The impact of online conversations on purchase behaviour

Home The impact of online conversations on purchase behaviour

We all know that conversations have an impact on consumer behaviour. Countless surveys (and books such as the Conversation Manager :-)) have proven the link between positive mouth-to-mouth advertising and good sales results. Online conversations have added an extra dimension to this story.

InSites Consulting organised a survey in 35 countries in which 9,000 respondents participated to map the attitudes and the behaviour concerning social media. One of this survey’s elements is about the impact of online conversations on the offline purchase behaviour.

Positive feedback by other consumers has the biggest impact on purchase behaviour

The survey concluded that positive conversations by existing customers have the biggest impact on the purchase behaviour of consumers. 83% of consumers change their decisions based on these conversations. The impact of negative conversations is much lower, 44% of people are influenced by it. A remarkable result is that the traditional ads have more impact than negative conversations. In other words: companies overrate the impact of negative conversations, but at the same time they underrate the impact of positive conversations.

The consumer is always in a purchase phase

McKinsey did research on the purchase behaviour of more than 20,000 people and concluded that consumers are always in a purchase intention phase. In a first phase the consumer considers a certain number of brands. This list is made based on past experiences. Even without being in a purchase phase, people are in touch with your company’s touch points. These contacts determine whether you will be on the short list or not. The second phase is an active evaluation of these companies. The third phase consists of the purchase. After the purchase, in the fourth phase, there is an evaluation of what will happen at the next purchase. The number of positive conversations and the future purchase intention are determined based on the post-purchase interactions with touch points.

Role of the customer experience increases

Therefore the art is to be conversation worthy throughout all touch points. Many companies focus on the pre-purchase phase. This is somehow logical since at that moment the consumer needs to be convinced to make the purchase. When the customer buys a product, the relationship with that company starts in the eye of the customer. For many companies however that is where it ends.

Given the major impact of positive conversations it is a missed opportunity to not be conversation worthy during and after the purchase. It is a good exercise for every organisation to map the entire consumer experience. Focus on the different touch points that play a part. Ask yourself the following question: is every touch point positively conversation worthy? If yes, your company is adding perfectly to the results of this survey. If not, then your company has a lot of under-used conversation potential.

If you would like to know all the facts, figures and details, you can consult this presentation.

[slideshare id=9249498&doc=socialmediaaroundtheworld2011-110914000406-phpapp01]