Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who do you trust? Using reviews to turn browsers into buyers

By Mark Helfen

If you go to where we were last month, you will miss all the pizza. 
And the cookies……

Who do you trust?

It’s not an idle question, according to our upcoming speaker. Pehr Luedtke will address the topic Social Commerce: Are There Sales in Social? at our February 13 meeting.

According to Luedtke, there is a “trust ladder” for retail consumers, with manufacturers at the bottom (least trusted) and customers at the top. If you have purchased from Amazon, or at least checked out a product, think of the relative weight you give to the reviews of other customers, compared to the product description supplied by the manufacturer.

Luedtke is CEO of PowerReviews, which supplies a “white label” ratings and review service. Companies such as REI, Toys”R”Us, and Staples incorporate the system on their commerce site to allow customers to review and comment on products. PowerReviews products provide data and analysis of how customers are responding.

This is all part of the ongoing move of power from sellers to customers. There is an “explosion” of social tools that allow customers to respond and discuss what retailers sell. By supporting this discussion on their web sites, retailers can turn “browsers into buyers,” or at least that’s the objective.

The review idea contrasts with some of the presentations at the MarketingSIG over the last year, about tracking and engaging your customers on Facebook or Twitter, or using monitoring tools. These reviews are on your own retail site.

I asked Luedtke web sites could control the way the reviews are going, unlike their ability to control the discussion on places social networking sites. It might be possible but censorship has a price, or more to the point, “no one has control anymore.”

Why do customers take the time to write and post reviews of your products? He says two reasons – altruism, and ego. He will talk about how to keep customers involved.

The old ways of marketing – just create a compelling message and get it out their – are going. The new ways put consumers in control. Possibly a challenge, or an opportunity.

Learn more on Monday.



Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

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