When it comes to pinpointing at which stage of the buyer’s journey online reviews come at hand, the boundaries between each stage become murky.
Online reviews have the power to initiate the awareness stage, dominate the consideration stage and shape the decision stage. In short, online reviews are capable of touching every stage of the buyer’s journey.
To help you understand, this blog will go through:
- The Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
- How Online Reviews Factor Into the Consumer Decision-Making Process
- A Brief Look Into Consumer Behavior Trends
- Where To Highlight Online Reviews in Your Content To Meet Buyers in Their Journey
The Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
While some individuals may exhibit impulsive buying behavior, the majority of consumers do not make purchasing decisions on a mere whim. Instead, they engage in a systematic process known as the buyer’s journey, which can be classified into three stages:
- Awareness: The buyer becomes aware of a problem or pain point they need to address. They do initial research to better diagnose the problem at hand.
- Consideration: The buyer, having more clarity on their need, conscientiously considers possible solutions. They may or may not focus on the providers here.
- Decision: The buyer makes an informed decision on the specific solution they need. They zero in on a shortlist of providers offering the solution before making another informed, final decision.
So, How Do Online Reviews Factor Into the Consumer Decision-Making Process?
Note that brands and marketers may have varying interpretations of when buyers transition from one stage to another. For instance, some consider the decision stage to be the point at which a buyer makes the final purchase and only that.
In this case, we view the decision stage as the bottom of the sales funnel, where the buyer still has the potential to drop off.
Online Reviews Initiating the Awareness Stage
When a buyer becomes aware of their need, it’s not necessarily always through a moment of introspection. In some cases, they come across a piece of online content, be it an advertisement, blog or online review, and only then do they find themselves relating and, thus, realizing their problem.
For instance, an individual mindlessly scrolling on a digital marketplace came across a product listing of earplugs with a favorable star rating and an impressive number of eCommerce reviews. Intrigued, they proceed to click on the listing and check out the reviews to see what the hype is all about.
Looking into the customer feedback platform or section, they saw a frequent theme mentioned in the eCommerce reviews: the earplugs helped them sleep through the night despite having a loud, snoring roommate. Then it clicks right there, and the individual relates and realizes — becomes aware of — their need for a product.
Online Reviews Dominating the Consideration Stage
In the consideration stage, a buyer has a clear-cut definition of their problem or need at hand. Such definitions are specific words that serve as search terms they use to scour the internet to know more about their options for resolutions.
For example, a person often finds themself dealing with a stiff, painful right hand after long hours of working their desk job.
They experience heavy discomfort while using their mouse and a sensation of locking when moving their fingers. So they typed into Google “locking fingers,” and first encountering the term “trigger finger,” they were able to put a name to their problem.
With the new discovery, the person now enters the consideration stage and looks for “trigger finger treatment” online. They are presented with different options, from surgical to non-surgical treatments, which include going for an ergonomic mouse. Since the person associates their trigger finger problem with mouse usage, they decided to look for product options on a digital marketplace.
In their search, the person saw many eCommerce reviews where users claimed that using an ergonomic mouse helped resolve their trigger finger issues.
Online Reviews Shaping the Decision Stage
When a buyer reaches the decision stage, they know exactly what type of solution they need but have yet to decide the brand or provider to purchase from. Buyers at this stage are qualified leads who are looking into your business reputation and are likely to engage with your brand to know more about the specifics of your offerings.
For instance, a small business owner with a growing team realizes the pain of managing their team’s payroll and time-offs. Between hiring an additional team member to manage this or buying software designed to manage such a business aspect, they rendered the latter more fitting.
Entering the decision stage with the software in mind, the business owner makes a shortlist of providers and looks into customer testimonials and review platforms to get a pulse on the providers’ business reputations.
They want to know what they’re buying, so they carefully assess both positive and negative reviews on the providers’ respective customer feedback platforms to clearly set their expectations regarding their prospective purchase.
A Brief Look Into Consumer Behavior Trends
It is important to note that, in some cases, the consumer decision-making process may not solely rely on the factual details they found in the consideration stage as they go over customer feedback platforms, as purchasing decisions might also be influenced by emotional factors such as personal connection and affinity.
According to Shopify, consumer behavior trends are shaped by various crucial factors, some of which we have no control over. These are psychological, social, personal, cultural and economic factors.
Still, you want to grab every opportunity you can get to shape buying decisions in your favor. This means embracing online reputation management, particularly customer reviews.
Where To Highlight Online Reviews in Your Content To Meet Buyers in Their Journey
Remember, when it comes down to any marketing messaging and an online review, consumers would believe the latter. Your potential customers perceive online reviews as genuine and unbiased since they are from their fellow consumers.
You want your business reputation to exude convenience, trust and credibility. Showcasing positive reviews can aid you in achieving such a feat, given its nature.
Throughout the buyer’s journey, consumers will encounter different types of content. For instance, in the awareness stage, they might encounter a social media post. Along with such type of content, here are other mediums you can benefit from highlighting your reviews:
- Social media posts
- Landing pages
- Case studies
- Service or product video demonstrations
Although you’re to highlight only positive reviews, this does not mean you’re not welcoming negative reviews. It seems counterintuitive, but negative reviews are just as valuable in facilitating brand trust and credibility as positive ones. How you deal with them makes all the difference.
Treat negative feedback on your review platforms, as long as they’re authentic, as actionable insights to identify and address areas where your business can improve.
If your business has not claimed your listings on top review platforms, get into that first so you can begin encouraging reviews from your customers.
Impact Purchasing Decisions With Rize Reviews’ Online Reputation Management
The power of social proof is undeniable as consumers lean towards the experiences and opinions of others when making purchasing decisions or as they go through the buyer’s journey.
Online reviews and customer testimonials provide a platform for consumers to express their thoughts and share their real-life experiences, giving potential buyers an insight into a product or service’s quality, reliability and overall value.
So, if you want to create a sense of trust and credibility, equipping your potential customers to make informed choices, Rize Reviews can help.
Rize Reviews is a team of online reputation management experts that employ its own customer feedback tool. We can also help you gather video customer testimonials that you can share on your own digital marketplace or social media channels.
Get in touch with our team to see how our customer feedback tool works.