It has long been said that “word of mouth” promotion is far superior to any other. Some advocate that, in a mature business, more than 50% of all sales can be attributed to good reviews and recommendations. Networking is an essential requirement for small business and the importance of human interaction can be seen on a daily basis through the meteoric growth of the fabled social networking sites.
A new buzzword has emerged over the last couple of years – social proof. People are looking for reassurance, believe it or not, in almost everything that they do. This most certainly applies in the world of Internet business. It is essential for an online product or service provider to provide some kind of reassurance to its would-be customers. The testimonial page is often one of the most highly trafficked on any website, as a review of analytics data will reveal.
Businesses are strongly advised to maintain some form of interactive element within their online presence. Some may elect to form an online community, such as a forum. This is a very good way of creating your social proof, but you must make sure that the community is adequately supervised and administered. As your forum gathers momentum and reaches out into the World Wide Web you had better be ready to put out any potential fires that occur as well, as bad news travels faster than good!
Blog pages represent probably the most powerful way for a business to maintain an interaction with its visitors, customers and would-be clients. The platform provided by WordPress can be fairly easily installed within a business website and used to keep in close touch with the outside world. Informative and educational posts can be produced and opportunities created to gather comments related to each post.
The power of a positive comment cannot be underestimated. Neal Creighton, the CEO of RatePoint, which is a leading provider of customer feedback and online reputation management services, says that “consumers love to see the unedited reviews of their peers when making purchase decisions.” It follows that a well maintained and constantly updated blog page will be closely scrutinized by potential customers and those positive comments will be used in the decision-making process – the social proof.
RatePoint maintains that reviews are six times more likely to impact your business positively than negatively. In this light, businesses should encourage online conversations as they can be a low-cost but very high return marketing tool.
Do you engage in online conversations?