In the digital era, marketing has endured its biggest paradigm shift in history and we all need to adapt to avoid extinction. The core tactics of successful marketing campaigns from the street vendors of old to the mega-corporations of today have always been primarily in the hands of the seller; however, this power has gradually been snatched from the seller in favor of the consumer resulting in what we now call the Age of the Customer.
In the time of the online explosion and increasing digital interactions, the consumer has taken charge. The seller previously had control of two out of the three aspects in the buying process: the product or service provided and the associating information available. Thus, only a customer’s ultimate purchasing decision was needed to complete a transaction. Now, through the application of user generated content, social media, and other online sources, customers have gained overwhelming control of a product or service’s reputation, depriving the seller of all but one aspect in the buying process.
User generated content has become the de facto resource for potential customers seeking information for their impending buying decisions. Instead of primarily relying on content generated by the seller, buyers have become dependent on consumer written reviews, blogs, and forum discussions initiated by people who have purchased the product or service. A survey conducted by Dimensional Research found that 90% of consumers are highly influenced by online reviews, entrusting word of mouth over advertising claims - a claim further exasperated when considering that negative reviews are generally 54% more likely.
Consumers not only share their experiences online but also create additional resources such as instructional videos, unboxings (typically first time unpackaging and set up videos), and general tips. With the proliferation of smartphones and easy-to-use video software, such videos—plus the recent growth of live streams—are now commonplace providing compelling (and possibly damning) content. Almost any question linked to a product or service is now just a click away - without the involvement of the seller. With so many sources available, it has become very difficult for a seller’s voice to be heard, especially due to the seemingly genuine intentions of the content creators. Ask yourself the question: what is more effective? A catchy sales jingle or five of your peers telling you to avoid a product or service like the plague? A business' reputation is their life blood and in today's New York minute era, a reputation can sink quickly under a viral rush of bad peer-to-peer exchanges.
How can sellers overcome these obstacles and adapt in the Age of the Customer? With the customer now in control, businesses have to focus more on relevancy than competition. Strong tag lines, positioning statements, and pithy slogans are no longer as effective for securing large customer bases. Consumers generally now care less about brand and are instead more compelled about connecting to a company – value and relatability have become paramount to maintaining relevancy in today’s market.
This shift has had many ripple effects and has necessitated changes in the way sellers are approaching customers. Some solutions include a consistent social media presence that can respond, inform, and interact quickly with consumers. Bad online reviews can also be mollified with direct, polite responses, clarifications, and kind invitations for a second chance. These methods help establish a dynamic online presence ensuring that as long as a business can maintain their foothold in front of their customer base, they will remain on the forefront of the base's minds.
At Netsville, we are constantly innovating our approach to stay on the cutting edge and provide the most effective techniques for your company. We strive to keep all our customers ahead of the curve to maintain their relevance online - the key factor for growth in this new age.
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