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The Growing Power of Consumer’s Opinions

Most businesspeople understand the importance of the Internet for promoting their products and attracting new customers. Over half of consumers now research products online as a part of their purchasing process1, which means that they are not only looking at the product specifications but are also considering the reviews that have been left online by other customers like themselves. Many businesses aren’t even aware of how many customer reviews there are on the web about their business or its products and services.

Social media sites have become forums for people to share their experiences with their friends, and their purchases are pretty high on the list of things to tweet about for most users. These opinions that have been posted online can have a dramatic influence on businesses even though they may have no idea that it is occurring, which is often the case with social media comments. Over half of people that follow brands on Facebook do it because they are already customers of that company and want to be more engaged with them, in fact, 41% say that they want their friends to see that they favor a particular brand or product2. Asking your friends on Facebook about products before you decide whether to buy them has become an important part of the way we shop now, making customer’s opinions more important than ever before.

Almost a quarter of Americans have posted a review online, and people with higher levels of education and greater incomes are leading the way1. While over half of people that have given their opinion on a business were motivated by wanting to share a good experience, a massive 82% have left a negative response online, many reacting to feeling that they have been disrespected given poor service3. It is common for satisfied customers to opt not to leave a complimentary review because they have received the service that they expected and go on with their lives without thinking about it. However, dissatisfied customers are now seeing the Internet as a way to express their opinions in a way that they feel will benefit, or warn, other consumers and this may be more effective than either the disgruntled customer or the businesses that they are reviewing could imagine.

Apart from the huge reach that these kinds of reviews can have on social media sites where a single complaint can potentially go viral very quickly, there is also an increasing impact that bad reviews have on the search results where most businesses will be attracting the bulk of their new customers. Google+ Local business listings pull reviews of companies from all over the web to construct their listings and, as their crawlers don’t discriminate between good and bad reviews, it is possible for a small number of unhappy but very vocal customers to make up all of the reviews that new customers will see in the SERPs for a business when they find it.

It is impossible to please everyone, and even the best companies will have some unhappy customers that leave derogatory remarks on business directories or social media. Developing a plan for dealing with them while highlighting the good reviews is something that every business should be doing. This makes managing your business’s online reputation a vital part of your Internet marketing strategies and you can contact to help you to ensure that you find the bad reviews and deal with them quickly. It is almost impossible to make bad reviews online go away, even if they aren’t true, but there are many effective methods of lessening the negative impact that they can have on your company.

1. Online Product Research, Pew Research Center, 2010

2. 10 Quick Facts You Should Know About Consumer Behavior on Facebook. Chadwick Martin Bailey, Consumer Pulse 2011

3. Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Consumer Pulse, Chadwick Martin Bailey, 2011

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