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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
It also connects with a number of other essential ecommerce tools, like BigCommerce and 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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
And those same benefits are highlighted by customer snippets and shout-outs published throughout their site.
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!
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 emailsor 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.
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.
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.
Aww those ones were limited, so there are no plans to re-stock it once sizes sell out I am sorry ❤️ We never say never though, there is always a tiny chance we might see it again 💕 – Kristen
To wrap things up, let’s run through a quick recap of how brands can use customer feedback to create brand loyalty.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Conventional wisdom tells us that businesses should prioritize metrics over emotions, right? But what if your customers’ thoughts and feelings were a measurable data point?
Enter the world of customer sentiment analysis.
Listen: customers are sounding off online like never before. And even more so, customers want to hear each other’s thoughts about your products–whether it’s good or bad.
That’s probably why the PowerReviews Snapshot of Ecommerce report showed a staggering 82% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews before making any sort of purchase.
Between on-site reviews, social media and third-party review sites, the amount of potential data we can gather from customer feedback is absolutely insane. Through customer sentiment analysis, businesses can take that feedback and translate it into action.
What is Customer Sentiment Analysis?
Customer sentiment analysis examines the emotions, impressions and attitudes surrounding your business to make sales and marketing decisions.
Think about it like this: every time somebody writes a review or gives your business a shout-out, there’s an opportunity to gather data.
What products are your audience most hyped about?
How often are your customers complaining versus singing your praises?
Based on these data points, you can learn more about what customers want and expect. Sentiment has a direct impact on how you position your business and market your products.
Digging into your review data allows you to assess your customers’ feedback and put it into a decision-making context. That’s customer sentiment analysis in a nutshell.
Why Does Sentiment Analysis Matter, Though?
Chances are you’re already monitoring your fair share of metrics.
Hey, we totally get it.
Even so, deeper customer sentiment analysis within your specific products should still make the short list of your consumer analysis. That’s why we’re going to provide some key reasons why more brands are taking customer sentiment analysis to the next level:
Make More Informed Business Decisions (Trust the Data)
This is the big one.
There’s no need for businesses to second guess what products and services their customers want: people are telling you–directly.
And nobody knows your products better than your customer base. Rather than rely on gut reactions and assumptions, customer sentiment analysis answers clue you in on exactly what your customers want.
We doubt you expected green tea chocolate, but when there’s enough sentiment around these keywords, why not provide your loyal customers with what they want?
Continuously Improve Your Products & Services (Keep Them Happy)
Just as your customers’ behaviors and expectations evolve, so should your business.
Collecting feedback and conducting sentiment analysis can help you uncover new products and ideas and features that folks actually want to see. Encouraging ratings and reviews creates a direct line between you and what your customers are thinking.
Listening to your customers and improving your products impacts your bottom line too–and in a positive way! The more details you collect from consumer feedback, the easier it is to make your products. And in the end, the better your products, the fewer product returns you’ll see.
Easily Manage Your Online Reputation (Don’t Let the Haters Win)
As noted earlier, those recommendations are scattered across the web. And while many brands look for the hottest Instagram influencer marketing techniques, more likely than not, you already have your own set of micro-influencers talking about you.
The trick is to find this community and provide them a better avenue to get their voices heard. That’s where our very own BzzAgent comes into play. Through our Influencer and Sampling Suite, we connect brands to a trusted community of more than 200 million followers to spread the word of your products and to write honest and trustworthy feedback about your products.
It’s an effective one-two punch of collecting reviews and getting your products out in the masses between your community of everyday influencers.
And as you generate conversations around your product, customer sentiment analysis helps capture those moments rather than let them slip through your fingers. This results in a more holistic view of your online reputation that keeps your business from living in a bubble.
How to Do Sentiment Analysis the Right Way
Now that you understand the basics of customer sentiment analysis, the question remains: how do you get started with all of this stuff?
There is no “right” approach to customer sentiment analysis as different businesses emphasize different channels of customer feedback. That’s why we’ve outlined the series of suggestions below that you can choose from based on your company:
1. Take Advantage of Intelligence Tools
Sentiment analysis is tricky to do “by hand” because there’s so much to sift through.
At the same time, emotions can be difficult to quantify at a glance.
To overcome these challenges and streamline your sentiment analysis, we recommend taking advantage of tools such as the PowerReviews Intelligence Suite. Our intelligence engine takes care of the legwork involved in sentiment analysis by aggregating loads of data from your business’ reviews and industry at large.
In addition to positive versus negative reviews for individual products, the suite also tracks keywords and terms that customers use to describe those same products. This information is crucial for marketing and discovering the quirks of your products that create positive sentiment.
If you want a comprehensive understanding of customer sentiment minus all the digging, an intelligence tool is a must-have for those looking to uncover incredible product insights.
2. Monitor Your Mentions With Social Listening
Social media is an ever-so-popular place for customers to sound off regarding products these days.
Whether it’s a shout-out or customer service concern, social media is a fast-moving channel that likewise represents a treasure trove of information when it comes to sentiment.
Through social listening, you can collect your brand mentions (including reviews) to assess your brand health in the social space.
In a day and age where one interaction can squander your entire customer satisfaction campaign, social sentiment is worth tracking. And there are plenty of ways to monitor and listen to social cues.
Tools like Sprout Social boast listening features that assess positive versus negative sentiment across social networks in addition to individual mentions. At the same time, brands and retailers can listen to similar sentiment with review content.
More often than not, brands have products sold across their own and other retailer sites. But who’s in charge when a customer asks a question about your product when you have the best answer?
To provide a direct line to consumers across numerous sites, PowerReviews Questions and Answers software gives access to a brand to answer potential purchase-blocking questions.
Our Brand Engage tools let your team answer questions with a badge so customers know the answer is verified and from your brand. When you listen to customers, you have to open your ears to every place where customers talk about you.
Want to see a demo of Brand Engage in action? Request a demo today and see how your brand can improve listening across the web!
3. Curate Feedback From Your Email List
The more reviews on hand, the more accurate your customer sentiment analysis will be.
Given that 70% of buyers will leave reviews when prompted, there’s arguably no better place to curate more reviews than your email list.
Through questionnaires, surveys and post-purchase emails, you pick your existing customers’ brains to figure out what you want to see from you in the future. For example, West Elm does a great job at re-engaging customers with a survey.
In an effort to passively curate reviews, you might also consider setting up post-purchase autoresponder messages to encourage more feedback. You’d be surprised at how receptive your customers are when you simply ask for something.
Anyone who takes the time to respond is obviously invested in your business and therefore valuable to your sentiment analysis efforts.
And hey, that actually leads us to our next point.
4. Be Sure to Weigh Your Customer Feedback
Remember that not all reviews are created equal.
There’s a big difference between a review from a long-term customer and someone who’s purposely nitpicking or trolling your business.
As a result, don’t be shocked by outliers during your sentiment analysis and read into the context of your analysis itself.
Don’t shy away from negative feedback. Thoughtful criticism is incredibly valuable for learning how to improve your products to score more business in the future.
The previously mentioned Snapshot of Ecommerce report also found most consumers prefer to buy products with an average star rating of 4.2 and 4.5 stars. So what does this mean?
Embrace your customer sentiment and learn from it–don’t hide it. Trust is all about open communication, so be sure to listen to your customers.
What Happens After You Collect Customer Data?
Let’s say you’ve gotten your feet wet with customer sentiment analysis and are trying to figure out what to do next.
No matter what sort of reviews you already have, your ongoing goal should be to improve your customer sentiment. Also, don’t just collect data and do nothing with it! Below we give a few ways your business can use sentiment analysis data once your process is underway:
Brainstorm Marketing & Product Ideas
After analyzing your reviews, you might come to realize that your customers have mixed feelings about a certain product. As a result, you can start stressing those high-points in your marketing and consider changes to future products based on the low-points.
Here’s an example from our intelligence suite to illustrate what we’re talking about.
Again, sentiment analysis is something that you’ll be doing for the long-term. Although you don’t need to make any immediate decisions based on your data, you should at least start thinking about changes to make in the future.
Communicate Openly With Your Customers
Like we mentioned before, perhaps the most straightforward way to improve your standing with customers is by communicating with them. Opening up a dialogue not only allows you to gain more insight from your customers but also makes your business seem more authentic and transparent.
Some key ways to communicate with your customers include:
Responding to ratings and reviews
Replying to social mentions and call-outs
Answering more product questions across various sites
Make Positive Feedback Part of Your Marketing Campaigns
If you have customers showing serious love for your business, make a point to show them off in your marketing. For example, you can include testimonials or positive reviews on-site or as part of your email campaigns to serve as social proof.
Another smart move is to integrate customer photos and user-generated content as part of your social strategy. Your satisfied customers are arguably your best billboards on social media and even your own product pages!
Lastly, customer sentiment shouldn’t be measured in a vacuum.
While front-facing reviews are insightful, chances are you can learn a thing or two about what customers want from your coworkers and colleagues. For example, consider how various departments and teams can contribute to sentiment analysis:
Marketing: details your biggest challenges with soliciting reviews in the first place
Sales: highlights the most common sales objections for existing and new customers
Customer satisfaction: notes the most frequent complaints they receive from customers
Gathering this internal information helps you flesh out your customer sentiment analysis strategy to paint the most complete consumer profile possible.
And with that, we wrap things up!
Are You On Board With Customer Sentiment Analysis?
Breaking down what your customers want is a no-brainer, but how you do it is what requires a conscious effort on the part of your business. With so much customer data and feedback already out in the open, the information you need to start analyzing sentiment is more than likely there.
And with the help of tools like PowerReviews, you translate those reviews into action sooner rather than later. The end result is a data-driven approach to growing your business and more satisfied customers in your pipeline.
Jon oversees the success of the Olapic’s 240+ clients through a growing team of account managers and strategists. Olapic leads the visual marketing space and empowers brands across apparel, luxury, beauty, consumer electronics, CPG and travel to leverage user generated photos to drive sales and increase customer engagement. Prior to joining Olapic in early 2014, Jon worked at Salesforce.com as a Senior Client Success Manager in the Marketing Cloud, and prior to that he spent over seven years helping nonprofits define and execute technology solutions.