Do you trust anonymous reviews more than a friend?

This week I received an email asking an interesting question. It was from Simon Beckett, a publisher out of London for Henry Stewart Publications. Hearing from Simon was not surprising. After being published a number of times in his industry journals over the years, we have formed a friendship, and every once in a while he reaches out with an inquiry.

His question today was about marketing for his beautiful bed and breakfast a few hours outside of London ( in case you’re interested!)

When guests come to stay at Simon’s bed and breakfast, naturally he asks where they’ve heard of his sanctuary.

Finding out where customers came across your brand or heard of your product can be extremely helpful as you hone your marketing strategy and decide where to focus your marketing efforts.

Based on Simon’s inquiry, he was surprised to learn that a growing number of customers checked out his bed and breakfast on multiple different sources before making their decision to book. He told me, “I’d not thought about it, but when I’m buying things like kitchen and camera equipment, I’ll use expert reviews and then cross reference to Amazon to see what consumer experience have been.”

He was writing to ask if this growing cross-checking of multiple different sources is worth covering in an article in one of his marketing journals.

It is really important to understand your customer’s journey, including the different touchpoints before the purchase, but I think that most marketers understand that people are checking numerous sources before buying, especially when we're talking about big-ticket items and vacations/experiences.

This started me thinking about what would make an interesting article, and what I started thinking about is the fact that 9 of 10 people trust online reviews as much (if not more) than personal recommendations from people they know. This is a big shift, and one we should be talking about.

The other interesting point is that even though marketers innately know that their customers are checking numerous resources before buying, they still tend to rely on their web analytics to show them where their customers came from. This will only give you the direct path from what site your customers came from, but this is likely not representative of all the places they checked you out before their purchase.

Interviewing customers as Simon is doing, to form a realistic picture of their customer journey, is the way to go whether you’re marketing your Bed & Breakfast, or selling any sort of B2C or B2B products or services.


Sarah Weise