Online Reviews and the New Buyer’s Journey

By Ann Mills

Online Reviews and the New Buyer's Journey

40,000 every second,

3.5 billion each day,

1.2 trillion per year.

According to Internet Live Stats, these figures reflect the number of online searches being processed by Google. For today’s business owner, the sheer number of search queries underpins the critical importance of a company’s online reputation because customers in search of product information begin online.

Most business owners know the concept of the buyer’s journey. Typically, it is thought of as a three-step process that includes awareness, consideration, and decision. But, what if the digital age has ushered in a new buyer’s journey–one with four steps. One step behaves as a gatekeeper to the final decision, and the traditional journey may never get to the last step because the buyer chooses not to go through the gate.

In fact, online reviews might just be that gatekeeper. In an article by the Moz team, they found that four or more negative articles about a company or product appearing in Google search results could make a company lose 70% of potential customers. That’s a lot of customers.

The new buyer’s journey

The growth of the internet is propelling online search, and rich snippet review stars below the business name are the first item potential customers check when skimming the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). Any business that displays three stars or less is often ignored.

rich snippet reviews in search

In this new digital scenario, the buyer’s journey is a four-step process:

STEP ONE: Awareness – I have a problem.

It could be a minor issue–you’re thirsty–or a more serious one such as you are injured and need to see a doctor.

STEP TWO: Consideration – I think about options to solve my problem.

If you’re the thirsty person above, you might consider whether you should visit the neighborhood coffee shop, or do you swing by the local convenience store and pick up a cold drink on the go? Let’s say you choose the coffee route. You instinctively think about all kinds of parameters:

  • How much time do I have?
  • Is there a parking lot or do I need quarters for the meter?
  • Do I need cash or can I use my coffee shop loyalty card?
  • Do I really want to pay for a latte, or shall I just use my single serve coffee maker at home?
  • Where is the closest coffee shop?
  • Is the place popular? Do people like going there and will it be crowded?

STEP THREE: Search – I do an online search and compare my options

You Google, “Where is the best coffee in [your town]?” A SERP gives you a list of alternatives even populating the top of the page with coffee shops that are geographically closest to you. You skim down the page, and your eye is drawn to the rich snippet stars.

You’ve arrived at the new gatekeeper in the buyer’s journey–online reviews. You filter out any businesses with three or fewer stars and never click the search result to learn more about the business Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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