The thing about online marketers is that they are focused – very focused. Sometimes they are so embedded in their own brand that they forget that consumer don’t live and breathe their brand like they do.

According to the recent Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of Marketing Science’s report “Shopping Takes Only Seconds…In-Store and Online,” the average consumer spends 13 seconds purchasing a brand in-store and 19 seconds to purchase online. And according to the report, the majority of shoppers spent less than 10 seconds deciding to make an online purchase.

The report notes that for most product categories, consumers have a small repertoire of brands that are acceptable, and they spend little time thinking about purchase decisions. Consumers most often default to making purchase decisions based on simple habit, such as a previous purchase or instinct.

That means purchase decisions are largely automatic and highly subconscious. This is especially true for reoccurring purchases or replenishable products, where shoppers often stick to a particular brand.

There is no doubt that online consumers often have busy lives and short attention spans. So, capturing their attention is getting much harder.

Does that mean we should all give up and stop trying to connect with consumers online? Of course not!

There are many other studies that talk about the positive power of engagement and influence through various social media platforms as well as the big impact a brand can have on consumers by posting reviews – both positive and negative.

I believe reviews are a great way to reinforce a brand’s compelling value propositions that differentiate them from competitors by having letting consumers say it for the brand. In addition, many products that include reviews will give shoppers to a reason to stay on the site longer and make more conscious and informed decisions.

According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, online consumer reviews are already the second most trusted source of brand information and messaging, with 70 percent of global consumers indicating they trust online reviews, an increase of 15 percent in four years.

A report from eConsultancy shows that 61 percent of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision and that reviews produce an average 18 percent uptick in sales

And a survey from The Society For New Communications Research also found that reviews and shared opinions on social media are a major influence on purchases. Especially interesting were responses to the question “when deciding whether you will purchase products or services from a company that you have not used before,” 66 percent (the top response) report that online sites where ratings and commentary from other consumers are posted were their 1st or 2nd source of information.  This factor was weighted more heavily than friends or family recommendations.

If you need any other reason, then consider that Google search results now include product reviews from certified sources. The better the reviews, potentially, the better the search results and the lower your cost of your PPC campaign.

So there is no doubt that reviews and sharing those opinion within social networking circles and online are key. As an agency, we recognize that power and are putting in place new tools and services that help our clients find innovative ways to encourage and generate real reviews. And we our clients are getting on board. They understand that it’s no longer what they tell customers, but rather what other customers have to say that really matters.