There is a new way of doing business that is growing in popularity. Businesses are allowing their customers to do work for them, for free. And customers are more than willing to help. It sounds like a crazy idea, but it’s taking the business world by storm. Businesses that have figured out how to tap into fully utilizing their customers and users are advancing far beyond their competition. But, knowing the right strategies is key.
Using customer testimonials as a form of marketing
You have most likely heard that word of mouth is the best advertising. There are many studies that prove this theory to be true. However, many businesses fail to take advantage of the fact. Thanks to modern technology, the definition of word of mouth has changed. It is no longer just someone verbally telling someone else about your business. It now includes things like using customer testimonials on your website, or encouraging people to complete a Google review of your business.
A study by Mdgadvertising.com found that an astounding 88% of consumers trusted reviews that they found online just as much as a recommendation from someone they know personally.
Real life examples:
Amazon takes full advantage of leveraging customer reviews and testimonials. When consumers purchase a product from Amazon they receive an email after they have received the item asking for a review. Products that show high reviews have a much higher conversion rate than products with low reviews.
Yelp’s entire business model was founded on their community of users actively leaving reviews and comments of the restaurants they’ve visited. While they currently produce income through local and brand advertising, these monetization channels would not exist if not for their users providing content, in the form of reviews, free of charge.
BioClarity, a new company in the health and wellness space, have effectively sourced their customers to leave user reviews and testimonials for their homepage and product pages. While someone may not have heard of BioClarity before, it’s hard to deny the effectiveness of their product when there are dozens of five star reviews.
Using user feedback to help supplement customer service offerings
Good customer service is crucial to a successful business. However, businesses can let their own satisfied customers do some of the work for them. Many companies are now taking advantage of things like online forums and social media groups to allow their customers to help each other. Think about the last time you Googled a problem that you were having with your cell phone. There is a good chance that you found the answer in a forum where other people with the same phone answered your question from their own personal experience.
Real life examples:
Moz is a company that works in software and tools for internet marketing. They are a great example of a company that encourages their customers to help each other solve problems. The Moz Q&A forum has a point system for users that answer questions to help each other; these points can be redeemed for free gifts.
PlayStation is another example of a company that has set up a community forum. This platform not only allows likeminded individuals to connect with one another, it also provides extras – such as wallpapers and user challenges – as well as an opportunity to seek help and support faster than the traditional customer support channel is able to offer.
Figment, a property of Penguin Random House, is a community platform that allows its users to produce and share content, as well as recommend other Penguin Random House products. Figment seemingly converts these engaged individuals into brand advocates, giving them a platform to review the products that they enjoy and provide feedback and critiques to other users’ writings.
Using user feedback to develop services & improvements
Customers are usually more than willing to give feedback on your product or service. People like to be heard, why do you think Amazon reviews are so popular? Ask your customers what you could do differently or be better at. Then, listen to what they say. Do not get offended and defensive trying to prove why they are wrong. Listen to what they say and then look for the validity in the statements. Companies that continue to improve their products and services based on the people that are actually using them reap the benefits.
Real life example:
Massdrop had a great idea when the company first started, but the implementation of the service wasn’t smooth. Massdrop is a community that allows users to pool together and purchase products in bulk to take advantages of discounts. In the beginning the groups wanting to purchase had a difficult time coming together, staying organized, and successfully ordering. Massdrop took time to ask people what they could do differently and how it could be better. They worked with ideas from customers until they came up with a solution that transformed their business, and it was all from an idea and an investment of time that a user was willing to make to help better the service being offered.
Lay’s ‘Do Us a Flavor’ campaign is another great example. Instead of paying employees to come up with ideas on new potato chip flavors, Lay’s lets their customers do the work for them. People are excited at the thought that their idea could be the one that is chosen (and Lay’s offers a monetary prize to the winner). It is a win-win for the customer and the business.
Using user generated content as a means of product development/production
There are many businesses that have found success in simply providing a place for people to publish their own content. These businesses are not manufacturing a product, or even providing a service. They are simply providing a means for users to express themselves or connect with others. These businesses have content created for them to use and profit from, while paying the user nothing.
Real life examples:
Reddit exists purely to allow people to publish their own social news content. Registered users are able to submit text posts or provide links to their own content. Other users are then able to give the content a thumbs up or thumbs down. The posts with the highest ratings move to the top of the page.
Facebook pays users absolutely nothing. People are willing to spend hours updating their profiles and publishing posts for their own personal reasons. For some it is simply to connect with others, for others it is a means to market a business. But, either way they are doing it on their own time, and some even spend money to advertise through the site. These users spend time (and money) making Facebook valuable, purely based on whatever their personal reason is.
Guidefitter is a new company that allows professional guides and outfitters to create a company profile page to attract new leads. Not only that, but avid hunters and outdoors people can post pictures from their excursions and leave comments for other users. Similar to Facebook, enthusiastic hunters and sportspersons willingly provide content to the Guidefitter user base, completely free of charge.
If you are ready to see growth in your conversion rates and an increase in customer satisfaction, it is time to put these practices to use. These strategies are not new by any means, but it has taken small businesses years to catch on. As technology continues to become a bigger part of our lives, these practices will continue to grow and expand. Leverage the power of your users’ opinion to grow your business into the future.
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