By TRUTHFINDER.COM TECH TEAM
In the not-too-distant past, customers had only a few ways to find your business: advertising, word of mouth, driving by your location, or the yellow pages.
The customer journey was fairly simple, and it was easier to know where to target your customer acquisition efforts.
With the explosion of online sources, the customer journey can take several different routes — many of which are outside of your control.
How Online Reputation Impacts The Customer Journey
According to a survey of 2,400 online consumers in the United States, 70% of respondents said they read reviews before purchasing a product or service, and 82% said user-generated reviews are extremely valuable or valuable in making purchase decisions.
70% of respondents said they read reviews before purchasing a product or service
Online reviews impact every aspect of the customer journey through the purchase funnel.
In marketing terms, the customer journey is explained as a four step-process known as AIDA:
- A = Awareness
- I = Interest
- D = Desire
- A = Action
Both traditional and online advertising often start the awareness cycle.
Traditional advertising, such as a TV, radio, or online ads, can help your business stay at the top of a consumer's mind.
When a customer types your company’s name into a search engine, or when they search for a generic term or product name, what they find can determine whether they click through to your website.
Google’s search algorithm determines which websites are ranked at the top of the first page of search results.
Online reviews are one of the signals Google uses to place certain websites higher than others.
Poor reviews can push your business lower on the page — or even off the first page altogether.
There’s a saying in the internet business:
Q: Where’s the best place to bury a body so it will never be found?
A: On page two of Google.
According to one Hubspot report, 75% of internet searchers never scroll past the first page of search results.
You want to do everything you can to make sure you’re high on the first page, and that includes managing your online reviews.
Once a customer has stumbled upon your business, what they find can make all the difference in whether they purchase from you or go somewhere else.
If you don’t show up high on the first page, or you have poor reviews, you likely won't get the click.
If you show up in what Google calls the “map pack” at the top of results, your listing may feature a star rating based on your online reviews.
According to PeopleClaim, 88% of respondents stated that online reviews impacted their customer journey.
Reviews provide positive or negative reinforcement for a customer’s decisions.
This is where consumers make an emotional connection with your business.
It’s at this stage where they decide to trust your company. Think of it as moving from “liking something” to “wanting something.”
Will negative reviews at this stage help or hinder that process?
People tend to focus on negative sentiments, even if there are just a few amid dozens of positive reviews.
If a review cites a specific situation or employee, it may be worthwhile to respond to the review so potential customers can recognize that your business takes its service seriously.
The action step is really two parts:
- A potential customer researches you
- They reach out to your business either online or in person
Before you can get to that second action, though, you must survive the first.
Solid online reviews engender trust and allow your potential customer to take the next step.
Positive online reviews can be the trigger that allows them to feel good about their decision and separate you from your competitors.
Driving Customers Through The AIDA Funnel To Purchase
You must engage potential customers at each step of the purchase funnel throughout the customer journey.
Red flags along the way can stop that journey and give them a reason to lose trust — or go to your competitors instead.
A staggering 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
Make sure your online presence sends a message that will help people move seamlessly through the funnel to take that final action you need.