Weird Internet Usage: Buyers Who Are Overly-Reliant on Reviews

Earlier in the summer, I began a column on weird Internet usage, that asks the question, “How can small business owners capitalize on the quirkiness of internet users?”  People treat the internet in odd ways that you might not expect.  However, that can actually be a great thing if you know what to do with their behavior.  By being observant and picking up on these odd habits, you can tap into a market that no one else is reaching.

Today, I want to look at one particular niche: those people who treat online reviews not as the suggestions or musings of a random stranger, but as sacred, inerrant doctrine.  You know the type.  They won’t buy anything on Amazon that doesn’t have at least 4.5 stars and more than 150 reviews.  Ask them why they put so much stock in product reviews, and they’ll say something like, “Well, that many people can’t be wrong.”  Clearly, these folks have not considered certain early- and mid-20th century European political parties that shall not be named.  Nevertheless, these people are out there.  Will you get them on your side?

Starting Small

Because these people are a bigger group than you might think, it’s important to get them behind your product.  As resolute as they are to not buy products that fall short of five-stars, this crowd will enthusiastically review and purchase products that do have good ratings.  Get them on your side, and you’ll have a powerful marketing tool that will run itself.  You just have to hold up your end by delivering quality products.

When you think about it, this small business tactic has a lot in common with content marketing.  When you create terrific products, people will want to share them on their own.  However, you have to be a part of the sharing conversation.  One of the best ways to do this is by personally responding to and thanking customers who take the time to review your products.

Saying Thank You

Think about it.  How often have you received a personal response from the owner of a company or the author of a book after you wrote a review on Amazon or some other website?  And, if you have been such a recipient, how did it make you feel?  You probably appreciated the gesture, and felt more inclined to (a) buy more product and (b) review it again.

If you can kick this cycle into gear, you’ll be well on your way to making a splash with this subset of internet users.  The people who rely heavily on reviews are the people who are more likely to appreciate your acknowledgement of their reviews.  Set aside some time once a week or once a month (depending on your sales volume) to log-on to your product pages and say “thank you.”  This is also a highly effective method for building your brand.  Your reputation will begin to soar in the eyes of customers.

Using Paid Services

While you can track and respond to customer reviews, you can only do so much on your own to actually earn product reviews.  Gamification and other gimmicky techniques like giveaways only go so far.  You have to create a product culture that engenders reviews, which can be quite difficult.  However, paid services like PowerReviews makes it easy for you.  I’m highlighting PowerReviews because they’re at the top of the review game, sometimes increasing your site’s organic traffic by up to 50%, and your sales by 10%.  This is just one service, but there are many more great ones like it!

Of course, your ultimate aim when it comes to reviews is to bring the discussion home.  People are going to post reviews all over the internet if your product generates enough interest.  However, you want to control as much of that content as you can.  By creating a space on your business website where people can discuss your products, you give yourself greater control over the conversation.  Hopefully, if you do your job well, that control won’t ever be necessary!

A Word of Caution

No matter what… Let me reiterate… No matter what, do not leave fake or bought reviews for your own products.  This report is a few years old, but if you’re interested in building your brand, the statement it makes about brand trust still rings true.  The report reveals that 57% of customers are less likely to buy a product if they suspect a fake/biased review.  Furthermore, 76% of customers will double check a review’s source if they find its authenticity suspect.  Obviously, you wouldn’t want customers to even think these things about your products’ reviews.  And you certainly wouldn’t want them to find out their suspicions are true!

When it comes to the sensitive small business tactic of encouraging reviews without drawing suspicion, remember to engage politely, but don’t draw too much attention to yourself!  Reviews are a great method of building your brand, but you don’t want them to backfire!

How have you tapped into this market of hardcore reviewers?

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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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