In the age of e-commerce, brands are increasingly reliant on the reviews of external parties. But who has more positive impact on buying behavior: Customers or influencers?
Purchasing decisions have always been influenced. Whether from our own family or friends or from strangers on the net: Before we decide to place our trust in a brand and invest money in a product, we inform ourselves in detail about our options. In today’s digital age, more and more value is being placed on online customer reviews and, above all, on the opinions of social media influencers. But which opinion do we trust more and which multipliers should brands rely on more?
Why are reviews so important for brands?
The key to success in the online world is positive reviews – especially for companies that want to successfully market their products. In the process, these positive reviews are probably almost more relevant than classic advertising.
Of course, no brand would write in the description of its products that product xy is not good and can no longer be used after 4 weeks at the latest. On the other hand, consumers often assume that companies exaggerate excessively in their product descriptions and praise the products far too positively. In order to counteract this feeling and actually convince them, external evaluations are an essential part of the marketing process and a measure that should not be neglected under any circumstances. Recommendations from customers who have already been won over can convince potential consumers of the positive effect of the products sold and encourage them to make a purchase – whether through customer reviews or influencer marketing.
What can customer reviews do?
Customer reviews are everywhere. No matter whether it’s about buying a new product or booking a hotel: The first look usually goes to the reviews written by customers who have already tested what is being advertised. By dealing with other experiences, the buying process is facilitated by providing orientation and incentives that do not come from the company itself. Companies can also draw added value from negative reviews by learning from their mistakes and revising and thus improving their products.
However, studies and surveys have shown that although customer ratings are frequently consumed and therefore also have their relevance and justification, they are viewed as only moderately trustworthy by a large proportion of potential customers.
What can influencer referrals do?
If customer reviews in the online world are only moderately trustworthy, companies must rely on other reviews to convince potential customers to choose their product. Many brands already rely on the firmly established and popular influencer marketing. In this context, so-called content creators, increasingly on the Instagram and YouTube platforms, recommend a product or service in return for payment.
A study by the German Association for the Digital Economy showed that in 2018, 59% of the companies surveyed were already using influencer marketing – since then, the number is likely to have risen significantly once again. But where do these high numbers come from and why are influencers so popular with companies as multipliers?
In contrast to television advertising by prominent testimonials or customer reviews by unknown users on the Internet, influencers are perceived as more authentic and credible. The younger generation in particular, which is primarily active on social media platforms, trusts the opinions and recommendations of such popular content creators. Additional added value is created by companies providing influencers with discount codes, which they are then allowed to pass on to their followers. Influencer marketing can therefore be seen as a win-win situation for all parties involved.
The requirement for influencer marketing to be effective, successful and authentic is, above all, the choice of influencer on the part of the company. It is imperative that they choose a “high-quality” influencer in order to carry out a successful campaign together with him or her. In this context, “high-quality” means an influencer who very selectively promotes brands or products that he or she actually stands behind and which he or she may even already be using himself or herself, or which he or she has tested before applying and can therefore provide genuine feedback. It is also important that the influencer fits the company, i.e. that there is a “fit” to the company with his values and his appearance. If this is not the case, it can quickly happen that the presentation of a product by the influencer is not perceived as a recommendation for the community, but simply as dull advertising – and that is not what makes good influencer marketing.
It is also extremely beneficial if an influencer has built up a very close bond with his community by interacting with it. This leads to followers seeing the influencer as a good acquaintance rather than a stranger from the Internet. This also means that the influencer’s recommendations are perceived as such and are therefore considered more credible and authentic.
The study by the German Association for the Digital Economy also asked what makes influencers so trustworthy. Almost 30% answered that consumers particularly appreciate the feeling of being addressed personally and the likeable charisma.
Influencer referrals win, customer reviews still important
So that brands can celebrate the greatest successes with their products, influencer marketing is the most suitable marketing measure, as this enjoys the greatest trust on the consumer side. Nevertheless, customer reviews are also important, as they also testify to high quality and can convince an older target group in particular. A mixture of both with a primary focus on high-quality influencer marketing paves the way to long-term success for companies.