With stores not open to the public, our shopping behaviors have been completely disrupted. As widely reported, ecommerce has become the core channel for consumption. For many brands, it’s the one key aspect of their business that’s going well. 

Many are looking to pivot on this COVID-19 ecommerce phenomenon to pave a path for growth. Read on to learn why building on your ecommerce success via a targeted customer engagement strategy can sow the seeds for long-term revenue growth.

A new Global Shopping Index report published by Salesforce cites some pretty unprecedented digital commerce statistics. But then again, these are completely unprecedented times. 

The number of unique digital shoppers rose 40% year-over-year, caused by this dramatic shift we’ve all experienced in consumer behavior from physical to digital browsing and buying. Digital shoppers drove a 20% revenue growth in Q1 2020, compared to 12% in Q1 2019.

Many brands are reporting increased order volumes in line with what they only usually only see during the holiday shopping season. Our own research backs this up conclusively, and shows brands are experiencing increased page view and purchase volumes. 

As some States begin to reopen, most Americans remain uneasy about venturing out, with one study showing 67% are uncomfortable going into a retail store. Given this ambivalence, expect ecommerce to remain robust for the foreseeable future. 

‘Don’t Rest on Your Laurels’ 

Brands have an incredible opportunity to continue this momentum by driving even more digital engagement – both in acquiring  new customers and nurturing their existing/loyal customer base. 

Matt Powell, Vice President and Senior Industry Advisor at the NPD Group underscores this opportunity, “Ecommerce has been a lifeline for many brands and retailers. More and more customers are shopping online, and for products they likely would have never bought pre-pandemic. I believe we can expect consumers to continue moving online as we ease our way out of the crisis. Now is the time for brands and retailers to double down on their online business. ‘Digital first’ must be the mantra of retail now. Don’t rest on your laurels, as there is always room for improvement. Make your website the best it can be.”

During this time when consumers desperately need to feel connected and assured that a brand can be trusted with their business, some are leveraging customer content to deliver the improvements Powell talks about. Customer stories offer powerful validation that build trust and authenticity by highlighting how consumers are engaging with your brand and the products you offer.

Most importantly, they are proven to help drive increased site traffic and purchases. Even a single product review can make a big difference to your bottom line.

According to our extensive ratings and review data (we analyzed 168k product pages, 28 million orders and 321 million page views), we found that the more reviews displayed for a product, the higher the conversion rate. But, even a small volume of reviews has an impact. To illustrate this point, a jump from zero to one customer review results in a 7% increase in conversion levels for that product on average. This increases steadily until you hit 50 reviews, which we consider the sweet spot. At this point, the lift in conversion rate is 21% on average… Pretty impactful numbers!

Pro Tip: Focus Your Customer Content Strategy on Mitigating Returns 

Brands experiencing a high volume of ecommerce orders can typically expect at least some returns. Product returns have always been the achilles heel for retailers, and even more so now in the COVID-19 wake of shuttered storefronts and economic uncertainty. 

Returns seriously erode revenues. In one study, Boston University researchers found returns cost manufacturers and retailers as much as $100 billion annually or 3.8% of revenue.

But the same study found that customer content – or more specifically, product reviews – help consumers make better purchase decisions and lead to fewer product returns. Bottom line: online product reviews are critical to enhancing strategic competitiveness, boosting revenue and reducing costs.

Why? Customer content answers questions upfront, supporting consumers’ efforts to select a product that fits their specific need. Think about it: if – as a browser – you’re faced with a product page that includes product images submitted by customers and maybe even Q&A-type content, you are far more likely to obtain the answers to any questions you have (i.e. around issues ranging from size/fit to color and plug any unconsidered gaps in the product description), while also demonstrating relatability – all in a uniquely scalable and authentic way.

This does more than sell merchandise, it can help ensure the product – once it leaves the distribution center – doesn’t come back via the returns channel. 

Steal These Customer Engagement Best Practices

Over the years, PowerReviews has worked with leading brands to help them formulate killer customer engagement strategies to drive high-octane ecommerce growth. I’ve taken the liberty of making a list of these — in some cases, noting particular COVID-19 implications that make these especially relevant right now. 

1. Send a follow-up email after an order is placed urging shoppers to review their purchases.

This proactive strategy generates up to 90% of review collection. Formulating your email is important. Think short and simple and be clear and concise in stating your review ask.  

2. Be purposeful to collect content that is specific and actionable.

By asking for specifics, you can gather vital user information to help answer real buyer needs, such as what is the size and fit of this item? (60% of all returns can be attributed to fit issues), and, what are the best uses of this item? You should be aiming to extract existing thoughts rather than influence the content. Your typical reviewer is not a professional writer and may not even know what average customers look for. So make the writing a review process quick and easy with prepopulated tabs.

3. Focus on images.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to reviews, it could be worth a thousand orders. Images are particularly critical for product segments such as fashion and beauty as consumers don’t have ready access to stores where they can try things on and test things out. Consumers are scanning images to assess questions such as: Will this Perfect Passion Pink lipstick look good on me? Seeing the image of another individual with the same hair and skin color wearing this shade of lipstick (and demonstrating this shade of pink is on point) – for example – is seriously impactful. Formulate your review to ask for an image first and keep in mind the opportunity to repurpose or cross-post images by curating from social media platforms such as Instagram. These offer a treasure trove of visual content that can be collected and integrated into product pages to provide scale, plug any product description gaps and establish the buyer confidence necessary for customers to hit the “buy” button.

4. Spend extra time connecting with your followers and posting on your social media outlets.

In the post-COVID-19 era, consumers are online more than ever. Reports are flooding in regarding skyrocketing screen time in light of social distancing measures, with individuals reporting increases in screen time ranging from 35 to 68%. Take advantage of this opportunity by engaging with the community you’ve built to ask for reviews.

5. Provide the ability for users to ask questions and provide answers on your site.

Satisfy your site visitors by giving them the information they want and need without having to navigate to other pages on your site. Providing answers to consumers’ questions builds trust and removes barriers to purchase while improving SEO. On average, when a product goes from displaying no answers to at least one answer, brands and retailers see an 88% lift in traffic and an 82% lift in conversion for that product. Anecdotal evidence from many of our customers indicates that Q&A content is playing an important role during the shifting COVID-19 ecommerce landscape. For example, Tim Lakin, ecommerce Merchandising Manager at Skechers, told us: “I am definitely seeing an increase in customer reviews and questions indicating a lot of customers are shopping online who would not normally be doing so – even to the point where a customer may not know their own shoe size and would rely heavily on review information. Naturally, we want to accommodate those customers since our website is now taking the place of our retail stores in many states, and the store associates and in-store experience as well.”

6. Identify and close review sharing gaps.

Sharing the customer content you collect on your brand with retailers makes it easier for them to sell your product. This also helps with SEO, making your products easier to find thereby increasing impressions and traffic. To assess the best opportunities, look at key categories that are receiving a high volume of traffic but which are not deemed “essential” items. So think self-care, home improvement, etc., These represent “killer COVID-19 categories” where reviews and content can enhance sales and SEO.

7. Consider a sampling strategy.

One ultra-effective way to solicit customer feedback is by giving consumers the opportunity to experience a product in exchange for their input, whether through a review or on social media. PowerReviews clients typically experience an 85% response rate to sampling campaigns. Recently, however, brands have experienced issues with sample product availability, fulfillment issues, and shipping delays. So be sure to understand what, if any, COVID-19 constraints could impact your sampling campaign execution. But I can’t stress enough how the conditions caused by the pandemic are uniquely suited to sampling campaigns. Although times are rough, people are looking for things to do. Experimenting with a new (free) product may provide some welcome escapism.

8. Show empathy.

We are living in unprecedented times and now more than ever, we appreciate the connections with others – precisely because we can’t physically interact with one another. Brands have an opportunity to step up. As RSR Research Industry Analyst Paula Rosenblum has said, “It’s time to show the world what we are made of,” noting, “consumers won’t forget.” Responding to reviews or via social media to build and nurture your customer community can have a very strong and positive impact. As well, ask yourself what you can offer to help your customers at this time. Maybe that’s offering free shipping, maybe it’s a virtual try-on utility or double loyalty points. 

Is your ecommerce/digital team employing any of the above customer engagement strategies? If you are a PowerReviews customer, reach out to your Customer Success Manager to discuss the best strategies to leverage our solution to achieve your objectives. If you’re not a PowerReviews customer, we’d love to hear from you.

Dominique Divito

Dominique is a Senior Client Success Manager at PowerReviews, where she has been helping drive ecommerce growth at some of the biggest brands in the world for 2.5 years. She (genuinely) prefers shopping online than in-store and prides herself on being pretty good at it. It is perhaps therefore no surprise that she is on first name terms with her UPS driver. (Hi Mike!)

MAY 21, 2020 CHICAGO, ILLINOIS— WEBS – America’s Yarn Store today reveals how it has, since 2011, been leveraging PowerReviews’ technologies to deliver social proof, increase social media engagement and generate more online sales.

Since partnering with PowerReviews, WEBS has natively solicited and showcased over 4,000 customer-generated images on its site. In just a few months of using PowerReviews social media solution, the organization was also able to showcase hundreds of images from Instagram by tapping into the large pool of visual content many customers were already creating and sharing.

WEBS has natively solicited and showcased over 4,000 customer-generated images on its site.

This visual content, along with over 54,000 reviews with an average star rating of 4.5 across multiple product categories, gives customers the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision for products that are traditionally more suited to an in-person sale.

Dena Childs, Ecommerce Manager at WEBS – America’s Yarn Store, says:

“Reviews and visual content are critical in helping our audience understand how our yarn will look and feel before they buy online. The ability to display content from other customers who have first-hand experience in our products has been vital in facilitating the shoppers’ decision making process.

“You never want a customer to leave your website, hoping to find the information they need somewhere else. Customer content builds confidence, and PowerReviews has allowed us to showcase that social proof on our site, facilitating the path to purchase for our customers.”

Saarah Shaikh, Senior Director of Customer Success at PowerReviews, says:

“We are delighted that WEBS is clearly gaining so much value from our solutions. We know high volumes of authentic reviews deliver exceptional social proof that lead to conversions. This is even more important for products that customers need extra information about before purchasing.”

This information is taken from a newly-published case study, which can be accessed on the PowerReviews website here.

 

PowerReviews logo

ABOUT POWERREVIEWS

PowerReviews (PowerReviews.com) is a software and data company that works with 1000+ leading brands and retailers to bring authenticity and transparency to commerce.  The PowerReviews Customer Content Platform has three solutions that help our customers collect and manage customer-generated content to improve the product and customer experience across the customer journey. We help clients meet the evolving need for social proof, accelerating the path to purchase and brand advocacy. 

PowerReviews is known for innovation, consultative partnership, and actionable insights, supported by our open platform and approach. Our dedicated team of experts provides thoughtful analysis and turn-key service. PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA.

ABOUT WEBS

As one of the premier yarn stores in the country, WEBS – America’s Yarn Store (yarn.com) fuels the creativity and passion of knitters, crocheters, weavers, spinners and other fiber enthusiasts.

The Perfect Review:
At a Glance

When thinking about the concept of “the perfect review,” always remember the purpose of any customer-generated content. Reviews are simply a vehicle for building trust with customers by delivering an authentic depiction of your products.

But what exactly makes a “perfect review?“

See the perfect review below, or

Informative Title
Titles need to grab shopper attention quickly.
Rating
Five star reviews are ideal but consumers value authenticity above all.
An artificially-inflated rating will only lead to distrust of your brand.
Verified Buyer
Ensures content is 100% reliable, and more valued by consumers.
Relatable Stories
Real-life accounts of use cases add value and color that is critical to the buying decision.
Length
Reviews longer than 500 characters are proven to generate a greater number of conversions.
Contextual Media
Authentic imagery and video “out in the wild” adds unrivaled credibility.
Profile Info
Specific demographic detail to make content relatable and relevant.

Get more insights in the latest PowerReviews guide:

The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Review
and how to cultivate more of them

Impact of Reviews on Conversions

Reviews convert browsers into buyers. Learn how to leverage the best ones, and see why you’re leaving dollars on the table with inadequate reviews.

The Anatomy of a perfect review

A perfect review has a number of elements. Understand exactly what these are (including the data that proves it) by downloading this Guide.

6 Strategies to collect better reviews

Learn six strategies you can start leveraging right now to generate the best-quality reviews for any product or campaign.

Get all these insights and more...

Paige Thulin

Reviews are one of the top factors influencing a shopper’s decision to make a purchase. And as it turns out, consumers have started to depend on reviews even more during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our own analysis found that throughout March and April, consumers engaged with reviews prior to making a purchase at double the rate they were previously. 

Thanks to widespread stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures, more consumers are shopping online. And clearly, reviews help them make informed purchase decisions. 

Of course, reviews benefit brands, too. Reviews are proven to boost traffic and conversion, while providing actionable insights that can help a brand improve its products and the customer experience.

Reviews also give brands the opportunity to engage with shoppers and resolve customer service issues, which foster loyalty and contributes to a strong reputation.  

In order to reap these benefits, though, brands must closely monitor their review content. All too often, this is a time-consuming process — and one that’s inherently flawed. Content slips through the cracks, which can tarnish trust. And because data is often siloed, a brand never gets a complete, accurate picture of how they are (or aren’t) meeting consumers’ needs. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Review consolidation — the process of aggregating all review content across channels into one dashboard — can ease the burden and make it easier to manage your brand’s online reputation. 

Let’s take a closer look at where shoppers are reading and writing reviews, how review consolidation works and how it can positively impact your business. 

Where Shoppers Write Reviews

Before exploring the mechanics of review consolidation, it’s important to understand the burden of manually managing reviews. And the best place to start is to take a look at where shoppers are writing and reading reviews. 

Most brands sell their products through a number of different channels. For example, a health and beauty brand might sell a moisturizer directly through its own eCommerce website, through a network of retail partners (e.g. Target, Walmart etc.) and on eCommerce marketplaces, such as Amazon. Of course, shoppers can write products reviews on any of the sites where the item is sold.

To further complicate things, shoppers can also write reviews about a store location, website, mobile app or the business itself on other platforms and channels.

For some brands, managing this content means someone logging into a dozen or more dashboards each day, determining which content needs action and manually assigning it to the appropriate person or team to handle. In order to respond to a review, they have to log back in to the appropriate dashboard.

This process is inefficient and leaves a lot of room for error.

How Review Consolidation Works 

Recently, however, a growing number of brands have started to use review consolidation technology. Review consolidation technology centralizes reviews written across all of the channels mentioned above into a single dashboard. That means a brand uses one dashboard to see reviews, engage with and respond to them and escalate them to the right team — regardless of where the review was written. 

Some review consolidation tools connect with a CRM like Salesforce to automatically create services cases and alerts, based on keywords or the star rating. Brands that also use Salesforce Service Cloud can see and manage all customer service issues in one spot, regardless of whether the issue originates from chat, email, social media, phone or a review.

5 Ways Review Consolidation Benefits Brands

Before investing in review consolidation technology, it’s important to understand how it can help your brand foster authentic engagement and boost your bottom line.

Let’s take a look at five key ways review consolidation positively impacts brands. 

1. Saves Time

The most obvious benefit of review consolidation is that it saves time. Your customer care or marketing teams are no longer required to comb through various sites each day in order to effectively manage reviews. 

Instead, these teams can focus their time and energy on activities that will build your brand’s online reputation and drive revenue growth. Customer service teams can focus on engaging with shoppers. And marketing teams can spend their time developing strategies and campaigns to attract and retain customers.

2. Provides a Holistic Picture of Performance  

Reviews are a gold mine of insights that can be used to help your brand better serve its customers. But if you’re managing reviews from several different platforms, it can be difficult to garner those insights. Each platform reports on different metrics, and data is siloed. 

Let’s go back to the moisturizer example we used earlier. You notice the average star rating for the moisturizer is high on your own eCommerce website. But the average star rating is significantly lower on Amazon. You’re getting little bits and pieces of data here — but what’s the full story? 

When you consolidate your reviews into a single platform, you get a more comprehensive look at how a particular product — and your brand as a whole — are performing across all channels. You’re better able to identify strengths and weaknesses and understand overall sentiment for each product. And you can see how this performance changes over time. 

With comprehensive insights, you’re better equipped to make smart, data-based decisions for your business. For example, if that moisturizer generates one- and two-star reviews across all channels, you can dig deeper to identify ways to improve it — or pull the product altogether. 

3. Allows for Quick Resolution of Customer Service Issues

Many times, a negative review simply reflects the tastes and preferences of a specific consumer. For example, a reviewer might indicate they don’t like the taste or texture of a protein bar. But in other cases, a negative review can be indicative of a larger issue that needs to be addressed and resolved. For example, if a review indicated a shopper got violently ill after eating the protein bar.

If you manually manage your reviews, it’s likely some of this negative content will slip through the cracks. And this can carry some big consequences for your brand’s reputation. For starters, you’ll have an angry customer with an unresolved issue that’s likely to ditch your brand altogether. A survey from Gladly found that half of people will switch brands after just one or two bad experiences.

And future shoppers will see the unresolved issue, which is likely to deter them from purchasing your products. What’s more, highly regulated industries like pharmaceuticals must follow FDA guidelines on handling complaints in reviews. If they don’t, they risk fines and a damaged reputation. 

With review consolidation technology, all of your content is in one place so you don’t have to worry about missing a critical review. What’s more, if you also use review consolidation technology and Salesforce Service Cloud, all of your customer service cases are available in one location, regardless of whether they were initiated through a review or another channel like email or chat.

Plus, issues get automatically routed to the right person based on factors like keyword or star rating, so they can be resolved quickly. Shoppers will see that you care about their concerns, and you’ll build a reputation as a compliant brand that listens to its customers.

4. Uncovers Opportunities for Authentic Engagement with Shoppers

Of course, it’s important to resolve issues that come up in negative reviews. But positive reviews also offer opportunities for brands to authentically engage with shoppers. Even a simple “Thanks for your feedback. We love having you as a customer!” can go a long way in fostering loyalty.

Review consolidation makes it easier to identify these opportunities for engagement. Your teams can see all reviews — and respond to them — through one platform. And because they’re not spending their time manually routing reviews, they can focus on building authentic connections with shoppers. 

5. Facilitates Strong Partnerships with Retail Partners

If you’re like most brands, you sell your products through a network of retail partners. If so, you’re well aware that good brand/retailer relationships are key to mutual success.

Of course, retailers want to partner with brands that manufacture quality products. But they also want to work with brands that take good care of their customers — even when something goes wrong. One key way retailers measure this is by how quickly a brand responds to customer service issues. If you habitually fail to respond quickly (or at all) to issues that are raised in reviews, a retailer may opt to partner with a different brand…and you may lose an important channel for revenue.

With review consolidation technology, you don’t have to worry about missing a review and failing to respond per your agreed upon service level agreement (SLA). Instead, retailers will see that you’re a dependable brand that cares about its customers. 

Consolidate Reviews to Grow Your Brand

Ratings and reviews are beneficial to consumers and brands alike. But brands must effectively manage their reviews in order to experience the benefits. Consolidating all reviews into one platform makes it easier for brands to engage with shoppers, build trust, and grow revenue. 


This blog was originally published by our partner, Reputation Studio, which offers review consolidation capabilities to PowerReviews customers. Visit the dedicated section of our website to find out more about the complementary technologies our solutions integrate with. Alternatively, reach out to us direct.

MAY 14, 2020 CHICAGO, ILLINOIS— PowerReviews today announces competitive updates to its API, which will enable powerful new integrations with select technology partners and improve the usability of its entire platform. 

The updated PowerReviews API enables turnkey integrations, provides greater data support for enterprise retailers and brands, and supports organizations that choose to build their own custom web and mobile applications. The Chicago-based technology vendor has also added brand new endpoints to make management of all aspects of its platform – from orders to products to moderation – from other solutions far easier. 

“One of our top priorities at PowerReviews is to make our platform easier to use. And we believe these API updates, along with new integrations, will significantly improve our offering and allow us to seamlessly integrate into our clients’ workflows,” said Cristian Pina, the Product Manager leading the API updates at PowerReviews. “We’ve partnered with great technology providers to offer top-notch integrations and we’re excited for the value this will bring to our users.”

The new updates also come with an updated documentation site, designed specifically with developers in mind, to make the implementation process quick and painless. For more information on the PowerReviews API and available integrations, check out this blog post also released today.

ABOUT POWERREVIEWS

PowerReviews (PowerReviews.com) is a software and data company that works with 1000+ leading brands and retailers to bring authenticity and transparency to commerce.  The PowerReviews Customer Content Platform has three solutions that help our customers collect and manage customer-generated content to improve the product and customer experience across the customer journey. We help clients meet the evolving need for social proof, accelerating the path to purchase and brand advocacy.

PowerReviews is known for innovation, consultative partnership, and actionable insights, supported by our open platform and approach. Our dedicated team of experts provides thoughtful analysis and turn-key service. PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA.

We are relentless in our pursuit to make our PowerReviews platform easier-to-use. We are focused on this objective day-in and day-out. And this is why we’ve recently made significant upgrades to our API technologies while building a number of new exciting third-party integration partnerships. Now realize even more value from your PowerReviews solution. Read on to find out more. 

Table of Contents

What’s new at PowerReviews on the integration front?

Our team just launched new API capabilities, which is really exciting. Our API enables us to integrate our platform with other third-party systems, which in turn, enables our clients to:

  • Integrate the customer content they collect with other important partner systems
  • Send the data they collect anywhere in their tech stacks
  • Build custom web and mobile applications

The PowerReviews API supports bulk imports and exports of data while still providing clients with quicker data transfers — all while keeping sensitive data safe. Plus, we’ve added brand new, competitive endpoints for managing everything from orders to products to moderation.

We also just launched a brand new API documentation site. We built this site with developers in mind, to help our clients and their teams through the integration process. 

What is an API and how does it help PowerReviews clients?

Technically, an API is an Application Programming Interface. Non-technically, APIs allow our system to communicate with other systems. 

What does this mean if you’re a PowerReviews customer?

For one, our API allows us to build powerful and valuable integrations with complementary third-party technologies. We are realistic enough to know that we’re not the only third-party vendor our customers typically work with on a day-to-day basis, so our API allows our technology to talk to the other technologies — creating significant usability improvements and driving exponentially greater value.

For example:

A handful of brands use both PowerReviews and Sprinklr on a day-to-day basis. They collect and manage customer-generated content with our platform, then use the Sprinklr platform to manage their customers’ experience. 

Through our integration with Sprinklr, brands and retailers can now seamlessly share customer content to their Sprinklr platform – from which they can now manage their Ratings & Reviews and Q&A content. These organizations can interact with their customers by responding to reviews and answering any questions directly from the Sprinklr platform. In addition, they can now also use their Sprinklr platform to amplify their customer content across important social media channels.

Second, these updates give brands and retailers another way to implement our solution. Building custom applications leveraging our new Enterprise API is best for larger organizations that may not want to implement our Javascript on their site. As an alternative, they can instead use our API to collect and display customer-generated content.

What is the benefit of having these integrations?

The PowerReviews platform offers a ton of value. And these other technologies also offer a ton of value. Combined, they add up to more than the sum of their parts.

These integrations allow organizations to seamlessly extend the reach and impact of the customer-generated content they collect through the PowerReviews platform by connecting it with the other important technology systems they use.

What third-party systems do PowerReviews integrate with?

We have integrations with the following partners, which means no development work is required to pair our technologies together. If you are already a PowerReviews customer and would like to explore activating one of these integrations, your Customer Success Manager will be able to provide more details.

Integrate PowerReviews with:

  • Sprinklr: Amplify your PowerReviews review content across social media with Sprinklr. 
  • Zendesk: Manage and respond to customer issues left in reviews, alongside any others received through the Zendesk platform.
  • Astute: Blend human and artificial intelligence to enhance consumer review engagement, through our integration with Astute.
  • Reputation Studio: Improved reputation management with in-the-moment response to customer review content from within Salesforce

We also have partnerships in place with all the main ecommerce platforms. Integrate our ratings and reviews platforms into stores hosted on Shopify, Shopify Plus, Magento, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

And we’re just getting started. We’re working with a number of other technology vendors to integrate our platforms with theirs to deliver even greater value. If you are interested in finding out more – or indeed are a vendor which would like to establish an integration with our solution(s) – reach out to us today!

Cristian Pina

As a Product Manager at PowerReviews, Cristian focuses on solving customer challenges with innovative technical solutions to deliver easy to use and engaging products. With over ten years of technology experience, Cristian helps guide the vision for our products and rallies cross-functional teams to deliver innovative solutions.

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