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How to Drive Online Commerce in 2013

The world is quite different from the early days of eBay and Amazon. Reports and analysis from the past few years have all been pointing to the fact that commerce is being driven less and less by advertising, professional reviews and other biased sources of commercial messaging.This wreacks havoc on our traditional efforts because, as marketers, we now have less power and influence over our markets.

Our beautifully crafted messaging and creatives are becoming less impactful in this connected marketplace of ours.  Reports keep validating that we tend to lack trust in commercial entities and if anything has validated this human behavior, it is the social web. In the world of $4 million dollar tv ad spots, this becomes a very hard pill to swallow. Don’t get me wrong, it still needs to be part of the overall marketing strategy but needs to be adjusted to accommodate the user behaviors of today.

Weber Shandwick and KRC research recently conducted a survey involving around 2000 consumers that outlines that peer reviews and social recommendations have grown beyond just friends advising each other on the new purchases.

11 user reviews before making a decision

Some of the findings include:

  • 65% of consumers have bought a product they weren’t intending to buy after reading a positive review;
  • 74% of consumers search for reviews online before making a decision;
  • Consumers read an average 11 reviews before making a decision;
  • Peer reviews are trusted by more consumers (77%) than professional ones (23%);

As Danny Brown states, “These figures, and some of the other ones in the full report, should act as a wake-up call to brands that are still investing in the traditional method of product review – buy advertorial or pitch the mass media – and ignoring search and social graph impact“.

In addition, let’s not ignore the fact that 70% of all content online is user generated. It also ranks higher than static corporate pages by search engines and trusted more by the average consumeras well. In 2013, all go-to-market planning and comms planning should be focused on strategically leveraging the potential of this medium.

And doing it right requires experience and understanding the context of the medium. Otherwise you end up with facebook and twitter accounts without any real social presence. Don’t believe me? Have a look at this hilarious Facebook Page of Corporate Social gone wrong.

Let’s avoid doing social in a pure check list manner. Mere likes and follows don’t translate to actual business. Time for experimentation is over.

P.S. For a copy of the full Executive Report on the survey referenced above, please click here.


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