These days everyone’s a reviewer. Go to a movie — write a review as if you’re Roger Ebert. Buy a new vacuum cleaner on Amazon — write a review as if you’re a writer with Consumer Reports. Eat at the new local Italian place — write a review like a New York Times food critic.
And people pay attention to those reviews. A new study from TurnTo details just how important those reviews are to a person’s purchase decision. It turns out ratings and reviews; the study deemed this “user-generated content (UGC),” is the most trusted source consumers consult before buying.
Power of Reviews Study
The study from TurnTo surveyed 1,070 U.S. consumers who had purchased something online over the past year. It defined UGC as ratings, reviews, photos, videos, social posts, and Q&A participation. But respondents said their most common forms of UGC they had submitted were reviews and ratings, 71 and 69 percent, respectively.
Ninety percent of respondents said online UGC had at least some influence on their online purchases. Here’s the breakdown:
- 24% — Extremely influential
- 29% — Very influential
- 27% — Somewhat influential
- 10% — A little influential
- 10% — Not at all influential
The study equated online reviews and ratings to a form of modern-day word-of-mouth advertising. When it comes to buying decisions, direct word-of-mouth advice from a friend or colleague is the most trusted source consumers use before buying.
Following UGC influence, the next forms of marketing respondents noted as influencing their purchase decisions were search engines (87%) and promotional emails (79%). An interesting sidebar was that shoppers were willing to pay more (81%) and wait longer (81%) for products that had UGC compared to those without any reviews or ratings.
Odds and ends
There were some other stand-alone trends from the TurnTo study:
- Shoppers under age 30 were influenced more by UGC than older respondents. That group of 18-29-year-olds said UGC has “extreme influence” on their purchasing decisions.
- Nearly one quarter (24%) of women consider UGC to be the most influential information.
- Nearly two-thirds of online shoppers (63%) believe UGC makes for a more authentic shopping experience.
- Nearly three quarters (73%) say UGC increases their purchasing confidence.
Jim Davidson, director of research for TurnTo Networks, explained the findings, “Consumers demand a more engaging shopping experience; they’re looking to fellow shoppers to answer questions about products and share insights about purchases. This study demonstrates UGC is outpacing traditional marketing tools when it comes to increasing shopper confidence and influencing decisions.”
What do reviews mean for your practice?
Practices sometimes don’t consider themselves offering “products.” But, as we’ve noted in earlier blogs, patients and potential patients use reviews on sites such as Yelp! and RealSelf when researching a practice for a particular procedure.
This makes it paramount for your patients to generate these reviews, particularly your satisfied patients. To help generate reviews and ratings, practices can have signs at the front desk encouraging patients to rate and review their experience. It can also be done in a follow-up phone call to see how the patient is doing, or in an email with similar intent. A thank you note sent to the patient after their procedure is also effective. Finally, your practice Facebook page should ask for patient reviews.
Practitioners can’t view asking for a review as an intrusion into the patient’s private life or a commercialization of the overall experience. As the TurnTo study shows, potential patients are using reviews and ratings when making decisions about whether or not to patronize your practice in the first place. So, reviews are every bit as important, maybe more so, than traditional advertising and other marketing options.
Do you need help generating reviews? Ask your Advice Media representative about strategies to encourage reviews.