The Power Behind A Sale Is With The Relationship In Real Life?

As shocking as this turns out, it appears that a recent eMarketer.com report has the role of the influencer not in the hands of the bloggers or the marketers, but rather the friends you associate with…in real life. Yes, that’s right. The study pretty much states what us online marketers have been saying the complete opposite of. Well it makes sense.

Now before you start running off and cry heresey, there’s something smart about this report that you need to be aware of. The voice of reason for why you need to be converted to purchase the product shouldn’t be from any online source, especially someone you hardly know.

This recent study states that:

  • 34% of those polled indicated that they received recommendation from their friends/relative
  • 25% getting advice from their husband/wife/partner
  • 10% of the respondents indicated that they would get their advice from online sources like bloggers or IM chat rooms.

eMarketer.com states that while the bloggers may bring buzz to a product, converting it is a different matter, often enlisting the services of a friend. On the flip side, it’s interesting that the blogger can often be the one who will generate the sale if the blogger is a friend of the customer.

What does this tell us? Simple. Value human interaction when conversating with your customers. Look at one of the tenants of the Conversation Prism and you’ll see that one of the ideals is to engage with your customers in an offline setting as well as an online one. This will help strike up a better relationship so you can easily solicit feedback and gain a better insight about how your product succeeds or, sadly, fails.

This all harps back to a time when I wrote in a blog post titled “Bloggers may be influencers but don’t decide things for you” where I talked about how the role of the influencer played by bloggers was nothing more than a nudge in the right direction. Sales efforts via “word-of-blog” is not as persuasive than by having someone who has built the necessary trust with others. It does seem that word-of-mouth reigns supreme. And why not? Companies can reach out to bloggers and build up a relationship with them. In turn, the bloggers will write either positive or negative reviews about the company and its product. These “reviews” will be reviewed by the customers and will then nudge them in the direction that will either convert into a sale (which the company hopes is the case) or not. The one caveat is the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. What will do it to make it a guaranteed sale? Words from a real life physical human being.

Imagine when you’re buying something at the mall. You’ve done your research by going on websites to look up comparable pricing, like on Amazon, Costco, Buy.com, eBay, Craigslist, and probably countless others depending on what you’re looking to buy. You’ve read reviews and articles about the product (if they exist) – these come from the bloggers. But when you get to the store and are still left in doubt, who do you talk to? The store employee? No…they’re probably getting commission from the sale so their word probably can’t be trusted. So the next logical person you would talk to? Your friend who is accompanying you on your shopping expedition or perhaps the one friend you’re going to call while in the store for their thought about whether the price, capability, specifications is suitable to what you need. That’s where the true persuasion and perhaps the real conversion happens.

Basically if you’re the marketer, you’re going to need to dig deep to find a way to treat every person like they’re someone’s main leg of support when it comes to choosing a product. If competition is getting fierce, then perhaps you need to step it up and show more of a human face when interacting with your customers so they feel special and appreciated. This will also apply when dealing with the bloggers and other online media partners. I’m not suggesting bending over backwards or dolling out favors when not necessary. Rather, you should show more compassion and understanding when soliciting feedback and insight and maybe perhaps that will help garner more favor from friends of your customers and that will sway more people your way.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."