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The word on word-of-mouth reviews

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SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in Smartbrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: How much did you rely on the use of online word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations in choosing holiday gifts this season?

  • Did not rely on them at all, 38%
  • Relied on them somewhat, but not exclusively, 36%
  • Used them only to confirm what I was already thinking, 17%
  • Relied only on recommendations from friends and family, 5%
  • Relied on them completely, 4%

Even though the poll results show that reliance on customer ratings and reviews in preparation for purchasing holiday gifts was not overwhelming, there is no doubt that trust in the opinions of other consumers is on the rise. In fact, a survey conducted by JupiterResearch in early 2009 revealed that, given the tight economy, consumers who might otherwise refrain from making a purchase can be “positively influenced by online reviews,” and that consumers are finding “significant value in online content tools that connect them to the opinions of others.”

One more thing: In reviewing the results of this poll, one option was glaringly absent, that being “Relied on word-of-mouth reviews exclusively.” While I suspect the percentage would have been low, I would love to hear feedback from readers who put great stock in online ratings and reviews and why you do so, whether for holiday purchases or shopping in general.

Paul Chaney is the Internet marketing director for Bizzuka, author of “The Digital Handshake,” and a member of the SmartBrief on Social Media Advisory Board,