User opinions matter in making a decision. 3 things you can do about it.

According to a report just published by eMarketer, online opinions about products matter a great deal.

The experiences of other customers is an important part of making a purchase decision. It always has been, but today’s buyers are not limited to their word-of-mouth networks. Technology has made the sharing of opinions easy to do and has made them available to a much broader group.

Here are three things all marketers should consider doing to impact ratings and reviews for their companies’ products.

  1. Monitor what is being said about you and engage with those who are sharing. Monitoring tools like Radian6 make the listening much easier. But implementing organizational practices to engage is also an important step. Dell learned the hard way but has recently become a leader in this area. More on this at Andy’s Answers blog.
  2. Facilitate ratings and reviews on your website. One of the leaders in this category is BazaarVoice, which powers many of the larger e-commerce players’ capabilities. An alternative for b-to-b product companies are user forums, like the one we helped build for Pegasystems. Whichever approach you use, facilitating the opinion sharing can accelerate the purchase process.
  3. Build and encourage your base of advocates. Whether it is using Facebook more actively or using a service like Zuberance to formalize your advocacy program, amplifying your advocates’ voices makes good business sense. Make sure your fans are sharing their great experiences with their friends and fellow social media site users.

What steps have you taken to let your customers tell your story for you? I’d love to hear how it’s working for you.