Online Reviews: 3 Sites That Benefit

I’m sure you’ve read how the opinion of family and friends has a dramatic impact on your decision making. In fact, according to Harris Interactive, 71% claim reviews from family members or friends exert a “great deal” or “fair amount” of influence. But it’s not just family and friends that influence your decision. The online community can make or break a sale. Here are three different types of sites that can benefit from online customer reviews:

1.SERVICE SITES: I frequently use Yelp to find new restaurants, a spa or two and other services. Just this weekend I took the whole family to an unknown deli purely on the advice of the Yelp community. Thankfully the reviews were right and I was pleasantly surprised. I returned the favor by writing a positive review and I plan to go back to the deli in the near future. Other review sites for services include ServiceMagic, Angie’s List and a relatively new player Kudzu from HGTV and DIY. All these sites have the ability to influence your customer – positively or negatively. If you’re in the service industry, be sure to keep an eye on what’s being said about your company or service on these review sites. Better yet, allow customers to review your services on your website. I know it sounds scary, but it actually gives you more control to respond to customers and improve.
2.E-COMMERCE SITES: Just about every e-commerce site needs some kind of online review system. Amazon is a great review and referral community. Yes, there is the occasional bogus review written by an overzealous marketer or sales person, but don’t underestimate the power of the online community. Those few “fake” reviews quickly get drown out if a product is not all it’s cracked up to be. Marketers or sales people who write glowing reviews in the hope of enticing customers don’t realize they are giving themselves short-term gain (maybe) for long-term pain. Reviews stay online for YEARS, perhaps “forever”. They get picked up by a multitude of blog sites, communities and chat rooms. If you’ve been caught, or even accused of “faking” reviews, plan to have this be the leading headline for your product, service, or company for a long time to come.

3.MANUFACTURE SITES: Not so long ago, manufactures shied away from investing in online product reviews. The theory was that they didn’t need reviews if their distributors had them in place. 3M, Rubbermaid and other manufactures are proving this theory wrong. Within the last 12 months, 3M launched ratings and reviews on many of their consumer product sites such as Post-it, Command and Fur Fighter Hair Remover. The response appears to be positive. As of today, the standard yellow Post-it note that we all know and love has over 114 reviews and a 5-star average. The reviews posted on the 3M sites are regularly shared with some of their trusted distributors and in the process everyone wins. The customer learns more and finds the right product to fit their needs. The manufacture and distributor sell more. And marketing, R&D and product innovation teams learn directly from the source what people like, what they don’t like and what they might want to develop in the future. It’s a win-win-win!

So whether you’re in the service industry, have an e-commerce site or are you’re a manufacture, you should not ignore the power of online reviews. After all, why wouldn’t you want to increase customer confidence, have more meat for search engines and open a channel to learn, share and sell more?



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