Do’s and Dont’s for marketers tapping into consumer advocacy

Posted 4 September 2017 in Blog

Marketers can no longer ignore the growing consumption of product reviews. Michelle Blancato from beautyheaven and trialteams.com.au outlines the top do’s and dont’s for tapping into consumer advocacy.

With Australians reading an average of five reviews before making a purchase decision, brands can no longer treat product reviews as a value add or a nice to have.

Product reviews are important for brands because they drive consumer advocacy but they’re equally important for the consumer who is becoming increasingly savvy about advertorial or sponsored content.

Last year, the 2016 Sensis social media report found that 60% of Australians read online reviews or blogs before making a purchase decision and beautyheaven research has found 97% of consumers are likely to read online product reviews before purchasing a beauty or health product. If you’re looking to target mums, they carry even more weight with the 2016 Marketing to Mums survey finding testimonials are the number one influence on their purchase decisions.

There’s no substitute for the opinions of an unbiased third party that has genuine experience with a product. When leveraged correctly, this can be hugely valuable for brands but where do marketers start?

A good place is with your existing database. People are more than happy to tell you what they think, particularly if they have a connection with the brand or product. You can generate reviews on Facebook, Instagram or even on your website in the first instance but if you really want to harness the power of product reviews, you can’t go past partnering with an established review platform.

Find a credible review platform

Brands should absolutely be encouraging reviews on their own channels but there are huge benefits in having them live on a third party platform, particularly one that’s perceived as credible.

If I made a product and asked the people who bought it to tell me what they thought then put those reviews on my website, it’s all very insular and protected. A consumer looking for information about that product might not trust it as much as they would if they saw it on an impartial third party site.

When consumers visit platforms such as beautyheaven and trialteam.com.au, they know they are reading reviews by a trusted, credible third party. In fact, 97% of beautyheaven members believe the reviews on beautyheaven are trustworthy.

This information can be utilised by brands and fed back into owned channels. We often find our brands like to take reviews and share them across social media generating further advocacy.

Use review guidelines

Whether you’re cultivating reviews on your own site or through an independent third party, it pays to use review guidelines. At beautyheaven, we publish everything but we give guidelines for how to write a helpful review. If a reviewer says a product is great, that’s not of real value to anyone seeking information. The review needs to say why. Likewise, if something’s not great, why isn’t it great? What didn’t the consumer like about it? Who do they think it would be suitable for? Always go back and ask more details. The information has to be constructive and helpful.

Nurture your community

Crucial to product reviews is nurturing an online community that is willing to share their experiences. Often, this can be the most difficult part of the process and is one of the biggest benefits of partnering with a third party platform because it has already been taken care of.

As anyone with an online presence knows, you can’t merely wake up one day and decide to form a community. There’s quite a bit of work that goes into building up an audience and fostering trust. Respect is paramount. You can never take your members for granted. Listening to their feedback and responding quickly to their needs is key to our success in this area.

Don’t be afraid to get less than five stars

Brands shouldn’t fear a three of four-star rating. The fact of the matter is, consumers are dubious if every review gives your product five stars.

Often marketers are scared to hear what people think and so don’t ask but having no one talking about your brand in this day and age is far worse than people sharing the honest truth.

Dealing with negative reviews

Yes, 94% of beautyheaven members say they are more likely to purchase a beauty or health product after reading good reviews but negative reviews aren’t a bad thing. They can actually be a doorway to a bigger and better conversation between the brand and the consumer.

The best results come when brands jump in on the conversation, thank the reviewer for their feedback and make them feel as if they have been heard.

This approach can end up creating even greater advocacy because consumers respect that the brand has responded, answered the concern and come up with a solution. It creates a level playing field for consumers and there’s huge value in that.

I wouldn’t be concerned about reviews being negative. I would be more concerned about the way that’s perceived by consumers. We have seen time and time again that brands joining the conversation ensures the perception is a positive one.

Don’t be tempted to post fake reviews

Finally, brands should never post fake reviews. If you’re working with a third party platform, there’s a good chance you’re going to get found out. And consumers can see straight through it. That’s why they value reviews so much in the first place.

Ultimately, you’re better off having fewer, more authentic reviews than going for volume or attempting to tip the scales in your favour.

When it comes to creating advocacy for your brand, you’ll never be stuck finding people who want to tell you what they think but it pays to have a well thought out approach to reviews in order to get the most out of them and drive sales of your product.

Michelle Blancato is the General Manager of beautyheaven and trialteam.com.au Australia’s newest product review website from Bauer Media.

 

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