Most people who attended business school probably learned the four Ps of marketing – product, price, promotion, and place – otherwise known as the marketing mix. If you look closely at those elements, the customer is conspicuously missing. Sure each of those elements involves the buyer to a certain extent, but if businesses want to succeed and attract new business in today’s quick-moving, swipe-left world, the voice of the customer needs to be at the forefront of all of their marketing activities.
When Jerome McCarthy coined the 4 Ps in 1960, the ARPANET didn’t even exist, and the Internet as we know it today was decades away from coming to fruition. As a result, businesses had more control over the flow of information regarding their products and services to the marketplace. Consumers had to learn about businesses through television, radio, or print ads and typically only made purchases from businesses near them geographically.
But all of that started to change as the worldwide web reached a critical mass and stores began to come online. Consumers were no longer beholden to the message businesses were disseminating to them. With a simple search engine query, they could not only find out prices but could also make purchases online.
Consumers take control
Consumers gained even more control as the internet evolved from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. This evolution included the launch of social networks and user review sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor. Having the ability to rate and review products, services, and businesses really swung the pendulum of power to the consumer in a big way.
If your business wasn’t consistently performing at a top level it would get dinged with a bad review. And if you didn’t take that negative feedback seriously and the bad reviews piled up, you ran the risk of losing customers to the competition who were much easier to find than previously.
What can businesses do?
Nowadays, consumers are very savvy. They know what type of information to seek out and where to find it before they make a purchase. And one of the first places they go is to a business’ online reviews. In fact, 92% of consumers check online reviews before making a purchase. Even more telling is 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family or friends.
Businesses that are succeeding are finding ways to tap into the power of the voice of the customer online through advocacy programs. Customer advocacy can do more than just improve the perception of your business, it can also drive revenues. According to research conducted by Fred Reichheld, a 12% increase in brand advocacy can result in a 2x increase in revenue growth rate.
Harnessing the voice of the customer
Generally speaking, consumers want to help others make the right purchase decision, and that’s what motivates many individuals to leave online reviews. So what can you as a business do to encourage your customers to share their good experiences online? One way to do this is by implementing an online review management platform.
When evaluating platforms, you should consider how easy it is for the end user to leave a review. A good online review management platform will:
- Provide end users with a frictionless process to leave reviews
- Consolidate all of your business’ reviews into a single dashboard
- Deliver actionable insights to improve business operations
- Help you better understand your customer’s wants and needs in real time
Probably the biggest benefit a robust online review program provides is real-time feedback of your operations. Waiting for the results of an annual or semi-annual customer satisfaction survey might be too long. Knowing how your business is operating on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis allows you to quickly respond to potential problems and solve them before they become systemic.
Additionally, incorporating online reviews into your existing marketing messages will give them more credibility. You can do this by touting online reviews in social media, including them on billboards and print advertisements, or even use them to target potential candidates for testimonials. As mentioned previously, consumers place a lot of credence in online reviews and using them to bolster your marketing messages can only make them better.
Businesses will probably never be able to wrest control of their messages away from the consumer. But if they take the steps necessary to leverage the voice of the customer into their messages, those messages might be even more effective than before.
Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help your business use text messages to invite your happiest customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help your business collect 15x the reviews that traditional platforms produce, which in turn will improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.
* photo credit: istock.com/Eva-Katalin