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Online Reviews Second Only to Word of Mouth in Purchase Decisions

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New data released by Rubicon Consulting shows that online reviews are second only to word of mouth when it comes to influencing consumer purchasing decisions.

Here's other key points from the survey:

  • The Web is the #2 resource for customer support information, after user manuals. It ranks ahead of calling the manufacturer or asking a dealer.
  • Website categories that get the most daily usage are search, social communities like MySpace and Facebook, general news websites like CNN.com and NYTimes.com, and online banking.
  • The websites that Americans value most are (in order), Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Facebook. Although Yahoo's financial challenges have generated a lot of press attention, it continues to have a very large and loyal following.
  • Young people (age 22 and under) are much noisier online than their elders. They account for about half of all the content and comments posted online.
  • Facebook appears to be ahead of MySpace in terms of number of users in the US, and perceived value of the site.
  • Despite extensive publicity, the community sites SecondLife and Twitter reach only a few percent of US Internet users.
  • Democrats are more active online than Republicans. Democrats are more likely to participate in online communities, and say they are more heavily influenced in their voting decisions by information they find online.

Harry Max, a principal at Rubicon Consulting said, "Many companies downplay the importance of online communities because only a few percent of all Internet users contribute to them heavily. What they don't understand is that most other Internet users read those reviews and rely on them heavily when making purchase decisions. Taking good care of online communities can be a huge money-saver for companies trying to get more marketing impact from limited budgets."

I disagree. I think a lot of companies are interested in online communities but aren't always sure how to engage consumers with them. However, with the economy the way it is, many companies are likely to cut social media first, as we saw in data released just the other day.

The biggest key to making sure you get good online reviews is to have a solid product or service. So, while you're making those efficiencies in order to survive the slow economic times, make sure your products don't suffer. Better yet, create efficient products and services and just watch those positive reviews come in.

To get the ball rolling, you might try pitching a few bloggers - especially mom bloggers if you have a product or service related to them.

Related Reading:
How to Bury Negative Online Mentions of You - Intermediate Level Tactics
Constructive feedback on online reputation management
SEO for Brand Reputation Management
Pssst. People are Talking... About Your Business!


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