Instagram is more than just a way to get jealous about your friend’s vacation photos. Although it hurts to see those travel images while you sit at work, the benefits of Instagram is far reaching.
Just think about the massive amounts of new products and services you’ve likely discovered on Instagram through paid social media ads or friends tagging brands you’ve never heard of in their posts. Of course social media connects us, but what’s difficult is getting those connections to your most important business assets–your customers.
At the same time, we know creating, managing and maintaining an Instagram account is daunting. It takes significant time and consideration to not only make it work, but drive sales.
Before you say–we just don’t have the resources–consider this data from an upcoming PowerReviews health and beauty report. We found 35% of U.S. shoppers between the coveted age of 18-29 use Instagram to research or buy health and beauty products.
For certain industries, leaving Instagram out of your buyer journey could seriously limit your ability to reach new customers. So to help you get on the right track, we’re providing a few tips. Here are seven benefits of Instagram that you might not know:
1. More Businesses & Consumers Are Joining Every Day
With more than 25 million businesses actively using Instagram to market to their target audience, it’s easy to see why so many people use the app to shop. In today’s instant-access retail world, shoppers want visual content to help them make buying decisions.
Not only do they want visuals, but consumers want this content from people just like them.
In fact, the PowerReviews Ecommerce Snapshot report found 72% of U.S. shoppers search for visual content of an item before making the purchase. On the flip side, a menial 3% of shoppers said they never look for visuals before buying.
The growing network of Instagram actually helps brands and retailers leverage visuals to better describe and detail their products. And as the network increases, shoppers understand that Instagram can be a reliable source for more product information and visuals.
That means your target audience is already primed to see your content show up in their feed. Not only do you customers expect it, but Instagram has made their app much more business-friendly in the last few years with various linking, landing page creation and product tagging features.
Simply put, the company is giving you fewer reasons for your business not to join. The customer experience is important to so many brands and retailers, which is why Instagram continues to push these features. The benefits of Instagram grows with its user base, so it just might be time to join or significantly improve your marketing strategy.
2. Easy to Target (and Retarget) Your Audience
We know that targeting the right audience is key in the success of your ads. But how does Instagram help you reach your core audience?
Well, if you’re familiar at all with Facebook advertising, you understand the power and depths available to reach your audience. Some of the targeting features include:
Location: Whether you’re targeting to a whole country or just one city, location isn’t any issue.
Demographics: Want to send your ads only to 37-year-old women who speak Catalan? Instagram can pinpoint language and gender demographics.
Interests: Base your ads on what your audience follows on Instagram, including other businesses that may be your direct competition. You also can base interests on ads they click and apps they use.
Behaviors: Define an ad’s audience by the actions they take on (and off) Instagram and Facebook. For example, easily retarget potential customers who have visited your website in the past but never made a purchase.
Lookalike audiences: Your followers are part of a specific persona who is eager to see your content (and hopefully buy your products). So, you can target ads to people that are similar to the ones that already follow you or have purchased on your website.
Instagram also offers automated targeting, giving you a head start in creating an audience that might be interested in your brand. To get even more information, check out our Instagram sizes and advertising dimensions guide!
Understanding Your Demographics
One of the biggest questions businesses have is about their core demographics and where they shop. For Instagram, many brands and retailers chalk it up to a young-person’s game.
But Pew Research recently found 40% of U.S. adults between 30-49 use Instagram and an overall 35% of adults use the app.
It’s important to not only know your core demographic, but provide them the right channels to shop for your products. We already know that younger generations like Instagram, but targeting older demographics that might be more relevant to your brand is essential.
3. Use All the Visual Marketing Features on Instagram
Like we mentioned, visual content empowers shoppers to make purchases with more in-depth details and images of what they want to buy. But that doesn’t mean you should just add photos and videos of your products every day and call it a day.
Retailers are getting much smarter to how and where they advertise to shoppers on Instagram. Additionally, brands and retailers are creating better content on the platform because they’re focusing on the correct Instagram sizes and features that users actually enjoy.
For example, Overstock relies on Instagram Story ads to beautifully transition consumers to featured products in just a few seconds.
As part of the process of repositioning their brand, Overstock created these video ads and saw an 18% increase in return on ad spend and a 20% decrease in cost per click. Creating engaging content is about capturing shoppers’ attention before they scroll or tap past your message.
To get the most out of your Instagram content, try these tips:
Use large text: Don’t make it difficult for viewers to make out your message on their mobile devices. However, using too much might get an ad rejected.
Be succinct: No reason to try out your best Faulkner impersonation. The last thing you want to do is make your pitch 2 or 3 seconds into the ad. You have to give the value prop immediately.
Avoid over designing: The point of your ad should be to blend in with user content. Sometimes it pays to not use overly-designed content.
Create a clear path: With Instagram shopping, users can review products before moving to your site. Create seamless and easy paths to limit any second-guessing.
4. Engage With Customers Where They Spend Their Time
More than 800 million people use Instagram every month and over 500 million log on every day. The time spent on Instagram is pretty astonishing and for brands and retailers, this is a network to engage and connect with your base.
This is telling because approximately 80% of all Instagram accounts follow at least one business. The visual network is perfect for brands who don’t want to be bombarded by sales copy, announcements and other messaging. Instead, Instagram works like it does when you follow your friends–if you see visual content you like, you engage.
King Arthur Flour does a great job at highlighting visual content that could be easily mistaken for a friend or family account. And the best part is that it’s not tricking users, but simply blending in the content to be discovered.
Instagram found that 60% of users have found a new product on the platform. It continues to be the platform for discovery and new product education. So why not use Instagram for what it’s intended for?
5. Build Up User-Generated Content
User-generated content is an essential part of building trust in your brand and products. Why? Because people trust each other more than businesses.
The same Ecommerce Snapshot report found 54% of U.S. consumers between ages 18-29 said consumer-submitted photos and videos were more valuable than retail or brand visual content. And again, younger shoppers are not the only demographic looking for user-generated content. Approximately half of those between the ages 30-44 felt the same way.
And on Instagram, it’s not only a gold mine of user-generated content, but it’s easy to get it produced from your audience. Brands like Southwest regularly promote user-generated content submitted from their loyal customers.
It’s easy to ask for content through a hashtag to build up content and get your followers engaged. And the best part is you have the ability to collect and display Instagram user-generated content through the PowerReviews Visual and Social Suite to reinforce your product pages with authentic customer content.
Give customers a way to see your products in the hands of or on shoppers just like themselves. By doing so, you limit doubt and increase confidence in their path to purchase.
6. Reveals In-Depth Insights About Your Audience
We now know how important it is to understand and learn your audience. And to know who they are, where they’re from and their likes and dislikes, Instagram can help uncover this information.
First, being engaged in the community online helps you see what these people are all about. By following popular hashtags in your industry, you’ll see what people are talking about, their concerns and problems, as well as their happy moments and daily victories.
Second, Instagram provides essential native insights into your community and followers.
With these Insights, you’ll find information about your followers such as their gender, age, location and the times when they’re most active online.
Lastly, Instagram also gives you insights to see your ROI on the platform. If you’ve ever used the ads manager platform on Facebook, you’ll understand the kind of super-useful information it provides.
For each campaign, you can check reach, clicks, sales, or conversions, plus the total conversion value. You can also break this down by factors such as gender or location.
7. Constantly Updated Marketing Features Within Ads and Stories
Instagram knows you want to sell more products and raise brand awareness. They understand your goals to improve your Instagram marketing strategy and the platform gives you the tools to accomplish them.
On the other hand, Instagram also knows their users. They understand how people spend money online. In fact, 42% of women on Instagram in the U.S. said they love to shop and consider it a hobby.
That’s why major retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods does stellar work on Instagram to make it completely easy to click, search and buy. The social network created shopping and marketing experiences as an integrated part of their platform specifically to allow brands to advertise without obstructing the process of the platform.
At the same time, running Instagram Story ads lets you add links and product tag widows to learn more in an instant. The constant updates tailored toward businesses make this one of the hottest spots for retailers and brands to showcase their products.
Since launching this feature, over 90 million accounts are tapping product tags to reveal details every single month. With ads that appear in the feed, you can attach links with CTAs like “Shop Now” to encourage shoppers to leave their feed.
How Will You Use These Benefits of Instagram?
Now that you know a few important benefits of Instagram, what will you do with the tips? Remember, Instagram is one of the best places to engage with your target audience and connect through visual content.
Plus, business-specific features such as business profiles, targeted ad campaigns, incredibly detailed insights and shopping buttons in stories and in-feed ads help you get the most out of this platform while boosting your ROI.
To say that Amazon is a hit with consumers would be an understatement. And every major retailer wants to know how to compete with Amazon or at least steal a page from their playbook.
We know Amazon is top dog. In fact, a PowerReviews survey found each month, more U.S. consumers visit Amazon than their families and 30% visit more than seven times a month to research, browse or buy.
With numbers like that, you may be wondering, do other businesses even stand a chance?
Our answer? Absolutely.
Amazon may be the most dominant force in retail today, but with the right strategies, competing with the retail giant is entirely doable.
Read on for our five tips on how to compete with Amazon in 2019 and win:
1. Double Down on What Makes You Better Than Everyone Else
The first step to learn how to compete with Amazon is by figuring out what you can do better. As Cara Wood, digital marketing manager at ShopPad puts it, “Amazon does everything, but they don’t do everything well.”
Wood recommends finding one thing that you can do better than Amazon then making sure your business can own that space. Being cookie cutter isn’t going to put you above the rest, but better design and product descriptions could.
For example, Wolf & Shepherd (W&S) makes “ridiculously comfortable” dress shoes and focuses on a product built for active and stylish consumers. W&S’s website does a great job of communicating that to customers.
Its product pages, have a section called “See What’s Different.” This lets customers see the various components that make its products so comfortable.
The brand’s dedication to product quality and innovation has earned it numerous fans and customers who love the company’s shoes and are willing to pay more. A pair of W&S shoes can be 3 to 10 times more expensive than most dress shoes on Amazon, but the company continues to attract new shoppers.
If you haven’t already, you need to find the elements that make your business better than Amazon and other competitors. Even more so, you have to clearly communicate it to your customers.
Brands that fail to do this find themselves struggling to gain a foot up on brands selling through Amazon.
2. Don’t Just Stock Products–Curate Them
For the majority of retailers, you’ll never be able to compete with the size and depth of Amazon’s inventory. But one thing you can do is curate better product assortments that appeal specifically to your target market. This helps position you as the go-to retailer in your category.
How exactly do you accomplish that?
Bruce Clark, an associate professor at Northeastern University says it’s all about conveying “a distinct viewpoint about what your customers will enjoy.” As an example, Clark points to retailers that developed strong
and successful private label brands.
Trader Joe’s consistently stocks unique and trendy items that people love. Consider products like Cookie Butter, Cauliflower Pizza Crust and Truffle Honey Mustard. These items don’t just drive sales, they’ve gained a lot of loyal followers. Cookie Butter even has its own Facebook Page with more than 14,000 likes.
Of course, developing a private label strategy isn’t for everyone. And if you’re not selling your own branded products, it’s still a good idea to curate and showcase your products in unique ways. You get to pick the story your business tells, so make it unique.
Another great example comes from the apparel retailer and subscription service Le Tote. Its website has a section called Collections, which consists of product groups curated for a specific theme or purpose like business casual, business professional and flirty, fun and feminine.
With this approach, the shopping experience at LeTote isn’t just bound by product categories. Customers shop based on their needs, tastes and preferences.
3. Have a Distinguished Personality
Amazon is a lot of things: it’s fast, convenient and reliable. But as great as those attributes may be, not a lot of consumers would label Amazon as “fun” or “oozing with personality.”
This is where retailers gain a competitive advantage.
When you develop a personality that consumers deem special, you outshine competitors and connect with shoppers in ways others can’t.
For example, Dollar Shave Club primarily sells razors, which was already a completely competitive space. And while anyone can sell and ship razors for a few bucks, Dollar Shave Club sets itself apart by marketing its products in funny and radically distinctive ways.
The company showed its personality by poking fun of the traditional razor-buying process. After the video went viral, Dollar Shave Club quickly gained the image as the best alternative to traditional razor shopping.
Their fun personality translates into all its branded materials, including its website, blog and packaging. The company’s success can be tied back to being distinctive with its voice and purpose.
Even if you’re selling items that are easily available on Amazon, your personality could connect to audiences more effectively.
4. Listen to Your Consumers Through Ratings & Reviews
One of the biggest problems with Amazon is its massive amount of fake or unauthentic reviews. In fact, a Fakespot study found inauthentic reviews dominate product categories such as:
What’s even more upsetting is a Washington Post report found the vast majority of reviews for popular categories such as Bluetooth headphones and speakers violate Amazon’s terms on paid reviews.
The dominance of fake reviews is a serious problem and this trend is distrust is why so many shoppers have skepticism before checking out. If you’re running an ecommerce site, you have even more responsibility to prevent fake or bogus reviews.
By implementing a Ratings and Reviews platform that moderates and prevents fake or unhelpful content, you give shoppers peace of mind when checking out.
In fact, PowerReviews is the only reviews provider that uses human moderation, which means our team of content reviewers will make sure every one of your product reviews has been verified and approved.
Customer Voices Build Trust
Our goal is to use fraud detection technologies and human moderation to maintain the authenticity of shopper reviews so your customers know the content is real.
Well research from the previously mentioned PowerReviews report found 36% of shoppers believe seeing product reviews from verified buyers is “very important.” Using badges that indicate whether a comment or review was contributed by a customer, staff member or affiliate partner (reviewers who received product samples) promotes authenticity and trust.
That’s why so many brands are including user-generated content into their product pages. Consumers want to see real photos and videos from consumers to know what they’re buying.
Our data found 63% of shoppers actually seek out user-generated content like photos and videos in product reviews before making a purchase. An example of brand doing this well is Exmark Manufacturing, a leading manufacturer of commercial mowers.
The company’s product pages not only display ratings and reviews from its customers, but it adds a “Verified Buyer” badge to reviews that the site has authenticated. Exmark also gives users the option to upload their own photos, so shoppers can see other people using Exmark’s mowers.
When retailers want to know how to compete with Amazon, they often overlook a major detail–experience. The ecommerce giant does a great job at enabling customers to buy what they need and in the most efficient way possible. But the experience of shopping on Amazon isn’t exactly the most enjoyable or interesting aspect of their business.
While Amazon doesn’t have to prioritize their experience to see success, you likely do. Amazon acts like an in and out store, where consumers get exactly what they need and fast. But to compete with Amazon, you need to be fast, but also nimble with your customer experience.
If you have brick and mortar locations, use your stores to offer experiences that make people’s visits more enjoyable. Sephora, for example, regularly holds in-store classes for those who want to learn the latest makeup trends and techniques.
Meanwhile, the Bonobos Guide Shop experience includes one-on-one sessions with a a Bonobos Guide who helps shoppers find the right fit. And when a customer shops in the store, Bonobos creates a profile for the shopper to record size information and purchase history.
This makes shopping online much easier because all customers need to do is simply place an order and their products will arrive true to their size and fit.
Fast Shipping Doesn’t Have to Let Amazon Win Every Race
If you’re an online pureplay, there are still plenty of ways to enrich customer ecommerce experiences–even if you can’t offer two- or same-day delivery. To know how to compete with Amazon, you don’t have to be as fast as them–you just need to be willing to run the race.
This is why we recommend personalizing customer shopping journeys as much as possible so people find the products they want faster. Of course the speed of delivery helps in Amazon’s success, but customers are willing to wait an extra day or two to get the product they really want.
Additionally, the cost of instantaneous shipping is truly eating into the profits of Amazon, which is why many believe the company could cut the feature in the future.
Good shipping pricing and speed is important, but again, we believe in the customer journey, so shoppers come back because of the ease in their experience. The lingerie company ThirdLove has a Fit Finder feature to do just that.
This process asks shoppers a series of questions to help find their perfect fit, so there’s less doubt in ordering and to cut down product returns. Once someone completes the quiz, ThirdLove serves up the best bra styles and sizes for them.
The customer avoids going through the trouble of browsing endlessly to find what they like and the size they need. By focusing on the experience and ease of use, brands and retailers can compete and one-up Amazon.
Yes, You Can Compete With Amazon
Trying to battle with Amazon on pricing or inventory depth can feel like a fool’s errand because so few retailers have the technology and supply chain to match. But the best ways to take on the giant—and win—is to invest in the things that make you different, unique, trustworthy and a pleasure to use.
Hopefully these five tips give you a better idea (and a little more confidence) to take on ecommerce giants in today’s fast-paced market. Good luck!
As ecommerce spending explodes year-over-year, it’s clear that consumers today aren’t shy about buying from new brands online. And for those same consumers, the path to purchase is paved with visual content.
Heck, just do a quick Google search and see for yourself. What will you find?
Visual content is front-and-center in today’s search results before users even have time to think about sifting through a laundry list of links.
That’s because seeing is believing.
Brands need to operate under the principle of “show, don’t tell” if they want to convert modern customers. Perhaps this is why creating and curating visual content remains a top priority for businesses in 2019.
The good news? Harnessing the power of visual content doesn’t require you to be a creative genius.
In this guide, we’ll break down the fine details of visual content in the path to purchase. You’ll see firsthand the specific visual strategies top brands are using to convert customers and how to roll them out yourself.
With that, let’s dive right in.
What is the Path to Purchase, Anyway?
The path to purchase represents the various channels that business rely on to transform leads and prospects into customers.
From search engines and social media to email and paid ads, there is no “right” channel for converting customers. Likewise, there is no single path to purchase in the customer journey. Visual content plays a vital role in the path to purchase for a couple of key reasons.
For starters, visual content is easy to digest at a glance. A video or image can show off a product in action in a fraction of the time that a blog post or lengthy email. This spells good news for appealing to today’s customers and their microscopic attention spans.
Consider also that people typically retain and recall visuals much better than the written word. Consumers today are hit with more marketing messages on a day-to-day basis than we can count. The more often someone sees your brand’s imagery including product photos and logos, the more likely you are to stand out over time.
Think about the marketing rule of seven that states people need to see what you’re offering at least seven times before they’re ready to buy. Paving your path to purchase with visual content means creating meaningful, memorable touch points that’ll result in sales.
And if nothing else, Brandwagon Digital Media wants you to bear in mind businesses boasting unique visuals see conversion rates seven times higher than those that don’t.
What Does a Visual Path to Purchase Look Like in Action?
We’re glad you asked!
Let’s look at a real-world example of how visual content can impact the path to purchase. For example, say you’re taking a Disney vacation with your family and you’ve been tasked with one of life’s greatest challenges: picking a spot for dinner.
More than likely, you’ll start with a simple Google query–and in this case, you’d likely search “places to eat at Disney Springs.” While you’re obviously spoiled for choice, the Google ratings and restaurant snapshots help you narrow down your decision.
As part of your journey through Google results, you find some listicles like this one that shows off pictures of the author’s favorite fare.
Or ever better, you come across a video or two that breaks down the best restaurants in the area.
Based on your research, you pick out a spot with some confidence. Scrolling through customer photos, you see your potential menu firsthand and get a better idea of the restaurant’s vibe. Customer reviews then clue you on what you should expect and which menu items to check out (or avoid).
And if you’re socially savvy, you might even take to social media to which local spots have customers buzzing in real time.
See how that works?
We often hear the notion that effective selling online is all about creating a good customer experience. Through visual content, and especially through user-generated content, businesses create authentic experiences that eventually convert customers. This is just a snapshot of all the various avenues to make those experiences happen.
This is why we created Journey IQ, a completely scalable tool to provide you insights into what happens online and in store. This tools helps incentivize buyers who already love you to go on special missions to help you improve sales and understand the complete shopping experience.
And on a related note, remember that the path to purchase isn’t a straight line. Any combination of these channels are fair game both before and after purchasing (specifically sharing hashtags or leaving reviews).
How to Pave Your Own Path to Purchase via Visual Content
No two paths of purchase are the same for two different businesses.
And hey, that’s a good thing.
This gives your business a much-needed sense of freedom when it comes to the types of visual content necessary to make those meaningful touch points. Below are some tips for brands looking to to put their visual content on display regardless of your industry or budget:
Make Sure Your Product Pages Pack a Punch
Product pages are a prime place to step up your visual game. Chances are you couple each of your product listings with some form of imagery, right?
But why stop there?
Vornado includes some still photos as well as action shots of their products to help shoppers visualize them in-person. Additionally, Vornado integrates ratings and reviews to build trust with shoppers.
The star-ratings themselves work to catch the eye of potential buyers, encouraging them to spend longer on the page and eventually make a purchase. Given that Northwestern University data shows 95% of shoppers read online reviews before buying, providing a place for buyers to sound-off is a no-brainer.
Star ratings and customer photos provide shoppers an authentic look at a product while also making the page more aesthetically pleasing. In fact, the PowerReviews Growing Power of Reviews report found 63% of shoppers look for user-generated content and visuals from real customers before making a purchase.
So why not put your biggest fans’ visual content front and center on your product pages? Well, you can do just that with the PowerReviews Visual and Social Suite.
We provide more avenues to collect and display user-generated content directly from your customers and their social channels. Whether your customers share an image from their phone or social media channel like Instagram, we provide the integration tools to make this easy on brands and retailers, but a quick and painless experience for your shoppers.
But what if your customers aren’t uploading visual content for your products? It’s not easy asking for content, but there’s definitely a great place to start looking.
Curate High-Converting Imagery from Social Media
To say that social media is a staple of the path to purchase would be a massive understatement.
The beauty of user-generated content is that it’s, well, user-generated. Rather than worry about coming up with new imagery, you simply let your customers do the legwork for you.
Of course, that involves encouraging those customers to start creatin’.
The first step to making that happen is by asking. For example, brands like Ulta encourage fans to use the hashtag #UltaBeauty for a chance to be featured on their feed.
This results in a slew of new content for that’s a far cry from a typical product photo. Hashtags and opportunities to create user-generated content are smart ways to encourage more engagement from your customers.
User-generated content is likewise great marketing firepower for your website or email list. For example, Ulta features its user-generated photos on-site in the form of a lookbook. Many brands likewise feature similar photos in their email campaigns to encourage more social shoppers.
And to bring the power of user-generated content full-circle with our first tip, customer photos are fantastic for product pages. Brands like Black Milk Clothing promote item-specific hashtags to share for individual products. This is yet another opportunity to build trust and convert buyers through visual content.
Reel Customers in via Video Marketing
We can’t talk about visual content without talking about video.
And speaking o Facebook, video is often cited as the most popular type of content across the major social media platforms.
The specifics of why video works so well to reel in customers is no surprise.
Easy to digest? Check.
More entertaining than a traditional blog post or listicle? Most of the time, yes.
But most importantly, videos quite literally show off your products in action. There’s a reason why unboxings and video reviews are so popular: they’re unfiltered, and well, real.
From raising awareness to serving as an ad itself, video is a powerful medium on the path to purchase. For example, BeardBrand regularly publishes tutorials and how-to’s which subtly highlight their own products.
GoPro might be the best example of a brand killing it with video, mostly due to the fact that they’re, you know, a camera company that has heavily invested in action sports. Their eye-popping clips and user-generated content quite literally show what their products can do.
Some brands might shy away from video because they think they lack the budget or production value. That said, not everything you produce needs to be a mind-blowing production.
Brands like Blue Apron put together simple, 15-second clips to feature through their website and social media to give a glimpse of what they have to offer.
And with that, we wrap up our guide!
Learn From What Your Customers Are Already Telling You
It might not surprise you, but there’s a lot to learn from your previous customers. And to take it one step further, there’s even more to learn from the review content they provide on your products.
Try to find the commonalities with your products and how consumers truly feel about them. What this means is brands have to pay attention to small details that might be causing some concern on a product.
For example, if a few customers are having problems with the zipper on your new coat–it might be time to take these product insights to the manufacturer. The only problem is you might have hundreds of products and even more reviews.
That’s why we created Product Pulse in our Intelligence Suite–so brands and retailers can find, analyze and uncover real product insights within review content. The hours it would take your team to review every single rating would take far too much time–and good luck finding someone to dig through the mess to find insights.
Instead, we do the heavy lifting and analyze sentiment through common adjectives and review analysis from more than 40 million consumer reviews already put through our Intelligence Engine. Your consumers are talking about your products and providing feedback, it’s just a matter if you’re listening to everything they’re saying.
Is Visual Content Part of Your Path to Purchase?
The final takeaway here is that visual content in any shape or form is integral to the path to purchase. Not just because it helps catch the eye of customers but because it builds the trust that results in conversions.
By supplementing your path to purchase with visual experiences for customers, you win more sales.
We want to hear from you, though. Which types of visual content do you find most compelling? Let us know on Twitter!
If you’re looking for a trusted partner to take your visual content to the next level, request a demo of PowerReviews today to see how we can integrate user-generated content onto your product pages.
At this point, everyone knows the value of authentic user-generated content (UGC). We know that UGC–including ratings and reviews, photos and videos–drives trust, sales and traffic for brands and retailers. But they also do much more than that.
Reviews provide you with a goldmine of insights into how customers truly feel about your products and what they value most. This means UGC can also impact a brand’s product, SEO and marketing efforts in a major way.
Ratings provide guidance around the overall sentiment toward a product, but what about your in-depth comments consumers leave within their reviews? More often than not, these comments uncover hidden insights that significantly help product managers, SEOs or a director of marketing to optimize messaging, improve organic rankings or make data-backed product decisions.
It’s no secret these insights are embedded in the feedback brands and retailers receive on a daily basis. It’s really difficult and time consuming to properly distill that information and then use it to fuel actions within an organization.
Content Analysis for Reviews: The Old Way
Here’s how review content analysis currently happens:
Your team reads dozens, hundreds or even thousands of reviews and then spends countless hours pinpointing trends and drawing conclusions derived from this qualitative information.
Even if you have the resources to read every review, it’s impossible to do so without bringing preconceived notions, internal assumptions or natural biases into your analysis. And even if you overcome both of these obstacles, how do you get these insights to colleagues across your organization to drive consumer-backed decisions?
Nobody’s got time for that!
But there’s good news. We heard these challenges and made it our mission to help solve them. To truly unlock the full value of reviews, they must be easily leveraged.
And not only as a mechanism for driving traffic, but as an essential source of consumer feedback. We wanted to create a review analytics solution that was intuitive, digestible, trustworthy and didn’t require countless resources.
Meet Product Pulse: The New Path to Easier Review Content Analysis
Product Pulse is the first advanced-analytics solution using natural language processing and sentiment analysis to surface actionable insights and deliver them to you in an intuitive, unbiased report at a product or category level.
So, how does it work?
Product Pulse is powered by our Intelligence Engine, which has processed more than 40 million consumer product reviews (and counting) to help brands and retailers uncover more than 2 million unique topics with 5 million unique opinions.
Whether you want to optimize the messaging on your site, make data-backed product decisions or identify new keywords for SEO efforts, Product Pulse makes it simple to leverage incredibly detailed insights across your organization.
Product Pulse is the first of many PowerReviews products to be powered by the Intelligence Engine and leverage consumer reviews as a key source for decision making. Be on the lookout for more solutions coming soon!
Company’s new Intelligence Engine fuels analytics solutions and reveals emerging opportunities for brands based on their consumer reviews.
CHICAGO – February 21, 2019 – PowerReviews, a global technology leader in reviews and user-generated content to more than 1,000 global brands and retailers, today announced the introduction of Product Pulse, the industry’s first advanced-analytics solution providing brands with actionable product-specific insights, based on strengths, opportunities for improvement and areas of differentiation.
PowerReviews has been on a mission for the last three years to bring clients more actionable insights leveraging the robust volume of consumer reviews captured each day. Powered by the company’s new Intelligence Engine, clients can now drive consumer-centric innovation at scale with quantified, unbiased insights across merchandising, product and marketing quickly and easily.
The Intelligence Engine, which leverages advanced natural language processing and sentiment analysis, has evaluated over 40 million consumer reviews thus far, revealing more than 2 million unique topics that consumers care about. This rich data, visualized through the intuitively designed Product Pulse, provides brands with new insights into how products are resonating in the market as well as where new opportunities exist.
“As competition increases, it’s never been more important for brands to deliver the right products, with the right messaging, at the right time and place,” said Sara Rossio, Chief Product Officer at PowerReviews. “For the first time, brands can quickly get trusted, unbiased insights from consumer feedback to shape more informed strategies across their organizations.”
“Product Pulse is a powerful tool for ecommerce professionals looking to build and sell better products,” said Paul Markovic, Ecommerce Director at Milk Makeup. “The intuitive visualizations and straight-forward design make analyzing customer sentiment easy–not only saving valuable analysis time, but also bringing important data to my decision making.”
Leverage PowerReviews’ Product Pulse to:
Make More Informed Product Decisions: Uncover product-specific insights and trends quickly to prove intuitions for new product releases, merchandise performance, category planning, depth and promotion. Generate buy-in and confidence in every product decision made across your organization.
Enhance Messaging & Packaging: Leverage the insights gleaned from review data to enhance messaging, physical packaging and address customer questions, ultimately improving traffic, sales and customer satisfaction.
Get Key Insights Faster & More Efficiently: Save resource-intensive analysis time with reports that surface key insights visualized in a straight-forward design. Efficiently share fully packaged and synthesized reports across product, marketing and operations teams to increase customer understanding and make game-changing improvements across the business.
Track Consumer Feedback, Sentiment & Trends: Understand why products win, lose and how they are differentiated in the market. Surface key topics, words and terms immediately, and track sentiment trends over time to understand the impact of every product and marketing decision you make.
Product Pulse is the first of many new PowerReviews analytics solutions leveraging consumer reviews as a source of feedback. Clients can expect more innovative solutions which holistically evaluate brands and industries in comprehensive and insightful ways.
PowerReviews works with more than 1,000 global brands and retailers to collect and syndicate user-generated content and feedback such as reviews, Q&A, images, video and more. Content is syndicated across The PowerReviews Open Network reaching more than one billion in-market shoppers every month at the right time and place. User-generated content gives shoppers confidence to make purchases and delivers actionable insights to brands and retailers to drive more traffic, increase sales and improve products and services. To learn more, visit https://www.powerreviews.com.
Are your customers talking about your brand with friends and family? If so, what are they saying and where are they spreading the news? These are just a few of the important questions to ask when thinking about a word-of-mouth marketing strategy.
When your customers say things like, this product is the next big thing or they have awesome customer service on social, are you listening?
What we do know is pretty much everyone else is tuning into peer recommendations. An Investp infographic stated word-of-mouth marketing impressions drive 5 times the impressions than paid media marketing.
And consumers simply trust each other for product recommendations (88%) more than brands or other advertising methods. Whether or not people discuss your brand might seem like something that’s out of your hands. But it’s not.
In fact, that’s what word-of-mouth marketing is all about. First, let’s define word-of-mouth marketing for the modern age:
What is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
Word-of-mouth marketing is the process of generating conversations and buzz about your brand online in a way that attracts new customers. In many ways, it relies heavily on user-generated content, which is content related to your brand, but created and posted by consumers.
For the most part, a word-of-mouth marketing strategy can be done with little-to-no budget, and the results it produces are completely organic (and incredible).
Unlike other advertising strategies, word-of-mouth marketing is a constant process. It means more than just sending out content on social media and hoping for a response. Instead, this strategy is all about creating a community and engaging with the people in it.
But if this is going to take so much time, is it really worth it?
Consider these facts from a Hubspot infographic stating 75% of people don’t believe advertising, but 62% have trust in online customer reviews.
While advertising may get your brand the attention of those who see it, wouldn’t you rather work with the audience who will tell their friends and family about you?
Since word-of-mouth marketing lets your fans do most of the work for you, this method draws in more traffic to your website. But more than that, when your fans are bringing their friends to your store, they’re already primed to purchase.
This means you’re not just getting more traffic, you’re getting quality views from consumers much further down the path to purchase. So, now that we know how valuable word of mouth marketing is, how can you implement your own strategy? Follow these six tips to create your own word-of-mouth marketing strategy:
1. Create a Memorable & Digestible Hashtag
Creating a viral hashtag may seem a bit daunting as a first step toward word-of-mouth marketing. Getting a hashtag to be successful at all isn’t an easy task. But following the best practices to get your hashtag seen will only help your efforts.
We know the success of #shareacoke, but we’re not all Coca Cola. Instead, brands have to get creative, but keep it simple at the same time. So, how can you actually create a hashtag that sticks in people’s minds? Here are some quick tips to follow when crafting a hashtag meant to be spread by word of mouth:
Simple and Clear: The more letters, words and complexity to a hashtag means it will be difficult to share and remember. Keep it short and sweet and simple–even if it’s weird or out of the box.
Capitalize Your Words: The first letter of each word in your hashtag needs to be capitalized. This helps avoid confusion or possible double entendres.
Unique and Distinctive to You: Make sure your hashtag is unique by checking for all versions across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
Try to Add Branded Keywords: It’s smart to Include branded keywords whenever possible. This helps people associate your brand with your products and vice-versa.
Start a Contest: Encourage your followers to actually use the hashtag by sharing prizes or product giveaways. The more buzz, the better.
2. Give Your Audience a Chance to Make Their Friends Jealous
Like we just mentioned, giving away a unique experience is a great way to generate buzz. A share-worthy story is just the thing that pushes people to talk about your brand to their friends.
So, how can you give them that unique experience? Whether it’s a day at the amusement park or a discount on their next purchase, giveaways help encourage people to talk about your brand.
Because who doesn’t love to brag to their friends about the cool stuff they got for free?
This is why post-purchase emails are absolutely essential for both brands and retailers. By sending your customers a recap of the products they bought, you can ask for reviews, tips and general thoughts on their purchasing decisions.
This method uncovers so much about your customers and their overall wants and needs. And if you’re struggling to get customers to fill out review forms, try to incentivize. When you offer a future discount, you encourage shoppers to return and to provide content.
A real win-win for both sides!
Don’t Forget About Social Promotions
Giving something to get something is not a new idea. But it doesn’t have to cost you a future to implement. Check out how West Elm promotes their Instagram with their own a rewards system:
With an offer so simple (yet so tantalizing) as a regram, West Elm has sparked a ton of user-generated content, and has grown to almost 2 million followers. Your brand can try something similar. By rewarding your audience, you’ll give them something they can’t help but brag about to their friends. And if it makes their friends jealous, they’re more likely to become your new fans.
3. Steal Their Hearts With Video Content
If you create video content that your audience enjoys watching, Hubspot says 83% of people would consider sharing it with their friends.
It’s true, people love watching and sharing video content online. It doesn’t matter if it’s branded content: if it’s entertaining or moving, people will watch and share.
Just look at what companies like Dollar Shave Club or Warby Parker have done with video marketing. Brands are seeing the impact of video content without even relying on sound. Instead, it’s all about catching shoppers’ attention and providing a clear explanation and benefit to what you do.
Video content can still be branded content and even blatantly promote your products. Video is also known to help product descriptions on purchase pages as well. However, you want to do so in a way that produces plenty of engagement and entertainment from your audience. Be authentic and personable, and people will connect with your brand as its own personality.
Many brands use Instagram Stories to help increase word-of-mouth marketing efforts because it’s short, to the point and often visually pleasing. The best part is you don’t need an entire video design crew to post some of the catchiest content.
Marshalls does a wonderful job at using simple videos of the in-store shopping experience and by highlighting new products and deals. It’s not over the top, but still fun to quickly look through each post to see the products and follow the story.
4. May the Most Engaged Customer Win
What is it about contests that draws in new fans? Maybe it’s the competition or possibly the award you’re offering. Whatever the case, social media contests can be a great way to generate more word of mouth conversations.
For instance, Southwest teamed up with Dr. Pepper to run a contest of #12DaysofLOVE over the holidays. This got hundreds of people entering to get their content on Southwest’s Instagram and a $1,000 gift card to use toward flights.
This is just one example of the hundreds of successful contests that many brands have done online, with fantastic results. If you’re looking to run a contest, just make sure to follow these quick tips:
Get Legal: Make the requirements are short and clear, but ultimately follow your state’s or country’s specific contest laws. Do your research before you start the contest.
Have Clear Rules: Decide in advance what criteria will define the winner and make sure it’s not overly confusing.
Offer Cool Prizes: If you’re a tax company, it might not super fun to get 20% off your taxes. Instead, try to offer a cool prize that people want (giveaway, experience, recognition, etc.)
Get Branded: Use a branded hashtag that’s specific to the contest or a product launch. Southwest’s #12DaysofLOVE is a perfect example to follow.
5. Get More (and Better) Reviews
Reviews mean so much to today’s consumers. In fact, the PowerReviews Power of Reviews report found 89% of shoppers look for reviews prior to purchasing. Even more so, is 70% said they wouldn’t make a purchase online without at least consulting product reviews first.
Reviews give you social proof, and help people to see just how great your products work for others just like them. Authenticity is crucial toward product purchases and your shoppers want to know what others think.
But how do you get more reviews?
One of the best ways is just to ask.
For example, you could set up an autoresponder that gets sent some time after a customer makes a purchase on your website, thanking them for their purchase and giving them a quick link to review the product when they’re ready. But what if you’re trying to launch a new product with zero reviews?
With the added boost of our Influencer and Product Suite, you can connect to our massive everyday influencer list to help gain authentic product insights and reviews through sampling campaigns. A smart Instagram influencer marketing campaign could truly help your new product gain the social proof it needs to drive more sales.
In fact, data from PowerReviews, gathered from Northwestern with other partners, shows just five reviews can increase the likelihood of purchase by 270%. This is a significant advantage to brands increasing the number of reviews and the overall quality.
6. Be the Human Connection Your Audience Needs
Sometimes, the best word-of-mouth marketing strategy is better connecting to your customers, whether it be on social media, email or in person. Brands are trying harder each day to be more “real” with their viewers, and while it can get you some likes, authenticity drives actual product confidence.
Even though the centennials are the new craze for marketers to target, you don’t want to come off fake to your audience. Try to avoid getting swept up in the Twitter beef world, but instead, be true to your company mission and products.
A Centennial Shopper Report from PowerReviews found 44% of this age demographic said they wouldn’t trust the quality of the product if there’s no negative reviews. That’s the sort of connection you want to build with your shoppers.
By monitoring branded keywords and conversations where your brand has been tagged, you can be ready to jump in and respond to your online community. Sometimes having that authentic marketing touch is all that people need to fall in love with your brand.
Stand Behind Your Causes
Several brands have made it clearer about the causes they stand behind. While we’re not touting brands to get extremely political, it is smart to show people the causes you stand with.
Shoppers have their concerns and by simply providing some insights into your stand on organic only, locally resourced or equal pay for your staff, you generate conversations with your shoppers. People like to trust brands that have beliefs in specific causes.
Just make sure you’re not hopping on anything you think is a fad. If your brand truly believes in ditching plastic straws, make sure you’re covering your bases on all environmentally harmful plastics and items used.
TOMS has become well known for its one-for-one campaign by giving a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair bought. The company also frequently gets involved in other causes and events to help things like gun violence.
These causes are close to the company’s heart, and have resulted in incredible growth for this brand. So, reach out to a cause that is close to your brand and invest in your stances.
Take Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategy to the Next Level
Whether or not your brand has a presence on social media, it’s always a good time to start working on a solid word-of-mouth marketing campaign.
Focus on the content you create and your shoppers will appreciate your efforts. All of these tips will help your brand build a loyal community that has no problems spreading the word. Want help on your campaign? Talk to the PowerReviews team to see how we can help you with product launches, build engagement and connect with your customers.
Consumers have a plethora of options when it comes to buying products and the hyper-competitiveness of Amazon controlling roughly half of total online sales doesn’t make things easier. That’s why it’s so important for brands and retailers to be seen in organic search and within product display pages.
This guide was built to help you select the best ratings and reviews partner so you can increase trust with your customers. Some of the topics we cover to help you select a ratings and reviews partner, include:
Technical Capabilities: What technical aspects with your site do you need to launch?
Questions for Potential Vendors: Know what questions are most critical to ask vendors.
Understanding Your Budget: We cover the importance of knowing your budget and possible constraints you’ll run into.