find the best option for their needs.
THE GROWING SIGNIFICANCE OF CUSTOMER REVIEWS
Now when researching, customers are increasingly relying on reviews, no matter what they’re buying. Eighty-eight percent of Internet users check customer reviews to prepare for making a purchase both in-store and online. Despite not knowing who wrote the reviews, 68% of consumers put their trust in them. In other words, they find reviews twice as trustworthy as ads from traditional media.
The freedom of expression the Internet offers has completely overturned the balance of power between brands and customers, and customers are taking note. Customers now see themselves as being truly involved in the industry. They are no longer just passive users; instead, they freely share their positive and negative opinions and experiences. Seventy-nine percent of people who research online before purchasing have previously given an online review. That’s almost 4 out of every 5 people.
The conclusion is clear: you should stop saying “my product is the best.” Instead, you should be making your customers say it. This is what's disrupting traditional marketing strategies. Customer reviews have become the driving force behind marketing.
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MARKETING WHEN CUSTOMER REVIEWS ARE KEY
Well aware of what it takes, marketing departments should be handling reviews in a proactive manner and taking control of what customers are saying. Overseeing customer reviews is without a doubt a very effective marketing strategy. Not only that, customers are usually positive when asked for their opinion! Know that on average, 83% of customers solicited after a purchase give positive feedback.
So, marketing managers, it’s up to you! Take the initiative and start assessing your customers. Without any prompting on your part, only 1% of your customers will leave feedback spontaneously. Very often, you'll only hear about customers' most negative experiences since unhappy customers are the most talkative. For example, if you start reaching out after customers make a purchase, you could achieve a feedback rate of almost 25%. Get a clear glimpse into how your business is doing.
Consumer opinions are gradually becoming more central to new marketing strategies. French sport franchise Decathlon is a perfect example. The world’s leading sport franchise defines itself as a “user-centric” company, i.e. they put the user at the centre of all strategic decisions.
Decathlon pays attention to its customers and gathers nearly a million reviews each year on its products. Product managers reply directly to these reviews and use them as constructive feedback for continuous improvement and innovation. By encouraging the Voice of the Customer (VOC), Decathlon is creating genuine brand ambassadors throughout its customer base. The company's communication strategy revolves around discussion and recommendations.
DOWNLOAD OUR E-BOOK > Customer reviews : the new era of feedback-driven marketing
IMPORTANCE OF CUSTOMER REVIEWS IN MARKETING
In addition to being an effective way to continuously improve your products and customer experience, customer reviews play a key role in acquisition and loyalty-building.
Your online reputation
“A negative review on TripAdvisor means 10,000 euros in losses for Pierre & Vacances.” Rodolphe Roux, Marketing Director for the French tourism group, effectively demonstrates the hard-hitting stakes of an online reputation. Many companies have gone bust due to a poor reputation or a lack of online reputation.
Take, for example, a customer who is looking for an autobody shop to repair her car. When looking online, she finds two shops that are close by. One has a customer satisfaction score of 4.5/5, while the other has a score of only 2/5. Which one will she choose?
It’s crucial to let your customers speak their minds. As we saw earlier, you’ll get a majority of positive reviews if you ask for feedback. These reviews will provide you with a realistic overview of customer satisfaction and guarantee your online reputation. This in turn will reassure your customers and generate more business.
Online and offline conversion rate
In terms of acquisition, customer reviews can also help you improve your conversion rates. Your SEO will improve if you include reviews on your website. With the added content and keywords, your ranking in Google searches will only get improve.
Within these same Google searches, customer reviews can improve your click rate through a small but very important feature: Google stars, or rich snippets. You've seen them before—they’re the little stars located below the listing for certain business webpages. In Carrefour’s case, by including rich snippets in search results, the click rate from Google search results to their website increased by 24%.
Finally, including customer reviews on your website, your website reassures your customers as well. A/B tests have proved that by displaying the satisfaction score in strategic places such as the home page, shopping cart, footer, etc., you can reduce the bounce rate, increase the add-to-cart rate, and boost the conversion rate in particular. Major brands boost communication around their satisfaction score by displaying it in their emails, on social media, and on display banners.
This also applies to retailers. Although 53% of French people use the Internet to find out about products, 60% go to an actual store to buy it. As such, customer reviews are a source of traffic and conversion rates, both online and in-store.
It's widely accepted that building loyalty is much cheaper than acquiring new customers, and customer reviews can be a big help with this issue.
By listening to your customers, you are giving yourself an opportunity to understand their expectations, monitor any changes, and track their satisfaction. Your customer is your best resource when developing your strategy. Like Decathlon, you can use customer reviews to improve your range of products and the quality of the purchasing experience.
Reviews should be used as a tool to improve your knowledge of your customers. Marketing directors often base their customer knowledge on sociodemographic data, geolocalisation, web browsing history, purchasing channel, and/or RFM. It's a mistake to not think about customer satisfaction as a key way to better understand your customers.
Why? Imagine a customer who has just had a negative purchasing experience and then receives a promotional email from the same brand a few days later. This message will probably be a source of frustration and might reinforce the customer's negative impression. Satisfaction is therefore an important part of knowing your customers and offering them an appropriate workflow.
In this way, you can optimise the performance of your marketing campaigns by providing content that is personalised for every customer. You can also identify dissatisfied customers and develop an action plan to win them back, whether that means offering a discount on their next purchase, or calling them to resolve the issue. You can target satisfied customers with loyalty-building campaigns, such as loyalty programmes and VIP events, or marketing referrals, which aim to transform the customer into an ambassador, such as through a sponsorship programme, for example.
By enriching your CRM approach with valuable data, customer reviews allow you to put these personalisation and contextualisation techniques into practice. These strategies have an undeniable impact on future purchasing behaviour and customer loyalty.
At a time when traditional advertising methods are becoming less effective, using customer reviews is critical. Customer feedback helps you acquire new business and build loyalty. It is a high-stakes issue that is gradually becoming the new vehicle for business marketing strategies. Find out concrete ways you can use feedback in your marketing campaigns in our dedicated e-book on the subject.