We keep having to banging this drum to get traditional Marketers to embrace the power of online. I'm happy to do it (I've been doing it since the early nineties). When consumers see or hear about a brand, product or service, they're going online first. If they're impressed or want to learn more, they're heading down to the retail level. This was the dream of the online world back in the day, and it's becoming more and more of a reality.
"Eight out of 10 respondents who had recently made consumer electronics purchases in a brick-and-mortar store said they had visited the store's Website first, according to a May 2008 Nielsen Online survey. More than one-half said they purchased from the retailer on whose Website they had spent the most time."
Granted, it's an obvious fit for people online to be looking at consumer electronics, but I would not be surprised to find a similar statistic if we were talking about jewellery, power tools, clothing or hotels.
With more and more choices, consumers - naturally - want to be better informed. Coupling your marketing banter with content like consumer reviews, ratings and more enables your brand to spend more time connecting to potential consumers. What might be most surprising (and even more revealing) from this article is that the Web is even more powerful than word of mouth from a known entity:
"If they had to choose just one method of researching their purchases, 58% of respondents said they would choose the Internet — far more than would choose their own friends and family. "
Only 8% chose friends and family.
It just might be time to re-look at what you're providing to people online, and what your competitors are doing.