Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Reputation Management

Customer feedback and reviews are influential and can affect how your customers engage with your businesses. The influence of a review is dependent on the value the reader of the review places on the individual who posted the review. Additionally, potential customers use reviews to pre-qualify your business by gaining insight into the ethics, products, and services your business offers. For reviews to be influential, the review must be honest, credible, and written by actual customers and not your business’s marketing department. However, the effect of influencer marketing is decreasing as customers have come to realize that businesses can influence the selection of reviews as a marketing tactic.

Your business should utilize product reviews as a means to improve sales and validate successful experiences and problem areas with current and potential customers. When developing marketing strategies, you should make an effort to take note of reviewer demographics and characteristics. A survey by comScore, an internet marketing and advertising company, found that 24% of online customers thoughtfully considered online reviews prior to making a purchase.[1] By examining the influence of reviews and eventual product sales in relation to commonalities between products and customers, marketing managers seeking to gain insight into the shopping and purchasing behaviors of customers can use these reviews as a method of obtaining information.

The value of customer reviews depends on the quality of the review and its substance, the credibility of the reviewer, and the nature of the review in addition to the number of reviews in total, the average review score, and the overall consensus of the reviewers. The internet provides numerous venues for customers and marketing managers to share and receive product knowledge through the sharing of experiences and insights. Customer-generated reviews were considered more trustworthy and credible than any other form of correspondence. Moreover, using the internet permitted customers to purchase products effortlessly and conveniently through websites including Amazon.com and eBay.com which permitted customers to search and compare products, brands, and reviews. In addition to the value of products, customers consider reviews, seller notoriety, and promotional product photos to be the most influential elements that contribute to making final purchasing decisions.

Some of your customers will be fundamentally influenced by information posted by previous customers and will consider those reviews most credible and trustworthy. Content style, source, and peripheral credibility cues in social reviews influence customer beliefs. It’s often difficult to discern the credibility of customer reviews, and your customers’ perception of reviews is a distinguishing factor in purchasing intentions. Therefore, expert reviews provide more credibility and trustworthiness, while guest reviewers, new reviewers, and reviewers with a low number of posts tend to lack credibility.

Online customer reviews constitute a focal point for evaluating customer decision making in terms of online purchases. The quality of customer reviews has a significant effect on the credibility, trustworthiness, and as a result, the perception of your business. Customers use reviews to help determine the trustworthiness of your business based on the ratings and quality of reviews. In using a web-based experiment to examine the quality and effect of product reviews on study participants’ decisions, research found that customers rated reviews based on the quality and the extent of the reviews. High-quality reviews were adequately detailed and generated positive evaluations. In a study of 577 participants, researchers concluded that expert opinions had a significant influence on the perception of reviews, as did visual presentations of reviews. Furthermore, observable characteristics of products had a notable effect on product perception and reviews.[2]

Reviews encourage purchases by helping to avoid confusion and limiting choice overload. Customer reviews and word-of-mouth have always played significant roles in marketing campaigns in that they help to increase product sales, reduce price sensitivity, and increase customer knowledge which helps to reduce the uncertainty of purchasing and increases customer satisfaction. After testing a sample of 203 customer review community participants on OpenRice.com, researchers determined that 69% of the participants shared reviews and rated the quality of those reviews based on various factors including reputation, sense of belonging, and the joy of helping others.[3]

 

[1] Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C. M., & Ormston, R. (Eds.). (2013). Qualitative research

practice: A guide for social science students and researchers (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

[2] Situmeang, F. B., Leenders, M. A., & Wijnberg, N. M. (2014). History matters: The impact of reviews and sales of earlier versions of a product on consumer and expert reviews of new editions. European Management Journal, 32, 73-83. doi:10.1016/j.emj.2013.11.001

[3] Cheung, C. M., & Lee, M. K. (2012). What drives consumers to spread electronic word of mouth in online consumer-opinion platforms. Decision Support Systems, 53, 218-225. doi:10.1016/j.dss.2012.01.015

Viral Marketing

Social media marketing (SMM) is a form of internet marketing which is used to help achieve branding and marketing communication goals through participation on social media. SMM is a great way to better market your business online. Having a social networking presence for your business and interacting with potential customers is a great way to expand your brand name and awareness.

The benefit of a viral SMM plan is the ability to create a video that focuses on entertaining the customer while providing valuable information about your brand and what it offers. The video should provide information on the benefits of the business. The concept of the video should be informative and is intended to encourage viewers to share the video via social media and on websites where they are a member. After watching the video, the customer should be inspired to visit your company, call, visit your website, and share the viral marketing video and the information about your company to their friends. A viral marketing plan should be distributed via video and social networking sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and by using other multimedia embedding networks and websites. A viral marketing plan can easily create a positive image for your brand while also providing valuable promotional content to users.

Network Communication

Major trends in technology that could impact communication within your business include; voice over internet protocol (VOIP), web 2.0, and virtual networks. Unlike virtual networks, face-to-face (F2F) meetings provide limited support for global projects and establishments. Within virtual networks, a powerful infrastructure and high-speed data services are required from both network users to help prevent interruption of communication, which is likely on slower connections. Technologies used throughout virtual networks include; email, chat, phone, video conference, group calendars, and other electronic meeting systems. F2F meetings can be good to set the stage for a growing relationship. However, technological communication presents an opportunity for the relationship to continually develop.

Trust has been connected to the success of virtual software communication, and F2F communication is often beneficial in helping to establish trust and social ties. Trust is a requirement when working to build social ties and relationships, but difficult to build at a distance. Consequently, virtual teams have a difficult time establishing relationships and are often more prone to conflict. For global projects, individuals should be acquainted with one another prior to joining in virtual communication considering the original meeting builds trust. Considering most organizations have upgraded their structure to utilize technology and information processing systems, allowing local employees to work and communicate virtually can increase your business’s productivity by lowering delays in communication.

Disruptive Technology

Disruptive Technology (DT) is a powerful means of broadening and developing new markets and providing new functionality, which, in turn, may disrupt existing market linkages. DT is when a new technology upsets the way that things have been. An example of DT is the radio replacing the newspaper, or the television replacing the radio as a source of news. DT is not when a single event occurs that disrupts things. It is when a process plays out over time that causes new technology to either replace or reduce the use of an older method.

DT can be beneficial to your business considering it offers more opportunity or options to your customers and influences product innovation. By not adopting DT, your business could potentially miss opportunities for a financial gain and powerful tools that could make your business more productive. A concern with DT is that it often takes away from you or your employee having to think for yourself. An example would be a calculator replacing the deep analysis of problem-solving, or digital navigation systems causing its users to not have to remember directions, or a cell phone contact list that makes it so that you don’t have to remember a phone number. With so much dependent upon these technologies that we rely on to help us in our day-to-day, we can become lost without the benefits that DT has created.

DT is not always used as a method to remove or replace traditional methods; it can also create an alternative to the way things are done. It creates typically simpler, more convenient, and less expensive ways of doing things. DT is usually a result of the desire to make things easier, faster, and more convenient. Hence, landline telephones and traditional mail services are now second to cell phones and email.

Not everyone has or will adapt to DT. Just as cell phones have not fully replaced the landline, DT ultimately could have a major impact on an existing market without totally displacing it. Not everyone uses the internet or a mobile device in place of reading a book, looking through a map, or earning a degree. Many individuals still select to drive a car, take a train, or travel by boat to get to their destination.

There are, however, ways in which DT has caused those unwilling to adopt it, to make sacrifices. Video streaming services Redbox and Netflix have caused brick-and-mortar businesses such as Blockbuster to close shop because of Blockbusters inability to create or adapt to DT. Digital photography caused film to become practically obsolete. DT introduces threats to existing methods, but also opportunities for new sources of competitive advantages. The benefits of DT go to the risk takers. Without being willing to take risks, the individual or business would never accept DT. Risk taking, however, can have negative impacts if it is not executed properly and with a strategic plan. For DT to be successful, small businesses and individuals must weigh the benefits. Without proper knowledge and training of why DT is needed or how to use it for success, the transition will likely fail and DT will negatively disrupt your business.

Internet and Social Trends

The development of the internet has shifted businesses from paper-based and people-intensive purchasing frameworks toward electronic frameworks. In 2016, U.S. electronic commerce transactions accounted for $394.86 billion (11.7%) of total retail sales.[1] Online sales have seen a significant growth because of the internet. The progression of the internet and technology will continually add value to business and customer relationships and provide material for future marketing research.

Customers are moving toward the internet to develop knowledge, business insights, and for other personal reasons. Research has shown that businesses that utilize traditional marketing techniques and advertising methods have seen a decrease in revenue because consumers are moving online to search for businesses and make purchases. Considering the exceptional growth of the internet, businesses without a viable marketing strategy embracing the internet witnessed a lack of marketing effectiveness, product sales, and brand awareness. To counter the effects of the interpersonal communication that the internet presents, your business should obviously develop strategic marketing communication for targeting internet-based customers.

Using the internet to gather information aids in collecting pertinent data for better comprehending the perceptions of your customers toward your business. Given the development of the internet, you can utilize technology for storing and accumulating customer information. Likewise, because of the significant influence of the internet, you can also use the internet to help with establishing relationships with business partners and customers.

The internet affects individuals in their daily lives and can produce challenges for your business due to the accessibility of social media. Online networking has revealed an entryway for customers to express their concerns directly to your business, and this method of correspondence encourages interaction between your business and your customers. Subsequently, customers appreciate having their sentiments validated. However, the immediate and open forum of communication could present challenges for your business if you are not prepared to manage and grow with the online trend.

Customers have a significant influence on the brand awareness of your business as the opinions of customers can propel your brand reputation. For instance, inquiries, comments, and reactions on discussion boards often affect brand loyalty, social following, and purchasing habits. Given the internet, you have to carefully monitor your brand, public activities, and reputation if you want to stay ahead of customer concerns and problems that could impact your sales and business growth.

 

[1] https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2017/02/17/us-e-commerce-sales-grow-156-2016/

Customer Service

These days, technology connects us in a way that we could have never imagined. And while this increased connectivity makes it easy for us to stay in touch, it’s important that we don’t let it stand in the way of real, personal engagement with customers. Think about a time when you called into a customer service line. You probably sat through a series of long, drawn-out automated messages, pressed a couple buttons, and after much frustration, breathed a sigh of relief when you were finally connected with an actual representative, right?

At the end of the day, people want to do business with other people — not machines and auto sequenced emails. By making a conscious effort to infuse more human interactions into your day-to-day communication with customers, it will be easier to build trust and deepen the relationship. Satisfying the needs of your customers ensures the survival of your business. A periodic check is required to discern the level of performance related to the current quality of services and products, followed by a plan to upgrade or enhance those services or products as necessary to build a quality relationship with your customers. In order to fulfill this goal, you must have a set of rules to measure and improve this quality.

Delivering quality services to customers is considered the most effective way to ensure that your business stands out from your competitors. The main ingredients involved in a quality relationship between your business and your customers are trust and commitment. Trust means confidence and security in the relationship you have with customers and can be treated as the biggest investment in building long term relationships. Lack of trust, on the other hand, weakens the relationship’s foundation.

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