Each and every day consumers are bombarded with sponsored messages and advertisements from brands. Because of all this noise, consumers have become accustomed to tuning out the clutter. This also means that they’re less likely to trust branded advertising. So the question for marketers is, “How can we still engage with our customers and earn their loyalty if our messages aren’t absorbed?”
It’s the Age of the Customer
One way for brands to achieve engagement and loyalty is to shift their marketing approach so that the brand story becomes the customer’s story. Consumers have enormous power to build a brand’s reputation. With a multitude of technology platforms from which to voice their opinions, customers will share their thoughts – positive or negative – whether or not a brand asks them to. As a result, brands need to be proactive in starting conversations with their customers. They need to involve the customer at every stage of the customer lifecycle and demonstrate that they’re listening and responding to customer feedback. For online brands, this means creating a digital community to replicate in-person conversations. If brands open up a platform or medium to allow customers to be vocal and share the brand story, they can engage consumers who are otherwise accustomed to tuning out promotional messages.
Delivering a one-to-one customer experience is paramount for brands now that customers are the most influential source of company advertising. In fact, a Nielsen survey reports that 84 percent of respondents found word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family to be more trustworthy than brand advertising. To foster relationships with consumers and begin to build loyalty, companies should focus on delivering quality customer experiences and service. More companies are already beginning to move from being product-centric to service-centric, gaining value with increased engagement, conversion rates and profits.
Stand out from the rest.
As online brands move to a service-centric model and emphasize the customer experience, they need a way to demonstrate that experience to new shoppers. The Internet doesn’t need to be a faceless medium. An online review community not only helps show consumers the human, emotional side of the brand before they make a purchase, but it also allows companies to build trust and social proof with customers. As advertising loses its power to help brands stand out among competitors, brands can leverage their customers to create that recognition and trust.
Reap the benefits.
Brands can generate 40 percent additional revenue each year and lift sales by 18 percent by highlighting customer voices and incorporating online reviews into their advertising strategies. They can derive additional value from online reviews through word-of-mouth marketing and providing unique customer insights to better optimize marketing efforts in real-time. Additionally, online reviews increase conversion rates, prevent basket abandonment, and encourage repeat purchases and brand advocacy. Customers are alerted to online reviews, which affects click through rates on paid and organic search.
Successful marketing and brand growth has always been, and always will be, about people and dialogue. Consumers have no shortage of retailers to purchase from, and they will undoubtedly gravitate to those that offer positive experiences, especially when those experiences are portrayed on the brand’s site. Companies that deliver stellar one-to-one service and invest in peer-to-peer advice and reviews will see a much higher return than those that continue to push budget toward less effective ad strategies.