Something that Web users have been doing since the early days has been research. With so much information available it’s makes complete sense for consumers to research purchases before actually laying down the cash. It seems especially important with larger purchases that consumers do as much as they can to learn about the product or service they are considering.
There are essentially two elements to research.
Detailed Discovery – This is the basic research everybody does when they’re looking for products or services to solve their problems or to simply make their lives better. A person will go online and put in a search in Google or go straight to a manufacturer website. In this phase of research a person is looking for all the specifics. It could include specs. It could include articles on how to use the product.
Referral – We almost always use referrals when we’re making purchases. This can come before we even discover a product or service. We’ll realize we have a problem and we’ll ask someone we know to make a recommendation. The referral process can also come after we’ve done some research. Maybe we’ve got a decision down to a handful of choices. We’ll ask someone we trust for their input.
A recent study on eMarketer highlighted the importance of research for online users.
Just like consumers in almost every other sector of ecommerce, car shoppers are doing their research online before heading out to make a purchase. According to an April 2012 poll by Digital Air Strike of US consumers who had purchased a car in the last six months, review sites were a widely used tool by car buyers during the research phase of their purchase process. In fact, 69% of consumers said review sites had an impact on the dealership they visited.
Half of respondents said reading reviews of dealerships had affirmed their choice of where to make a purchase, while about one-quarter said the reviews had no effect on them. But online feedback from other customers held an outsized influence on a small minority of car shoppers—14% said reviews were the sole reason they had decided to visit a dealership. And 5% decided to change the dealership they bought from after reading negative reviews online.
Check out the entire article for more.
Folks are visiting review sites looking for insight. It’s interesting that the review sites are used more to confirm what consumers already seem to have decided on their own. I take this as meaning that consumers are doing plenty of research on cars and other big purchases before they really take into account what others are saying about dealers and cars.
Blogging for Researchers and Referrals
There are two things a business blog can accomplish and it relates to the folks doing research about products online.
Blogging can provide research information – Your own website is the obvious place for consumers to look when they’re doing their initial research into products. Your product page should provide all the information you would provide if you were selling the product face-to-face. These pages can get very detailed. You’ll hear others talking about keeping pages limited to try and get customers to convert soon, but not all customers are ready to convert on the first visit. It’s more about getting a customer comfortable with the product so they will not only make a single purchase, but many over their lifetime. It’s not about single conversions it’s about lifetime conversions. Earn a good customer, not a conversion.
Referrals and Customer Stories – Social proof is really important in the online world. You see it everywhere. People do take into account the number of followers you have and the number of testimonials and reviews you have. People want to know that others have trusted your company to the point of making a purchase. It’s a shortcut for new customers. If they see social proof they can basically assume that they are making a less risky decision by choosing your company. One thing I’ve seen on business blogs has been the inclusion of customer stories. These stories make for great blog posts. People will obviously understand that it’s a little biased toward your company, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. When your customers have great stories ask them if you can turn them into blog posts. People love stories and your current customers also speak the language of potential customers.
Your potential customers are doing research online.
What are you doing with your business blog to attract their attention and earn their trust to the point of sale?