Word-of-mouth has always been a powerful way to influence buying behavior. In fact, a recent survey found that 83% of consumers change their decisions based on positive conversations with existing customers. Though consumers still often learn about where and what to buy directly through “word-of-mouth,” it is now easier than ever for them to access the opinions of thousands of their closest friends and acquaintances through online social networks. And everyone seems to have an opinion – many of which will influence purchasing behavior. Understanding how to leverage this new world of online research and chatter to drive sales is critical in succeeding in this evolving environment.
One of the latest online phenomenas is Pinterest, a social network, which allows users to create virtual bulletin boards of items and products they like. With roughly 10 million users, new reports indicate that Pinterst may be driving significant traffic to online retailers, with individuals actually looking to purchase some of the items they have discovered.
As consumers’ exposure to brands change, so to must retailers’ marketing strategies and budgets. Budgets previously allocated for print, radio, and TV advertising must make room for new outlets. But venturing into new mediums and developing new strategies brings up many questions that retailers must answer, such as:
• How do online ads affect in-store sales?
• On which social media sites, for which customers, and in which markets is advertising profitable?
• How can we best leverage new avenues of communication, such as Pinterest, to drive customers to our website and to our stores?
Answering these questions is critical to succeeding in the evolving retail climate.