When someone wants information on a company, generic general search engine results can only take you so far, according to digital marketing expert Steven Wyer. Today’s Internet savvy shoppers report that user generated content (UGC), such as reviews, now significantly outweigh general search engine results as an influencing factor when making a purchasing decision. Here, Steven Wyer touches on a few reasons that business owners should begin paying attention to UGC.
Q: What is user generated content?
Steven Wyer: User generated content (UGC) essentially describes anything posted online by a consumer. It may be in the form of a review, star rating, testimonial, Facebook post, or even video describing an experience.
Q: What percentage of consumers submit ratings, reviews, and other forms of UGC?
Steven Wyer: While more than half of all consumers will post a review at some point in their lives, research suggests that less than 10% of consumers consistently offer UGC. No doubt the most dominate demographic here are young adults that have grown up with the web.
Q: How influential is UGC?
Steven Wyer: 81% of consumers report favoring an identical item, even if it cost more, when it has positive content associated with it.
Q: Why is UGS so powerful?
Steven Wyer: User generated content is the word-of-mouth marketing of today. People trust what others say about their experiences. Its really that simple.
Q: Should I offer my customers an incentive to post a positive review?
Steven Wyer: Many sites – Yelp in particular – have policies against incentivized reviews. Reviews are typically more relevant when they are heartfelt and not influenced by the promise of a discount or special treatment. We do not recommend incentives for online customer reviews.
Q: Of the customers that don’t submit reviews, what are their reasons for not doing so?
Steven Wyer: 28% of consumers simply believe the process is too time consuming. However, apps, such as The Review Solution, now make it quick and easy for consumers to complete their reviews straight from their mobile devices. If it’s fast and easy, we have found customers will comply to a request.
Q: What devices are consumers most likely to use when submitting UGC?
Steven Wyer: Currently, 31% of reviewers use a mobile phone and that number is climbing every year. When you add in the broad use of tablets the numbers are climbing aggressively.
Q: As a business owner, should I engage with my customers when they do post reviews online?
Steven Wyer: Absolutely. Interacting with your customers shows you care about their experience and proves to potential customers that you will be responsive to any questions or concerns they may have in the future.
Q: Are online reviews really reflective of real-world customer experiences?
Steven Wyer: When they are genuine, yes.
Q: How can I factor user reviews into my marketing plan?
Steven Wyer: While it costs you nothing for customers to leave reviews, you will need to devote some time and energy into capturing and responding to online feedback. Devote at least one hour per week if you’re a small business owner toward engaging with your clients online. This may be the least expensive and more impactful marketing effort you have.