Many marketers who have embraced online have focused mainly on Facebook and Twitter but they have forgotten about a very important aspect of social media: product reviews. Product review is a method in which two-way communication can flourish and it is an opportunity for marketers to meet the needs of their customers and improve their products. With product reviews marketers gain knowledge and it is how these marketers use this knowledge that become so important. In essence a product review is — which indicates how much your marketing claims were confirmed.
More and more consumers are using a combination of social resources (Facebook, Twitter and product reviews) and traditional search engines when researching products and services online. A recent eMarketer ad reported that 48 percent of consumers likely to use a combination of social and search resources while 52 percent said that they would use a search engine only. This means that consumers are continuously embracing the use of product reviews and marketers simply need to catch up. Furthermore eMarketer also reported that Search click-through rates increased by 94 percent when people were given both brand-specific search results and social media.
The importance of product reviews is becoming even more prevalent as more consumers turn towards the internet for product research and product purchases. More people rely on the opinions of others (product reviews) when researching brands as opposed to turning to Facebook or Twitter. Based on a 2010 survey conducted by eMarketer, when asked what form of social media that US online buyers used most to make buying decisions, 30 percent chose user reviews while only 17 percent chose Facebook and only 9 percent chose Twitter. In addition, independent product reviews are the strongest influencer positively affecting the likelihood of a purchase similar to how negative or positive word-of-mouth can alter the buying process.
While these numbers appear quite compelling many companies are still lagging with their use of product reviews. There are however some standout companies. Oriental Trading Company, Samsung and Crate and Barrel have all used their customer reviews to evaluate their product design and product features based of negative customer complaints. For example, marketers at Samsung continued a complaint about the location of the speakers on many of its large television products. Samsung took those complaints and used them to modify the design to better fit the needs of its customers. Walmart is using their customer reviews to identify customers’ favorable products and highlighting these products to other customers. Finally, in 2009 Sephora launched a mobile service to aid customers through the shopping experience in their stores. With the mobile application customers can look up products on their phone in order to view the online product reviews.
Overall, product reviews provide two main things: knowledge and opportunity. Those companies who choose not to ignore this aspect of social media are gathering this knowledge is benefiting from the opportunity to improve and adapt their product and services. Sometimes you need more than a tweet that tells you what is wrong; you need a review that tells you why something is wrong.