Brands and retailers continually look for new and inventive ways to get the most out of their user-generated content, whether it’s from social media or ratings and reviews. And to provide clarity and inspire some “outside the box” ideas, PowerReviews hosted four separate hackathon groups of roughly 20 industry experts in retail, CPG and ecommerce. 

What was the goal?

We simply wanted to understand the biggest pain points for brands and retailers in terms of review and UGC collection in 2019. Industry leaders don’t require nearly as much convincing when it comes to the power of the voice of the customer, but instead, these experts want more effective ways to collect consumer feedback.

Through the different sessions, there were a lot of similar themes and challenges for brands and retailers to successfully collect content. To help with this, PowerReviews provided insights into the future of review collection and how businesses can get smarter with their technology without spending a fortune. 

To break down the commonalities, we’re providing the three biggest takeaways coming from the nearly 80 brand and retailer experts at this year’s hackathon:

1. Use On-Pack Solicitation for Review Collection

There’s one piece of real estate brands own when it comes to the shopping experience–your product packaging and labels. Because there’s such a limit to what brands can do with improving shopping experiences, it’s essential to take advantage of what goes on your product packaging. 

Brands are constantly looking for new and inventive ways to spark interest or drive an action through product labeling. One common theme we addressed in each session was the power of asking for reviews specifically on the label.

Through the help of QR codes, the process of collecting reviews is much easier for brands. Additionally, you’re providing customers with an even easier way to write a review with a simple scan of the QR code with a smartphone.

Pew Research estimates 81% of U.S. adults owned a smartphone in 2018, which is drastically higher than the estimated 35% just eight years prior. What used to be a multi-step approach to get people to download a QR code app and then scan has changed. Now it’s practically a universal feature included on new smartphones.

Shoppers only have to open their smartphone camera, scan the code and get sent directly to a review collection page. Making this process easier improves the chances of content collection, especially if the code sends them to a form instead of the product page, which requires further scrolling to get to the “submit a review” section. 

When looking at brands selling perishable products, one of the biggest challenges is collecting ratings and reviews in the first place. But these brands have an opportunity to use QR codes on its packaging to encourage consumers to quickly leave a review while in the moment.

2. Continually Keep Review Content Fresh & Organic

While it sounds like we’re describing the produce aisle of a Whole Foods, there’s no question in the power of fresh and organic review content. One of the bigger challenges of brands running product sampling campaigns is they generate a ton of review content during the initiative, but don’t see reviews to continue to flow in once it ends. 

This is why PowerReviews works hard to ensure that our clients don’t just collect content, but generate the most possible ratings and reviews on a regular basis. Even though products with several reviews is a good thing, that sentiment can come to a screeching halt if the last review was from 3 years ago.

That might not seem like a long time, but for consumers, it’s an eternity. Remove the doubt by constantly running campaigns to keep content fresh. One campaign is not enough to plug and forget. 

Brands have to keep their review content fresh and one way to do this is through a sweepstakes campaign. By running a sweepstakes for your customers, you increase their interest by monetizing their efforts to leave feedback.

Some of the attending brands and retailers explained that event marketing campaigns are also a great (and unique) avenue to generate more reviews. It’s smart to get feedback directly from product samples at various events to have fresh, relevant content.

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At the end of the day, your customers have a natural inclination to talk about your products. So why not provide them with the easiest ways possible to leave reviews or submit user-generated content?

3. Tailor Social Collection to Your Own Needs

We heard you–social collection is essential to your user-generated content campaigns. This type of content helps solidify and build trust in other shoppers’ purchasing decisions.

The challenge is user-generated content collection has a lot of nuances and special needs for each brand. And the problem is many review syndication companies don’t let you tailor social collection capabilities to your specific needs.

visual and social collection for user generated content

PowerReviews believes social collection is not a “one size fits all” solution, which is why we let brands and retailers restructure their collection capabilities to meet the needs of their own processes. Having the ability to put images where you want on your product or category pages is essential to many businesses.

Another common challenge brands and retailers discussed was fitting some of their products into the budget to generate more review content. In fact, several brands have problems getting the budget to get more reviews. This is especially true for the tail-end list of their product portfolio. 

This means brands have to get strategic with the way they collect more content and make use of it. One avenue brands forget about is SMS for review collection. We’ve found that brands using SMS review collection see up to 4 times more reviews. 

Ratings and Reviews SMS Collection Solution

We know that SMS is a great collection capability that delivers more conversation-driving content. Additionally, these features help you keep review content fresh and relevant. It’s all about finding new and unique ways to get more content to your product pages.

Conclusion

We hope everyone who attended the Hoboken Hackathon walked away with some inspiration. It’s time to get strategic about UGC and review collection. For those who didn’t attend, our team felt it was a great opportunity to showcase our knowledge of the industry. We wanted to provide quick ways to win at content collection.

Our next session will be at the London Hackathon October 22 to 23, 2019. So book your spot today to hear our industry experts provide amazing insights into simpler and more effective review collection.

Peter Bond

Peter V.S. Bond is Vice President Of CPG Commercialization, focused on enabling commercial success within the Consumer Packaged Goods/Retail vertical. His experience also includes working with large enterprise CPG and Retail clients Kroger, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Campbell Soup and others. He is a voice of the customer and CRM evangelist.

Featured Presenter

RJ De La Cruz headshot

RJ De La Cruz | Senior Customer Success Manager, PowerReviews

 

As a Senior Customer Success Manager at PowerReviews, RJ De La Cruz partners with leading brands and retailers to ensure client success and value from the PowerReviews platform. He has over 15 years of experience in driving customer satisfaction and has worked with companies in a wide range of industries.

Take a look at the new Reporting experience within the PowerReviews Portal, which is now the default view when you navigate to the Analytics section. Along with an updated look and feel, plus noticeable speed improvement, new functionality and features have been added to streamline the way to access and analyze pertinent data. 

Get ready for faster-loading, easier-to-find charts that will help you track the content you’re collecting and displaying, and the impact it has on your business. We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on!

Listen to speaker RJ De La Cruz, our Senior Customer Success Manager at PowerReviews, to get the latest insights into our new experience.

Every savvy ecommerce business knows the holiday season is a time of great opportunity to boost sales, increase brand loyalty and reach new customers. Shoppers are willing to spend hundreds on gifts for loved ones. In fact, Statista found the average U.S. consumer spent $794 on Christmas gifts in 2018. As for Cyber Monday shoppers, there were roughly 122.2 million of them in the U.S. last year.

No wonder it’s ’tis the season for profitability and out-of-the-box marketing campaigns. Holiday cheer aside, the rising ecommerce competition from retailers–and Amazon–has businesses wondering how to approach the holidays all together.

To get in your last-minute changes to your ecommerce website, we’ll help you cover important things like customer engagement, popular retail trends and go over our holiday marketing checklist. Let’s get started.

A Profitable Holiday Season Starts With Engaged Customers

Planning your holiday marketing campaign is a long process. But there are ways to make improvements in the final months to get more out of your campaign. The importance of connecting with your customers is huge for ecommerce brands seeing a spike in web traffic.

Customers seemingly tackle their lists earlier every year. In fact, a 2018 report from Credit Karma found 86% of consumers started shopping for the holidays between June and September. But don’t sweat it just yet if you’re a little late to the prepping season.

Credit Karma Graphic on Holiday Shopping

There are still plenty of ways to optimize your ecommerce efforts in time for the holidays to maximize customer engagement and increase conversions. Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Involve Your Customers As Soon As Possible

Customers love your attention. That’s why personalization marketing efforts help ecommerce businesses increase sales and conversion rates. A 2018 Evergage report found 87% of marketers accredited personalization marketing to their sales lift.

evergage impact on personalization marketing graphic

Give your shoppers a better shopping experience by providing in-depth review content that covers everything from size and fit to product pros and cons. A lot of holiday purchases are made for others so product details are more critical.

2. Focus on Shareable Visual Content

Consumers not only want personalized experiences, they also want visual examples from people just like them. In fact, the PowerReviews Health and Beauty Study found 68% of shoppers actively seek product photos and videos from other shoppers before buying.

Health and Beauty Whitepaper stat on likeness

Additionally, 7 in 10 respondents said they look for similar attributes from reviewers’ visual content, such as skin tone, body type and age. Use the power of social media to collect the images and videos your shoppers are already sharing then display this content directly on your product pages. More visual cues will help reduce purchase hurdles.

Already a PowerReviews customer? We can activate social collection for you now! Get started today. Contact our team!

3. Incentivize Holiday Shopping for Customers

A 2019 eMarketer report found the majority of shoppers “always” or “often” use coupons or discount codes for the items they buy online. Incentivizing shoppers during the holidays with specific discount codes could be the push you need.

influencer and sampling suite syndication example

Another way to incentivize is through holiday product sampling campaigns. By running a product sampling for reviews campaign, the turnaround makes it easier to get in last minute reviews to your most important products.

This is a great way to get prepared for the holiday season by generating more reviews through influencers and product sampling. And for last-minute marketers, this is even more critical.

Important Holiday Shopping Trends to Watch

Every holiday season brings about a new trove of trends to keep up with. As you continue to plan through the end of the year, it’s important to be on top of some of the trends taking over the retail industry.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of holiday shopping retail trends that you might have missed in your preparation:

Consumers Are More Confident About Shopping Online

Data from Adobe Digital Insights found online sales increased by 16.5% in 2018 year over year. The highest online sales day was–predictably–Cyber Monday. Ecommerce continues to evolve and an emphasis on quality user experiences continues to be a driving factor in purchasing decisions.

Adobe analytics graphic

Retailers With Engaging Online & In-Store Experiences Have the Upper Hand

The same report also found retailers with both brick-and-mortar and online storefronts had a 50% increase in buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). The growth of BOPIS in 2019 has been astronomical–especially as bigger players like Walmart and Target have invested more into this option. BOPIS checkout carts typically have fewer items, which allows retailers to upsell customers once they’re in-store. Visual in-store experiences maximize the opportunity to chip away at higher sales.

AI Will Help Retailers Retain More Abandoned Carts

A Baymard survey discovered the three biggest factors for online abandoned carts were extra costs, the need to create an account and complicated UX. What was once a tool for larger companies is now a tool used by merchants of all sizes. AI in ecommerce is a must for brands wanting to retain customers, limit shopping cart abandonment and provide better user experiences.

Baymard cart abandonment graphic

NRF’s Annual October Holiday Consumer Survey found 60% of respondents want gift cards or certificates instead of other gifts. Consumers crave flexibility, so having gift cards available on your site is key—especially for last-minute shoppers. The best part is this sort of implementation is ideal for last-second marketers looking to make small changes that will have a big impact.

target homepage gift card deal

The Holiday Planning Checklist for 2019

If your customers start shopping earlier for the holidays, you really need to jump ahead of their search. There are so many moving parts when planning for the holiday season, which is why we’ve put together this checklist to keep you on track.

Holiday Marketing Checklist: Phase 1

  • Reassess last year’s efforts and numbers: Deep dive into last year’s campaign and rehash your theme, plan of execution, goals and areas of improvement. If you’re just getting started, now is the time to track everything. Historical data is your best friend because it gives you the quickest answers to overall performance.
  • Establish new goals for 2019: You know where you need to improve from last year, so start setting goals that achieve a specific initiative in your campaign. Whether it’s increased relevant traffic, average order sizes, conversion rates on specific products or post-purchase engagement, you have to set goals you know are at least possible. Unrealistic goals will only do harm to your team.
  • Develop your launch strategy: As you begin your initial planning, now is the time to develop your go-to-market or launch strategy. Holiday campaigns are complicated, which is why it’s crucial to create a detailed plan. This is when you assign roles to team members and set up communication avenues to keep the team updated on goals.

  • Map out your email strategy: Email is a powerful marketing tactic during the holidays. Your competitors are ramping up their email efforts so it’s imperative to think outside the box and develop a sequence that will resonate with your customers.

Holiday Marketing Checklist: Phase 2

  • Launch gift guides with your holiday hashtag: Finalize your gift guide to allow customers an early look at your deals, biggest products and other holiday offerings. A quality gift guide is visually engaging, highlights popular products based on consumer trends and is easy to navigate. At the same time, this is when you want to launch your branded hashtag or jump on a popular holiday hashtag.

  • Segment and leverage your audiences: The holiday season is a great time to fine-tune your personalization efforts. Figure out how you want to slice your email lists and how best to leverage them. Try segmenting email addresses from a previous launch by order value to help you retarget these customers.
  • Implement any last minute site changes: The holiday season brings big traffic numbers for ecommerce businesses, but it’s also a time where developers slow down their work. Get website implementations finalized now to avoid delays in development work through the actual holiday period.

Holiday Marketing Checklist: Phase 3

  • Prep your inventory. There’s nothing worse than hiccups with inventory management during the holiday season. Use current and historical data to make informed inventory decisions right now. Your inventory management system should be equipped to support this busy time.

  • Optimize your campaigns: As things truly start to pick up, this is the time to monitor campaign performance and make tweaks or small changes to optimize growth. Compare campaign performance with the benchmarks you set in September and adjust accordingly.
  • Celebrate small wins with your team: You didn’t get to this month alone, so make sure you celebrate with your team and show the results of your campaign so far. Even if they’re not the prettiest numbers yet, you want to find encouragement to prevent fatigue or burnout through the holiday push. This is the time to order your team lunch and show gratitude. Bigger celebrations come later.

Holiday Marketing Checklist: Phase 4

  • Deploy countdowns on shipping: Communicate to customers when to place orders to ensure timely shipment. Use popup modals clearly displayed on your site to ensure shoppers know your delivery capabilities.
  • Give last-minute shoppers plenty of options: Super Saturday, known as the Saturday before Christmas, is one of the busiest shopping days of the season. The National Retail Federation found 56% of consumers said they shop on this day. Additionally, 70% of shoppers between the ages 18 and 24 are more likely to purchase gifts the last week before Christmas. The two weeks before Christmas are prime spots for boosting sales, so extend sales or offer free shipping to get last-minute customers to spend.

NRF last shopping day graphic

  • Take note of what’s working for future campaigns: As mentioned earlier, collecting data is highly encouraged. In fact, you should use what you’ve learned so far to begin planning your post-holiday events. Watch for the most impactful tactics and strategize how these ideas could boost sales in 2020.
  • Hold a post-holiday debrief with your team: After the craziness of the holidays, it’s smart to connect with your team and assess what went right and wrong. This is the perfect time to collect notes for next year’s holiday campaign while this one is still fresh in your mind. And don’t forget to celebrate and reward your team for their hard work.

Last-Minute Moves Can Make the Difference

Planning for the holiday season gives you the chance to really figure out what tactics will work best for your brand based on current trends and past campaigns. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments on the fly to get maximum results. Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that prevents you from massive conversions in sales.

PowerReviews can take your customer review collection, analysis and customer experience to the next level. Contact us today, and a member of our team will help find the solution that’s right for you.

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.

PowerReviews is sponsoring E^HACKATHON London on October 22-23, 2019! Get together with fellow leaders of change and learn what it takes to master ecommerce growth. During the hackathon, attendees will go beyond the basics, diving deep into case studies and hack sessions covering the latest strategies, best practices and insights critical to winning online.

Please visit the EDGE by Ascential London Hackathon website to learn more and register!

Powering the Voice of the Shopper in a Digital World – Moving Beyond Simple Review Collection

As consumer loyalty to individual brands and products dwindles, and product assortment options increase, shoppers have become more reliant on each other to help them make their purchasing decisions. Due to this significant shift in shopper behavior, brands need to leverage new ways to collect content, beyond reviews and ratings. 

In this breakout, you will learn how to make reviews more robust, influential and abundant. Explore how to reach shoppers everywhere they are — regardless of the channel. We’ll cover tips for success in both the digital and brick and mortar worlds, and show you how to expand your reach to some of the largest omnichannel retailers in the world. 

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