While the concept of personalization marketing isn’t new, the demand for businesses to tailor products, offerings and experiences to customers is clearer than ever. That means it’s time to get personal–with your customers, that is.

A lot of demand for personalization marketing specifically comes from needs of shoppers. In fact, the Segment 2017 State of Personalization Report has some incredibly well-documented positive outcomes of brands that focus on personalization marketing for the modern shopper:

  • 71% of shoppers say there’s “some level of frustration” when shopping experiences aren’t personal.
  • 49% of shoppers unintentionally buy a product after getting a personalized brand recommendation.
  • 25% of shoppers think personalization is the No. 1 improvement needed by brands and retailers.

segment graphic on personalization

 

But why does it matter so much, though? Consider the traditional experience of shopping in the digital age: Browse. Click. Add to cart. Repeat.

Yawn.

On the flip side, personalization marketing empowers businesses to form stronger connections with shoppers. Brands should strive to uniquely market to as many individuals as possible rather than take a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

In this guide, we’ll break down six personalization marketing tactics to illustrate how businesses consistently create meaningful experiences for their customers:

1. Recommend Relevant Products You Know Your Customers Want

Personalization marketing is a tactic to make recommendations on products you know your customers want, whether it’s through data analysis or consumer research. That’ why recommendations are arguably the most straightforward way to personalize your shopping experience.

Here’s some food for thought: Salesforce data shows a staggering 26% of ecommerce revenue comes from product recommendations. The takeaway? Customers love to be told what to buy and are highly influenced by peers.

Much like a concierge or store clerk, recommendations provide that much-needed “push” that results in a purchase. Recommendation engines like Amazon and Google product display ads are the bread and butter of today’s ecommerce product discovery. This is true for brands, including those based on previous purchases.

Amazon product recommendation personalization

Recommendations shouldn’t be reserved for post-purchase interactions, though. By organizing your product catalog and tags, you present recommendations while visitors are in “just browsing” mode. Here’s a great example from J. Crew:

jcrew personalization marketing example

Connect the Dots With Product Recommendations

The same rules apply to email too. Even without a full-blown recommendation engine, you also highlight your best sellers and popular products among your customers to create a sort of bandwagon effect.

This could be done in a post-purchase email or even private email only for exclusive customers who bought a specific product. The point is to let them know they’re exclusive and you’re recommending X because they bought Y.

AllPosters Email personalization recommendation

Oh, and let’s not forget emerging trends in personalization marketing such as customer quizzes. Serving as an interactive way to gather invaluable customer feedback, quizzes give shoppers exactly what they want through carefully curated answers.

For example, Birchbox’s “Beauty Profile” quiz ensures every product included in their subscription package is relevant to their subscribers. This is huge for consumers who don’t have time to sort through products and find something specific to them.

Now, that’s your job.

Birchbox Beauty Profile Quiz example

Based on the results, quiz-takers are sent to a recommendations page. Then the shoppers will have their boxes customized accordingly to their answers. This not only breaks down preferred products, but it makes the customer experience that much better.

Your shoppers aren’t always as confident in their purchasing decisions as you think. So provide them with tailored recommendations on products based on customer surveys or quizzes so their search turns into something like this:

Personalization Recommendation Page from Birchbox

See how that works?

2. Give Your Offers a Personal Touch

According to Campaign Monitor, personalized emails result in significantly higher click-through and transactional rates. No surprise there, right?

Let’s say you have a customer repeatedly buy boots from your ecommerce store. Wouldn’t it make sense to offer them the occasional discount on, you know, boots as opposed to cashmere sweaters?

Sure, there’s a time and place for store-wide deals. However, segmenting your offers by individual trends and buyer behaviors is a smarter move toward an easier path to purchase.

Another common tactic for personalization marketing is through cart abandonment or behavior-triggered email marketing campaigns. Here’s an example from TeePublic which includes a “They Miss You” message attached to some previously viewed items.

TeeRepublic Personalized Message Example

Another low-hanging personalization marketing strategy is to present your shoppers as a community. Like we mentioned earlier, exclusivity is something shoppers often want.

This works for you because you’re not only creating an personalized experience, you’re also driving urgency to buy. In fact, the “email subscriber exclusive” message from Sierra is a good example. It creates a sense of exclusivity for buyers as if they’re “in the know.”

Sierra exclusive offer message

And of course, personalization marketing means treating people like people. Along with your brand voice, messages that celebrate your customers and show your appreciation (think: birthday, customer anniversary), are an awesome tactic to create a stronger sense of brand loyalty.

Check out how TopShop does it through an exclusive birthday offer.

TopShop Happy Birthday Message

3. Promote the Products People Truly Want the Most

This might seem like a no-brainer. But as you saw from the first data points in the Segment report, businesses don’t always deliver products and experiences their customers want. Think about it. Do businesses create products on a whim? “Just because?”

Absolutely not.

Perhaps the best way to vet your product ideas is by listening to what your customers are saying. This email from Pendleton highlights how brands can market their products based on demand.

Pendleton Answering Product Demand Message

Of course, this begs the question: how do you listen for what your customers want, anyway? Dig into your customer feedback to see what your customers are already telling you. From reviews content to social comments, there’s a gold mine of product insights to take your items to the next level.

Tools like PowerReviews’ Product Pulse does all the hard work of digging through your content and finding customer comments that matter the most. This includes specific keywords, product features or even adjectives associated to your products that could help you create a more personalized marketing strategy.

powerreviews top topics product pulse

Above all, these insights are invaluable for figuring out what your business should promote next. Don’t do the manual work of looking through hundreds of product reviews. Instead, use Product Pulse to analyze your content and uncover insights you might have originally missed or been previously bias to.

4. Understand Your Customer Journey All the Way Through

It might be cliche to say no two customers are the same. But isn’t there a truth to that statement?

From the channels where shoppers discovered you to the ease of their checkout process, it’s paramount that all of your customers have a positive shopper experience from Point A to Point B. But with only 8% of consumers believing brands deliver “incredible” customer experiences, it’s clear that most businesses fail to leave a consistently positive impression.

Being able to see the whole picture does a lot for brands and retailers wanting to improve the customer journey. That’s why tools such as Journey IQ are a game-changer. By turning mystery shoppers into product insights specialists, you pick the brains of your customers and what they think of your shopper experience. Customer checklist

JourneyIQ incentivizes customers who already shop with you to fill out questionnaires, go on search missions and provide helpful feedback to the in-store or online experience. By selecting a specific audience, you have better details of what your shoppers experience in real time.

In such a competitive retail landscape, customer experience personalization is a must. This again speaks to the importance of gathering as much customer data as possible from flesh-and-blood customers.

SMS invite for journeyIQ

Similarly, brands should keep an eye on their ecommerce and Google Analytics data to see where there might be drop-off points. If someone’s failing to convert from a particular channel or at a certain point in your funnel, it’s worthwhile to investigate why.

Such detective work might be just what you need to create a better experience for shoppers.

5. Curate as Much Customer Feedback as Possible

Piggybacking on some of the tips above, personalization marketing oftentimes involves picking your customers’ brains. Although analytics data and buying behavior are invaluable, so is good, ol’ fashioned feedback.

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For starters, consider some straightforward strategies to figure out what your customers want on a community-wide or individual level. How do you get this information? Well, it’s actually pretty easy and we’ve already mentioned a few ways earlier!

Try to collect information through:

  • Social questions: This includes Q&A posts, asking customers to highlight their favorite products or what they want to see from you next.
  • Email surveys: Whether it’s a formal survey or an informal check in, asking for feedback in exchange for a discount is totally fair game.
  • Quizzes: As noted earlier, quizzes offer direct answers from your customers regarding what they want and more.

zachary prell messaging example

Brands shouldn’t be shy about asking for feedback, either. The majority of consumers are more than happy to provide information to businesses if it ultimately results in a better experience. It’s just a matter of asking.

6. Adapt to Your Customers’ Schedule

Timing is an aspect of personalization marketing that’s easy to overlook. Your customers aren’t “on” around the clock, day after day.

Perhaps you’re all about seasonality. Maybe you sell big-ticket items that are prime for “one-and-done” buyers with serious consideration. Regardless of your target audience, you need to reach out to them when they’re in the mood to buy.

For example, consider the top spending events such as the winter holiday season.

top consumer spending events graphic

There’s no use hitting folks with deals when they’re “cold.” Timing is a subtle yet significant aspect of giving your customers what they want. But a not-so-subtle aspect of scoring more sales is when your customers are most active.

Especially considering how crowded the ecommerce space is, data-driven timing is absolutely key to making your offers stand out. That’s why tools that perform scheduling optimization are so popular.

For example, MailChimp has it’s optimized timing feature that allows businesses to target individual members of their list based on when they’re most likely to be active. This makes targeting that much easier.

mailchimp campaign scheduler

This is crucial for businesses with customers across multiple timezones. After all, who wants to get an offer in the dead of night? Spoiler alert: nobody.

On a related note–timing is key for businesses looking to roll out any sort of social ad strategy. Although remarketing ads like those on Facebook are popular as they create another valuable touchpoint with your customers, they still need to be timed to perfection.

Don’t neglect features such as campaign budget optimization, which does the legwork of figuring out when your audience should see them.

And with that, we wrap up our guide!

What Personalization Marketing Tactics Matter Most to You?

Examining behavior. Gathering data. Curating feedback.

These are the steps that businesses today need to take if they want to create meaningful experiences for their customers. Listen: personalization marketing isn’t just a buzzphrase. Customers still crave the personal touch of old-school brick-and-mortar stores even as ecommerce booms.

Are you greeting them at the proverbial door? Offering service with a smile? Pushing them to purchase when they have doubts? If not, you definitely need to be!

Thankfully, modern tools and analytics make the process of creating positive customer experiences so much easier. And by combining the tactics above and taking advantage of the features baked into PowerReviews’ platform, you can start getting personal with your buyers sooner rather than later.

See how our tools help businesses of all sizes manage customer feedback and surface important product insights. Request a demo today

Brent Barnhart

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.

A solid relationship is always a two-way street, which is why so many businesses struggle to get a high level of customer satisfaction.

Consumers will buy your products if you give them good reasons. But on one hand, you have to be honest, forthcoming and problem solvers. This lets your customer base know you care and are willing to do your part in the relationship.

Research from Indiana University found across multiple industries, companies tend to overestimate their own customer satisfaction levels. This disconnect in perceptions leads to less satisfied customers and ultimately, fewer shoppers coming back and a huge dent in your sales.

So, how do you prevent all that from happening? The first step is to determine where your customer satisfaction currently stands. Measure satisfaction levels in your business to identify areas that need work and then you creates ways to wow your customers.

First, let’s figure out what truly makes up customer satisfaction and how it works with your business:

What Is Customer Satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction is a metric used to track and gauge the degree of gratification or comfort with a brand’s products and services. Simply put, it finds out how happy your customers are and do they trust your business enough to buy again.

It’s equally important to measure customer satisfaction to fully comprehend how it affects your business. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. If you want to make your customers happy, you need to know how satisfied they are right now. From that point, figure out how to take things to the next level.

powerreviews ratings and reviews example of mac lipstick

Knowing your customer satisfaction numbers also provides valuable insights for research and development. That’s why so many businesses rely on a ratings and reviews platform to uncover opportunities to develop new or enhance products and services.

So how do you measure customer satisfaction? There are various ways that all depend on your industry, offerings and customers. But if you’re curious to learn more–we’ve got you.

Here are five secrets to success to improve customer satisfaction:

1. Let Customer Surveys Tell You Everything You Already Know

As one of the most straightforward ways to gather insights, a survey can give you quantitative and qualitative data about your customers. Likely, you already have some idea of what your customers think.

However, it’s smart to test your hypothesis on a regular basis to know exactly what your customers are thinking about your brand or product. The nature of your survey will depend on the metric or score that you’re trying to find.

For customer satisfaction, the most common scores businesses rely on are the Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES).

Let’s quickly break down each of these scores in detail:

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The Net Promoter Score measures the likelihood of a customer recommending your company to others. Finding a user’s NPS starts with a simple survey question: How likely are you to recommend the company to a friend or colleague?

In fact, Omniconvert explained that users then answer the question with a scale from 1 to 10, which classifies your customer fulfillment according to their ratings. Those who give you a score of 9 or 10 are called Promoters, while a score of 7 or 8 get named Passives and 6 to 0 are Detractors.

omnicovert net-promoter-score

To calculate your overall Net Promoter Score, subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. So, if 60% of your customers are Promoters and 5% are Detractors, then your NPS is 55.

Your Net Promoter Score by itself won’t tell you a whole lot because NPS benchmarks vary from one industry to the next. An NPS of 10 for example, might be great if you’re in the Cable and Satellite TV industry, but that same score is considered low if you’re a specialty retail store.

So, look into NPS benchmarks to figure out how you measure up compared to companies in your field. To give you a better idea, here are average NPS industry benchmarks from 2018, as provided by NICE-Satmetrix, the co-developer of Net Promoter:

net promoter score by industry graphic

Pro Tip: Ask Additional NPS Questions

While your NPS gives you insights into customer satisfaction (especially when compared with others in your industry), your score alone doesn’t provide any information around the specific areas of your business that need improvement. If you want to get even more value out your NPS, consider asking additional survey questions based on the user’s initial answer.

For example, if someone gives a score of 8 and below, then you can follow-up with asking what changes would have persuaded a higher rating. But for users rating 9 or 10, your follow-up question could ask what specifically they recommend or what do they think you did really well.

More often than not, you’re going to get honest customer feedback about your buyer journey. This could ultimately help you fix things like product returns, low ratings and abandoned carts.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

While NPS measures customer satisfaction at a more general level, the Customer Satisfaction Score measures satisfaction with a specific product, service or brand interaction. To that end, CSAT surveys are typically initiated after an event such as after a purchase or support team interaction. The key is to do it while the experience is still fresh in your customers’ minds.

powerreviews review collection review your purchase example

This is why post purchase emails are essential to gathering valuable customer feedback. PowerReviews Review Collection solutions sends your customers emails asking about their experiences with the products they just purchased. This allows shoppers to give their recent and fresh feedback for every product they purchased.

As you likely know, getting customers to fill out reviews for multiple products is asking a lot and time consuming. Instead, PowerReviews collects all the recent purchases and makes it absolutely simple to enter reviews while staying on the same review page.

Customers are more likely to fill out multiple reviews when they see what’s needed to move on–unlike some review collections that continually jump to new pages and feel endless.

Product Pulse banner

Measuring CSAT Success

Just like with NPS, your customers provide answers by choosing a score from a scale. You can use a 10-point scale (similar to NPS), though a 5-point scale also works for CSAT. Many companies ask customers to rate their satisfaction using a scale from “Very Unsatisfied” to “Very Satisfied”.

One example of a company doing this is Morton’s Steakhouse, which sends their guests a survey a few days after their visit.

mortons satisfaction example

Once you’ve gathered enough responses, take note of the scores your received and keep an eye out for trends or patterns. CSAT helps determine which products, experiences or support reps yield the highest satisfaction scores. This allows you to further identify trends in various customer segments.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

Customer Effort Score is a metric measuring satisfaction based on the amount of effort required to use a product or service. According to the Harvard Business Review, CES is the best predictor of whether or not a customer will continue doing business with a company.

You measure CES by asking questions about how much effort was needed to handle the request. Customers use a scale from 1 (Very Low Effort) to 5 (Very High Effort) to provide feedback. The same HBR article found 94% of customers reporting a “low effort” score were likelier to purchase again, while 88% admitted they’d spend more money to get that service.

However, 81% of respondents said if the process was “high effort,” they were likelier to tell friends and family of their negative experience, significantly harming any word-of-mouth marketing strategies in place. With that in mind, once you have enough completed CES surveys, you should have a better idea about:

  • Would continue buying from you
  • Would say negative things about your company

NPS vs. CSAT vs. CES

What’s the best metric for measuring customer satisfaction? That depends on your objectives as well as your overall views about customer satisfaction. If you’re looking for a more holistic view of how satisfied your customers are, then NPS would be the best option.

But if you want to gain insights about specific components of your business (e.g., a particular product or service) then CSAT would likely do the trick.

On the other hand, if ease of use is an important metric in your business or if you agree with HBR in that customer effort is a good predictor of future behavior, then consider implementing CES surveys. Each metric has its sets of pros and cons, so do your research, figure out what works best for your specific business and start measuring.

Tools for Conducting Customer Surveys

Whichever metric you choose, you can easily create and send your customers surveys. There are plenty of tools on the market to conduct surveys, and here are a few we recommend:

2. Use Social Media to Truly Listen to Interactions & Conversations About You

Sometimes the best feedback is things customers voluntarily provide. And this is where social media listening is incredibly helpful. Consumers constantly share both positive and negative opinions about brands on social media–it’s up to you to decipher what’s valuable.

Sprout Social index-q3 2017 graph on accountability of brands

In fact, the Sprout Social Q3 2017 Index found 46% of consumers have called out a brand on social media for unfair treatment, a poor experience or multiple reoccurring issues. These experiences are crucial to track whether they’re coming at your brand directly or in-directly.

Invest in a Social Media Listening Tool

Effectively social media listening requires more than manually reading comments and brand mentions. For it to be effective, you need tools that can not only track important mentions, but also provide information that you can quantify and take action on–even if they don’t specifically tag your brand.

Here are some tools that can do everything from monitoring brand mentions and analyzing sentiment to tracking your competitors and generating social media reports:

There are a lot of social media listening tools out there, but we recommend doing your research before signing up for a solution. At the end of the day, the success of your efforts will hinge not on the tools that you’re using, but how you use them. Here’s a few tips to note when using these tools:

Find Your Most Valuable Keywords to Monitor

For starters, most social media monitoring tools let you add specific keywords to monitor. One of the first things you should do is identify all the significant keywords to track on social. These may include:

  • Your company name
  • CEO and key executive names
  • Specific product or feature names
  • Keywords associated with competitors
  • Weaknesses about your products or services
  • Common customer pain points in your industry

The next tip is to act quickly. Social media monitoring will do nothing for customer satisfaction unless you act on the information. A 2018 survey from Clutch found the majority of consumers expect brands to respond to social media comments within 24 hours.

clutch social response graphic

Actually, data shoed 83% expected companies to respond within less than a day, while 38% want brands to connect within an hour. Speed is clearly important to social media users, so if you want to keep their satisfaction levels high, make it a point to respond to their comments ASAP.

Pro tip: Most tools can alert you when important comments come through. Use this feature to your advantage.

3. Thoroughly Mine Your Product Ratings & Reviews

If you collect and display product ratings and reviews (which you totally should), all of this content is a goldmine for customer satisfaction insights. But more likely than not, you know this important, but manually digging through reviews content can be extremely time consuming and create unknowing biases toward responses in the process.

So what do you do if you get dozens or even tens of thousands of product reviews to dig through? It starts to feel like a literal hunt for gold.

That’s why PowerReviews launched its newest feature in its Intelligent Suite: Product Pulse. We listened to our customer feedback and the comments were clear–it’s too time-consuming to dig through review content.

most common adjectives product pulse graphic

Product Pulse does the heavy lifting by pulling most-used adjectives, trends customers see with the product and sentiment analysis with your items–all at the product level. Powered by our intuitive platform, Product Pulse provides real product insights in an easy-to-digest visual display.

The Intelligence Suite engine has already processed over 40 million consumer product reviews to discover 2 million unique topics with 5 million unique opinions to give your brand actionable product insights.

Want to see more? Sign up today and request a demo of Product Pulse!

4. Always Have the Answers

The quickest ways to frustrate your customers (and diminish satisfaction) is to not have answers to their questions. It’s important to arm your staff with the resources they need to provide prompt and adequate answers to your customers.

In addition to offering ample training, identify the most common question customers have and make sure your team is ready with the answers. At the same time, it helps to give shoppers the ability to find answers for themselves.

According to Forrester, 53% will leave a site if they cannot find an answer to a product question before purchase. So, what’s a brand to do?

Let your shoppers submit their own questions. This can be helpful on your product pages because it allows shoppers to bring up item-specific concerns.

Skechers product question

Consider Skechers, which has an “Ask a Question” button on its product pages. When a customer clicks on it, the site launches a form through a Questions and Answers platform.

Their question is then routed to the most qualified sources based on flexible business rules set by Skechers. Shoppers get an answer within 3 hours or less through a follow-up email with a link to the product page so they can complete their purchase.

With the feature, Skechers saw a 32% increase in conversion for products and a 51% bump in their conversion rate from answer notification emails. This goes to show that shoppers who get answers to their questions are more likely to complete their purchase.

Be Prompt

In addition to having the right answers, being quick with delivering them can also help customer satisfaction. Research from Forrester found 73% of customers believe their own time is the most valuable asset for great customer service.

One of the best ways to show customers that you value their time is to provide answers and services quickly. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:

Set Up an Auto-Response

Even if can’t answer right away, let people know their message was received. Automate this by setting up a customer service autoresponder that notifies users you got their message. Your auto-response also tells people how they can get in touch if they need to follow up.

postmates product support email

For instance, when you submit a customer support ticket on Postmates, you immediately receive a “Request received” message. In some cases, an auto-response can even streamline the support process for you.

Check out this example from ThirdLove. After submitting a Returns/Exchange request, you’ll get an automatic message with instructions on what to do next and a link to download a return label.

third love returns and exchange example

Route Questions to the Right Department

Set up your help center in a way that queries are filtered and routed to the right people. If you’re using a form or live chat to collect customer questions and requests, you can do this with a drop-down menu that lets users specify the nature of their request.

Apparel retailer Showpo does just that with its chat form that has a drop-down menu on which customers can select their “Enquiry Type.”

shopo enquiry form example

5. Show & Tell Customers You Want to Improve Satisfaction

Once you’ve done something to address customer feedback, follow-up so it’s known you’ve addressed the concern. This is as simple as sending an email or a social media message saying you’ve fixed the issue.

If you’re addressing a larger concern that many customers have brought up, notify users through a product email update or blog post addressing common concerns.

grammarly messaging on blog

For the longest time, Grammarly users asked for integration with Google Docs. So when it finally happened, Grammarly published a blog post announcing the update and that the customer feedback is the main reason they updated the software.

Deliver on Your Word

It’s all about focusing on delivering first and delighting second.

This may seem like weird advice when we constantly hear businesses should “surprise and delight” their customers. However, a separate Harvard Business Review study found consumers’ tendency to punish bad service is greater than their impulse to reward delightful interactions.

Bose shows you why it’s important to evaluate your existing products, services and experiences customers face when interacting with your brand. They identified areas of dissatisfaction and then took action.

Another company that did this well is Fandango, a ticketing company that lets people book tickets online and through mobile devices. The company gathered feedback from its users and discovered a big problem.

When using Fandango’s seat selection feature, customers had having trouble knowing what side of the theater was faced toward the screen. It’s a simple hurdle that could cause a lot of unhappy front- and back-row customers.

That feedback was routed to Fandango’s product team, which addressed the issue straight away. If you want to improve customer satisfaction, take action on your word and show consumers you listen and fix problems.

Improving Customer Satisfaction Is a Long-Term Process

Boosting satisfaction requires performing two key things very well: measurement and addressing the issues causing the most problems. This isn’t a one-and-done method.

Brands have to keep up and prioritize customer satisfaction as well as product sentiment because moods change over time. So no matter how satisfied your shoppers are today, make it a point to keep measuring and keep improving!

Francesca Nicasio

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

Don’t let anyone tell you that search marketing is dead if you’re an ecommerce brand.

In fact, the PowerReviews Snapshot for Ecommerce report found a staggering 50% of online purchases begin with a Google search. That’s why the ability to put your products front-and-center in search is a crucial part of paving of the path to purchase.

Think about it. Whether someone is just browsing or is dead-set on making a purchase, showing up on the search engine results page (SERPs) is invaluable for retailers looking to make a lasting impression on shoppers.

Enter the world of product listing ads.

product listing ads search example

In this quick guide, we’ll break down how to set up Google product listing ads and the best practices for making your ads stand out to shoppers.

Why Product Listing Ads Deserve Your Attention

Product listing ads pull data from your online store to populate for specific Google searches. These image-based ads operate on a pay-per-click model, but are much more eye-popping than text-based ads.

At a glance, you might look at these ads and wonder “why bother?”

Hey, fair question.

On the surface, product listing ads might not seem as “sexy” as social ads or influencer campaigns, right? However, that doesn’t change just how insanely effective image-based PPC can be.

For starters, here are some key benefits of product listing ads.

You Only Pay for The Clicks You Get

This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s worth mentioning.

Unlike ad campaigns which are difficult to measure and budget for, product listing ads are fairly straightforward. After all, you only pay for the clicks you get. This makes it easier to determine the ROI of your campaigns and what product categories are your top performers.

Likewise, don’t forget Google’s robust analytics suite, which is baked into each of your campaigns. Want to know which products are killin’ it? Every click is a valuable data point for your business if nothing else.

google analytics location example

Stop Sweating Over Search Rankings

Let’s be honest: ranking for individual product keywords is tedious, time-consuming and sometimes seemingly impossible if you’re an up-and-coming brand.

According to recent PPC statistics, shoppers are happy to click on Google ads and consumers are more likely to convert than organic customers anyway. Product listing ads allow you to “skip the line” by appearing atop any given search query. This removes the “what-ifs” and legwork involved with trying to rank for product-related terms organically.

Positioning Power

This benefit is a two-way street. Product listing ads quite literally position your brand right in front of searchers in text, image and shopping searches.

This allows shoppers to use search as a starting point toward choosing a specific item, brand or store. Just look at how many options arise from a simple search of “women’s shoes.”

womens sneakers product listing ads search example

There’s a ton of opportunity for brands and retailers to take advantage of being in this initial search to shop. However, it’s just as important to also consider how product listing ads position your products from a branding perspective.

Appearing alongside household names in search gives your brand a much-needed sense of authority. In other words, you automatically look “bigger” by association.

Appeal to Visual Customers

Data from a Social Media Examiner 2018 Industry Report found 32% of marketers think visual images is the single most important form of content on their website. And more likely than not, you can guess why.

Seeing is believing for modern customers. Being in search results with visuals gives customers less hesitation and more incentive to click and get additional information.

adjustable standing desks search example

Everything from high-res photos to showing off products in the wild, product listing ads empower brands to use a variety of imagery to win over customers.

Also, consider how shoppers’ eyes naturally gravitate toward imagery when it comes to search. According to ConversionXL, the traditional ad placements of Google Shopping ads represent prime real estate.

Google Click Heat Map

How to Set Up Google Product Listing Ads

Now that we’ve highlighted the benefits, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. That is, how to set up Google product listing ads for the first time.

The good news is that the process is relatively straightforward, especially if you’re already familiar with AdWords. For starters, you’re going to need to link your AdWords and Google Merchant Center account.

The Merchant Center is where you’ll upload your product data, which will flow between your storefront and Google’s ad platform. The setup for Merchant Center simply requires you to verify your website prior to creating your first campaign.

After your accounts are linked, go ahead and pop into AdWords. Click on the “Campaign” dropdown and select “Shopping.”

Google Shopping Campaign

You’ll then be asked to name your Shopping campaign and select a Merchant ID: this is your Merchant Center account. Then confirm the country of sale depending on where your products are sold.

Assuming this is your first rodeo, don’t worry about campaign priority quite yet. You can then choose to have your campaign to source all of your products or between specific categories based on inventory filters.

From here, you’ll choose where your ads will be served in terms of geography. You can restrict ads only be served via Google search or other third-party sites running ads. You’ll then choose between manual or automatic bidding as well as when your ads will be scheduled.

Finally (and perhaps most importantly) you’ll need to choose your product groups and categories. To double-check your account set up, you can also reference this nifty video from Google themselves.

Google Product Listing Ads Best Practices

Product listing ads have major potential for just about any ecommerce brand. This is especially true given that PowerReviews’ Mapping the Path to Purchase report found 52% of searchers are more than happy to click on them.

That said, you need to make each and every click count. You’re payin’ for ‘em, after all.

It’s crucial to understand both the best practices of product listing ads as well as promotional strategies to entice those ever-so-important clicks. Below are some tips for fine-tuning and setting up your ads to maximize their performance.

Keep Your Product Information Up-to-Date

Bear in mind that Google requires you to send them up-to-date product data including pricing information and imagery every 30 days. Doing so might seem like a pain, but it makes sense.

You don’t want to send someone to a page with a sold out product or inaccurate pricing. These sorts of errors are conversion-rate killers and Google wants to help you steer clear of them for an all-around better customer experience.

Thankfully, Google allows you to send automatic product updates through its Merchant Center to help you save some serious time. Especially if you’re dealing with a massive inventory, the upfront setup of automatic updates is worth your while.

Choose Your Product Categories Carefully

Picking categories for your product listing ads might be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be rocket science. Don’t think of categories the same way you might think of ranking for specific, product-related keywords.

In fact, Google recommends choosing broader categories and branching out from there. For example, let’s say your storefront sells shoes and your women’s black flats are among the most popular items.

simple Black Flats search example

After an initial search, you quickly see the product listing ads are full of competitors with affordable options. Additionally, you see product rankings on the last two items, which means they use a ratings and reviews syndication software like PowerReviews to get customer content in more places.

But for this example, let’s say you really want to hone down your category even further. Luckily, you can specify a sect of your audience, which in this scenario, you might want to target “black flats for women.”

black flats for women search example

Google gives you the option to take it a step further. Brands and retailers can appeal to shoppers looking for products at a specific price point.

This let’s you target searches for products and price point together like “black flats under $20.”

black flats under $20 example

Let’s say you’re currently running a sale on a specific item. You can set up PLAs to target specific audiences searching for bargains.

In this example, we used the search term “black flats on sale.” And if you haven’t noticed yet there are some commonalities between all the search examples. However, each term does bring different results, which is why you must test your campaigns.

black flats on sale search example

See how that works? The beauty of product listing ads is the ability to drill down into specific categories based on your budget and the specifics of your products.

Include Star-Ratings Alongside Your Products

Food for thought: more than a third of shoppers say average star ratings are the most effective way of understanding a product as well as trusting the seller.

boardshorts star rating example

Star-ratings provide shoppers with an extra layer of assurance by highlighting your best products and that other customers are satisfied with what you’re selling. With the help of PowerReviews, you can source your star-ratings directly from your storefront to popular in your product listing ads.

Choose Compelling Product Images

Note that people are looking for “real” visuals when it comes to product searches. As we mentioned earlier, some brands rely on “stock photos” of their products while others show off what they’re selling in a real-world setting.

And data from the same Snapshot of Ecommerce report found 72% of shoppers admit to regularly looking for visual content before making a purchase. So why not make sure you’re properly collecting and displaying images as well as gaining rights to user-generated content for your product pages?

permission to use on powerreviews example

PowerReviews’ easy-to-use dashboard provides businesses control over social programs and visual content collection with predefined UGC channels. This allows companies to adjust on the fly and make sure the appropriate visual content is collected successfully to make product pages drive more sales–both organically and through paid ads.

Use Discounts & Promos to Encourage Clicks

Everyone loves a good deal, right?

Whether it’s a sale announcement, percentage-off or free shipping, having a special offer tacked onto your product listing ads is a brilliant move. The oft-cited statistic that free shipping is the No. 1 incentive for shoppers to make a purchase is rather telling, isn’t it?

Check out how Google displays various types of promos to help give searchers an extra reason to click.

mens khakis search example

Google allows you to create promotions manually or create a promotional feed that automatically updates your ads based on your most recent offers. Give shoppers the extra push to learn about your product and the benefits to choosing your company.

In the end, you’ll provide more context to buyers and stand out among the competition.

And with that, we wrap up our guide!

Ready to Set Up Your First Product Ad Campaign?

If you’re looking for a cost-effective avenue to raise brand awareness and win new customers, product listing ads can make it happen.

There’s a reason why brands big and small already rely on Google’s PPC platform. Prime advertising real estate? Robust analytics? The opportunity to leapfrog your competitors in the SERPs?

Hopefully, this guide on how to set up Google product listing ads can serve as a much-needed dose of inspiration and motivation to get started yourself. With these tips and tools such as PowerReviews, you can start running click-worthy ads sooner rather than later.

Brent Barnhart

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.

It’s only natural for businesses to strive for positive reviews of their product or service, right? After all, what brand or retailer actually likes receiving negative reviews from customers? Who wouldn’t want to receive a glowing review from a customer?

Plus, thanks to word-of-mouth marketing, we know just how powerful a positive review is for a brand. In fact, data from the Proven Power of Reviews report found 95% of consumers consult customer reviews prior to making a purchase. Seeing reviews with positive sentiment is the push customers need to turn from browsers to buyers.

ijet display badges on powerreviews

But what happens when your brand receives negative reviews from customers? Do you throw in the towel and preemptively close up shop—or worse, reply with an equal amount of negativity?

Here’s the thing–negative reviews are not the end of the world.

Instead, this negative feedback can give brands and retailers a major leg-up–if you know how to leverage them properly.

What Role Do Reviews Play in the Customer Journey?

The power of customer opinion is one that shouldn’t be underestimated. Whether a customer chooses to give an opinion in a negative review, on social media or through a text with with a friend, you can be certain consumers share their experiences.

Nick Hajili explained this in the International Journal of Market Research by saying the influence of trust and how it motivates consumers to buy is essential in the customer journey.

“Trust, encouraged by social media, significantly affects the intention to buy,” said Hajili. “Therefore, trust has a significant role in ecommerce by directly influencing intention to buy and indirectly influencing perceived usefulness.”

Trust in online reviews graphic from Brightlocal

Online reviews help customers form educated opinions of a product or service, which is why word-of-mouth marketing is so powerful. Data from BrightLocal found 91% of shoppers between the ages 18-34 believe reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations.

People trust the feedback of other people, especially those they relate to the most. Despite this number, an Impact infographic showed only 33% of businesses continuously collect reviews for their products.

In addition, if customers are going to search for information about your product or service, why not make it easy for them to find? Online review engines like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google are go-to sources, but collecting reviews across your product pages are what truly help your business and drive more sales.

For example, one instance where reviews on your site help more than review engines is SEO. By indexing review content from your product pages, you provide search engines with more unique content and long-tail keywords to organically rank.

How Negative Reviews Affect Purchases

Negative reviews affect consumer purchases in a plethora of ways–starting with product page abandonment or even to see why customers gave a bad report. When shopping online, customers want to feel empowered in their decision before making a purchase.

Consumers are driven to research every possible aspect of a product before purchasing, especially if the item is expensive. In fact, research from PowerReviews and Northwestern University found reviews are especially impactful for products that are considered to be of a higher price in their category.

Northwestern and PowerReviews graphic on spending

As we looked at a highly-reviewed item like baby food, our data showed there’s more trust to increase spend on products with higher ratings.

Consumers Pay Special Attention to Negative Reviews

We know customers look at positive sentiment and it affects their decisions, but what about negative reviews? For starters, almost as many shoppers who trust positive reviews also prefer to read negative reviews before buying as well.

For example, consumers look at negative reviews for various reasons, such as:

  • Understand the biggest downfalls of the product product they’re researching
  • Identify any specific factors that might not work for them (i.e. if a a product caused an allergic reaction)
  • Learn how customers with negative experiences use the product
  • Balance consumer feedback to paint a better picture of the review content

On the flip side, customers aren’t searching for perfect five-star ratings to validate their purchase decisions. In fact, perfect reviews often come across as “too good to be true.” In the same PowerReviews and Northwestern study, data showed the average rating between 4.2 and 4.5 stars is more effective and realistic compared to a perfect 5.

Northwestern report graphic on star averages

Keep in mind, customers take the review into consideration, but they also judge the reviewer as well. If a customer can’t relate to the reviewer, they are likely to ignore that review.

example of a good negative review

For example, if a customer is scrolling reviews for this lip balm, this type of review may not impact their decision. Why? After seeing the reasoning behind the supposed negative review, customers see it’s due to a personal preference instead of actual product flaw. Some customer will care about bulky packaging, others will not.

How to Use Negative Reviews to Your Benefit

Reviews go beyond customers stating whether or not they like a product. They play a major role in shaping potential customers’ opinions as well as providing valuable insight to brands.

We know that customers rely heavily on feedback to gauge purchase decisions, but what about negative reviews?

Increase Conversion Rates

There’s an overwhelming amount of data that confirms just how important displaying reviews are to driving sales. Though it may seem obvious that if you include reviews on product pages, you see an uptick in conversions. But what’s telling is just how much they help.

A study from the Spiegel Research Center found just by displaying reviews, the chance of a customer converting increase by 270%.

impact of reviews graphic

Not only do online reviews drive higher conversion rates across the board, but they also have a significant impact on higher-priced item conversions when compared to lower-priced items. The same study from the Spiegel Research Center found when reviews were shown for a lower-priced product, the conversion rate increased by 109%.

However, when reviews were displayed for a more expensive product, the conversion rate increased by 380%.

That’s quite a leap.

In the mind of the customer, higher-priced items come with more risk. Therefore, the more information at the customer’s fingertips, the more confident they feel about making the purchase. The writing is on the wall: brands that provide a means for customers to learn about their product in an honest way will see a spike in sales.

the north face review snapshot example

Establish Trust & Authenticity

It all boils down to keeping things honest and open with your customers. Having negative reviews on your site shows customers you aren’t afraid of them understanding your product in its entirety or of them seeing the good, the bad and the ugly of other customers’ experience with your brand.

As counterintuitive as this may seem, this builds trust between you and your customers. It also reinforces that you are on your customers’ side and want to be fully transparent with them.

A recent analysis of the 7.8 million reviews in the PowerReviews network found that on average, one-star reviews yield more “helpful” votes than other ratings. This is because not only do negative reviews validate the authenticity of review content, but because negative reviews steer customers to products that best benefit their needs.

helpful negative review example

This negative review received a high “helpful” vote because it provides insight into what customers can expect to get with this particular product, not just that the product wasn’t what the reviewer anticipated.

Drive Improvement & Innovation

There’s no question that online reviews are full of valuable insight that can help you improve your products and your customers’ experience with your brand. Reviews serve as a gateway into consumers’ minds. They are the people who interact with your products, which means their customer feedback—both the good and bad–is extremely valuable.

Image describing the rating sentiment of Blackberry Syrup

This is why PowerReviews built Product Pulse, a sentiment analysis tool that can analyze and pull insights of all your review content at the product level. Product Pulse allows brands and retailers to dig even deeper into their review content to uncover product insights that might have been missed otherwise.

In a day and age where businesses want to cut the fat of unsuccessful products or find ways to make processes more efficient and cheaper, digging into negative reviews helps. When businesses don’t look into the commonalities of their negative feedback, they miss major product malfunctions or issues that potential customers see in reviews and abandon their cart.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

We know the importance of using negative reviews, but how can brands take this feedback a step further?

How your company addresses a bad review can speak volumes about your brand and how you treat your customers. Not to mention, you’re showing both current and potential clients that you care about their feedback and opinions.

Consider the following when addressing a negative review:

  • Empathize with the customer’s frustration: However, don’t act like it’s the end of the world. It will only drive a customers’ frustration further.
  • Thank the customer for their feedback: Let customers know you value their input and provide a customer care phone number or on social, ask them to DM your account.
  • Offer a return, refund or exchange: Tell the customer you’re addressing the issue and not just sending a refund for a quick fix.

Ulta Beauty always does an amazing job answering to their customers’ concerns on social. By doing this, you have a better chance of turning a negative review into a positive experience.

How to Appropriately Reply

Think about how you want to reply to the customer as well. Remember, the bigger deal you make of the issue, the more likely the customer will feel they were scammed or mislead. So when you reply, consider how you should respond to negative reviews or feedback:

  • Public reply: Be curious, genuine, and professional as other customers and potential customers may see your reply. This is your chance things right with the person who left the negative review. It also demonstrates you care about your customers’ concerns and feedback.
  • Email reply: With an email reply, you’re respecting customers’ privacy. Even though you’re corresponding with them in private, there’s still a chance the customer could share your reply with the public or with family and friends. Treat any “private” correspondences as if they were public.

negative review example to respond to

This reply from a clothing retailer is concise and polite. It also encourages the reviewer to reach out to the customer service team so they can remedy the issue. By taking the conversation offline, the brand can find out more details about the issue by focusing solely on that customer.

Let Negative Reviews Boost Your Authenticity

How your brand chooses to engage with negative reviews is just as important—if not more important—as responding to positive feedback. The way your brand handles the situation, ultimately leads to the growth of sales. Additionally, your actions provoke trustworthiness and identify areas of your product or service that need to be improved.

The bottom line: don’t ignore negative reviews. You could miss out on an opportunity for your business to shine.

Want more info on how PowerReviews helps brands and retailers increase review collection and boost sales? Reach out today to talk to one of our experts!

Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose is a writer who specializes in creating value-packed blog content for ecommerce and SaaS companies. When she's not writing, you can find her out running, checking out a thriller novel—or two—from the library, or trying to pet the nearest dog. Say hi on Twitter or check out her website Katambrose.com.

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