The Role of Marketing in Social Media: How Online Consumer Reviews Evolve

Marketing in digital media evolves, but some things never change. Take online reviews for example. Even after all these years, people still prefer to read honest reviews rather than get tricked into thinking a product is great when it really isn’t.

Consumer reviews on sites like Amazon and Yelp are valuable data points for companies. Not only do they provide important information about the products being reviewed, but they also can help determine a variety of factors. From the niche the product is sold in, to whether or not it appeals to a wide audience, to how good it is for a specific purpose or use case – all this can be gleaned from reading online reviews.

So how does marketing play a role in these reviews?

Reviews Can Reflect Market Reach

For years, marketers have tried to guess what would become significant in digital marketing. Some believed that expensive pay-per-click campaigns would carry the day. Others thought that video would become the new frontier. Most agreed that mobile would be the future.

Looking back, it’s clear that reviews have always been a significant factor in digital marketing. In a world where customers have 24/7 access to information, online reviews provide a means for people to share their opinions about a brand or product – even if they choose not to enter their own opinions about the product.

When people read reviews, particularly on sites like Amazon where they can leave their own reviews, they have three primary concerns. Does the product deliver as promised? Is it of good quality? And finally, does it appeal to my peers or target audience?

The first two concerns are fairly straightforward. You don’t expect a five-star product to fail to live up to your standards. The last one, however, can be more difficult to judge. If you try out a product and really like it but can’t find anyone else who enjoys it as much as you do, you’ll have to answer the question of whether or not your friends will enjoy it as well. This is particularly relevant for niche products that may not appeal to the average user but could become your best friend for a certain task or purpose. For example, if you’re a parent and want to find a gift for your newborn child, you might end up purchasing a baby grow or diaper bag that’s specifically geared toward new parents. Despite not being marketed toward that particular audience, it could become your best friend for the task at hand.

How Do Online Reviews Impact My Business?

So you’ve found the perfect gift for your friend or loved one and you’re cruising towards the checkout. Just as you’re about to pay for the product, you realize that you’ve forgotten to enter a review. While you were distracted by the joy of finding a present, someone snuck in and left a glowing review that saved your business – and your gift-giving experience!

Imagine going to buy a vacuum cleaner for your house. You walk into the vacuum cleaner store, excitedly scan the products, and notice that the reviews are great. You select a vacuum cleaner and head to the register. As you’re paying for your purchase, you remember that you’ve forgotten to leave a review. Frustrated, you go back to the register and leave a brief review about how much you love the product. You walk out and head towards your car. As you’re driving away, you realize that you might have forgotten something. You rush back to the store and leave a review about how disappointed you were in not finding the information about how the vacuum cleaner works.

In this example, your review would help the store owner understand that this is not a typical customer. They might consider lowering the price for the vacuum cleaner or offering a bonus for the purpose of reviewing the product. With the information available through reviews, businesses might be able to understand the different motivations of their customers and learn more about what they can do to retain them.

The Growth Of Online Reviews

In 2018, online reviews represent a massive $21 trillion market, and it’s only predicted to grow.

Online reviews are simply customers talking about products they’ve bought and used. Sometimes they’ll leave comments about how a product or service helped them or hurt them. Other times they’ll just leave an opinion about the company, the product, or the service.

In 2018, almost 86% of adults in the United States will use some form of online review on a shopping trip. That’s over 300 million people.

Online reviews have always been a significant factor in the shopping experience, but their importance has increased dramatically in the digital age. Here are some other interesting tidbits about online reviews.

The Importance Of Customer Retention

The most effective and financially savvy businesses know the importance of customer retention. This is especially important in industries where there is a high churn rate and businesses are constantly having to convince new customers that their product is worth it. In industries like retail and food service, customer retention can be very challenging.

As a business owner, you might be familiar with the challenges of retaining customers. You try to up-sell them and cross-sell them on different products and services, but they often don’t have much use for your product or service after the initial transaction is complete.

Even if you’re only able to get them to spend a little more than they would have otherwise, keeping them as customers is worth it. Customer retention allows you to have a much larger impact on the business – and ultimately the economy – than you could ever have by becoming a customer yourself.

Where Do Online Reviews Come From?

In the early 2000s, businesses and consumers quickly learned about the importance of online reviews. As a result, they started monitoring sites like Google Reviews and Yelp for customer feedback. Over time, these reviews have become an essential tool for people researching products and services.

These days, it’s not uncommon for businesses to keep close tabs on their Google Reviews and other review sites. With just a few quick clicks, they can get an overview of how their products and services are being received by the public. The information is often right there, if they’re just willing to look for it.

Even for customers who’ve never left a review, they can still access this information. Many review sites like Yelp collect and display this data either on their websites or through their apps. For example, if you search for a hotel near me on Yelp, you’ll see a small snippet of information about that hotel in the form of a review. If you click on the review, you’ll be directed to the hotel’s website where you can learn more about their services and view photos.

Businesses use this data to learn more about what works and doesn’t work for their customers. It’s also important for marketing purposes. If a hotel’s review is positive but their marketing materials are lacking, it can become difficult for them to drum up business. The information is out there and it’s easy for competitors to find.

Reviews Can Help Determine A Product’s Quality

When reading reviews for any product or service, you should keep in mind that each review is about how the reviewer experienced the product. Even if you’ve tried out the product or service yourself and are familiar with it, other customers’ viewpoints may differ. This is why it’s always a good idea to read reviews rather than just look at the positives. You’re getting a better sense of what other customers think about the product or service from reading reviews versus hearing only positive feedback.

For example, imagine that you’re shopping for a vacuum cleaner and you come across a review that gives the product a bad rating. You could learn a lot from this review even if it’s not all bad. Perhaps the product is defective and needs to be returned. Or maybe the customer didn’t realize that the vacuum cleaner was not self-charging and so it ended up partially drained of its charge. In this case, you’d want to return it and get your money back or try out a different vacuum cleaner. On the other hand, if all of the reviews are positive, this could mean that the product is of good quality and you’d likely want to purchase it.

The Role of Marketing in Social Media

If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, you know that the line between marketing and sales is blurred – and sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin when trying to create a marketing plan. The truth is that marketing falls into several distinct buckets. While some might be more closely associated with sales, all of them can play an important role in helping grow your business. This is why it’s important to look at the whole picture rather than just focus on individual tasks or responsibilities.