Ready for launch?

If you’re second-guessing your product launch strategy, you have every right to be skeptical. Because product launches often represent a sort of “make-or-break” moment for your business.

Think about the time, energy and resources that go into rolling out a new product. Looming deadlines. All-nighters. All hands on deck as you push for your next promotion to go live.

The reality, though? Conventional wisdom tells us that an overwhelming majority of product launches fail.

Bummer.

Whereas a product launch should create buzz and result in a flood of new business, so many product launches result in, well, crickets. That’s why it quite literally pays to come up with a concrete launch strategy versus just winging it.

Maybe you’re in the planning stages of your next product launch strategy. Or perhaps you’re not happy with how your last launch turned out.

Either way, don’t panic.

We’ve put together a product launch strategy blueprint you can use regardless of what you’re selling. Here are eight actionable tips to help your new product cut through the noise and drive more sales:

1. Mind Your Timeline

First thing’s first: sticking to some sort of timetable is an absolute must-do. Without deadlines in place and milestones in mind, your planning pre-launch phase is doomed to drag on longer than it needs to. This results in wasted time and energy on behalf of your team.

On the flip side, you need to set realistic deadlines that your team can actually meet. Rushing to launch could result in sub-par marketing campaigns and technical errors (think: landing pages not being properly tested, etc). Likewise, businesses should have ample time to hype up their customers and build some much-needed buzz–especially on social media.

There is no “right” answer for how long it should take to launch a product. Depending on your industry and the size of your team, anywhere between 2 and 6 months is typical.

For reference, your launch timeline should account for the following:

  • Conducting market research
  • Gathering creatives for ad campaigns
  • Preparing your sales infrastructure
  • Setting up your reporting and analytics
  • Communicating with customers, influencers and press
  • Testing your funnel

When in doubt, err on the side of giving yourself some wiggle room in terms of your deadlines. It’s better to have your assets ready early rather than scramble when launch day rolls around.

Having a time-sensitive product launch strategy will ultimately help you avoid analysis paralysis, while also holding your team accountable. Below is a sample launch template to illustrate what your launch timeline might look like. Additionally, there are free templates out there which you can adapt to your own business’ goals.

product launch plan

Looking to upgrade from the standard templates? Try some of these recommended product launch tools:

  • Trello: While Trello is free, it’s still an amazing tool to use to track progress, use calendar views and invite teams to collaborate.
  • Asana: This paid tool is great for teams working on various product launches at different times and across departments.
  • Airtable: Even though Airtable offers a free version, most businesses will get more value through the extensive paid plans that offer a ton of features.
  • Monday: Another non-free tool to check out is Monday, which helps team measure progress, set deadlines and assign users.

2. Put Your Past Products Under the Microscope

Product launches are all about hype and “what’s next” for your business. But before you get too obsessed with what the future holds, it’s crucial to reflect on the past.

For example, do you know what customers dig about your current products? What’s a feature that many causes everyone a little frustration?

By understanding the positive and negative quirks with what you’re selling, you know what gets people stoked or disinterested. That’s why it’s important to emphasize the positive features your customers already love and talk about the upgrades in areas that caused the most problems throughout your launch.

Intelligence Suite Messaging PowerReviews

PowerReviews’ Intelligence Suite drills down and uncovers terms and features your current customers love and want you to improve. Digging into your ratings and reviews lets you hone in on the exact upsides and benefits that appeal to real-life buyers.

If you’re launching a new version of a product, find the adjectives that reviewers felt with your product in the first place. You’re customers are already giving you the details, it’s up to you how you sift through and analyze your review content.

product insights top adjectives

These details are key to your messaging and positioning. Highlighting your strengths helps you appeal to your target audience, and addressing your weaknesses gives customers some much-needed peace of mind.

PowerReviews Demo Banner

3. Perfect Your Pitch

Piggybacking on the previous tip, a well-crafted pitch goes a long way when launching a product. Your customers and prospects are bombarded with marketing messages on a daily basis. Not to mention that our attention spans as consumers these days are practically microscopic.

And so your product should quickly and easily answer the question of “so what?”

From marketing messaging and tag lines to your sales copy and beyond–consider your elevator pitch that defines your product, including:

  • Who is your product for? (hint: your target audience)
  • Why should someone buy your product? (hint-hint: benefit-driven language)
  • Why does your product launch matter? (hint-hint-hint: your unique selling proposition)

It might be unfair or cliche to use Apple as an example here, but they do a brilliant job of getting down to the nitty-gritty and answering “so what?” Check out the recent announcement of the Apple Card:

“This is Apple Card. A credit card created by Apple, not a bank. Built for simplicity, transparency and privacy. Coming this summer.”

This brief description coupled with the specifics of the announcement video answers everything a curious customer would need to know and get hyped.

We can likewise go back in time and apply the same rules to the launch of the latest generation of the Apple Watch:

“The largest Apple Watch display yet. A new electrical heart sensor. A Digital Crown with haptic feedback. New workouts. Advanced running features. And enhanced cellular connectivity. Introducing Apple Watch Series 4. Fundamentally redesigned and re-engineered to help you stay even more active, healthy, and connected.”

See how that works?

4. Make Sure Your Team is On the Same Page

A quick tip, but one that bears repeating–your entire team needs to be totally on board when it comes to your product launch!

After all, preparation and promotion don’t happen in a vacuum.

For example, is your sales team equipped for the leads that your marketing team is generated? Do they know where those leads are coming from? Does your tech team have all of the creatives and campaign information ready for your product to go live?

customer service help twitter

Oh, and does your customer service team understand the features of your new products and feel comfortable answering questions about them?

These questions highlight why collaboration is so important during a launch.

Whether through face-to-face meetings or the project management tools we listed, don’t be shy about frequent check-ins in preparation for a product launch. Your team should be comfortable with communicating to guarantee everything goes smoothly.

5. Choose Your Marketing Channels Carefully

Businesses are spoiled for choice when it comes to marketing channels for a product launch.

For example, some companies might be content with Facebook ads, email and an organic social campaign. Other brands might incorporate direct mail or a PR blitz in order to drum up interest.

Although marketing channels will vary from business to business, any combination of the following can help cover your bases and maximize your exposure:

  • Owned Media: blog posts, images, videos, emails and social content that your brand creates and publishes itself
  • Earned Media: organic advertising via press mentions, reviews and shout-outs from industry players
  • Paid Media: advertising (social and PPC) and influencer marketing campaigns

product pulse paid ad

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing your new products. This again speaks to the need for businesses to look backward and see what channels have paid off in the past.

Also, this signals the importance of planning early. Although you may be able to create in-house emails and ads in no time flat, conducting outreach with influencers and industry publications might take a few weeks.

6. Encourage Others to Promote Your Launch

Much of the success of a product launch hinges on how much buzz you’re able to build. And arguably the best ways to build buzz is to let others do the talking.

Social shout-out. Working with micro-influencers. Getting more mentions. The works.

This is especially important for reaching new customers. Because while you may have instant access to your own customers, having others promote your launch allows you to tap into entirely new audiences. Doing so also serves as social proof that you’re worth talking about and therefore worth buying from.

influencer and sampling suite graphic

While you can score mentions and shout-outs organically, try to ensure folks talk up your launch with the help of a product sampling campaign. In short, product sampling puts what you’re selling in the hands of people who are the most likely to sing your praises.

PowerReviews’ product sampling suite taps into millions of influencers, allowing businesses to find the right fit based on their target audience demographics and buying behavior.

Our analytics tools allow brands to track performance on product sample campaigns as well. Know how many reviews came from product samples, images uploaded to your site and who’s mentioning your product on social.

performance management in influencer and sampling suite

The more mentions you win via product sampling and everyday influencers, the more eyes are on your product. This has the potential to create a sort of snowball effect that results in more customers, higher social engagement and a flurry of positive feedback.

7. Don’t Neglect Your Current Customers

This might seem like a no brainer, but you don’t forget the value of your current customers as part of your product launch strategy!

Yes, a product launch is a prime time to win over new customers. But given the relatively high cost of customer acquisition, you arguably have the most to gain from the ones you already have.

For example, consider how you can engage your email list with exclusive discounts and sneak previews. If nothing else, you can hype them up with teases and launch announcements out-of-the-blue, too.

soylent launch example

Similarly, a product launch is the perfect time to curate reviews, testimonials and encourage your customers to share their user-generated content to get your mentions up before the big day. Modcloth does a great job at mentioning their biggest fans and using their content to promote (with permission) on their own Instagram.

8. Reflect on the Long-Term Impact of Your Launch

Last but not least, there’s so much more to a product launch than the day that everything finally goes live. And sure, you have every right to pop champagne and celebrate.

However, don’t forget the long-term implications of your launch. To squeeze as much out of your product launch strategy as possible, you obviously want the momentum for your launch to last as long as possible.

This concept is a two-way street. For starters, businesses should continue to promote their latest products and encourage customers to share their experiences (hint: user-generated content and reviews) that you can use as future marketing firepower for your next launch.

powerreviews analytics and reports graphic

Tracking ratings and reviews analytics can help you dissect and learn from your customers to have a better product launch. Also, these features help you benchmark new launches by tracking new and incoming reviews as well as total review coverage.

Keep a keen eye on your sales performance and analytics as well. This will clue you in on where you can improve next time. Get answers to questions like, what were your most valuable marketing channels? Were you able to reach your sales goals?

Once you understand these data points, rinse and repeat the steps above to make sure that you maximize the returns from future launches.

And with that, we wrap up our list!

Is Your Product Launch Strategy Squared Away?

There’s no denying that a product launch can be daunting. With so many moving pieces, businesses are tasked with finding a balance between planning and getting their product out in the open.

By paying attention to the pointers above, approach your next product launch with a renewed sense of confidence as you have your most important details covered.

And with the help of PowerReviews, we make it easier to streamline the process of building buzz and winning more customers in the process.

Sounds like a pretty good product launch strategy, right?

Brent Barnhart

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Brent Barnhart is a professional writer and content critic. When he’s not battling the latest buzzwords, you can often find him strumming the nearest guitar. Feel free to bug him on Twitter or check out his website brentwrites.com.

The consumer buying process in retail and ecommerce comes down to a single decision to add an item to their cart–but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Plenty of things are going on behind the scenes. Usually a lot of thought and actions beneath that decision are in place to encourage customers to complete a purchase.

With the exception of impulse buys, consumers do a considerable amount of research before deciding to buy. And in today’s marketplace, the brands that thrive are the ones that get in front of shoppers long before they decide to make the purchase.

How exactly can you do that?

It all starts with understanding the full consumer buying process. You need to be aware of the different stages that shoppers experience in their retail journey and find ways to win as they go from one step to the next.

Jump ahead to each stage by clicking the link:

Let’s have a look at what the five essential stages of the consumer buying process and what to do at every step to put your brand at the forefront of your customers’ minds:

Stage 1: Problem Recognition

The consumer buying process starts off with the customer having a problem that can be solved by a product or service. This manifests itself in a number of ways.

In some cases, the shopper starts off feeling the symptoms of an issue. For example, an office worker might find their computer is slowing down, but they’re not sure of the exact problem or how to solve it.

In other cases, the problem is more straight cut. Say a woman develops blisters after wearing a pair of high heels for a full day. She immediately recognizes the problem and knows  she needs something (e.g., anti-blister products or new shoes) to fix it.

There are times when consumers discover a problem they didn’t know existed. This might occur in a situation like when a driver sees an auto insurance ad and realizes they’re overpaying. As a brand marketer, you need to understand when and how the need for your product or service arises.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What scenarios or incidents push people to look for your offerings?
  • What ways create a demand for your products?
  • How do you get people to realize a need you can fulfill?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you figure out what content or campaigns types to create. The ultimate goal is to engage shoppers as they move through the next stage of the buying journey. This is the consumer buying process when they search for more information.

Questions and answers banner

Stage 2: Information Gathering

It might sounds simple, but once the consumer recognizes they have a problem (or symptom of it), they proceed to research to solve the issue. So, the office worker who has a slow computer might start looking for software improvements to speed things up. And the driver who’s overpaying for insurance, they’ll start searching for a way to lower their payments.

The goal at this stage is to put your brand on the radar of your target customers. There are a number of ways to do this.

Leveraging Google

The majority of consumers—85% according to a survey by Kenshoo—turn to Google when looking for product ideas and information. This indicates the search giant is still the top research tool for consumers.

To that end, you need to make sure that your brand shows up for relevant search queries. Accomplishing that requires extensive keyword research and and little help with SEO initiatives. First, you need to figure out the terms and phrases potential customers search for in Google. Then you should optimize your website accordingly.

Let’s go back to that example of the office worker whose computer is slowing down. If you want to get in front of people having that problem, start by determining the phrases most likely searched associated with those pain points.

A quick look at Google Keyword Planner shows some of the top relevant keywords are why is my computer so slowslow computer and computer running slow.

google keyword planner search example

Use this keyword information to craft content or ad campaigns for your target audience. For example, one of the top search results for the query why is my computer so slow shows a blog post from CMIT Solutions, a firm that offers IT support products and services.

The company wrote up a great article on computer slowness and what consumers can do to speed things up.

CIMT solutions organic rank example

Because of that piece of content, CMIT Solutions gets in front of consumers dealing with slow computers. Additionally, this gives them a bit of an edge when a shopper decides to buy a product or hire someone for fixing computers.

Work With Your SEO & SEM Teams

However, getting to the top of Google’s organic search results is tough. This is why some brands invest in SEO teams and agencies. But it’s also why some brands think it makes more sense to invest in advertising.

Insurance companies such as Progressive and AIS are doing just that. These companies bid on keywords to show up in Google searches. And for many marketers reading, you’re likely already knee-deep in SEM and PPC (pay-per-click) strategies.

how to lower car insurance search exampleThere’s no single best way to win over Google searchers. Understand if you’re altering any area of the consumer buying process, SEM and SEO could be a major area to help your efforts.

These folks help you figure out what’s best for your brand by understanding the audience and competitive landscape. Then you’ll want to craft your SEO or SEM strategy from there.

Using Online Marketplaces Like Amazon & eBay

Google isn’t the only website that people turn to when researching what to buy. According to the Kenshoo study cited above, 72% of consumers are likely to find product ideas and information on Amazon and 38% on eBay.

These online marketplaces clearly play a role in consumer’s buying journeys. So, if it makes sense for your business, establish a strong presence in these marketplaces.

Everyone wants to know how to compete with Amazon, even if you choose the marketplace route. This is why you have make sure you create product listings on these websites and then optimize them for search.

Let’s say you’re selling anti-blister footpads and want to get in front of Amazon shoppers. Doing this starts with creating a listing with a relevant title and product description.

amazon shoe insert search example

It’s important to note, though, that marketplaces like Amazon and eBay factor in seller performance and reviews when ranking product listings, which means getting to the top of search results will take time, successful sales and positive reviews.

Just like with Google, if you want to get to the top search results faster, consider investing in sponsored listings. Paid avenues always get you to in front of eyes faster, but again, it’s critical working with your SEM team to ensure you’re targeting the right demographics and keywords.

sponsored amazon search example

The last thing you want to do is invest a ton of paid search money into a sponsored search without doing your research first. But when done right, you easily blend your paid content into organic results.

Ramping Up Your Social Media Efforts

Consumers spend a lot of time on social media. Research from GlobalWebIndex’s 2018 flagship report on social media discovered people spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networks and messaging.

Social is a significant component of people’s daily lives, which is why it makes sense to use these networks to connect with potential customers.

But there’s a major caveat to selling on social media. Unlike with Google, Amazon or eBay, most consumers aren’t actively searching for products on social media.

If you want to get your brand on users’ radars, create demand and convince shoppers you have products that fulfill needs they didn’t know they had. Social media ad campaigns, such as this one by Aaptiv, is a great example of this tactic

Aaptiv instagram ad example

A person idly watching Instagram Stories probably isn’t thinking about working out. However, a compelling ad could be just the thing that convinces them otherwise. There’s a ton of benefits to Instagram, but it’s all about how you use visual content to connect with consumers.

Harnessing Word of Mouth

Consumers like to hear recommendations from one another. The power of word-of-mouth marketing is real, which is why we’ve seen such a spike in everyday influencers. Also, consumers research by asking their social networks for solutions and product recommendations.

This one of the reasons why word of mouth is valuable. Now, there are certain things you can do to boost word of mouth and referrals, but ultimately, the best way to get your customers to talk up your brand with their friends is to focus on customer satisfaction.

Regularly monitor satisfaction levels through surveys like NPS, CSAT and CES, and make sure that you’re hearing—and addressing—their concerns.

In doing so, you’ll find that customers won’t just buy from you repeatedly, they’ll also recommend your products whenever the opportunity arises.

Stage 3: Evaluating Solutions

After doing their research, consumers typically make a shortlist of brands or products for their needs. At this stage, shoppers look at specific solutions to their problems.

For instance, someone who’s dealing with a slow computer would be deciding whether they should hire an IT expert, purchase software that or buy a new computer altogether.

The objective is to position your product as the best choice for the shopper. Here are some of the steps you can take to influence your product in the consumer buying process:

Optimize Your Product Descriptions

Write unique and compelling product descriptions that accurately describe your merchandise while enticing people to buy. See to it that your descriptions contain the right keywords and write your copy in a tone and style that’s relatable to your audience.

In terms of formatting, make the text scannable by using shorter paragraphs, headers and bullet points.

Urban Outfitter does this quite well. In its product description below, you’ll see that the retailer’s content is short but descriptive, and the company made good use of headers and bullet points.

urban outfitters product details example

Use Great-Looking Visuals

Virtually any retailer needs to have strong visuals, particularly when selling online. If you want your products to be considered, you need to wow them with great-looking photos.

Also, consider taking your visual game to the next level by adding user-generated content to your product pages. Through tools like the PowerReviews Visual and Social Suite, brands easily collect, display and even authenticate user-generated content to appear on your product pages.

grove bed customer photos examples

Take a page out of Room & Board’s playbook. Aside from having multiple product photos that showcase the store’s items from various angles, Room & Board’s product pages also feature customer-submitted images. This gives shoppers a better idea of how each item would look in real-world environments.

Leverage Ratings and Reviews

Speaking of user-submitted content, make sure your product pages contain numerous authentic reviews. PowerReviews Growing Power of Reviews report shows a whopping 97% of consumers consult reviews before making a purchase. Not having authentic reviews on your site likely causes more damage to your conversions than you think.

But with that said, simply throwing up a bunch of reviews or even going the shady route of paying for reviews on your product pages won’t cut it. Give your customers the best experience possible by keeping your ratings and reviews organized and easy to read.

Check out what Nutrisystem is doing. The review section on its product pages displays rating distributions to give shoppers an at-a-glance view of each product’s ratings.

nutrisystem review display example

On top of that, Nutrisystem lists the top pros and cons of each item. The company also provides the most helpful positive and negative reviews. And before you write off a little harsh feedback, consider the fact that many people prefer to see negative reviews before buying.

The same Power of Reviews report found 86% of shoppers under the age of 45 specifically seek out negative reviews before buying. Don’t discount negative feedback because showcasing your pros and cons allows customers to feel confident and trust your review display.

Use Q&As

Shopper questions come up no matter how detailed you make your product descriptions. See to it that you have a system for fielding questions, then get back to customers with the appropriate answer.

Nutrisystem, once again, is doing an outstanding job in this area. The company has questions and answers software on its product pages that contains user-submitted questions and verified answers from the Nutrisystem team.

nutrisystem questions and answers example

Having Q&A software addresses customer concerns about the product immediately. And for brands selling products across retailer pages, having limited access to answer questions on retail sites significantly affects sales.

That’s why we created Brand Engage. This solution allows brands to connect to the PowerReviews Open Network and answer customer questions about the brand specifically on retailer sites.

flexible answering for product questions powerreviews example

With badged answers, you give shoppers confidence that the product answer to their question comes directly from your brand. If you’re truly wanting to improve the consumer buying process, you can’t forget the retailers who also sell your products.

Stage 4: Purchase Phase

All your efforts led customers to choose your brand at the purchase phase of the buying journey. This is the stage when they’re ready to get the credit card and buy your product.

It’s an excellent position to be in, but don’t get complacent. You can still lose them if you don’t offer a smooth checkout experience.

Strive to make the process as quick and painless as possible. Amazon is a master at this with its one-click checkout. This lets people complete their purchase with a tap of a button.

one-click checkout example on Amazon

If that’s not possible for your store, there are still a number of things you could do to successfully get shoppers through the checkout process. The key is to minimize the number of hoops that people have to jump through in order to complete the purchase.

Provide Guest Checkout

For starters, allow customers to check out as guests when buying from your site. Requiring them to create an account adds another step to the buying process, which could lead to shoppers bouncing from your site.

walmart checkout example

Pre-Fill Shopper Details Whenever Possible

If your shopper with an existing profile decides to buy from you, put their information to good use by making it easy to check out. For instance, if you already have their shipping information, pre-populate the checkout form with their details to speed up the process and limit double entry.

Sephora does exactly that for members of its Beauty Insider program.

sephora checkout example

Instill a Sense of Urgency

Another effective way to prod customers to complete the checkout process is to instill a sense of urgency. If you’re running a promotion or special pricing, for example, you could add a countdown indicating how much time shoppers have left to finalize their purchase.

Here’s an example from The RealReal.

the real real checkout example

There are plenty of A/B testing tools out there that allow you add widgets, countdowns and timers to encourage purchasing. The best part is you can test these modals with the standard checkout to see your results.

Stage 5: The Post-Purchase Phase

Finally, we have the post-purchase phase. At this point, you’ve successfully converted lookers into buyers.

Congrats!

Now it’s time to gather feedback. You also want to ensure shoppers remain customers for as long as possible. It’s all about retention if you truly want to increase sales. Check out a few ways you can retain customers in the final stages of the consumer buyer process:

Ask for Ratings and Reviews

The first thing you should do after a customer buys is ask for reviews. This can be done with a simple automated post-purchase email requesting for shoppers to share their feedback. Additionally, you want to get as many reviews as possible.

When shoppers buy multiple items, it’s difficult to get even one review for a single item. But using a form that never leaves another page and lets you consistently ask for reviews for all products is extremely helpful.

ratings and reviews collection of review your purchases

PowerReviews’ review your purchase features does just that. Easily collect more reviews by making it simpler for customers to actually write content and provide feedback. Again, the more barriers in the consumer buyer process, the less likely you’ll see positive results.

Measure Customer Satisfaction Over Time

Collecting feedback is just the beginning. To truly get the most out of your customers’ ratings and reviews, make it a point to analyze shopper input to gain actionable insights.

Relevant information should be routed to the right departments (e.g., Product, Sales and Marketing). This let’s your company continuously improve your products, services and positioning.

Encourage Repeat Purchases

You don’t want people to buy from you just once. As much as possible, you want to encourage repeat purchases by regularly keeping in touch with great content and promotions.

Nordstrom does a great job at this. The retailer’s email marketing calendar has a healthy mix of promotions (based on each customer’s shopping history), announcements and invitations to free and informative events.

beauty and style workshop

Here’s a recent example of an email inviting Nordy Club members to a complimentary beauty and style workshops. Such efforts help keep the brand top of mind. That’s perfect when the need for new apparel or accessories comes up so Nordstrom will be highly considered.

Connect With Consumers Every Step of the Way

As you can see, retail purchases don’t just happen. Consumers spend quite a bit of time and effort before arriving at a decision. And brands that want to win sales must engage with shoppers at every stage of their purchasing journeys.

Follow the pointers we’ve outlined in each step and start customizing!

Have any questions? Contact our awesome team to see how PowerReviews could help improve your customer journey.

Francesca Nicasio

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Francesca Nicasio is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B content for companies in the retail, technology and SMB space.

Let’s start by asking an important question–what’s one of the main reasons why shoppers willing spend more on competitors?

Product quality.

When customers believe they’re getting top-of-the-line product or an item from a trusted brand, shoppers dig deeper into their pockets. In fact, a 2018 Deloitte holiday shopping habits report found when it comes to the importance of a product, 71% of respondents said they look for high-quality items and trusted brands when buying.

deloitte holiday shopping graphic

So how would you rate your product quality? Are you confident in saying you offer the best in your industry? If you’re realistic, you know that product quality is something that requires constant testing, improvement and customer feedback to know how to make your customers happier.

No brand or retailer is perfect, but those who let product quality slide to the back burner, will more likely see problems reoccur. So what kind of problems?

Here’s four reasons your product quality can make or break your business in today’s market what you can do to fix it:

1. Your Reputation Precedes You

It’s no secret that people talk about your brand online. What they say can make you a hero or a villain. And in a super connected world, it doesn’t take long for a customer experience to trend on Twitter.

You don’t have to spend too much time to think of a brand that’s earned negative press recently. Sadly, it’s a little harder thinking of a company highlighted in a positive way for their customer experiences.

Your brand reputation means everything when it takes just a single poor experience to derail your customer satisfaction strategy. To combat this, brands are interacting more frequently to create positive experiences.

While Blue Apron regularly interacts with customers’ positive tweets, the company also addresses issues and any product flaws. By immediately answering questions or concerns, users know the team is putting in the effort to create a good experience and a better reputation.

The quality of the product or service you provide has a huge impact on what people say about you. In fact, the Sprout Social Q3 2017 Index found 37% of shoppers will share a positive social experience online with friends and family. What’s even better is 45% will share a positive brand experience on social media.

It doesn’t take long for these positive experiences to move through your customers’ feeds and in turn, define your reputation. Whether it’s good or bad, brands have to ensure reputations are in check by answering concerns on social and creating more paths for feedback.

2. Satisfied Customers Will Come Back for More

Satisfied customers are the end goal for most brands and retailers, right? It’s important to know how closely brand loyalty and product quality are tied together, especially for Gen Z shoppers.

In a Yes Marketing survey, the company saw 57% of Gen Z shoppers directly linked quality to brand loyalty. Younger generations continue to get wiser with how they spend.

This will only translate to increased revenue for brands focusing on product quality–as long as they’re good enough for people to keep coming back. Another study from BIA Advisory revealed that 61% of SMBs get more than half of their revenue from repeat customers rather than new customers.

Zenni Optical offers affordable eyewear and frequently highlights its customers who have collections and love to show off more than one pair of frames. The brand’s message is clear and they prove through a quality product, they offer affordable frames and still have style.

When you look to improve the quality of the products you provide, people will constantly come back for more. Thus, you’ll have a more valuable customer base and higher revenue.

Set Yourself From the Rest

What are the standards for product quality in your industry? How can you go above and beyond them?

Taking the extra step to consistently improve shows customers you’re not only trusted, but invested in higher quality products. Consumers appreciate when brands are able to improve and make items better with quick turn arounds.

For example, you may not think that much could be done to improve a standard bicycle lock. However, Lattis created an innovative lock that goes above and beyond with GPS tracking, keyless locking and solar panels for self-charging.

lattis bike lock landing page

A Lab42 report discovered 84% of shoppers want brands to be innovative with their products. By consistently improving your product quality, you get ahead of your competition and further stand out in your industry.

3. Builds a Foundation for Word-of-Mouth Marketing

If you haven’t read our word-of-mouth marketing strategy, bookmark it now! By enabling your fans to do the heavy lifting in your marketing efforts, you draw more traffic to your products by promoting customer voices.

At the same time, you save on friends telling one another the benefits of your business. So how do you build this foundation for your customers to communicate and engage with your business?

Some of the best ways to engage your fans through word of mouth include:

  • Creating a branded hashtag: By using a social media platform that best works for your customers, you can create a hashtag that encourages your fans to share, shoutout and have a say about your product with the rest of the world. Push branded hashtags in marketing campaigns, contests and product launches.
  • Promote fan feedback: When you get fans to write review content, you’re not only promoting communication, but you also get detailed product insights at the same time. It should always be encourages to write authentic reviews, but when you work with your loyalists, you can expect more truthful content.
  • Product Sampling Campaigns: Brands continue to see success in product sampling campaigns to build communities of trusted advocates and everyday influencers to promote your brand. What better way to get your brand out there than to provide a sample with simple guidelines to write reviews, give feedback and share across social? BzzAgent does just this. See how a community of millions of shoppers can help spread the word about your newest products.

influencer and sampling suite syndication example

Trust Your Quality to Spark More Conversations

While data from an Invesp infographic shows 88% of shoppers put the most faith in word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know, what gets them to talk in the first place? One of the best ways to start a word-of-mouth marketing strategy is to put effort behind a product people know they can trust to tell all their friends and family about.

When you offer a great product, people will feel naturally motivated to refer others. This is the kind of marketing that money can’t buy: it’s truly priceless.

4. Learn from Everything You Do (Both Right & Wrong)

By learning from your customers, you’re better equipped to build a foundation of quality in all your products. Your shoppers want to know their buying decisions were right and that they can trust to come back to you in the future.

Know what worked in past campaigns and take those insights into future products. You have to start by learning who your customers are and what they want. A Salesforce report found only 37% of shoppers believe retailers understand them and their needs.

This should tell you that consumers want the personalization and experience to match what they’re already saying about you. People want authenticity and it starts with you simply listening.

Product Pulse banner

Tune In to Your Product Reviews

One of the best places to listen to your customers and understand what they’re already saying is through product reviews. This content gives you some incredible ideas to how improve your product quality and what they want from you.

If you’re getting hundreds of reviews on your products, it could take you hours to analyze and draw ideas for product improvements. This is why so many brands avoid using the manpower to dig and sift through product reviews.

To fix that issue, PowerReviews launched the review analysis tool Product Pulse to save brands time by analyzing review data per product. Collecting all of this data is as simple as gathering and collecting reviews and tracking the sentiment based around them.

Image describing the rating sentiment of Blackberry Syrup

Product Pulse lets you dig through common adjectives, link them to sentiment and discover what your customers really think of your products. This kind of data also help you find areas to improve products, so start listening now.

Make Popular Features Even Better

But if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

It’s true that if you have a feature or a product that people really love, you don’t want to tamper with it too much. However, making data-based improvements on a feature that is already popular can make the whole user experience pop.

Try to improve a feature that your customers already love by:

  • Understanding how customers use your feature or product
  • Gathering data and customer feedback where the biggest issues and success stories exist
  • Finding ways to improve the way a product does what it’s simply made for

By following a few of these tips, you deliberately improve the focused on expanding a feature than just fixing issues. Know what you do best and always look for room to grow.

Your Product Quality Matters: Can You Improve?

Product quality has a huge affect on the success of your business. Bad-quality items ruin your reputation online, whereas improving your product quality builds trust in your customers, set you apart from the competition and can even lower return rates.

Remember, improving your product quality is a constant process. You need to be aware of what people are saying about you online, whether in reviews or on social media, in order to take action and boost sales.

By following these steps, your products (and your business) will finally be able to reach and exceed their potential.

Amy Copadis

Amy Copadis

Amy Copadis is a writer and blogger covering various topics including digital marketing, travel, natural health and ecommerce.

By now you most likely know that a quick-loading webpage is extremely important to your customers’ experience and for your site’s conversion rate. And one of the more important aspects of these metrics has to deal with your Javascript size.

Consumers have a high demand for site performance and speed. In case you’re not sure what all the hype is about, we put together a list of the most interesting facts that show why load times are essential for businesses wanting to improve site experiences:

  • 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • 79% of users experiencing slow load times won’t make a purchase from that website again.
  • A 1-second delay means an 11% loss in page views and a 7% decrease in conversion.
  • A 1-second delay in load time would cost Amazon $1.6 billion each year.

As you can see, consumers don’t have the patience for slow loading sites. And with an endless aisle of options, they don’t need to.

Ratings and reviews partner banner

Enhancing Site Speed Is Our Goal

This is why PowerReviews made it one of our goals this year to improve our Javascript size. After all, it’s one of the main aspects powering the customer purchase journey and affecting important load times where you need it the most.

In February 2019, we released enhancements that drastically improved (by limiting) our Javascript size. These enhancements are available right now for our clients without any implementation change!

Additionally, the updates will lead to the reduction in Javascript size throughout every touchpoint on your site’s product pages. For a more detailed breakdown, see the chart below:

The breakdown of pages and their size reduction:

Page Type Percent Size Reduction
Product Listing Page (Category Pages) 61%
Product Details Pages 20-26%
Write a Review & Review Your Purchases 40%

What Changed?

In order to drastically reduce the size of our Javascript, we added logic to the code to analyze configuration in real time. Now, PowerReviews only loads the components of pages that are necessary. This basically means our Javascript is working smarter, not harder.

How Does This Compare to Others?

To understand how we compare among the rest, we looked at two companies using competitor solutions that offer similar features to PowerReviews. We chose the two examples below based on the fact that they are open about discussing their small Javascript bundle size and quick load times with the public.

Company 1

This company is using a competitor Ratings & Reviews and Q&A solution and has a total Javascript Bundle of 328.4kb. With PowerReviews, this same functionality comes in between 152-173kb, which is 47.3% smaller. That’s almost half the size!

Company 2

This company displays review snippets on their Product Listings Pages, features Ratings & Reviews on their PDPs and has a total bundle size of 266.4kb. With PowerReviews, Company 2 would be able to load their PLPs at 85kb (68% smaller) and their PDPs at 160kb (40% smaller).

How Will This Affect Me?

At PowerReviews, we are focused on helping our clients win. This means investing in different areas of our business that will have a great impact on our clients and ultimately their shoppers.

We identified Javascript size as an area where we could help our clients serve their customers with a greater experience, which in turn will help our clients boost the number of return shoppers and conversion.

How Can We Further Reduce the Size of PowerReviews Javascript Within Our UGC Experience?

Check back in our next installment when we share some ways you can do this! Until then, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Rachel Bentley

Rachel Bentley

As a Senior Product Manager at PowerReviews, Rachel heads the display and collect team and creates solutions that our clients, and their customers, love. She has nine years of experience optimizing conversion and uses quantitative and qualitative metrics to educate internal and external stakeholders on best practices and find opportunities for scaling business value.

Let’s face it–you want to know how to get more reviews. But the increased access to online shopping has drastically cut down the amount of brick and mortar businesses we frequent.

In fact, the PowerReviews report on How to Beat Amazon shows that in a single month nearly 60% of people make up to three online purchases through Amazon alone. As online shopping grows, so too does the competition.

And with the Proven Power of Reviews report stating 86% of consumers say reviews are an essential resource for purchase decisions, product reviews are more critical than ever. To effectively drive traffic, conversions and sales you need to know how to get more reviews from your customers.

But don’t sweat just yet–we’re going to tell you how to get more reviews and what actually makes a quality review in the first place. We’ll also show you how to leverage a ratings and review platform to make your life easier and why this content is essential for your shoppers.

To make things easier, use these jump links to navigate between sections. If you’re eager to get to the tips right away, simply click on 8 Ways to Get More Reviews Today:

A Look at the Modern Product Review

Before we dive into the importance of reviews and how to get more product reviews, let’s take a look at a modern example. Typically, the average online review consists of several components, including:

  • An average star rating out of 5
  • Custom product feedback, such as questions and answers, from purchasers
  • Visual content such as images and videos shared from purchasers
  • Customer feedback such as pros, cons and best uses
  • Size and fit information from purchases
  • Badging verifying the user’s qualification

There are also brands and retailers that use ratings and review platforms to customize the look of their forms and the information that they share. This allows brands and retailers to sort reviews by their pros and cons, ask users to describe themselves, add tags unique to product types and customize the CSS to be more on-brand.

Online Product Review Snapshot

Why You Need More Product Reviews

PowerReviews works with thousands of brands and retailers to help collect, display and syndicate user-generated content all over the web. Our years of experience with ratings and reviews gives us access to a ton of data, like customer sentiment analysis, that sheds light on the importance of product reviews. Perhaps the most important concept to understand is the sheer number of consumers that tell us reviews are essential to making a purchase decision.

While that’s all fine and well, ratings and reviews aren’t going to get much company buy-in if they don’t contribute to the bottom line. We’re providing a few statistics to help you understand the true impact of ratings and reviews.

Let’s look at how to improve aspects of your business like traffic, conversion rates, sales and product insights.

Ratings and reviews banner

Product Reviews Increase Traffic

Data from the PowerReviews report Mapping the Path to Purchase discovered 35% of consumers begin their purchasing journey on a search engine. And if you’re not within the first few positions of the results pages, you’re missing out on incredibly qualified traffic.

best spring jackets google search example

That’s where product reviews come in. Google actually indexes product reviews, which means their algorithm reads your product’s reviews and makes them searchable or visible on search. So by getting more product reviews, you increase the number of keywords where your products ranks on Google.

These are especially relevant keywords as they consist of consumer language instead of marketing copy. Think of the “best spring jackets” search example above. Search results show specific products, with reviews and links directly to the product page.

Additionally, examples like Lush show the overall reviews for the product in the organic search result. For example, the PowerReviews customer Lush ranks in search for a popular keyword about shower scrubs thanks to their customers’ reviews.

shower scrub search example with reviews

That’s not an isolated incident. Our customers see an average 108% lift in impressions on their product pages when their number of reviews increases from zero. Also, some of our clients see as much as a 239% lift in impressions to product pages with at least one review compared to none.

Product Reviews Increase Conversions

As customers continue to look online when purchasing more high consideration products, it’s important to reduce barriers to conversion. Imagine you’re looking to make a life-changing purchase online by buying something like a mattress. However, you don’t have the opportunity to feel the mattress in person or the type of mattress you want isn’t for sale in stores around you.

The question becomes is the mattress too soft, too hard or does it feel just right? Product reviews ease those purchasing decision barriers by providing your customers with key insights needed to buy confidently. You spend almost a third of your life in your bed, so we doubt you’d buy a new mattress with no reviews, recommendations or tips from advertisements.

room and board mattress reviews details

Room & Board, a contemporary home furnishings retailer with mattresses in their online catalogue, fully understands the importance of reviews for their products. The company does a phenomenal job collecting and displaying their product review content, and in turn, providing a ton of pros and cons descriptions found in their reviews.

Product Reviews Create Better Products

To continue with the mattress example, let’s imagine that users who are ordering your beds are frequently leaving reviews commenting on a odd chemical smell that came with the box. Maybe you have a significant amount of reviews saying there’s poor edge support or the material tends to rip easily.

While it’s nearly impossible and quite expensive to try and be perfect with your products, there’s cues your brand can take in review content to make overall improvements. The problem is, digging through the vast amounts of product reviews takes up a lot of manpower and time.

sentiment analysis on intelligence suite from powerreviews

That’s why PowerReviews developed Product Pulse, a feature included in our Intelligent Suite. Product Pulse digs through your review content and provides a detailed report on common adjectives used and other sentiment analysis associated with your product.

Whether by accident or on purpose, there are brands that completely ignore these messages, finding it easier to bury their heads in the sand than respond to criticisms. These companies will see sales dwindle as product ratings and reviews continue to skew negative.

However, there are leading brands that leverage product reviews–both positive and negative–and use that content to create better products. By analyzing common problems, brands can fix products faster and back up their claims with manufactures with data.

Image describing the rating sentiment of Blackberry Syrup

The best ecommerce managers take this feedback into consideration and pass it to the proper internal teams to guide improvements. And the top ecommerce managers will actually respond to those reviews alerting their customers their feedback is appreciated. Those customers will feel empowered and future shoppers will see that a brand cares about its customers.

What Makes a Quality Product Review?

Now that we’ve established the importance of increasing product reviews from your customers, let’s move on to what makes a great product review. Obviously it’s important to drive reviews that are more than a few short words, but what else can you do to help increase the quality of content on your pages?

Customized Fields for Product Type

One little-known strategy to generate more robust reviews is to customize each of your displays to share information specific to each product type. For example, if you’re selling a sweatshirt or pair of shoes, then collect and share information on the fit, sizing and comfort to help sway buyers on the cusp of a purchase.

How to get customised online reviews

These details help those who are second guessing a purchase feel more confident in their buying decision. With full details in a great review, you eliminate doubt.

Qualified Reviewers Sharing Feedback

Shady tactics exist in the ecommerce space and as competition increases, brands and retailers may feel pressured to find ways to generate less-than-qualified reviews. Whether that’s by writing those reviews themselves or by buying them from someone with no product experience, this has lead to some distrust in the industry.

ijet display badges on powerreviews

So it comes as no surprise that more than a third (36%) of shoppers say that reviews which clearly identify who wrote them, such as a verified buyer or a review written as a result of a free sample, were ‘very important’ or ‘important.’ As you start generating reviews, make sure you have a content moderation system in place to help weed out all of the unqualified reviews that could break the trust you’ve built with customers.

Negative Reviews Actually Help

It may come as a surprise, but negative reviews can actually increase your online sales. In fact, 82% of consumers specifically seek out negative reviews when shopping for a product. As strange as it may seem, shoppers say that poor reviews gave balance to their shopping research, stating that a negative perspective was either a “very important” or “important” factor influencing their decision.

most popular negative review example

Before you hurry to sweep negative reviews under the rug, realize that not only do those reviews lend credibility to your products, but they also offer feedback to help create a better product for your customers. Not only that, but our data shows that customers are less likely to purchase products with a perfect 5-star review than one between a 4.2-4.5 rating.

average star rating for purchases graphic

Answers to Popular Product Questions

Nobody knows what helps a customer convert better than the customers themselves. Let your customers ask questions on the product pages and respond in a timely manner to make the sale. If you can’t support the staff required to answer all of those questions, you can also use a product question and answer tool that allows past purchasers or community experts to respond on your behalf.

Check out this video with Skechers’ ecommerce Merchandising Manager, Timothy Lakin, to see how his team used customer questions to increase their product conversion rates by 32%.

User-Generated Content & Visuals

Almost all customers have a quick way to take a picture of your products to share, and it’s crucial to get them to share those images and videos on the reviews that they leave. Visual content on your product pages is the current must-do to stay competitive online. In fact, our Snapshot for Ecommerce report found 72% of consumers say they regularly or always seek out visual content prior to purchase.

mac visual and social display graphic

Using a visual and social display platform helps you collect social media content, authenticate it, get permissions and display it on your product pages. If your reviews provider isn’t doing all of these things, it might be time to make a switch. Create easy paths for your customers to share their images and videos with an Image Gallery on your product pages and give other shoppers a real-life look into it in use.

8 Ways to Get More Reviews & Generate More Content From Your Customers

Now that we’ve covered what a modern review looks like, why you need more content and the importance of quality, it’s time to dig into the tips on how to get more product reviews on your site. Let’s take a look at the eight ways to get more reviews from your customer:

  • Pro Tip: If any of these ideas seem a bit overwhelming, please reach out to our team to learn how to implement, track and collect more reviews!

1. Encourage Customers to Write Reviews With Post-Purchase Emails

The first and potentially most obvious way to get more reviews for your products is to ask customers to submit them. They’re the most qualified to write about your brand.

review your purchases example on powerreviews

And assuming they’ve had a good experience, they’re the most likely to write something positive. Unfortunately, reaching out to each individual customer one-by-one isn’t an efficient way to drive as many reviews as you need. This is especially true since our previously mentioned report found only 42% of consumers say they leave feedback for their purchases.

Find a way to collect customer emails at the point of purchase. Whether that’s in your physical location or online, you don’t want too much time to pass before you ask for reviews. That’s why so many brands see great results with post-purchase emails. After enough time has passed since their initial order, you can ask for feedback through emails that recount the exact items you bought.

2. Incentivize Customers to Write Reviews

If simply asking your customers for reviews isn’t getting you the conversion rates you want, try incentivizing the process. Create motivation for your customers to write reviews for your products by offering them incentives for doing so.

But before you start giving away items, be careful of what you offer in exchange for reviews. Even though many websites are fine with offering small incentives, some sites, like Amazon, are a bit more strict with their submission guidelines.

It’s important to remain as transparent as possible with your reviews, and create a system to badge different reviews based on whether the reviewer purchased or received an incentive. This helps build confidence in customers and shows transparency in your review collection process. Here’s a couple ways to authentically incentivize more product reviews:

  • Review Sweepstakes: On average, our clients see an 83% uplift in review completion rates during sweepstakes campaigns. You can create sweepstakes in-house to promote and generate more buzz about your products.
  • Offer Free Shipping or Discounts: By giving free or discounted shipping to customers in exchange for reviews, you get more buyers and increase product content. Additionally, using customer experience platforms like Journey IQ help brands and retailers provide discounts for mystery shoppers. Easily collect important experience information to better understand what your customers see when they make a purchase from you.

Thank You email

3. Optimize Your Review Forms for Mobile

If it hasn’t been drilled into your mind enough quite yet, please note that mobile optimization is incredibly important. In fact, StatCounter found mobile internet usage surpassed desktop in 2016.

internet usage by device mobile vs desktop

Another PowerReviews customer who does an amazing job on mobile is Evo, a leading retailer for outdoor apparel and gear. The retailer discovered more than 50% of of their emails are opened via a mobile device, which in turn, incentivizes shoppers to make purchases on these devices.

Instead of viewing this as a potential problem, Evo found a solution to convert those mobile viewers to reviewers. In fact, the retailer teamed up with PowerReviews to update and implement a fully responsive and mobile friendly post-purchase email process.

With the implementation, their team saw a 203% spike in written reviews on mobile devices year over year. Taking advantage of your mobile traffic is just one way you can successfully generate more product reviews.

4. Make It Easy to Review Multiple Purchases at Once

The key to getting more reviews for your products is to make it simple for customers to leave them. Many of your online shoppers buy multiple items at a single time. It doesn’t make sense to send them individual follow-ups asking them to review their purchases one at a time.

Ulta Post Purchase Email

Instead, when emailing your customers, include all of their recent purchases so they can review them at a single time. Whether you’re emailing customers from your own database or leveraging a ratings and review platform, including multiple items significantly increases overall collected content on your site.

The less time users spend, the more review content you will collect. After all, no one wants to click back and forth through different pages to leave multiple reviews. Provide an all-in-one view to write content and create a better experience.

5. Use a Product Sampling Program

If you don’t have many recent customers to look to, it’s hard to generate review content. This is even true for the biggest brands and retailers as new product launches often take time to generate buzz or review content.

However, running a product sampling campaign is the best way to generate content when you don’t have the large customer amounts. Reach out to massive sampling communities filled with everyday and micro-influencers to write authentic feedback about your products.

influencer and sampling suite syndication example

Through product sampling tools like BzzAgent, brands reach a massive group of people wanting to provide visuals and reviews. These folks also want to share their experiences across social channels–all for a free sample. This helps build interest for your products and generate more high quality reviews.

Situations to Run a Sampling Campaign

If you’re still on the fence about product sampling, see some of the most common situations why businesses run them:

  1. A New Product Launch: If you launch a new product with no reviews at all, it’s going to be tough to build trust. Not only will product sampling increase the general awareness of your new product, but you’ll also drive invaluable product feedback.
  2. High Turnover Seasonal Products: When you have seasonal products requiring rapid inventory turnover, it’s tough to get a lot of reviews in a short amount of time. Get a jump on the seasonal competition by increasing traffic and conversion with a product sampling campaign before you launch.
  3. Target Unique Audiences: This is perfect if you need a more targeted audience for your products. Get unique products out to the customers who actually want them and are willing to share their experience with friends.
  4. Small Review Count With Low-Quality Reviews: If you’re your current reviews are low quality, add more reviews. While you never want to promote only positive reviews, running a sampling campaign increases the overall number of reviews. This in turn, increases low-review product pages to high review pages, likely increasing your overall rating.

6. Design & Share Reviews on Social

More than anything, customers just want a platform to express their feedback and know they’re heard. If you don’t recognize that need, you could miss out on valuable reviews. In the previously mention report, we found 55% of consumers who don’t write reviews said they needed a reward or recognition to do so.

One easy way to show users you’re recognizing their contributions is to share their reviews on social. Either directly share their quote–while making sure to give them credit–or simply repost a positive experience.

Casper is always willing to retweet a good customer experience. This creates transparency and it can help drive more reviews if you link to your product pages asking for more reviews!

7. Collect Different Forms of Product Reviews

Images and videos are crucial aspects of strong customer reviews and increase the likelihood of purchase. In fact, our Snapshot for Ecommerce report discovered 72% of shoppers are more likely to buy a product with reviews featuring photos and videos. Allowing customers to submit photos and videos as part of reviews increases the amount of unique content. At the same time, you’ll increase customer conversion.

vineyard vines hashtag graph for visual and social display

Leverage a tool with image displays so customers see products on or in use by people just like them. Promote visual content with easy submission features to directly display the content on your site.

8. Use a Trusted Ratings & Reviews Platform

As you likely noticed, this article mentions various ways to generate, display and syndicate product reviews. By implementing this software, brands and retailers increase content collection and the confidence in their purchasing decisions.

To recap, let’s take a look at our reasons we believe you need a trusted ratings and reviews partner:

  • Collect content from various channels like post-purchase emails and write-a-review forms
  • Display reviews with customizations like size and fit
  • Provide ways to host and display visual content like customer images and videos
  • Optimize your review content for search and increase your traffic and rankings
  • Syndicate all of the reviews brands generate to retailers or increase a retailer access to reviews from brands
  • Add functionality to help increase conversion, such as streamlined product questions and answers

So if you’ve tackled all of the strategies that we’ve listed and are still hungry for more reviews, get in touch with PowerReviews to learn how our platform helps brands and retailers drive traffic, sales and insights.

As always, reach out to us on Twitter to provide your best practices as well!

Alex York

Avatar

Alex York is the Content and SEO Marketing Manager at PowerReviews. Catch him hunting down the perfect gin cocktail in Chicago or endlessly scrolling through Netflix. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjyork.

Getting customers to like you isn’t easy–we get it. But if you don’t have a clear customer engagement strategy, how do you get your shoppers’ attention or to participate with your business at all?

Some social media marketers will say the magic numbers for your engagement level is based on likes, shares and comments. But are you doing your part to create an engagement strategy that surpasses social media and covers the entire buyer journey–whether it’s in store or online?

We live in an era of relationship marketing, which means every interaction is critical to improve retention. In fact, American Express research discovered it takes just one bad experience with a brand to make a customer switch.

Now more than ever, it’s essential to create meaningful relationships, which is why we’re here to talk about the steps you have to take to build a worthwhile customer engagement strategy. In this guide, you’ll discover the basics of a setting up your strategy and 12 methods to engage your customers right now:

What is a Customer Engagement Strategy?

A customer engagement strategy is the process of influencing your current or potential shoppers to interact, share and communicate within an experience your company specifically created. However, it’s just as important to understand the purpose of this strategy as well as to execute it.

The end goal of a customer engagement strategy is to increase brand loyalty and drive more sales through positive shopper experiences. This goes beyond the average sales pitch. Instead, a good strategy involves creating content that catches customers’ attention, draws them in, adapts to their needs and ultimately gives them the best experience possible.

Your customer engagement strategy will only be successful if you pull your eyes away from the dollar signs and focus on the actual people that make up your customer base. In turn, this helps you accomplish other important brand goals, such as:

  • Increased engagement on social media channels
  • Higher brand loyalty in your current customers
  • New advocates for your brand who share their experiences online
  • Generate and spread more positive content related to your brand
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Getting more attention of new customers
  • And (of course) increased sales

While the end result does involve increased sales, your strategy will never work if you’re only focused on the monetary growth. Think of the value you can provide your customers and how their experiences impact sales.

So, what other elements should you include?

Role of visual content banner

12 Principles to Live By in Your Customer Engagement Strategy

If you want to build loyalty and boost brand awareness on and offline, follow these 12 principles for a successful customer engagement strategy:

1. Inject Every Piece of Content With Personality

There’s a reason why certain brands do well with content, while others struggle. Also, those who succeed usually have something in common–they’re authentic.

Data from Stackla showed 86% of consumers think brand authenticity is essential toward making purchasing decisions and what company to support. To make things even more difficult, consumers can tell when you’re faking it.

57-Branded-content-inauthentic

The same survey found consumers think more than 50% of content from brands could be considered unauthentic. By focusing on authentic marketing, you build trust with your content.

So how do you push more authentic content?

Get into the head of your fan base. Know your customers’ daily struggles.

Do they hate that Monday-morning feeling or are they workaholics? Are your shoppers addicted to Netflix or to the feeling of a good workout? What’s gets them out of bed in the morning?

Answer these questions to know what your customers love and they’ll appreciate you popping up in their social feeds and email inboxes. To take this one step further, inject that same level of personality into every single piece of content that users see.

Brands like BarkBox have it a bit easier when it comes to sharing fun and authentic content on social. But the communication with their loyal followers engages and sparks participation with ease.

The company doesn’t just stop on social media. Their website is filled with simple instructions that provide open and honest details of their services. The whole point is to keep this fun-loving theme across all channels so people associate these emotions with BarkBox.

barkbox website CTA example

Whether it’s the copy in your 404 error page, the brief words included in your email or the short paragraph before your latest infographic, the words must pop with the same personality you include in your most important content.

2. Use the Language of Your Audience

If you really want to get into the mind of your audience, you’ll need to understand their language as well. For local businesses, this could include finding regional phrases and wording that show your brand is in sync with its physical location.

Goose Island came to the rescue when its local team, the Chicago Bears, lost in the NFL playoffs on a missed field goal. The brewery used social to engage their fans by calling them out for complaining about the missed kick. The conversation and language used is funny and even feels like a typical sports conversation you’d hear over a beer.

To get fans involved, Goose Island held a field goal kicking contest from the same distance where the professional missed. They got a ton of media attention and people to come out in the snow to participate.

The event was a huge hit and had the entire city buzzing about the contest. And even though many fans were still upset over the loss, the connection and engagement idea matched perfectly to their target audience and their brand’s voice.

The right language will allow your brand to be viewed as a friendly personality rather than a cold, impersonal entity.

3. Give Your Brand a Human Touch

In the spirit of personalizing your brand, giving it a face is a great way to get people to engage. Think of who in your company is the most vocal advocate.

Who is really passionate about the brand and the customers? This person can become the face of your brand, speaking in video content, presenting webinars and more.

Another way to give your brand a human touch is by presenting multiple faces from your company on your website and social channels.

Warby Parker does a great job at this by using employees to model their products. Make your customers feel like your employees to get them on your side!

4. Spice Up Your Social Feed With User-Generated Content

Your customers like to read the honest opinions from each other about your products instead of content from your brand. Why do you think ratings and reviews exist in the first place?

This is why so many people trust user-generated content. Data from CrowdTap found user-generated content is 35% more memorable than your average social posts and is 50% more trusted. Additionally, user-generated content is 20% more influential on purchase decisions.

speedway motors user-generated content example

Speedway Motors uses PowerReviews’ Visual and Social Suite to collect and display user-generated content into reviews. Potential buyers can see images of the products in action from shoppers just like them.

Did you know that 88% of consumers specifically look for images and videos uploaded by other consumers before purchasing? If you want people to remember, trust and be influenced by your social feed, it’s time to incorporate user-generated content.

5. Build Relationships With Your Most-Engaged Social Fans

Customer engagement and relationship-building go hand in hand.

To start, always respond to your customers and fans on social media. Check out how Wendy’s does this with style:

When you see that a certain user always comments on or shares your posts, it may be time to take this a step further. For example, you could include this user in your influencer marketing strategy (especially if they have a decent social following).

Whether it’s asking these influencers to write a blog, do a social media takeover or provide visual content, you take away the brand and focus on creating relationships with people.

6. Give Your Most Valuable Customers VIP Status

People love to feel special. So, give them a reward for being a great customer!

Creating loyalty and rewards programs for repeat shoppers encourages brand loyalty and increases the overall customer experience.

For example, you could invite repeat shoppers to join your VIP club. Then, send them exclusive offers on products, give them early access to time-sensitive sales or let them pre-order new products ahead of the average shoppers.

PowerReviews’ Journey IQ does just that. We help customers engage with brands by becoming mystery shoppers to uncover insights into the overall shopper experience. And the best part is customers get rewarded with deals and exclusive coupons that makes shoppers feel inclusive with your brand.

These kinds of rewards will help current customers fall in love with your brand even more.

7. Publish Content With Your Current Customers in Mind

Sometimes brands focus too much on new customers than on their existing base when creating content. Stop this trend by creating content that is specific to current users of your products.

Check out how The Home Depot does this with their YouTube channel by providing tutorials to those who just made a purchase and might need a little help using a tool or completing a project:

home depot youtube channel examples

They regularly upload how-to’s and DIY guides that are super helpful to their current customer base. In turn, customers are likelier to be loyal to Home Depot since they helped them from start to finish with a project.

There’s no doubt about it–this kind of content boosts customer engagement and improves retention. In fact, 69% of online consumers agree that the quality, timing and relevance of branded content influence their view of a brand.

8. Reward New Reviewers

Want to encourage people to review your products online, but you’re having trouble generating content? One of the best ways to get more content is to incentivize the process!

Try offering a reward for taking the time to write a review, give feedback and post images of their content to help future shoppers. Dangling the carrot of a reward could really help produce more results.

overstock review rewards program Overstock does this with a systematic rewards system for reviewers. It’s not easy getting a bunch of reviews from shoppers all at once, but with the right tools, you can reward shoppers to fill out authentic and honest reviews for all their recent purchases.

It’s smart to drive engagement through post-purchase emails to let customers know about the potential rewards and get their customer feedback while the experience is still fresh in mind.

9. Over-Personalize Content & Offers

We all know personalization is important.

In fact, an infographic by Every Cloud Tech shows that marketers see on average a 20% increase in sales when using personalized web experiences.

every cloud tech infographic example of personalized experiences

Gather customer behavior data to understand what products they’re viewing, where they spend time on your website and if they’ve made any previous purchases. Once you have this data, you can better showcase personalized content to meet their specific needs.

Take this a step further by personalizing the offers you send to your email subscribers. For example, a fashion brand shouldn’t send offers for men’s clothing to a user who has only ever looked at or purchased women’s clothing on their website.

Dive into your customer data to learn purchasing behaviors so you can tailor emails specifically to them and the products they want.

10. Collaborate With Customers to Create & Improve Products

Another tip to follow is getting customers to engage and interact with your brand by inviting their feedback on your products.

Generating ideas from your customers about future products or improvements makes them feel like a part of the process. Also, it might give you an idea for your next big marketing campaign.

Domino’s put this into practice by allowing users to create their own pizza. The campaign was all about engagement and highlighting their customers’ ideas.

dominos pizza legends CTA example

In the end, the marketing campaign combined the idea of brand and customer collaboration with a discount. At the same time, Dominos made it easy to share the experience on social media.

11. Generate Interactive Content

Is your blog lacking strong engagement? Try boosting your engagement rate by creating content that involves your audience.

For example, use quizzes to help customers decide on the best product for them. You can also draw them in with a useful calculator that helps them solve a problem. A fantastic example of interactive content is live videos.

benefit cosmetics facebook example

Benefit Cosmetics puts live videos to good use on Facebook, showing customers how to use their products in a live demonstration. This allows people to comment as the video is rolling.

12. Deliver Fast & Positive Customer Service on Social Media

Your customers want their voices heard. In fact, Telus International found 72% of millennials are more likely to be loyal to a brand that responds to them over social media.

Additionally, 66% of millennials say that their loyalty would be affected by how fast the brand responds to their feedback on social media. Providing customer service on social isn’t new, there are ways to provide better experiences.

Some of the tactics you can use, include:

  • Support Accounts: A lot of bigger tech and software companies are relied on to be running 24/7, which is why having a direct line to the support team is essential. If you want to direct support questions away from your major accounts, create a new one only for customer questions.
  • Search for Conversations: Using social media management tools like Buffer, Hootsuite or Sprout Social allow you listen to conversations on social–even when you’re not tagged or mentioned. It’s always good to find conversations about you and providing answers some customers might have wanted to express.
  • Delegate Social Messages to the Right Team: To speed up your social media answering, make sure you’re delegating questions to the appropriate team. Even if you don’t have a large social team, you can have specific employees from marketing, sales, engineering or recruiting to provide answers to customer questions.

Build Something You’re Proud Of

Increasing brand loyalty, positive feedback and higher sales are all common goals for businesses. But to get there, you need to impress your customers and create experiences that keep them coming back.

It’s all about how you interact and engage with your customers that makes you truly unique in their eyes. Use a customer engagement strategy to build authentic relationships with your audience and prove to them you care.

If done right, you’ll quickly find your own tribe of brand advocates to recommend, share and stand up for your brand. Good luck and let us know on Twitter what you do to build better customer experiences!

Amy Copadis

Amy Copadis

Amy Copadis is a writer and blogger covering various topics including digital marketing, travel, natural health and ecommerce.

From eye-catching advertisements to shopping cart checkouts, there’s an unending amount of areas to improve or simplify in your ecommerce experience. That’s why there are so many helpful (and sometimes unhelpful) ecommerce tools to choose.

Are you using the right ecommerce tools to reach your full selling potential? Have you done enough social media marketing to keep customers engaged? What do shoppers think of your overall customer experience?

Well, there’s a tool for that.

You might wonder why there are so many ecommerce tools, but like most things, the demand is high. In 2018 alone, ecommerce sales in the U.S. skyrocketed to over $504 billion and by 2023, that number is forecasted to hit $735 billion.

statistica ecommerce trends

If you want a piece of that pie, you need to tackle the new challenges ecommerce businesses face each day. With the right tools in place, processes are easier, take less manpower and put your company in better line for success.

But with so many tools, where should you start? That’s why we’re here to break down the 16 ecommerce tools you should know about in 2019 and how they could help your business:

Click the jump links to skip ahead

Reviews & Social Tools

1. PowerReviews

We know we’re making our own list, but we strongly believe user-generated content, like reviews and questions and answers, is essential to your ecommerce store. Review content gives shoppers confidence to make better purchasing decisions and limits the obstacles to get to check out.

In fact, our study on How to Beat Amazon found 43% of consumers get upset or irritated with poor product descriptions. The challenge is collecting, displaying and syndicating this content across your site and retailer partner sites.

product pulse report product detail example

That’s where PowerReviews helps. Our tools not only enable brands and retailers to generate, collect and display authentic ratings and reviews, but also we help businesses draw valuable insights from the content with our Intelligence Suite.

Because 88% of consumers look for user-generated images while going through product pages, we also know the power of social media and ecommerce. Our Visual and Social Suite gives companies the ability to collect, display and get user approval to showcase user-generated content on product pages.

visual and social display Room and Board example

These real-life images give consumers even more confidence to make a purchasing decision. Providing visual cues lets shoppers see products in use from people just like themselves.

Cost: For more pricing info, request a demo today to see our affordable and easy-to-implement options!

2. Buffer

Another essential part of getting the word out online is by using the social media channels that your audience is using. Whether you’re looking to improve your Instagram influencer marketing strategies or listen in on consumer conversations, you need a tool to manage social beyond publishing.

With over 800,000 businesses using Buffer, it’s one of the most trusted social media products, making it an ecommerce tool that you need in your toolbox.

buffer social media management

Buffer allows you to monitor all of your social media accounts from one place. The tool also helps you engage with commenters from one unified inbox, schedule posts in advance and follow up with performance analytics to improve.

Cost: The free version is a good starting point, but like most ecommerce tools, you’ll want to invest in the paid plans so you get features like social media analytics. The good news is the paid versions start at $15 per month.

3. Canva

While Canva isn’t just for social media, this tool is essential for making your online marketing assets pop, social media banners fit properly and ad banners look their best. Canva is an easy to use design tool that most everyone on your marketing team can work with too!canva design options

Additionally, Canva is set up with adaptable templates for email, social, website, ads and more. You can easily add fun graphics, fonts, pictures or patterns to create memorable marketing images for your products.

Cost: Canva offers a free version of their tool as well as differently priced plans depending on team size.

4. BzzAgent

To get a head start at building trust in your audience, it’s vital to get recommendations by the people they trust–each other. And what better place to drive conversation between shoppers than social media?

Enter BuzzAgent–a leading community of everyday influencers that leverage their social powers to promote brands through product sampling campaigns.

influencer and sampling suite advanced targeting example

In fact, Social Media Week stated 74% of shoppers are influenced by and look to social media when making a purchase decision. If you’re looking to generate buzz about your business online, this tool does all the heavy lifting.

First, BzzAgent works with its trusted community of brand advocates that have a reach of more than 2 million followers. Brands then send product samples to these shoppers wanting and willing to write helpful and honest feedback.

These everyday influencers share their content across their own social channels and write reviews where you need them most. It’s a win-win for those wanting to try out new products and for your team to build review content and buzz around your product campaigns.

Cost: Contact the BzzAgent team to see what product sampling campaigns are offered!

Email Marketing Tools

5. OptiMonk

Before you can start sending out emails to your target audience of potential customers, you’ll need to build an email list.

OptiMonk describes itself as a more polite way to increase revenue, by giving you a human-centric marketing tool. You’ll be able to create beautiful pop-ups that get the right message to the right people based on website behavior or even what’s in their shopping cart.

optimonk target example

It also connects with a number of other essential ecommerce tools, like BigCommerce and MailChimp.

Cost: Pricing starts at $29 per month.

6. MailChimp

Once you’ve got your list building tool set up, it’s time to send some emails. MailChimp is one of the biggest names in email marketing for a reason: it’s great!

mailchimp promo offer example

Creating new email campaigns, promo offers and beautiful landing pages is easy, even for those of us with limited design skills. You can also segment those campaigns for different users and take advantage of email automation to save time.

Plus, you’ll get all the valuable insights that their analytics provide. There’s a reason so many people trust MailChimp with automation, creation and promotion.

Cost: MailChimp is free to use when you have under 2,000 subscribers and allows users to send out 12,000 emails per month. Of course, for bigger brands, MailChimp offers plenty of pricing plans to fit your specific needs.

Ratings and reviews banner

Ecommerce Business Tools

7. Sourcify

You need to source products and materials to keep your ecommerce business running, but it’s hard to know who you can trust. If you’ve struggled with product sourcing, this ecommerce tool will help relieve that stress.

sourcify connection example

Sourcify is a sourcing management platform that simplifies your process of finding and working with manufacturers. By matching your business to the right suppliers all around the world, Sourcify helps you save on resources that take up the most time. For ecommerce brands looking to improve their supply chain, this is an all-in-one tool to help create more transparency.

Cost: Depending on product volume, Sourcify offers different pricing plans.

8. Oberlo

If you’re looking at a dropshipping style business, Oberlo is an essential tool. This platform allows you to find the perfect products to sell in your ecommerce store.

oberlo data example

With an abundant marketplace of verified suppliers, it’s very easy to select the right products for your audience, add them to your list and use analytics to back your purchasing decisions. Oberlo also helps you optimize product pages, track orders and sales and automate your pricing.

Cost: The starter plan is free, allowing you up to 50 orders per month. Paid plans start at $29.90 per month.

9. EcomDash

This multifaceted ecommerce tool gives you the ability to control your inventory and orders from one place. The goal of EcomDash is to help you run your business more efficiently.

ecomdash product example

They offer features like dropshipping automation, multi-channel fulfillment, inventory management, order management and much more. Its software helps businesses sell products more effectively and owns features specifically built for retailers looking to improve multi-channel inventory.

Cost: Pricing starts at $60 per month.

Ecommerce Website Tools

10. HotJar

Your website is everything to potential customers wanting to learn more about you. Do you know if your CTAs are in the right spot? Do shoppers stop scrolling through pages at similar spots? What links get the fewest and most clicks across your essential product pages?

 

Luckily, the heat mapping tool, HotJar, is perfect for answering these questions. HotJar allows brands and retailers to quickly and easily discover user intentions through click, scroll, move, share and download heatmaps.

hotjar example of heatmap

This is the perfect tool for those wanting to further investigate conversion funnels so it’s easy to see where site visitors lose interest. Heatmapping is a must for any brand or retailer relying on organic traffic and selling products on their site.

Cost: Basic plans to collect a max of 2,000 pageviews a day is a free option, but for business purposes, plans start at $29 a month for up to 10,000 pageviews a day.

11. BigCommerce

As the name implies, this tool is perfect for enterprise ecommerce stores or those who are looking to scale quickly. BigCommerce is perfect for those who are serious about scaling their brand with powerful ecommerce tools.

bigcommerce mobile example

Additionally, BigCommerce offers a drag-and-drop style website builder, an integrated dashboard for multiple sales channels, strong website security, multiple shipping and fulfillment options and a full suite of conversion optimization tools. The tool is also ideal for brands wanting to significantly improve their mobile usability and sales.

Cost: Pricing starts at $29.95 per month. They also offer enterprise plans for large ecommerce stores and B2B businesses.

12. Shopify

Brands and retailers wanting to sell right away need an all-in-one solution to cover the point of sale, product page creation and own the analytics to track how you’re performing. This is just a sample-size scenario for businesses who need Shopify.

This powerful ecommerce tool lets you manage everything from product insights to sales and shipping. For those who want to get serious about selling and how to improve, Shopify is a must-have tool in 2019.

shopify platform example

Shopify also lets you connect in-store and online for the perfect omnichannel marketing experience. Their plug-and-play hardware, secure payment options, multi-channel selling and inventory management set up ecommerce companies with everything needed to make, track and measure a sale.

Get started by using Shopify’s features to build your brand and store so you can sell anywhere.

Cost: Get started with a free trial and basic Shopify plans start at $29 a month.

13. Woopra

Collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data is essential to understanding what’s going on with your ecommerce website and how you can improve it.

While there are many website analytics tools, Woopra is one of the few that is specifically designed for ecommerce websites.

They take your data across products, marketing, sales and support, and go through the hard work of analyzing that data for you. You’ll be able to quickly understand the customer journey, retention stats, cart abandonment rates and more.

woopra report example

Beyond that, Woopra takes the mask off these numbers with People Profiles, showing you who the individual users are and what they’re doing on and off your website. This tool also integrates with many other ecommerce tools and allows you to set up action triggers that automate business processes.

Cost: Most small to medium ecommerce businesses can use a free version, while pro plans start at $999 a month.

14. Unbxd

Want to make your ecommerce website really stand out while also capturing more sales? What about getting your shoppers to find products they’re actually looking for?

Unbxd is an interactive tool that helps customers discover products while on your website, thus improving UX and giving users a better way to find the products they want, especially on mobile devices.

unbxd product search example

They offer ecommerce website features such as shop search, product recommendations and personalized browsing experiences based on customer behavior.

Cost: Request a demo to get more pricing information for your specific site.

Customer Service Tools

15. GrooveHQ

Now that you’ve enchanted your target audience and built up your customer base, it’s time to keep them happy.

GrooveHQ is a useful customer support product that offers a shared inbox for your customer support team, easy knowledge base setup and reporting that gives you the skinny on your company’s interactions with customers.

groovehq product tools

This tool is ideal for brands and retailers wanting to scale customer service to provide shoppers with better experiences and easier ways to communicate with your team. As companies look to improve customer satisfaction, tools like GrooveHQ are important to consider.

Cost: Pricing starts at $12 per month.

16. LiveChat

Did you know that 44% of online shoppers feel that getting their questions answered by a live person during their purchase is one of the most important features an ecommerce website can offer?

That’s why LiveChat is on our list of essential ecommerce tools. We even use this tool on our own site to increase our demand generation efforts. LiveChat helps us answer potential customer questions on the spot and gives us another avenue to open communication with those interested in our services.

livechat example on PowerReviews

 

This easy-to-use tool allows you to run a live chat on your website with minimal coding. Thus, you can answer customer questions and offer support through the buying process whether your customers are on a desktop or a mobile device.

Cost: LiveChat is free for a 30-day log retention and plans for more users and longer data retention starts at $9.99 a month.

Which Ecommerce Tools Do You Need to Get Started?

Ecommerce is a changing world, but you’ll be prepared for whatever may come when you’re fully equipped with these ecommerce tools. When you’re looking to build trust in your audience and grow brand awareness, rely on tools that you know solve a specific need.

Develop better email marketing strategies and keep your business processes and website in order.

Have any tools you recommend? Reach out on Twitter to give us your favorite ecommerce tools you’re using in 2019!

Amy Copadis

Amy Copadis

Amy Copadis is a writer and blogger covering various topics including digital marketing, travel, natural health and ecommerce.

PowerReviews Launches Journey IQ™, the Industry’s First Scalable Mystery Shopping Solution

CHICAGO – March 11, 2019 – PowerReviews, a technology leader enabling connected commerce for leading brands around the world, today announced the acquisition of Stella Pulse, a technology from StellaService that will transform traditional mystery shopping. This new solution, called Journey IQ™, is based on a decade of experience working with mystery shopping clients seeking a smarter, more scalable solution. Journey IQ enables companies to recruit their own customers as mystery shoppers and delivers more representative and actionable insights at scale.

Unlike traditional mystery shopping which uses a third-party network of consumers and pays cash for shoppers’ time, Journey IQ rewards already loyal customers with incentives like loyalty points or discounts on future purchases.

With this technology, companies create mystery shops to gain feedback on areas such as the environment, speed of service, employee friendliness and knowledge as well as the overall customer experience, be it online or in-store.

To start, companies select target customers to complete a “mission” by sending invites via SMS or email. Customers view details of the mission along with the incentive and are then guided through the data collection process using any device. The gamified experience provides highly accurate, in-the-moment data captured from a company’s most trusted and valued source — their customers. What’s more, it creates a high level of engagement. So much so, 99% of customers who complete a mission say they would do it again. Journey IQ not only uncovers rich customer experience insights but also drives revenue as nearly half of customers make an unprompted purchase while on a mystery shop.  

Once missions are completed, data goes through QA before flowing into a customizable dashboard that enables companies to immediately identify and improve their customer experience.

“Eighty-nine percent of companies compete primarily on customer experience. However, only eight percent of customers believe companies deliver incredible experiences,” said Sara Rossio, SVP of Product at PowerReviews. “This customer experience feedback, along with other authentic content and consumer feedback we collect on our clients’ behalf, will help companies better compete. Deep insights that are more representative and actionable will help brands create better experiences, build better products, market more effectively and ultimately drive more sales.”

Journey IQ solves three key issues facing the traditional mystery shopping model:

  1. Scale: The traditional model pays cash for individual shops, making it cost prohibitive to collect mystery shopping data at scale. By using incentives to drive existing customers to the location, companies can gather far more data points than they do today.
  2. Matching demographics: A common challenge facing mystery shopping is finding shoppers who match a company’s specific customer demographic. Journey IQ gets around this by using actual customers. Companies can now use their existing customer database to recruit shoppers that match specific criteria, whether that’s demographics, purchase history or a combination of both. Leveraging actual customers makes the insights truly representative and actionable while also building deeper customer relationships.
  3. Data limitations: When using third-party shoppers, companies can’t collect insights on the full spectrum of customer use cases. By using actual customers, companies can collect far more granular insights across every possible interaction type. This includes measuring the customer experience from the perspective of first-time purchases versus the most loyal customers.

About PowerReviews
PowerReviews enables connected commerce. By bringing together billions of shoppers with millions of customer advocates and influencers, PowerReviews helps brands leverage the value of authentic content and consumer feedback. The company’s Connected Platform and Open Network enable clients to collect, amplify and analyze user-generated content and feedback to improve customer experiences and make smarter choices that accelerate growth. Learn more at www.powerreviews.com.

An army of loyal customers that hangs on our every word.

That’s the end-game for pretty much any business, right?

Fostering brand loyalty and a bond with your base is so important in a day and age where customers are spoiled for choice. Think about it. In the world of ecommerce, consumers are just an email offer or Facebook ad away from bouncing to a competitor.

Oh, and don’t forget the financial benefits of dedicated, repeat customers. After all, it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain the satisfied ones you have.

But all of this that begs the question: how do you turn those one-off customers into long-term advocates for your business?

How to Build Brand Loyalty the Right Way

Reality check: brand loyalty is about more than ensuring that your customers just “like” you.

At the end of the day, loyalty is about trust.

Customers need to know that you’re reliable. They need to know that you have their best interests at heart after they buy. And at the core of that trust are ratings and reviews and customer feedback.

How so? Below are some tactics to help any business foster a sense of brand loyalty among your current crop of customers and prospects alike.

Visual and social suite banner

1. Showcase Your Satisfied Customers

When your customers show you love, they’ve already proven their loyalty. And that loyalty can be your most powerful marketing firepower.

User-generated content (UGC) in the form of customer photos, reviews, testimonials and other visual content are crucial to building brand loyalty. In short, UGC allows you to shout-out your current customers while also marketing to new ones.

Social media is a prime place to find positive mentions and customer photos you can show off to the rest of your followers. For example, brands such as MOO regularly retweet and republish photos from their satisfied customers.

Although these moments do happen organically, brands can actively encourage them as well. The most common (and low-hanging) way to encourage UGC is through branded hashtags.

Check out how Yeti puts their #BuiltForTheWild tag front-and-center in their Instagram bio.

yeti instagram bio example

In turn, fans and brand advocates have an avenue to tag their positive experiences.

These sorts of customer photos are brilliant marketing materials beyond social media, too. For example, you can display your customer photos as part of marketing campaigns or even on-site.

Speaking of which, the PowerReviews Visual and Social Suite is capable of curating content for social media that you can promote elsewhere. Automatically snagging feedback, visuals and permissions, collecting UGC for your site can be done in no time flat.

And then consider how you can actually leverage your customers’ brand loyalty to increase clicks and conversions on-site.

Let’s look at how Room and Board does exactly through customer reviews and UGC. Star-ratings on your product pages serve as proof that people are digging what you’re selling.

aero leather round ottoman product example

Additionally, coupling your products shows new customers that you already have folks who are all about your brand. So why not promote this type of customer satisfaction to further prove your brand power?

shop the room example

UGC creatives a positive feedback loop between you and your customers that breeds brand loyalty. Doing so is a smart way to include your customers as part of your marketing campaigns.

2. Highlight Your Unique Selling Proposition

Any given industry is crowded with competition.

Beauty. Luxury goods. You name it.

Brands need to figure out sooner rather than later what’s going to set them apart from the crowd. And who better to highlight your unique selling proposition than your own customers?

Customer reviews are a powerful positioning tool in and of themselves. However, reviews are a potential goldmine of terms and ideas for you can separate yourself from competitors.

Maybe your product is “more reliable” or “longer-lasting.” The sooner you can find your angle, the better. And if you’re totally clueless on the sort of features your customers love, don’t panic.

Intelligence Suite Product Insights

Tools like the Intelligence Suite have you covered. PowerReviews digs through the fine details of your customer reviews to figure out what folks are buzzing about in the content. Is your product insanely comfortable or does the zipper just always seem to catch?

These are critical product insights that would far too many man hours to dig through manually–especially if you’re a brand or retailer generating thousands of reviews each month.

Uncover what shoppers are either praising or complaining about in your reviews and make the changes to improve products. Customers will love the fact that you not only listened, but took action.

Our Intelligence Engine discovers your top terms to clue you in on why your customers bought your products in the first place.

sentiment analysis on intelligence suite from powerreviews

By using these terms in your marketing, you take the aspects of your business that create brand loyalty and put them front-and-center throughout future campaigns.

For example, Bellroy consistently uses phrases like “quick access,” “slim” and “accessible” to highlight their stylish yet minimalist wallets.

bellroy wallet keyword usage

And those same benefits are highlighted by customer snippets and shout-outs published throughout their site.

customer snippet keyword example

See how that works?

3. Encourage Customer Feedback

Customers today crave conversations with brands. In fact, a study found 80% of shoppers think retailers don’t over personalize product experiences enough to be invasive or too much. That means really driving open communication between your brand and customers is likely not going to overwhelm them.

The more you open yourself up to customer feedback, the better.

Remember what we said about brand loyalty coming from trust? Having an open dialogue with your customers is a good starting point for building that bond.

Bear in mind that there are so many ways for businesses to open up the channels of communication with their customers. Perhaps the most straightforward way is to encourage reviews on-site. Customers want to sound off on the products and services they buy – so let them!

verified buyer sizing review

To circle back to our first tip, ratings and reviews are powerful proof that can help win over new prospects. In fact, this particular review from Sketchers is a shining example of how your on-site reviews can display brand loyalty and the quality of your products.

Social media is an obvious avenue to ask for feedback. Making your social presence customer-focused ensures that you’re learning more about how to better serve your base. This not only helps you learn more about what your followers want, but also shows that you’re a good listener.

For example, Beardbrand finds a lot of benefits of Instagram for communication. The brand regularly picks the brains of its followers about what products they’re using and what problems they help solve.

Email is yet another channel to go back-and-forth with your customers. Considering that each of your customers is more than likely already on your list, it’s a no-brainer to get into their inboxes.

For example, you can request a review with a post-purchase emails or ask for a quick survey to see how you can serve them better. Again, it’s all about positioning yourself as a helping hand that’s looking out for them.

wild and gorgeous email survey

And hey, that actually leads us to our last point.

Be Real & Authentic

One of the key pieces of building brand loyalty is, well, getting “real” with your customers. In other words, don’t be afraid to show off the human side of your business.

This means not only having a distinct tone but also being able to respond to shout-outs and call-outs because you want to, not necessarily because you “have” to. For example, social media is the preferred customer service channel for most consumers because it offers a straightforward, quick avenue for people to bring up their issues.

However, canned responses aren’t going to cut it when your customers have issues. If you want to win people over, even in the face of a complaint or concern, you’re going need to be human.

black milk clothing twitter engagement

Here’s an awesome example from Black Milk Clothing who managed to own their mistake during a customer transaction and ultimately won someone over because of how they handled the situation.

Hey, we all make mistakes. Own them.

You might be surprised at how much your customers appreciate your authenticity. In short, responding with grace and transparency can go a long way with today’s buyers.

The Art of Creating Loyal Customers

To wrap things up, let’s run through a quick recap of how brands can use customer feedback to create brand loyalty.

Listen

First thing’s first: your business needs to be a good listener!

This is a two-way street, though. You not only need to know when people are talking about and what they’re saying, but you also need to understand the sentiment behind it.

Intelligence Suite Messaging PowerReviews

What are people buzzing about? What are they down on? Your ratings, reviews and customer feedback can clue you in on all of the above.

Respond

Once your customers have sounded off, let them know what you’re listening.

Send them messages. Shout-out them out. Recommend next steps.

Remember: loyalty comes from conversations. Regularly engaging your customers and letting them know what you’re listening is a prime way to do just that.

React & Repeat

After understanding what’s working and what might need fine-tuning, you can adjust your marketing and product strategies accordingly. By continuously rinsing and repeating the steps above, you can improve everything from your products to customer service and beyond over time.

And with that, we wrap up our guide to brand loyalty!

How Are You Building Brand Loyalty?

Listen: brand loyalty doesn’t happen by accident.

If you want to create advocates out of your customers, you’re going to need a concrete strategy.

By soliciting feedback and going back-and-forth with your base, you can provide your customers with the exact products and experiences they want.

The good news? Communicating and curating that ever-so-valuable feedback is easier than ever. With the help of PowerReviews, you gather everything you need to create a stronger bond with your customers ASAP. Want to see our tools in action? Request a demo today!

Brent Barnhart

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Brent Barnhart is a professional writer and content critic. When he’s not battling the latest buzzwords, you can often find him strumming the nearest guitar. Feel free to bug him on Twitter or check out his website brentwrites.com.

Are you looking to get the word out about your new products? Do you want the attention of your everyday shoppers without the huge celebrity endorsements? More likely than not, someone on your marketing team has recommended dipping into the power of micro-influencers.

We all know that Instagram influencer marketing is on an uptick. This type of strategy has been on the short list of a lot of major brands. But as we get deeper into the world of influencers, how do brands know what works best when it comes to influencers, micro-influencers and now even nano-influencers?

That’s a lot of different names for what you truly want–brand advocates.

But we’ve already seen success with using influencers to drive product awareness and increase sales. A study by Tomoson found businesses make an average of $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing and attract higher quality customers at the same time.

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The problem is most influencers–and those inspiring to be influencers–have begun to realize their own worth. And now they’re getting expensive.

So, what if your brand doesn’t want to spend major marketing budgets on influencer partnerships? It’s time to dive deeper and work with micro-influencers who simply reach their smaller inner circles of friends and family to influence purchasing decisions.

What Are Micro-Influencers?

Micro-influencers are a type of brand advocates that have much smaller followings and use word-of-mouth marketing to recommend products and services to their followers, which typically only consist of friends and family members. The goal of an everyday influencer is to be a more reliable source of truth with your product or service than the opinions of major social media influencers and celebrities.

Micro-influencers have day jobs. They don’t rely on mass amounts of free samples and paid content opportunities. Instead, these are your everyday, run-of-the-mill shoppers who actually buy from you or would be your target demographic.

Why You Should Work With Micro-Influencers

You might be thinking, if these people have smaller followings, why would you want to have them market your business? But as it turns out, micro-influencers have significant–and sometimes specific–benefits to generate buzz about your products and services.

Here’s just a few reasons why you should work with micro-influencers on your next product launch or marketing campaign:

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Attract a Smaller, But More Targeted Audience

Oftentimes, micro-influencers are 100% targeted to a specific niche inside a general product demographic that a larger influencer might not have credibility. Think about it–could Huda Kattan, an extremely popular makeup Instagram influencer, sell fishing and tackle gear to her 33.7 million followers?

While we certain she would drive a ton of traffic to any site she mentions, a brand like Catch Co., which sells monthly fishing gear boxes, would over pay and see a huge drop in cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-acquisition (CPA), Instead of relying on mass follower counts, micro-influencers target everyday fishers who can get the word out about your products to a loyal and interested few thousand users.

As they say–fish where the fish are biting.

A more targeted audience also leads to more engagement. In fact, a study by Markerly found Instagram influencers with less than 1,000 followers received likes 8% of the time on their posts and comments at 0.5%.

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In comparison, larger influencers with more than 10 million followers received only 1.6% of likes and less than 0.04% for comments. These numbers show micro-influencers have the ability to generate better engagement with their audience than mass-follower counterparts.

Higher Trust Rate in Products

Providing trust in your products is the key to obtaining new customers and limiting obstacles in the path to purchase for those considering you. Brands have to build trust by opening communication and giving customers confidence in your products.

Did you know that 4 in 10 millennials on YouTube believe their favorite influencer understands them better than their friends? That level of trust is incredible.

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Stats like this should show everyone the impact of major influencer opinions and how they affect their audiences. But when it comes to micro-influencers, this idea is even more relevant.

While large influencers are extremely relatable to consumers, so are everyday influencers to their own groups. There’s plenty of research showing consumers trust each other over brand messaging–even on social media.

And for everyday influencers, their trust is present because of their friends and family. People constantly seek out recommendations from peers, which means the trust factor is much higher when it’s a friend or family member making a product recommendation.

Put Your Marketing Dollars to Work

Celebrity-level influencers are expensive. Some of the top influencers charge up to $25,000 per social media post to promote a brand or product.

These costs are typically well over brands’ marketing budgets. This has more companies turning to micro-influencers, which typically cost closer to $500 per promotion.

influencer and sampling suite advanced targeting example

However, there’s another cost-effective way to get the most out of your everyday influencers. PowerReviews Influencer and Sampling Suite provide brands with the opportunity to reach a massive community of brand advocates, micro-influencers and authentic shoppers.

influencer and sampling suite graphic

With the help the largest network of pre-qualified everyday influencers, brands increase trust and product awareness with simple product sampling solutions.

In fact, our community delivers more than an 80% delivery-rate on average, which lets brands gain authentic ratings and reviews content, product insights, visual content and valuable customer feedback.

Want to see how you could benefit from a product sampling campaign? Reach out to our team and request a demo to gain more insights!

3 Tips to Scale Your Micro-Influencer Strategy For More Wins

Now that you know a few reasons why you should work with micro-influencers, how do you go about scaling your marketing strategy and overall implementation? We’ve got you covered with three quick tips to get your campaign off on the right foot.

1. Sharpen Your Search Skills to Find Relevant Micro-Influencers

Where in the world are the best micro-influencers for your brand?

To scale your efforts and maintain your budget, you need to sharpen your search skills. Before you start, think about where your target audience lives online.

instagram hashtag search

For example, do a hashtag search for some keywords that not only fit within your niche product, but also words associated with the pain points your product or service resolves. The challenge is finding a hashtag that ins’t too large (think less than 200,000 posts) but isn’t too small where you’ll have any reach.
If you’re a local business, you can also try searching for posts in your physical location.

Another way to search for micro-influencers is by sorting through people who already follow you, use your products and mention your brand on social media. There’s a huge amount of user-generated content on social media that could help increase purchasing decisions when people see visuals of people like themselves on your product pages.

Visual & Social Management Premium Matching

That’s why our Visual and Social Suite is trusted by brands and retailers who know the value of user-generated content. Our software allows companies to easily collect, curate and get approval for user-generated content and then display it across product pages.

2. Assess Your List of Micro-Influencers

Once you start your search, it’s time to narrow down your most relevant influencers.

First, look through their content and see if it aligns with your business. See if the majority of a users’ content is related to your business or would be in the same field.

Next, set requirements that your ideal micro-influencers must have, such as a minimum or maximum amount of followers, follows a certain amount of brands or posts a specific amount of days in the week. Think about your goals and how they could relate toward your specific requirements.

View this post on Instagram

thanks for the invite @heritagebicycle ☕️

A post shared by Alfie Friday (@alfiefriday) on

For example, if your goal is to get better visual content related to your brand, make sure the influencers on your list produce above-average content. We can see the higher quality image in the example above, which is likely why Heritage was more inclined to use this influencer.

It’s also important to check for vital signs. Is the influencer actively posting as well as conversing with their audience? Are they taking their status as an influencer seriously?

Measure their engagement rates across the channels you’re promoting and make sure you’re seeing the numbers that make sense. As we said, micro-influencers normally have much better engagement than larger influencers, but this is just an average and therefore isn’t always true for specific micro-influencers.

Unfortunately, with the rise in popularity of influencers, there are plenty of people trying to game the system. Some buy social media followers in mass and expect brands won’t check to make sure their 2,000 followers are mostly real people.

You can resolve this by calculating the engagement rate of their posts. If they have 10,000 followers, but only get 20 likes and no comments on their posts, something is off.

ig audit example of lebron james

Additionally, you can use tools like IG Audit (for free) or FakeCheck.co to audit their Instagram followers so you know they have real reach.

3. Ensure Authenticity Within Posts

While the overall authenticity of your influencers is important, you’ll also want to make sure that the actual posts they create for you are authentic.

When scoping out influencers, it’s important to see what kind of comments they write for their posts. Are they just blindly promoting any brand that contacts them? Or are they providing genuine value to their audience in their recommendations?

View this post on Instagram

Should I go to college to become a photographer?” People ask me this all the time. While I can’t say for sure what the right path is for every person, I do know that you need to keep learning. One of my favorite ways to do that is with @audible_ca. I spend a lot of time walking to my studio, driving to shoots, or just exploring my neighborhood looking for things to shoot. One of my favorite ways to make the most of that time is to listen to audio books on business management and productivity. That way even if I get lost down some new alley or path, I still feel like I got something done. Learn more about getting started with Audible – your first audiobook is free. #YouGottaHearThis #Audibleanywhere #ad

A post shared by Jesse Driftwood (@jessedriftwood) on

For example, audiobook provider Audible used micro-influencer Jesse Driftwood to promote their company. The honest feedback is what helps drive trust in the first place.

This is one of the best benefits of Instagram. It’s easy to spot credible content. Always look for honesty and avoid hiding your more negative feedback.

We know the Proven Power of Reviews study says 82% of shoppers actually look for negative reviews of a product before purchasing.

It’s Time to Get Started

Targeting your core audience comes with a lot of challenges, but there are tools out there that can help you. As we’ve covered, there are several benefits your brand could see with micro-influencers promoting your products or services.

Whether it’s sharpening hashtag search skills or running engagement numbers on posts, make sure your micro-influencers align their with your brand and have the potential to increase visibility. By keeping your team organized, there’s a lot your marketing team can do on a budget.

Amy Copadis

Amy Copadis

Amy Copadis is a writer and blogger covering various topics including digital marketing, travel, natural health and ecommerce.

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