Earlier this week, there was a lot of media buzz after Amazon.com filed a lawsuit against more than 1,000 people for writing fake product reviews on their website. The fake reviewers were hired via Fiverr.com, a website where people perform odd jobs for $5 each. In at least one case, a fake reviewer went so far as to have an empty envelope delivered to him in order to trick Amazon into marking his review as verified.
This isn’t the first time Amazon has taken a strong stance against fake reviews. Earlier this year, the eCommerce giant sued four websites for selling fake, positive reviews. And the issue isn’t specific to the US or Amazon.com: in June, the UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) found examples of some businesses paying for people to write fake reviews.
Reviews are a powerful tool to help customers make informed business decisions and for brands and retailers to identify ways to better serve their customers. But fake reviews break down trust and have the potential to tarnish a brand’s image. This lawsuit is a good reminder to brands and retailers that it’s crucial to have measures in place to ensure review content is 100% authentic and fraud-free.
Don’t Be Scared of Negative Reviews
It’s no secret that positive reviews can be an extremely valuable tool to help drive sales. If I read about someone’s positive experience with a particular product, it increases my confidence in purchasing that product. However, negative reviews are equally powerful, a fact that was obviously not recognized by the sellers who solicited these fake, positive reviews. PowerReviews research found that 82% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews. And our recent research with Northwestern University found that a product is most likely to be purchased if its average star rating falls between 4.2-4.5 stars.
Perfect ratings are perceived as too good to be true. Allowing negative reviews to be displayed on your site builds trust with your shoppers and helps you identify ways to better serve your customers.
Keep Your Review Content Authentic
The authenticity of reviews is what makes them so powerful. That’s why it’s key to protect your brand from fake reviews. The first step is to ask your ratings and reviews provider what measures they have in place to ensure review content is authentic. For example, at PowerReviews, each and every piece of content passes through advanced fraud detection technology, and then is reviewed by our human moderation team to ensure it’s authentic and fraud free. What we don’t do, however, is edit the reviews. Reviews are displayed as they are written, allowing the true voice of the consumer to shine through.
Our review collection process also enables companies to collect reviews from verified purchasers and then badges those reviews as “verified buyers.” PowerReviews also allows brands and retailers to indicate whether a reviewer received a sample or if a review originated on another site.
Consumers trust reviews. And it’s the responsibility of brands and retailers to provide authentic content that consumers can trust. Aligning with the right reviews technology partner can help you not only drive traffic and sales, but also build and preserve trust with shoppers.
I recently finished author Paul M. Rand’s “Highly Recommended: Harnessing the Power of Word of Mouth and Social Media to Build Your Brand and Your Business.” This powerful book focuses on building a brand that people are happy to recommend to others, something that’s especially important today, when 92% of consumers report that a recommendation is the top reason they buy a product or service.
The book was full of great insights about making your business one that’s highly recommended, but one part of the book I found particularly insightful was a chapter about co-creation. Essentially, co-creation is asking your customers to share their ideas for new products and product improvements, with the understanding that your next big product idea could come from anywhere.
The Power of Co-Creation
Asking customers to submit their ideas for new products and improvements to existing ones can be very powerful. Consumers love to share their ideas and will feel valued if you ask them to do so. Plus, with co-creation, your customers provide ideas you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Customers are literally telling you what product offerings they would buy from you.
According to Rand, the main advantages of co-creation include:
- Frequent customer engagement: Your employees may work from 9-5, but innovative ideas can hit at any time. With co-creation, consumers can submit their ideas 24/7.
- Fresher Ideas: Co-creation can open the door to get new perspectives and creative ways to overcome challenges.
- More Loyal Customers: Customers are loyal to brands they feel they’ve formed bonds with. Inviting customers to share their ideas and opinions helps brands build these relationships with consumers.
- Greater WOM Momentum: If a customer provides an idea to a brand and the brand executes it, that customer will likely have a sense of pride — and be willing to recommend that brand to others. For example, the person who proposed the idea for a new Frappuccino flavor (especially one that Starbucks went on to develop) is likely to recommend Starbucks to others.
Different Co-Creation Initiatives
Co-creation can take many forms. For example, Rand starts the chapter discussing CloroxConnects.com, an online community built by Clorox to solicit products ideas from consumers, suppliers and inventors. Starbucks developed My Starbucks Idea, a site that invites anyone to submit their ideas — large or small — for making Starbucks better. Frito-Lay held a contest called “Do Us a Flavor,” where they asked the public to submit their ideas for a new potato chip flavor.
These co-creation initiatives have all generated great ideas that the sponsoring companies have gone on to implement. Clorox got the idea for a bleach foam product. Starbucks has implemented (and continues to implement) ideas generated through My Starbucks Idea, including new coffee flavors, Frappuccino Happy Hour and splash sticks to prevent coffee from spilling on your clothes…just to name a few. And Frito Lay has gotten new ideas for new chip flavors, including Gyro and Southern Biscuits and Gravy.
Reviews as Co-Creation
You don’t have to build an elaborate website or social media campaign in order to generate ideas and insights from customers. If you have ratings and reviews on your site, you already have a wealth of customer suggestions and ideas at your disposal that can be used to improve your products and services.
For example, let’s say you’re a brand that makes jeans. You notice that one style of jeans has 100 reviews, and an average star rating of 2.8. You dig into the reviews and see that several people note that while they love the style and quality of the denim, the zipper tends to stick. You can then take these insights to the manufacturer to change the zipper. Once the zipper has been changed, note the improvement on your website and watch the product rating increase.
Mining Reviews for Insights
Gleaning these insights from reviews doesn’t have to be a time consuming process. With PowerReviews Analytics & Insights, you can easily identify insights about your products, enabling you to continuously improve your business.
Of course, all ideas suggested by consumers via your co-creation efforts won’t be good ones. But asking your customers for their ideas — and then using those ideas to improve your products — can be a great way to build relationships and better serve your customers.
Reviews are an important element in a shopper’s journey. In fact, PowerReviews research found that the presence of ratings and reviews ranked as the most important factor affecting purchase decisions — behind only the price of the product itself.
But under what circumstances are reviews most impactful on sales? We recently partnered with Northwestern University’s Spiegel Digital & Database Research Center to find out.
Reviews for Products in High Consideration Categories
One element the Northwestern research team studied was the level of involvement or consideration from a consumer’s perspective when purchasing a product. For the purposes of this study, we defined high consideration categories as products that consumers think more about buying because of:
- New or unknown brand or product
For example, baby food is classified as a high consideration category because a baby’s health and safety is a big concern for parents. Obviously, parents don’t want to feed their children products that will harm them.
Take a look at the charts below which outline the findings for two high consideration categories — baby food and weight loss products. You’ll see that as the star rating for the cheaper product in each category increases, it has little impact on purchase probability. However, when the star rating for the more expensive product in the category increases, the purchase probability significantly increases. The takeaway here is that star ratings are most impactful for expensive products within high consideration categories.
Reviews Mitigate Risk
Why do star ratings have a bigger impact on products in high consideration categories? Purchasing a high consideration product requires careful consideration of economic investment, family safety or personal identity. For example, a consumer may not ordinarily seek out reviews for cereal or shampoo, but if it’s a new brand or is higher priced within its category (think organic), more information — in the form of reviews — can strengthen consumers’ confidence in a product, leading to a greater willingness to pay for it.
Consider Sampling for New Products
Reviews are especially impactful when the likelihood of a consumer purchasing a product is inherently low. This is especially true when a brand or product is relatively unknown or completely new. But how can you generate more reviews for new products?
Product sampling is an effective way to generate reviews for new products. In fact, PowerReviews Product Sampling campaigns see an 85% review completion rate. The reviews you generate from sampling can help mitigate risk for future buyers, leading to more sales.
PowerReviews for Brands enables brands to generate more reviews, better insights and directly engage with customers.
OCTOBER 5, 2015 – PHILADELPHIA – PowerReviews, the choice of more than 1,000 global brands and retailers to collect and syndicate ratings and reviews, today unveiled new products to unify the consumer feedback experience and amplify its impact. PowerReviews will showcase these new offerings at the Shop.org Digital Summit in Philadelphia, October 5-7, 2015.
PowerReviews believes in the transformative power of feedback. Reviews not only help consumers make more informed purchase decisions, but also arm brands and retailers with the data to improve their products and services.
“Transparency and authenticity are fundamental to success in today’s marketplace. Ratings and reviews have created a marketplace in which consumers demand authentic feedback as part of their shopping journey. And now the role and impact of reviews is expanding even further,” said Matt Moog, CEO of PowerReviews. “Historically, reviews have been viewed simply as content that consumers use to find products and make purchase decisions. But reviews are evolving to become an ongoing discussion between businesses and consumers, going beyond just product feedback. At PowerReviews, we believe that ratings and reviews will become the primary vehicle that consumers and businesses use to listen and learn.”
PowerReviews’ mission is to unify and amplify the voice of the consumer throughout the entire shopping journey and across all channels, helping consumers make better purchase decisions and businesses drive sales and improve products and services.
PowerReviews is expanding its offerings to unify the consumer experience: enabling consumers to provide feedback on products and shopping experiences in a single, mobile-friendly platform. PowerReviews amplifies the impact of reviews through syndication to 2,500 retailers as well as through offerings that empower businesses to mine insights from review data to improve offerings and to optimize and personalize the consumer journey, online and in-store.
Google has approved PowerReviews as a partner for seller ratings on AdWords ads. Seller ratings is live in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and the Netherlands. Seller ratings appear in the form of stars and review counts on AdWords ads on google.com, Google Shopping and their respective country sites. This 5-star rating system represents aggregated rating and review data for the merchant, compiled from multiple sources including third party aggregators, Google Consumer Surveys, and the Google Trusted Stores program. As a Google Shopping partner for seller ratings, PowerReviews can share review content with Google so that it’s surfaced on AdWords ads.
PowerReviews for Brands
PowerReviews also introduced a suite of products designed specifically for brands to leverage reviews to drive sales and improve products.
PowerReviews for Brands features a selection of products which include:
- Product Sampling
Ninety-five percent of consumers consult reviews during their purchasing journey and consumers visiting a brand site are often validating information provided on other retailer sites. With PowerReviews’ new product sampling offering, brands can send samples to targeted groups of consumers, including PowerReviews on-demand community of reviewers, and generate user reviews before a product launch, for seasonal promotion or for products that need more reviews.
- Content Insights
With Content Insights, the PowerReviews moderation team searches through review content to identify key insights. More specifically, PowerReviews will identify: ideas for product improvements; ideas for new product innovations; and customer quotes, which can be used in marketing assets. PowerReviews removes the burden of analyzing review content and provides actionable insights to improve products.
- Open Syndication Network
PowerReviews is committed to an Open Syndication Network and distributing content from its brands to 2,500 retailers across the network, regardless of review platform. In turn, PowerReviews supplies its retailers with content from other review platforms to maximize the reach and impact of user-generated content.
- Brand Engage
The ability to quickly answer consumer questions on ecommerce sites has been proven to increase the probability of a sale. With Brand Engage, brands can also answer consumer questions on their retail partner sites, getting the benefit of engaging directly with consumers and strengthening retail sales and relationships.
Members of the PowerReviews team will showcase the new platform’s new brand capabilities at Shop.org, booth #900. Additionally, Chief Customer Officer Matt Parsons will be moderating the roundtable “How to Leverage Reviews to Improve the Customer Experience,” on Wednesday October 7, from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. in the EXPO Hall.
To learn more about PowerReviews, visit www.powerreviews.com.
PowerReviews is the choice of more than 1,000 global brands and retailers to collect and display ratings and reviews on 5,000 websites. An essential resource for consumers as they search and shop online and in-store, ratings and reviews drive relevant traffic, increase sales, and create actionable insights to improve products and services. PowerReviews’ mobile-friendly rating and review and Q&A software is fast to implement and simple to customize, making it easy for brands and retailers to generate more authentic content that is seen by more consumers. The PowerReviews Open Network is the largest in the industry, reaching more than 1 billion in-market shoppers every month, giving retailers and brands the power to reach shoppers wherever they are. For more information, visit www.powerreviews.com.
For additional information:
Walker Sands Communications