10 Ways to Achieve Multichannel Commerce – Part 6: Do You Trust Strangers?

Chapter 6: Do you trust strangers?

  • Game Changer: Cone Survey Finds 4 out of 5 Consumers Reverse Purchase Decisions Based on Negative Online Reviews
  • 89% of Consumers Find Internet Channels Trustworthy Sources and Will Seek Online Information to Verify Product Recommendations from Friends and Family
  • Mobile: 59% of consumers report that they are more likely to research recommended products online because they can easily access applications on their mobile

Source: Cone Inc.

Photo credits: © Satori13 | Dreamstime.com

Imagine this. A guy (or girl) you’ve never met before approaches you as you are eyeing a purchase and says, “ I wouldn’t bother with that. I bought one a few weeks ago and it kept breaking down – so I took it back and got a refund.” What would you think? Weird?  Helpful? Would it stop you from making the purchase, or would it make you a little more cautious? Let’s face it, it would certainly unsettle you in some way.

According to a study by Boston-based Cone Communications they discovered that 4 out of 5 consumers reversed purchase decisions based on negative online reviews. You can find more details on the research here.

It certainly is alarming when you consider the sheer volume of user-generated content available and how significantly  it is influencing general consumer behavior.  [Kind of makes you wonder if Facebook would be such a highly-valued destination for Brands if it had a ‘Dislike’ button. #Justsayin.  I’m sure there’s a blog in their somewhere too!]

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Still, how can Brands and Retailers protect against this, or can they? Is it, in fact, an opportunity to review your entire Content Marketing strategy?

The likelihood is that online peer reviews will become even more powerful in the product (or service) selection process and that this user-generated content will also need to be factored into how sites are designed and presented. When you consider that currently there are networks like ukritic.com that are actually providing consumers with a platform to monetize their reviews and opinions online then the volume of such content is only set to grow. Powerful: if you can harness this content – potentially damaging if you cannot.

As we have touched on in previous blogs, content not only frames the customer experience (and purchase decisions), it provides the foundation for building community and trust. Think about it, if you could create a ‘one stop shop’ approach for your site – allowing the syndication of user-generated content to add credibility – consumers will be able to see all of this information is a single place. By combining information from the Brand (website product pages), ‘Likes’ from Friends and Family on Facebook, as well as reading the opinions of strangers (both good and bad) then you gain a certain credibility.  And – by keeping the information together in one place you somehow lessen the desire of the time-conscious consumer to navigate elsewhere – you are providing a balanced, independent view of your products and services.

Thinking for a moment about the syndication of content from peer review networks one can opine that through time, like in any community, ‘strangers’ become ‘known’ and familiar – just like our friends in the IT influencer community. This factor allows consumers to identify with the reviewers themselves, and their personas, and say: ‘Well, is that person like me?’ If they can answer that question then the impact of their review will also carry a greater or lesser weight in the purchasing decision.

Join myself and Allen Bonde, CMO at The Pulse Network, as we discuss a similar survey by Nielson which points out that whilst consumers will primarily trust the recommendation of family and friends, there are still around 70% who will look to the opinions of ‘strangers’ too when weighing up a purchasing decision, and also look at the 7 Rules of Content Marketing which provide a useful guide to creating great content, engaging audiences, and building trust:

  1. Make it educational (and engaging)
  2. Use thought leaders – tap your communities for content
  3. Make it easy to contribute
  4. Make it efficient – use one piece of content in many forms, personalized to the channel
  5. Make it effective – with a clear message and take-away
  6. Make it available everywhere – on all platforms and easy to track and share
  7. Use content to bridge the offline and online experience

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