Monday, April 6, 2009

Embrace the Reviewosphere

The reviewosphere (my made-up word for the world of online product reviews) is, like our universe, ever expanding--and that's a good thing.

The Economist recently discussed whether it makes sense for customers to write an online review when hundreds (or thousands) of others have already rated and commented on a good or service. Marketers should care about this answer, which is "yes," because, to quote The Economist:

". . . the raw number of reviews or comments, and the proportion of positive and negative ones, send useful signals to other people, even if they do not trawl through all of them."

As a marketer, you want to encourage as many people as possible to review the products you make or sell. The top 4 reasons why you should embrace the reviewosphere:
  1. Reviews build trust. Simply inviting reviewers to have their say demonstrates a level of transparency and builds trust with current and prospective customers. Let 'em talk about your brand in their own terms and in their own time. According to the marketing concept, it's all about them, anyway.
  2. Negative comments are opportunities. You often learn more from a critical review than from a positive review. Keep an open mind and listen for improvements that will strengthen your product's benefits. And if you're ever tempted to refute a negative review, take your fingers off the keyboard. Your satisfied customers will defend what they like--and it's their voices, not yours, that count in the reviewosphere.
  3. More reviews, more buyer confidence. Buyers are looking for the voice of experience. If only one or two reviews have been posted, they may be reluctant to buy. If dozens or hundreds have been posted, interested buyers will at least sample the good and the bad and feel they've made a more informed decision when they finally punch the "buy" button. Wouldn't you like to reduce the chance of buyer's remorse?
  4. Resistance is futile. Marketers are not in control of their brands or communications. Customers have the power to buy or not, recommend or not, badmouth or not--in person, if not online. So go ahead and invite reviews, because people will talk about your brand anyway. Don't you want to know what they're saying?

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