Customer decision making happens in an instance. Quick story. My mom was asking for a shower curtain for her birthday. I wish I could explain to you the agony of purchasing a curved shower rod on Amazon. Almost none of the products have over 4 stars. Either people are incompetent in correctly installing the item they bought, or a great shower rod doesn’t exist. Like any product, restaurant, or business that has reviews online, if it’s not at least four stars, I’m not buying. That’s how quick it takes to form a decision.
Here’s the thing – your business is only as good as people say it is. And people make decisions online everyday based on what other people are saying – and that includes branding, what the business says about itself. Your job as a business owner is to affect the decisions your customers make by changing what’s said about your business online. And it’s much more than just reviews. There’s a few simple but impactful places online where you can influence customer decision making and your reputation.
Affecting customer decisions starts with visibility. If your customers don’t see adequate information about your business, they’ll immediately distrust you. For example, what if they pull up your business on Google, but the address is wrong or the phone number doesn’t work? Or what if they see a different logo on your Facebook page than on your Google listing?
Odds are you won’t get the sale. Studies show that 73% of people lose trust in a business when they find incorrect or inconsistent information about the business online.
Another aspect of visibility is how your business actually appears on the screen. How do you talk about the business? What images do you use to tell your story? People notice, and people care. From the first Google Search, they should see quality images and read clear information.
Sure, reviews aren’t everything, but they do matter more than anything else. Like I said about my Amazon shopping experience, or really any online search experience, I’m a sucker for stars. And I’m not alone. Almost 50% of customers need a four star rating, while a whopping 97% will read online reviews before making a decision.
Reviews are the new word of mouth. While customers might still talk to their friends or family before a big purchasing decision, in the moment of need, they’ll rely on reviews. Let me illustrate this with a personal anecdote.
When my wife and I got married, her parents gave us their truck, a 2002 Chevy Silverado. We were incredibly grateful because both of us were poor college students. Unfortunately, a few months later, the truck started to have serious problems. It was clear we needed a mechanic rather quickly. So I called up my dad who lived just a few miles away, but still in the same county. He gave me some recommendations, but truth was, he only knew mechanics in his town. I ended up turning to a Google Search and reading reviews until I felt comfortable choosing a business. I needed a mechanic/auto shop right away and I based my decision entirely off reviews. I still spent way more on repairs than I wanted to, but the company was very professional and quick with their service.
Improving your reviews and consistently gathering new reviews will impact customer decision making more than anything else.
Your website is another area to make an impact online. For small businesses, websites are an interesting game. If customers can find enough information about your business from directories or social media, they’re less likely to visit the site. But that doesn’t mean they won’t, and if they do, it probably means they’re looking for information beyond what Google will tell them.
What value can your website provide that a directory won’t? For one, it’s a place to show off your brand and story even more. You have total control of a website. What do you want the customer to learn by visiting? Customer decision making is influenced by a clear, compelling website.
If your business runs a Google, Facebook, or any sort of online ad, they’ll almost always navigate back to your website. If your promotion is worth clicking on, make the site equally impressive. A website is a sign of legitimacy for most customers. Your business seems more professional when you have one. Don’t forget that at least half of your website traffic will come from mobile phones. A mobile optimized site will show the customer the quality of your business and boost your reputation.
Finally, you can influence your online reputation and engage customer decision making through social media. Like a website, social media is a chance to tell your story and show off your brand. One business owner we partner with calls social media “a chance to give more value to the customers.”
So the question is always this: what value does my social strategy have? Or, does it change my reputation. You can look at value and social reputation in a few ways. Maybe the user feels more connected with your company because of social media. Maybe they learned about a promotion or saw a product they liked. Your business could specialize in clever captions or a certain aesthetic in your photos. Whatever it is, try to give your customers value.
Here’s a great statistic I came across the other day: Facebook influences 52% of customer’s online and in-store purchases. Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or any other social platform will have a similar effect.
Impact Customer Decision Making
A conscious effort on every front of your online presence will help change your reputation and in turn, increase business revenue. Remember, your business is only as good as people say it is. And online reputation impacts decision making.
Our software helps you shape your reputation and consequently the decisions your customers make after seeing your business online. We’re not an agency, we’re a software, so you’re given the tools to influence customers with our platform. Check out a and see what JJUMPP can do for your business.