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Online reviews continue to play a big role in influencing purchase behavior.
As B2C marketers seek to capture the attention of potential customers and win the loyalty of existing ones, it has become a top priority for brands and organizations to listen to the voice of the customer and understand their desires and needs and expectations, all while developing a positive and engaging brand reputation.
Online reviews, social media, and customer feedback platforms have expanded the number of channels that B2C marketers must leverage in order to succeed. Just getting started? Here are 5 facts you should know before you launch your campaign.
Online Reviews for B2C Marketers
4.2 to 4.5 stars — not 5 stars out of 5 — is the ideal average star rating for purchase probability
Unlike in B2B marketing, where efficiency, authority, and expertise rule, success in B2C marketing depends on your ability to connect meaningfully with the consumer mindset and invoke emotional responses that foster shopper trust and confidence.
It helps to know, for example, that some consumers perceive a perfect 5-star rating as too good to be true. They value authenticity over perfection, and so, therefore, should you.
In fact, according to a study by PowerReviews and Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center, product purchases are most influenced by reviews with an average rating of 4.2 to 4.5 stars out of 5 — making this the ideal average star rating for purchase probability.
If the B2B purchase process tends to be logically driven (5 stars is always better than 4 stars), this isn’t always the case in B2C markets.
“As counterintuitive as it may seem, negative reviews have a positive impact because they help establish trust and authenticity,” according to the researchers. “Consumers understand that a product can’t be all things to all people, and they appreciate negative reviews as an important element in their decision-making process.”
Peer endorsements and word-of-mouth referrals are 10 times more influential than celebrity endorsements
For millennials — the consumer segment expected by B2C marketers to drive the economy in the decades ahead — the voice of John or Jane D. on Yelp, Facebook or TripAdvisor is more powerful and resonant than that of Justin B., Jay Z., or Beyonce K.
According to a report by ZDNet, peer endorsements hold more sway than celebrity influencers, and are 10 times more likely to drive in-store purchases.
Based on findings by Collective Bias, an influencer marketing company, the ZDNet report also found that 70 percent of millennials (18 to 34-year-old consumers) had the highest preference for peer endorsements — which include customer reviews and ratings, non-celebrity blogs, social media posts, publicly displayed customer feedback, and word-of-mouth referrals.
Reviews are the key in-store purchase driver for 14.5 percent, while social media — mainly, Facebook and YouTube — is the form of communication that will convince 12.3 percent of consumers to make a buying decision.
“Consumers are less engaged with advertisements and seemingly disingenuous celebrity endorsements,” said Bill Sussman, CEO of Collective Bias. “Brand marketers will need to turn to more effective alternatives such as influencer content.”
Reviews shared online can motivate people to spend 9.5 percent more
Shared online content — specifically, reviews and customer feedback — can drive sales and share of wallet much more effectively than price and brand.
According to research by ShareThis and the Paley Center for Media, positive shared reviews, customer feedback, and recommendations over social media increase the value and desirability of products by as much as 9.5 percent.
To consumers, a positive recommendation is also more important than price and brand combined, with a relative importance of 57 percent compared to 28 percent for price and 16 percent for brand.
Negative reviews and recommendations, meanwhile, can cause significant damage, especially when shared online; it causes as much as an 11 percent drop in the desirability of a product.
Reviews are a major factor in local search rankings
Search engine giant Google has made it clear that ratings and review signals (quantity and quality of reviews, reviewer authority, the pace at which a business generates new reviews, etc.) play a major role in determining where a brand or business appears in local search results.
Similarly, SEO software company Moz reported that review signals were one of the top 7 factors influencing local search rankings.
Solas Web Design founder Miriam Ellis said, “Reviews have become a major competitive difference maker, so you’ll want to be earning as many good ones as possible, particularly on prominent platforms like Yelp, and the basis of these reviews is right in your own store, in your interactions with customers.”
Review content stays relevant longer than tweets and Facebook posts
B2C marketers love social media, but research suggests it’s worth reengineering one’s marketing strategy to include the management of online reviews on sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor.
18 minutes is the median lifespan of a tweet, according to Moz. Facebook posts, meanwhile, have a shelf life of 2 to 5 hours. Online reviews last for as long as 3 months, with 69 percent of consumers agreeing that reviews older than a quarter of a year are no longer relevant.
Given these numbers, great reviews can boost your social media ROI. More importantly, they serve as a strategic component that any B2C marketer can use to drive more successful campaigns.