It’s no surprise that with the advancements in modern technology, there’s a constant goal of having these technologies replace what once required human interactions. While these advancements are a great win in some areas of software services, here at PowerReviews we stand behind the commitment to moderate 100% of the user-generated (UGC) reviews, questions, answers, images and videos collected by our clients with our human moderation team. Though we use anti-fraud technology and profanity filters, those technologies don’t replace human moderation; instead, the two complement each other.

In the industry of supporting UGC for a brand or retailer, moderation is key in not only maintaining the authenticity of that content, but overall relevance and appropriateness as well. This is what builds consumer trust, and ultimately turns browsers into buyers.

Machine-Learning Isn’t Enough
Machine-learning, or reactive moderation, is becoming the trend in the UGC collection space. This translates to replacing a properly trained human moderator with a computer that’s been run through basic trial/error tests to “learn” how to identify irrelevant or inappropriate content. While this may be acceptable to some clients, vendors who are currently utilizing machine-learning in place of human moderation may not be disclosing this fact to the client. Each piece of content that is machine-moderated leaves a consumer at risk of reading a significant moderation slip-up at a frequent rate. It just takes one bad shopping experience on your site to lose that consumer to one of your competitors.

Context is Key
When emphasizing the importance of human moderators, training to an understanding context is our main goal. Of course, we use sophisticated profanity filters that can catch everyday obscenities and common inappropriate slang. But after the filter, the human moderator plays a significant role in understanding the actual context of content that might be inappropriate in one way, but completely relevant and appropriate in another.

Let’s take for example the word “screw.” With the many home improvement clients PowerReviews supports, this word commonly appears in customer reviews. While technology might mistakenly reject all content with the word  “screw” as profane, our human moderators would be able to understand the use of the word, and determine if it’s being used in a product-relevant way.

Uncovering Actionable Insights
Not only does 100% human moderation give a higher likelihood that the true context of a reviewer’s comments are held against our moderation standards, but it also allows the opportunity for the moderator to tag deeper insights.  Along with our standard moderation process of approving or rejecting a review, we have also trained our team to dig deeper into reviewers’ comments and identify common themes. These can include recurring flaws, customers experience with a product, innovative ways to improve products, as well as positive commentary that could be repurposed in a brand’s marketing material or store-front displays.

PowerReviews is certainly not against looking at more efficient ways of moderating content for our wide-ranging client base. Having said that, it’s important to know that there is a difference between being more efficient and putting your site at risk. Before we go any further, simply ask yourself, is the risk worth it to you?

For the past several years, marketers have spent countless hours trying to figure out how to woo Millennials, that always-connected (and often criticized) generation of consumers age 19-34. Yet, most brands still haven’t managed to crack the code.

But enough talk about Millennials. The next generation of shoppers are growing up fast and could be set to change everything. Marketers, meet the Centennials.

Who are Centennials?

Centennial_Illustration
Centennials — also known as Generation Z — are a new generation of consumer who are self-aware, savvy and equipped with technology. Born around the turn of the century, they are the first mobile native generation. They don’t remember a time when a connected world wasn’t at their fingertips. Different from previous generations, technology isn’t exciting – it’s expected.

And they expect to access information instantly. The average Centennial has an attention span of eight seconds (one second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish). If you don’t manage to engage with Centennials in that short window of time, they’ll quickly move on to someone who will.

Distinguishing Centennials and Millennials
While Centennials were born with technology, Millennials discovered it. Millennials grew up with the high-pitched tones of dial-up internet at home, they had their first mobile phones as teenagers and watched social media develop from MySpace to the vast social networks of today dominated by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Their discovery of technology impacted their consumption habits as well as their expectations. Millennials came of age during some difficult times; the recession began as many were starting their careers and they were also part of the credit era – with easy access to credit cards and loans making large purchases more attainable.

Millennial

It’s no surprise that the demands of Centennials have naturally evolved from that of Millennials. Recently, PowerReviews surveyed more than 1,700 Millennial and Centennial consumers to better understand the differences and similarities in their shopping habits. We found that there is one major difference marketers need to be aware of: while nearly all Centennials do their shopping research online, more prefer shopping in-store. We also discovered that online reviews are more important to Centennials than Millennials with 95% reading reviews, and nearly two thirds reading at least four reviews before they buy.

Why Should Brands and Retailers Care About Centennials?
Today, Centennials make up a quarter of the population, and already, these young consumers have $44 million in annual spending power. By 2020, this generation will make up 40% of the population, and their spending power will continue to grow exponentially.

Influencing Centennial conversation is key for brands and retailers looking to cultivate revenue and loyalty. Now’s the time to better understand the shopping habits of this next generation of consumers and use that knowledge to hone your marketing plans to best influence this demographic. Centennials are empowered with the tools to make their own decisions and find solutions, and unless brands and retailers work with them, they’ll be left behind.

Centennial_CTA

By now, most brands and retailers recognize that reviews are a key component of a customer’s purchase process. After all, there’s nothing quite like hearing from another consumer who has already purchased and experienced a product. But consumers don’t just want to see reviews for products. They also rely on Seller Ratings to hear about other consumers’ overall experience shopping with a brand or retailer.

If you’re a brand with an ecommerce store, a consumer may never have shopped with you before. A strong Seller Rating can give buyers confidence that they’ll be able to have a smooth and secure checkout, receive their product quickly, and resolve any problems that may arise with customer service.

If you’re a retailer, there are usually a number of options where a consumer can buy a given product. A great Seller Rating helps you stand out versus your competitor and gives consumers a signal that your store is the best one to shop at for the given item they desire.

In addition to driving more qualified traffic and sales, Seller Ratings help brands and retailers identify ways to better serve their customers. Read on to learn 4 best practices that will help you generate more Seller Ratings and leverage them to drive sales and improve your business.

Ask for Feedback at the Right Time
There are three main components to a comprehensive Seller Rating:

  • Shopping experience
  • Shipping
  • Service

How can you generate this feedback from customers? It’s a best practice to grab a customer’s attention and ask them a question when they are in the context of each of these three components. For example, PowerReviews has a widget to ask about the customer’s buying experience right after purchase to get an answer while it’s fresh for the customer. Shipping should be asked via post purchase email after the product arrives. Brands and retailers should ask for service feedback after every experience over the phone or online.

Keep it Simple
Make it as simple as possible for your shoppers to provide their feedback. Instead of asking for as much data as possible, boil down each component to a simple rating with the option for the shopper to provide additional, qualitative feedback.

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Take Action on Insights
Seller Ratings provide brands and retailers with a way to measure current performance, as well as actionable insights to better serve customers.

For example, let’s say a brand receives the following Seller Rating: “Site needs to give confirmation after I click on submit order.” After further digging into your Seller Ratings, you notice multiple customers mention this same frustration. You work with your web team so shoppers receive a confirmation after submitting an order, and watch how your rating changes over time.

Add Star Ratings to Your AdWords Campaigns
Including star ratings in your AdWords campaigns will help capture the attention of shoppers and entice them to click through to your website. In fact, it’s possible to achieve a 100% increase in click-through rates with Seller Ratings.

DrugStore_IPad

You work hard to earn the trust of your customers. With these best practices, you can leverage Seller Reviews to amplify that trust.

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The holiday shopping season is officially upon us, which means shoppers are flocking to stores, their computers, and their mobile devices to browse and shop for holiday gifts. Think about all the rich data that you’ll be getting over the next several weeks and how it can help you after the holiday. If you’re using a post-purchase email (and you should be), reviews will continue to come in even after the holidays are over. 

Make sure you’re taking advantage of that influx of content. Read on to learn four best practices that can help retailers maximize the impact of reviews generated during the holidays in order to drive more traffic and sales year-round.

Compile Review Data Into Shopping Guides
Highlight the review content you generate during and after the holidays on your website to make it easier for shoppers to find top rated items. For example, compile lists of:

  • Top Products in a Category
  • Most Loved Gifts

Enhance Advertising With the Voice of the Consumer
Consumers not only read reviews, they trust them. When compared to those over the age of 60, people under 45 are 61% more likely to trust consumer reviews more than the recommendations of family and friends. Positive reviews can give shoppers the boost of confidence they need to make a purchase, whether they’re buying for themselves or searching for a gift for a family member or friend. Use reporting to mine your review data and identify great reviews that can be used in advertising initiatives, including:

  • Print advertisements
  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Display advertising

3. Use Reviews In-Store
If Amazon’s new brick and mortar store has taught us anything, it’s that reviews aren’t just a tool for online purchases. Reviews are also powerful for in-store purchases. In fact, PowerReviews research found that 70% of shoppers want to access product ratings and reviews while shopping in store. In addition to having mobile-friendly reviews on your mobile apps and websites, a best practice is to display reviews in-store, either through print advertisements or digital displays. Again, reporting is a great way to pull great reviews that will resonate with in-store shoppers.

Amazon Store

4. Identify Areas for Improvement
Reviews are chock full of powerful insights that can help you better serve your customers. Let’s say you’ve started selling a new purse on your website over the holiday season. Once the reviews start pouring in, you notice that several reviewers note that while they love the purse, the clasp doesn’t stay shut. You come to the manufacturer with this feedback and ask them to change the clasp. Once the clasp has been changed, make a note on the product page, and future reviews of the purse will likely improve. PowerReviews has lots of updates planned for our reporting system, which will make it even easier for clients to analyze and identify this powerful data.

Best of luck this holiday season!

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Imagine you buy a new piece of luggage for an upcoming vacation. While you’re on vacation, one of the wheels falls off. You come home from your trip and write a 1 star review for the luggage. A few weeks later, you get a letter in the mail from the luggage brand telling you to take down your review or pay a steep penalty fee.

Sound unbelievable? It’s not. Today, some businesses are using non-disparagement clauses — also known as gag clauses — to prohibit customers from criticizing their company, notably, in the form of negative online reviews.

However, there’s currently a bill in process that would put an end to these bogus gag clauses. Known as the Consumer Review Freedom Act, the bill was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee last month, and it’s now on its way to the full Senate floor. If the bill passes, companies will no longer be allowed to prohibit their customers from writing negative reviews.

Receiving a negative review can certainly be disappointing. But the Consumer Review Freedom Act is a good reminder that it’s never a best practice to try to silence negative reviews. In fact, displaying all reviews — both negative and positive — helps you earn the trust of consumers. And trust is what drives sales and loyalty.

Negative Reviews Earn Trust
PowerReviews research found that 86% of consumers say reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions. Why do consumers turn to reviews? Because of their authenticity. When a customer is researching a product, there’s nothing quite like hearing directly from another customer who has purchased the same product. 

Your knee jerk reaction may be to delete negative reviews. But don’t do it. Our new Centennial Shopper Survey found that 44% of Centennials (age 13-18) would not trust product reviews that included no negative reviews. And 60% read negative reviews first. By displaying negative reviews, you’re showing consumers that your brand has nothing to hide.

Negative Reviews Help Consumers Make Smart Purchase Decisions
Today’s consumers want all the information they can get about a product before making a purchase, and that includes negative reviews. In fact, 82% of consumers specifically seek out negative reviews. In addition to establishing trust and authenticity, negative reviews also help consumers determine whether or not a product is the right fit for them. Consumers will see the negative reviews, determine whether the setbacks are important to them, and make a more informed decision. Sometimes, a negative review can even lead to another consumer’s buying decision, as one person’s negative is a positive for someone else.

Negative Reviews Drive Sales
Yes, you read that right. It might seem obvious that consumers are more likely to buy products with higher ratings. And that’s true…to a point. Consumers are more likely to buy a product with a 4 star rating than one with a 3 star rating. However, we recently partnered with Northwestern University and found that a perfect 5.0 star rating isn’t the most desirable. Instead, a consumer is most likely to purchase a product when its average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. Why? Because a perfect 5.0 rating is seen as too good to be true. An average star rating of 4.2-4.5 stars, however, is seen as more transparent and balanced.

Negative Reviews Drive Improvement and Innovation
Negative reviews can help you improve your business. How? By leveraging analytics and insights from user-generated ratings and reviews, you can shed light on opportunities for your business to better serve its customers.

For example, a PowerReviews customer had a watch on their eCommerce site with an average rating of 2.7 stars. The company took a closer look at their reviews and found that many customers commented that the clasp of the watch loosened after wearing it just a few times. The company worked with their manufacturer to improve the clasp, and the new version of the watch has an average rating of 4.3 stars. Without reviews (especially the negative ones), this company may not have identified that the clasp was causing issues.

Rather than trying to silence negative reviews, start embracing them. Negative reviews are an important way for both consumers and brands to listen and learn.

PowerReviews releases study on Generation Z shopping habits, statistics show how retailers can win over the cautious Centennial shopper.

December 2 – Chicago- The next generation of shoppers could be leading a return to in-store shopping, according to new research from PowerReviews, a leading provider of ratings and reviews and Q&A technology to more than 1,000 global brands and retailers.

Surveying the shopping habits of more than 1,700 Centennials (ages 13-18) and Millennials (ages 19-34) in the U.S., the “Centennial Shopper Study revealed that when researching and browsing products, an overwhelming majority of Centennials, 94 percent, prefer do so online. However, when it comes to purchasing, Centennials prefer to buy in-store (46 percent) versus 37 percent of Millennials.

“There is no longer distinction between ecommerce and commerce. These results reflect the growing blurring of lines between online and in-store, particularly to our latest generation,” said Matt Moog, CEO of PowerReviews.  “This study demonstrates that Centennial engagement is ongoing and omnichannel. Retailers need to be equipped to reach Centennials at any stage of their shopping journey.”

The PowerReviews report also found that Centennials’ 24-hour access to technology has made this generation impatient when it comes to receiving product information. If they can’t get their questions answered immediately, they’ll walk away – most likely directly to a competitor. Over a third of Centennials said they wouldn’t purchase a product if they couldn’t ask a question about it directly on the product’s page, with 79% heading straight to another retailer or to Amazon.

In addition to their purchasing behavior, the survey also revealed a dependency on reviews:

  • 95 percent of Centennials read reviews while shopping and nearly half will not purchase a product if there weren’t enough reviews.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Centennials read a minimum of four reviews before making a purchase.
  • Reviews are more important to Centennials than a recognizable brand name or free delivery.
  • Centennials trust online reviews more than a friend’s recommendations on social media: 43% of Centennials trust reviews on a company website compared to just 21% who trust reviews on their social media feeds.
  • Almost half of Centennials said they don’t trust a product’s reviews if there are no negative reviews included.

To download a free copy of the PowerReviews Centennial Shopper Study, visit www.powerreviews.com.

About PowerReviews
PowerReviews works with more than 1,000 global brands and retailers to collect and display ratings and reviews on 5,000 websites. Ratings and reviews are an essential resource for consumers as they search and shop online and in-store: they 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 Network is the largest in the industry, reaching 2,500 retailers and more than 700 million 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:
Meghan Spork
Walker Sands Communications
312-241-1474
Meghan.spork@walkersands.com

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