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Impact of Reviews on Marketing Objective

Customer engagement is critical when working to develop brand awareness and increase sales. Negative customer reviews affect small businesses significantly more than larger businesses. Consequently, depending upon your business size, customer reviews may not always have a significant influence on your profitability. Additionally, reviews, whether positive or negative, do not have a significant influence on customers familiar with your business. Similar to a tree in the forest, a review alone is not going to gain or lose new business for a client, but can help to sway a potential customer to make a decision either way. Engaging with customers is a strategy recommended by marketing agencies to create a competitive advantage by building relationships with customers. If the objective of your business is customer acquisition, retention, or brand awareness, then customer reviews can affect your marketing strategy development.

Because of social media, customer feedback and reviews can quickly reach a broad audience and have an immediate effect on the success of your business’s marketing efforts. Due to the popularity of the internet, you can analyze and predict customer behaviors by using social networks and review-based websites. Your business should spend marketing dollars wisely, so gaining more reviews is not always as important as generating brand awareness through other reliable methods of marketing. Your marketing strategies should focus on relationship building with customers to better develop successful strategies for increasing customer loyalty and sales. However, you are likely not effectively accomplishing your marketing objective if you are receiving a significant amount of negative reviews.

Social Media Reviews

Online networking is a gathering of internet-based applications built on the foundation of ideology and technical specifications of web 2.0, which allows for the development and exchange of user-generated content. Social media is a critical area of enthusiasm for marketing managers and practitioners seeking to evaluate and influence customers’ perceptions. Researchers found that 88% of marketers used social media and spent over $60 billion per year consistently on social media marketing. The most valuable social media tools for gathering marketing data are LinkedIn®, Twitter, Facebook, and online blogging.[1] The essential marketing applications of social media include content marketing, market research, and business networking.

Your business should use social media for presenting marketing endeavors and building relationships with customers. Having an influential social presence is critical to propelling your marketing and brand development strategies. Increasing knowledge, implementing social media strategies, and brand showcasing can benefit your business by exploiting the opportunities that social networks present. In conducting a study consisting of 236 social media users’ online interactions to evaluate predictors relating to social media sites, it was found that online networking had a significant effect on customers’ perceptions of online marketing and advertisements.[2]

In a large-scale field experiment comprising of 45,000 participants of an online mall, researchers found that both financial and value incentives were significant forces in generating brand awareness through social members.[3] If you grasp how to capitalize from online discussions, you can develop strategies that enhance your business’s reputation, profits, and brand awareness. Social influence is characterized as a propensity to accept data as evidence about reality. For instance, with online movie ratings, customers frequently rate movies based on previous ratings by other customers. This happens because customers using social media have a significant influence on the actions and suppositions of their peer groups.

The advantage of using social media for your business is to connect with those customers who can decidedly influence your brand’s notoriety and awareness. For an individual to be influential on social media, they need to present relevant substance within their reviews and have a reasonable social following. You could gain influential power by identifying, reaching, and bargaining with customers online. To develop these relationships of power, you should solicit influential customers and provide product samples and ask that they share their evaluations and feedback on social networks.

 

[1] Whiting, A., & Williams, D. (2013). Why people use social media: A uses and gratifications approach. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 16, 362-369. doi:10.1108/qmr-06-2013-0041

[2] Vinerean, S., Cetina, I., Dumitrescu, L., & Tichindelean, M. (2013). The effects of social media marketing on online consumer behavior. International Journal of Business and Management, 8, 66. doi:10.5539/ijbm.v8n14p66

[3] Ahrens, J., Coyle, J. R., & Strahilevitz, M. A. (2013). Electronic word of mouth: The effects of incentives on e-referrals by senders and receivers. European Journal of Marketing, 47, 1034-1051. doi:10.1108/03090561311324192

Handling Negative Reviews

Review Credibility

Knowing the platforms on which customers prefer to express their views, and on which readers of those reviews are most likely to visit, is essential for effective online management.

Review Websites. Review platforms including Yelp, Amazon, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, and more heavily influence consumers when researching desired products and services. Unfortunately, these sites, and others, often end up authorizing unauthenticated reviews and manipulated reviews on their websites which could unduly damage the reputation of your business. For instance, the Yelp platform contains an algorithm that automatically determines which reviews are “most useful” without actually authenticating the reviews. This is because, like many other review sites, Yelp has no verification process in place to validate whether the reviewer actually participated in any transaction with the business in question, which enables fraudulent reviews by Yelp users and business competitors. After analyzing the writing style of reviewers and the effectiveness of manipulated reviews through sentiments, readability, and ratings, researchers have determined that 10.3% of products were subject to online review manipulation.[1]

Negative Reviews

Review credibility is important, particularly in situations where reviews falsely or purposefully misrepresent a situation. Your business should develop an appropriate response to counter the effects of negative word-of-mouth (NWOM) communication. How your business responds to NWOM is crucial in terms of limiting the negative effects to the business.

Sensory marketing helps to identify and comprehend the senses and influences of marketing engagement in light of customers’ perceptions, behaviors, and judgments. How your business reacts to NWOM is critical in determining whether your business can recuperate from the negative reviews and feedback. While positive reviews do have an influence on customer decision making, one negative review from a disgruntled customer generally has a more significant effect on overall product ratings. Conversely, negative reviews have less of an influence when contrasted to a vast majority of positive reviews.

While you may be aware of the effects of customer reviews, do not succumb to the temptation of generating fake reviews to help promote your products or services. The drawback of manipulated reviews is that they could unduly damage the reputation of your business. Respond to customer reviews in a timely and effective manner as they influence customers’ perceptions of your business. Your business should place a priority on responding to both positive and negative reviews. Don’t ignore negative feedback, as from an overall brand perspective, negative reviews have the potential to hinder brand awareness by creating customer doubt which can decrease leads and referrals.

 

[1] Fan, Y. W., Miao, Y. F., Fang, Y. H., & Lin, R. Y. (2013). Establishing the adoption of electronic word-of-mouth through consumers’ perceived credibility. International Business Research, 6. doi:10.5539/ibr.v6n3p58

Responding to Reviews

With the popularity of social media and the internet, customers have come to expect businesses to engage and respond quickly to questions and complaints. A primary marketing objective is to always to leave customers with a positive feeling about your business and the services provided. It is necessary to know how to engage with customers to influence positive feedback and relationships. Developing effective correspondence is the first step in accomplishing brand loyalty and supports the development of positive relationships with customers. An internal and external support staff tasked with monitoring your website, social media sites, twitter, and the like is beneficial in helping you to identify customer reviews, especially negative reviews, and in helping you work through any conflicts by addressing the reviewer and resolving their concerns.

When responding to customer reviews, the objective is to make certain the message is positive, the matter is resolved, and the customer is satisfied with the outcome. Considering most customer reviews are on social media networks, the individual responsible for responding to customer reviews should have cognitive writing skills and a good compass for creating appropriate responses. Researchers found that 72% of customers wrote negative reviews with the expectation that businesses would respond and take responsibility.[1] Empathy, compassion, and having the ability to relate are the primary characteristics needed of an effective review responder. Responses should be prepared in advance to prevent your business from scrambling for a response at the last minute.

How to respond to a review is dependent on the type of review received. If the response is negative, in addition to replying, you should communicate with the reviewer via phone or e-mail to quickly resolve the issue. The best course of action is to respond tactfully, and in a timely manner, and then work with the customer to prevent future problems or concerns from occurring. When a customer writes a review, you should respond promptly with a quality resolution to the customer’s concern. Furthermore, you should respond promptly to negative reviews to prevent customers from posting the review elsewhere and sharing it with other customers. In addition to empathy, compassion, and problem solving you should have the ability to investigate and satisfy the customer’s issues.

 

[1] Gurău, C. (2012). Solving customer complaints: A study of multiple commercial settings. Annals of the University of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 21, 827-833. Retrieved from http://anale.steconomiceuoradea.ro

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