I have been doing more and more research lately on this phenomenon. It has become more apparent each week that when it comes to customers buying things they rely more on
– word of mouth (from friends, family, co-workers),
– social discussions (blogs, forums, wiki's),
– review sites (Cnet, Pricegrabber, consumer reports)
to the point that when they actually visit the corporate website it is more for core values, costs, or contact info; in other words their mind is already made up.
Luckily, it means if they visit your website they chose you.
What is interesting though is that I don't think many companies are seeing higher conversion rates on their sites. So what does this mean? This is still a trend that is moving slowly first of all. Also, although they visit the website, after their mind is already made up, they are web savvy enough to know that they can get the product cheaper somewhere else online. Another idea is that they are visiting the corp site to see if the company can provide any more information that the customer missed online. Hmm maybe on that last idea.
So what this could mean is the corp website is not so much an ecommerce engine but more of a final check of the customer's decision, if the page sucks it could lose the decision but as long as it is somewhat adequate the decision stands, or maybe its just a tool to make the somewhat hesitant buyer feel comfortable with choosing their product.
The focus instead should be on how to get your information out their on other sites for others to comment on, review, and discuss and THEN make sure you are listening.
What does this mean for website content? Well it kind of does not change much. The website should try to confirm what the customer is there to find out. Highlight what you believe are the core values of the product and why people choose your product. Focus on relevant benefits and bring to the surface customer reactions to your product (even if somewhat negative as long as you show how you plan to improve.) The corp website needs to try to be the social "beginning" of the discussion. Gathering all comments out there in the web and showcasing will help, show the customer that you are listening. Make it easy for customers who have already chosen your product feel comfortable with their decision.
But for the love of good marketing please stop just putting up fluff, marketing mumbo jumbo, non-relevant technical internal company speak. This does NOT gain trust of customers and can now-a-days hurt your brand.
And now I will get off the soap box, its open for anyone…
(Just a web marketing minion)
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