The consumer shopping experience has changed dramatically over the last five years, both online and offline. With 2.6 billion smartphones in service worldwide, and with smartphone users checking their devices 150 times per day, businesses have challenges and opportunities few predicted.
It’s a thrilling time! But how can we make sense of this new mobile marketplace?
Understand that consumers are always connected, to varying degrees
A decade ago, the difference between online and offline was clearly defined. If a consumer wanted to buy from you, they needed to be in your store (or on the phone with you), or in front of a computer with an internet connection. Often, buying online wasn’t easy, and it was simpler to just buy in-store.
In 2015, smartphone-focused consumers are always online, to varying degrees. Whether it’s checking social media feeds, using mobile apps, or texting friends, shoppers are always connected. This always-connected experience extends to in-store shopping, with 58% preferring to turn to their device rather than ask a salesperson for help. 23% of Australian smart phone users used their smartphone during their last purchase.
Consumers are increasingly influenced by online reviews
To the always-connected consumer, brand-supplied information and advertisements are quickly becoming irrelevant. In fact, 77% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising. This makes it essential for businesses to provide and promote reviews to build consumer trust. 76% of Asia-Pacific consumers trust consumer options posted online.
Reviews are only one part of the consumer experience when considering a purchase, however. Recent research has discovered an entirely new process retailers can use to enhance the always-connected consumer experience:
- Attract the researching consumer
- Deliver an engaging retail experience
- Build consumer loyalty
Let’s break these down.
Use word-of-mouth content to help researching consumers find you
While there are many search engine optimization (SEO) techniques for improving website traffic, user reviews are an increasingly important part of the process. This is because search engines reward fresh, regularly updated content with higher search results placement.
Reviews are also written in language consumers easily understand (in contrast to the ‘corporate brandspeak’ provided by many businesses and websites).
Displaying rich snippet star reviews in search results is another effective way of boosting traffic from search.
But what should happen when consumers arrive to your website?
Provide the experience consumers expect
With more Google searches now taking place on mobile devices than desktop computers, it’s critical to provide a mobile-friendly experience. But it should also be suitable for consumers who quickly navigate online and offline.
Displaying word-of-mouth content on your website, like reviews, is an easy and effective tool for this—particularly combined with your businesses’ own simple-to-read and factually accurate content.
It’s also beneficial to include website star ratings and review snippets on your in-store advertising and product displays. This provides in-store consumers with messages they trust when making a purchase decision.
So you’ve convinced a consumer to buy. Congratulations, but your job is only beginning!
Listen and respond to consumer feedback
To the always-connected consumer with endless options, brand-loyalty is becoming a thing of the past. In fact, 78% consumers are not loyal to any particular brand!
To turn a first-time customer into a returning customer, listening to reviews and responding to them when necessary is a powerful activity. Whether this is acknowledging a consumer’s unhappiness (or satisfaction) or improving a product based on consumer feedback, your business and consumers will benefit.
In fact, shoppers who read brand responses that offer to refund, upgrade, or exchange products are 92% more likely to purchase, and product sentiment increases by 88%.
Engaging with consumer reviews has become an essential part of business with the always-connected consumer.
You must adapt to the always-connected consumer
As we move further into the smartphone era, ‘doing business’ will never be the same as years and decades past. Always-connected consumers have almost endless choices while lacking brand loyalty, creating a challenging environment for businesses. With consumer feedback being a core part of the mobile experience, businesses that embrace and engage reviews have the greatest chance of success.
To learn more on this subject, check out our presentation on using word of mouth to improve the retail experience.