The growth and influence of word of mouth marketing has been reinforced in new research carried out on behalf of marketing agency RAPP.
The consumer research, carried out by YouGov, shows that over 80% of online consumers used online reviews as part of the journey to purchase in the last 12 months.
And 62% have changed their minds about a purchase as a result of a bad review or WOM warning. In terms of sectors, the research also highlights that broadband and telephony providers as well as cable/satellite services are significantly more likely to attract negative reviews.
Overall, the research shows that ranking, rating and reviewing are becoming mainstream, common across all ages and demographics. And consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their power, with just under half (48%) who would write reviews online, saying they review in order to actively influence how a company deals with its customers.
Gavin Hilton, Director, Customer Experience at RAPP, comments: “Word of mouth is no longer the preserve of the young and internet savvy. It’s now ubiquitous. But how many companies can you name that have a coherent strategy in place to harness WOM and to effectively manage their reputation online?”
He adds: “There’s also no point in having a social media strategy unless you know exactly what it’s for. There is no use in being “present” or facilitating other people’s conversations unless you know how you want people to respond. If you want your brand image to improve then monitor the chat to make sure it’s doing so. If you want sales to pick up, you need to be ready to take people back out of the blogosphere and to a place where you can monetise them. That’s where brands are really struggling.
Ultimately the big question is: Are consumers your brand ambassadors? Or are they “anti-PR machines?”
The top line findings of the research shows in the last 12 months:
*81% of consumers have searched for or read a user review for a product or service they were interested in buying
*29% have written a user review and 23% have discussed a product or service in an online forum/blog 37% say they are most likely to write a review when the product or service didn’t meet their expectations, with less – 28% - prompted by a great experience
*48% of respondents who would write an online review say their motivation for writing a review is to try and change how the company services/deals with its customers with 56% saying it’s to ensure other people don’t make the same mistake
*62% say they have come close to buying something and then changed their mind because of a bad review or warning *Consumers are most likely to look for recommendations for electrical products (61%); hotels (55%) and gadgets such as MP3 players (38%)
*In terms of sectors, consumers who would write reviews online are more motivated to make an online recommendation or criticism on hotels (45% would write to recommend, 43% to criticise) and restaurants/bars/clubs (36% recommend, 36% to criticise).
Broadband, telephony providers (9% recommend, 16% criticise) and cable/satellite TV (15% recommend, 26% criticise)are much more likely to attract negative reviews.
Hilton concludes: “As with the early days of digital, brands are increasingly acknowledging they need to do something in this space but not sure exactly what. But it’s not just that they need to do something.
"Crucially, they need to have a strategy with impact, both on reputation and on ROI, not just for cosmetic purposes. That’s why I believe it’s the agencies who really understand consumer behaviour, those with data and consumer insight at their heart, that are best placed to guide brands in this space.”
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