E-Mail Applied: Creating Customer Communities
Catalog marketers are a pragmatic group. They stick with tried-and-true methods. New techniques must demonstrate practicality before implementation. Customer reviews and blogs are Web 2.0 techniques, and they’ve demonstrated the ability to build community and stimulate sales.
Web 2.0 is focused on interactivity, collaboration and social networking. Marketing becomes more dynamic as customers and prospects are empowered with tools that encourage engagement. Here’s how to harness that crowd-sourced power to provide consumer-generated content that will be influential in the purchasing process.
Some catalogers experiment with letting customers post product reviews on their sites. Typically they’ll use a form with a five-star rating system, product questions and an area for customers to enter their own comments. Customers love this!
The e-tailing group conducted consumer research earlier this year on whether site visitors turn to reviews prior to or during the shopping process. The results speak for themselves:
How often do customers read reviews prior to making a purchasing decision?
Most of the time 43%
Some of the time 24%
Once in a while 9%
The majority of consumers polled said they regularly pay attention to customer reviews. And many said they pay particular attention to reviews when they’re trying to narrow down choices between two or three products. These choices may be on one site, but often the potential customer is comparing products on several sites. So a favorable review just might sway a purchase decision.
Ah, but what about those negative reviews and how they reflect on the company? From a customer’s perspective, that content is more believable and real. A study conducted by Bazaarvoice found that 51 percent of consumers leave positive reviews most times, and 36 percent are positive every time. This encouraging news should make marketers more comfortable with letting customers share their product experiences online.