Why Online Reviews Are a New Weapon for Agencies

With digital disruption and what Forrester Research calls “The Age of the Customer” upon us, agencies are in fierce competition to be viewed as thought leaders and trusted advisors to lead their clients into the digital age. Like pictures from the Soviet Union in the 1980s, agencies parade their “digital soldiers and weapons” in front of their clients in an overwhelming display of force to show that their agency can win the war.

But what if there was a new weapon that most agencies do not yet use, but was significantly influencing their client’s customers? Inexpensive Stinger missiles allowed a small insurgency in Afghanistan to humble the Soviet Union; could this weapon have similar outsized impact?

The weapon is Online Reviews. One of the growing trends in the Online Review industry are agencies getting more involved and working to integrate Online Reviews into their clients’ marketing strategies. This has been prominent in North America where sites like TripAdvisor and Amazon Reviews started earlier and brands have seen the influence Online Reviews have. Online Reviews touch a number of areas where agencies already work with clients — brand management, influence, customer insights, content marketing, reputation management, and advertising. For agencies, Online Reviews represent another avenue where they can use their skills to help their clients’ digital efforts.

So North American agencies are arming themselves with this new weapon, but how about agencies in Australia? At ProductReview, we have a great view of the action and we are seeing Australian agencies getting more involved with Online Reviews, but we are still very much in the early days of this trend.

As agencies start to explore Online Reviews with existing and potential clients, these are our top ideas on how to have a detailed conversation about the subject:

  • Ask the Question: Ask your client if they have an Online Review strategy or if they have done any work around building up their reviews. If they are not in the travel industry, odds are they are either in the early stages or have not yet done anything, thus giving you an opportunity to hold their hand on this journey.
  • Consumers Visit a Review Site for a Reason: It sounds simple, but many brands forget that consumers go to a review site for one reason; they are researching a purchase. It’s a great audience as you know why they are there, what they are doing, what they are looking at, how many are visiting, and what is the next logical step in their customer journey. Additionally, you can understand if the brand’s score and reviews are helping or hurting them with these consumers, thus giving them insight they might not have.
  • It’s Not Just Customer Support: For larger companies, Online Reviews typically are shunted to Customer Support and that is where it stops. While the customer leaving a review is ending their customer journey, the consumer reading that review is just beginning their journey. Customer Support definitely has a role to play, however an agency can help highlight the importance of the overall customer lifecycle and the impact that Online Reviews have on each stage.
  • Think About How You Can Help: As agencies provide many services to their clients, it is important to map Online Reviews to existing work. This helps make Online Reviews a natural extension to services you are already providing instead of it being viewed as a entirely new concept or service.

As we continue our journey in “The Age of the Customer”, Online Reviews will increase their influence with Australian consumers. Agencies are an important part of the marketing ecosystem, so it is natural that they will get more involved with this trend. The old adage is “you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight”. An even better adage is “make sure you bring enough guns to a gun fight”. Online Reviews can be that extra weapon in an agency’s arsenal as they continue fighting to be viewed as a digital leader.