Our consumer survey of 650 Canadian shoppers highlights spending plans for the Holiday season, factors driving purchase decisions, likelihood of shopping online vs in-store and much more.
Our consumer survey of 2,296 UK consumers highlights Christmas shopping spending plans, factors driving purchase decisions, likelihood of shopping online vs in-store, importance of Black Friday and much more.
Download now to get these insights and more!
If you’re like us, you’re savoring every last minute of summer. But we all know the holidays are just around the corner, and it’s time to start planning. There are emails to draft, product catalogs to update, and sales to promote. As marketers, there’s no shortage of things on your to-do list.
However, considering 70% of shoppers won’t even buy products online before reading reviews, your holiday UGC strategy should undoubtedly be on that list.
UGC in the 2020 Holiday Season
And UGC will be even more important this Holiday season. The focus on ecommerce this year has been widely publicized. Our Holiday Survey conclusively backs this up: 64% of the 5,000+ consumers we surveyed say they will do more shopping online this year than last. And what’s more, 83% of those who expect to increase their overall holiday spend this year will do more of that shopping online than in previous years.
In this environment, ratings and reviews will be critical to converting browsers to buyers. In fact, our survey also reveals that 37% say ratings and reviews will be more important this year than last (61% say they will be of equal importance, only 2% say they will be less important).
You need to be ready for this. You will make more money online this year than ever before. There is no doubt of that. But in order to maximize your share, UGC will be absolutely critical.
How to ensure you’re ready for Holiday 2020
As someone who works with leading brands and retailers on their UGC strategies day-in day-out (and has worked through my fair share of holiday seasons), I wanted to share some helpful recommendations for optimizing your ratings and reviews program at this time of year.
Optimize Your Review Collection Methods
The holidays are a big sales season. That means you can expect to see a surge in reviews (especially if you follow these best practices!).
Now is a good time to audit your review collection processes and consider if there are any improvements you can make — before the holidays are in full-swing.
Review Your Review Form
Take a look at your review form.
Is there some type of feedback you are looking to collect for specific products that you aren’t currently gathering?
The holidays are the perfect time to edit your review form as your review volume will be increasing. Instead of just comments and an overall star rating, ask additional questions specific to your product or consumer to get more detailed feedback.
Are you currently collecting images and videos on your review form?
If visual content strategy is going to be a focus for 2021, you might want to start! Our consumer survey found that 88% of users want to see more user photos and videos. When just one image is added, it can increase conversion as much as 69%.
Would you like your reviews to be longer?
Based on our own review interaction data (taken from an analysis of 1.5m+ product pages across 1,200+ brand and retail sites), longer reviews are more likely to receive “helpful” ratings by consumers. Consumers who engage with “helpful” reviews convert at higher rates than those who engage with any old review.
Consider Your Post-Purchase Email Strategy
Your shoppers’ email inbox is the perfect place to gather new reviews. If you aren’t currently, follow up with customers soon after they receive their purchases, and ask them to write a review, with a link to your review channels.
People can get busy during the holidays. Make your shoppers’ lives easier by inviting them to submit their review right from the email itself (for PowerReviews customers, our In-Mail Submission enables customers to provide review content directly within review invitation emails).
What about customers who purchase multiple gifts from you?
You can make their lives easier, too. Invite them to write multiple, shorter reviews all at the same time.
For example, our Review Your Purchases feature lets customers write multiple product reviews on one form through the post-purchase email. These reviews collect the star rating, headline, review comments, and an image or video for multiple products from a single email.
Share Reviews Across Channels
Once you’ve taken care of reviews on your own website, consider how you can grow your review coverage across other websites and social media.
Do you sell your products on Amazon?
How are you currently funneling your customers to write reviews? Ideally, you should provide them with an option to replicate their review content to your product pages on Amazon.com too (for example, our Share Button makes this whole process super easy. On average, 31% of customers click this button. That’s a lot of reviews!)
How about social media?
60% of online shoppers discover new products through Instagram alone. It’s therefore super important that you enable your customers to share review content to this social platform and beyond (we do this through our “Share to Social” button, which quickly syndicates to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest). This ultimately increases the reach of your UGC, driving organic traffic to your product pages, and boosting your conversion rates. We track clicks and coverage so you can measure impact.
Increase Review Content
With your review collection methods all in order, it’s time to drum up more reviews — and all the sales that come along with them! Engage your followers on social media and leverage your email list to collect more reviews. Here are a few creative ideas to get you started.
Generate Reviews Through Social Media
Have you considered asking for reviews on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?
You may already have a community of engaged followers across your social channels, so why not ask these customers to write reviews for specific products?
Taking that a step further, do you have customers who are already raving about your products on social? Lucky you! Rather than simply responding with a generic “Thank you, we’re glad you loved it,” why don’t you point the happy customer directly to your website to write a review? They are clearly impressed with your product, so this is the perfect opportunity to gather a positive review!
Ask for Reviews Through Other Emails
Do you plan to highlight specific holiday products within your newsletters or other marketing communications?
If so, we recommend embedding your review form (or link) within these communications. This is especially impactful for non-eCommerce sites that are unable to send a post-purchase email. You could also highlight a product with low review volume to increase coverage prior to the holiday.
Host a Review Contest
We have had many clients find success with creating and promoting a giveaway contest to collect reviews. In this example, Bumble and Bumble offered ten $100 gift cards for customers who wrote a review within a specific time period. All the customer had to do was sign into their account and submit a review on any product that they’ve used.
Once the contest was over, Bumble & Bumble was able to use our reporting to identify customers who had written a review within that time period, and they picked the winner randomly with that data. This specific campaign increased review collection by 1400% month over month.
Get More Out of Your Holiday Reviews
You want to be prepared once the reviews start flowing in. Bring your customer service team up to speed on review moderation best practices. Identify key opportunities to feature top-rated products on your site banners and gift guides during the holidays. Finally, amplify the impact of your existing reviews content through email marketing and social channels.
Let’s start with moderation best practices.
Respond to Reviews
Always respond to reviews, positive or negative.
This simple task builds credibility with shoppers by demonstrating you care about what they have to say.
Remember, negative reviews aren’t all bad. Our research shows 44% of Centennials (ages 13-18) would not trust a product that had no negative reviews. In fact, 60% of Centennials read negative reviews first.
Customers know things can happen. Something broke during shipping, or the wrong item was sent. What’s more important to them is how you deal with it. Your review response is the place to share that information. Showing customers that you are there to support them and make it right is just as powerful as the experience with the product.
By responding to your reviews, you have the opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive. Then, you can ask customers to update their review.
Leverage Your Review Content
By now you’ll have tons of positive reviews coming in, so put them to good use!
You can include star ratings and review quotes in your Instagram posts throughout the holidays.
You can also highlight reviews in your marketing emails as customer testimonials.
Gather Post-Holiday Insights
Now that you’ve made it through the holidays, I’m sure you are ready for a much needed vacation but don’t head to a tropical beach just yet. We’ve got some essential things for you to consider when planning for the New Year.
Your holiday reviews are chock full of useful customer feedback and sentiment. You want to gather this content so you can share it with your internal teams for product enhancements, marketing, and more.
At a minimum, we recommend looking at:
As you’re reading through your reviews, make notes of any trends in customer sentiment. Which products get the best (or the worst) reviews? Are any products having a harder time generating reviews, despite having similar sales numbers to other, more-reviewed products? If you made changes to a product during the holiday season, did it affect the reviews positively or negatively?
Don’t forget your competition. Take time to review your competitors’ reviews, too. For similar products, how do your reviews match up against the competition? Is there anything you can learn from how your competitors respond to their reviews?
When you’ve got thousands, hundreds — or heck, even dozens — of products, it can be tough to answer these questions without turning it into a full-time job. As you head into the next year, it might be time to consider looking into reviews analytics software. These platforms use AI to analyze reviews at scale, deliver competitive insights, and spin up smart, actionable reports for you to use when crafting your UGC success plan for 2021.
If you’re a PowerReviews customer, talk to your Customer Success Manager about your goals and objectives for UGC in 2021. We can be a partner throughout this process.
We hope that these UGC best practices were informative and will help you to prepare for the holidays. Start by reviewing your review collection methods now. Then work on generating reviews before and throughout the holiday sales season. Finally, gather actionable insights you can apply to next year’s goals.
Good luck this holiday season. We wish you happy holidays, and lots of positive reviews!
SEPTEMBER 16, 2020—CHICAGO—An overwhelming majority of US consumers will not let uncertain market conditions stop them spending this holiday season. This is just one of the key insights from the latest consumer survey from PowerReviews, a leading provider of ratings and reviews and solutions to improve consumer engagement and customer experience.
But consumers will spend earlier and be much more focused on buying products online, with price and customer reviews being the two most critical factors driving their purchase decisions, followed by ease and speed of shipping.
The PowerReviews Holiday Consumer Survey draws on insights from more than 5,000 active consumers across the country, surveyed in August 2020. Key findings include:
- Overall spending levels will be in line with previous years
- Almost three-quarters of consumers (73%) said their overall holiday spending will either stay the same or increase this year.
- Price and customer reviews will drive purchase decisions
- Consumers say pricing (87%), existing customer reviews (70%), shipping costs (68%) and ease/speed of shipping (60%) will be the most important factors affecting gift purchase decisions.
- Holiday shopping will start earlier than usual
- Around a quarter of consumers say they will start holiday spending earlier than they typically do. Most significantly, around 4 in 10 of those who say they will spend more this year than last will start shopping early.
- Huge shift to online shopping
- Online shopping volumes look set to be the highest of all time: 64% say they will spend more online than last year.
- Consumers are not discounting the store
- Despite the surge online, some consumers will still do holiday shopping in stores — 30% say they are not concerned about visiting stores.
- Blended cross-channel purchase methods will be a big deal
- Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS) and omnichannel has been trending for years now. But this holiday will be seminal for these shopping models. In fact, 55% of consumers in our survey say they will use curbside pickup more this year than they did last.
- Big spenders
- Almost four in ten 18-24 year olds say their spending will increase this year compared to last — a significantly higher proportion than any other age grouping. Consumers in Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana had the highest percentage of respondents expecting to spend more this year than last.
Carol Krakowski – Director, Insights at PowerReviews, says:
“Almost three-quarters of consumers (74%) said their overall holiday spend will either stay the same or increase this year. This is perhaps surprising given the shape of the overall economy. However, it proves there are significant opportunities for brands and retailers to generate revenue this holiday season.
“As they have been all year, eCommerce volumes will be higher than they’ve ever been this holiday shopping season. A way more significant proportion of spending than usual will take place online. Brands and retailers need to be ready for and expect this.
“Price will impact purchase decisions more than any other factor — our survey shows around nine in ten consumers said it would have an influence. Brands and retailers will need to benchmark effectively to ensure they price their products at a level that makes sales most likely, while preserving profit levels.
“With more shopping taking place online this year, customer ratings and reviews will be vital to drive sales this holiday season. They offer exceptional validation and credibility — regardless of whether a brand or product is well known or not — and particularly this year, when shoppers are less inclined to visit a store to physically interact with products.”
The PowerReviews Holiday Consumer Survey draws on responses from 5,383 active shoppers across the United States who have opted in to offers and discounts from retailers. The survey took place in August 2020. We asked respondents about their anticipated shopping preferences in the build-up to Thanksgiving, through the Cyber 5 (Thanksgiving and Black Friday through Cyber Monday) up until post-Holiday New Year sales.
Lutz Public Relations (for PowerReviews)
PowerReviews (PowerReviews.com) helps leading retailers and brands generate customer product ratings and reviews in larger volumes to significantly increase sales and then analyze and benchmark all this data to improve product quality and customer experience, while also delivering store experience feedback to help them optimize their retail network.
PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA.
PowerReviews Holiday Consumer Survey 2020
Our consumer survey of 5,383 shoppers highlights spending plans for the Holiday season, factors driving purchase decisions, likelihood of shopping online vs in-store and much more.
Download now to get these insights and more!
The Beginner's Guide to a Best-in-Class Ratings & Reviews Program
A best-in-class Ratings and Reviews program consists of the collection, display and analysis of User Generated Content.
But few brands are operating at this level right now – which is why we created this four volume best practice guide. In it, you will learn how to capture as many customer product reviews as possible and then how to use it across your website (and beyond) to convert browsers to buyers.
What Constitutes the Perfect Review...and How to Get More of Them
What you’ll learn:
The Definitive Guide to Product Sampling
What you’ll learn:
Best Practices for Showcasing Your Ratings & Review Content
What you’ll learn:
Analyze Your UGC
What you’ll learn:
This is the sixth edition of our monthly snapshot (most recent versions here and here), originally established to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on consumer behavior. This is our September version of the same report, analyzing consumer activity across more than 1.5MM online product pages from more than 1,200 retail/brand sites.
This time, we focused on a six-month period (starting February 24 2020 and ending August 23 2020). Each report, we specifically analyse review submission levels, review length and sentiment, overall conversions/sales volumes and review consumption (both absolute and among those who go onto purchase).
After some unprecedented and drastic extremes were evident over the course of March through May, we experienced continued stabilization for the third month running. We’ve been talking about a “new normal” for some time now in these reports, and we are only seeing continued confirmation of that trend.
Key ecommerce market trends
Ecommerce purchase volumes and site traffic consistent for a full quarter
COVID has had a huge impact on consumer behavior, with unprecedented growth in ecommerce purchase volumes at the start of the pandemic. We consistently saw 3x increases in purchase volumes during April and May. However, for the last three months, we have seen continued stabilization.
Consumer behavior is clearly becoming more predictable, with purchase volumes consistently consistently at around 1.5x to 1.75x where they were at the start of the pandemic during this period.
Why? Most likely because the entire population has settled into a “new normal”. People are no longer buying in the bulk they were because they have confidence in supply chain and product availability. They know they will be able to source whatever items they need at short notice.
Traffic and purchase volumes stable for third month running
Review submission volumes now consistent with pre-pandemic levels
After reporting a giant 2.3x leap in review submission levels from April to May, we highlighted a slight drop over the past two months. This continued to the point where levels are now consistent with what we saw pre-pandemic.
This is most likely because consumers have now got to the point where they are no longer buying items they hadn’t tried before. Instead, they now have established product preferences so are less inclined to be motivated to submit reviews.
In terms of the actual content of reviews, there have not been any huge shifts over the past six months. Sentiment – in the form of average rating – remains flat, which makes sense given the products themselves are unlikely to have changed significantly in this period. Review length is down slightly on pre-pandemic levels but has rebounded notably in recent months. This may be because reviewers have become accustomed to the “new normal” and are approaching the task with renewed focus and mental capacity.
In our June webinar, we focused on review length in detail and offered some tips how to improve review quality. Check out our blog for a summary of that webinar.
Review submission volumes now comparable to pre-COVID
Review length and sentiment flat throughout pandemic
Reviews still convert shoppers to buyers more than they were pre-COVID
As with the other trends we highlight, the impact of review content on consumer behavior remains relatively consistent with what we saw in previous months. In other words, review content continues to be more influential on the path to purchase than it was before the pandemic.
However, while the June and July high in total review interactors were identical (at 66% above the end of February levels), the proportion of review interactors who went onto purchase is actually down (the July peak was 63% below the equivalent figure for June). So consumers are interacting with review content at the same rate as they were last month but are then going onto purchase less than they were then. This is consistent with July’s decrease in orders overall and aligns with the idea that shoppers are becoming more comfortable browsing online, and are less “decisive” in their shopping habits.
But the bottom line remains: Shoppers are still heavily relying on review content to assess product quality and make purchase decisions.
Reviews still convert shoppers to buyers more than they were pre-COVID
The story for the September snapshot is that it has proven to be the third month of continued stabilization. Trends are now very stable so we can confidently say we are now in a COVID-driven “new normal”.
We have been talking about this for the last two months, and it has completely borne out in this report.
As we pointed out last month, the wild and almost out of control growth patterns we saw at the start of the pandemic appear now to be a drastic reaction to drastic and unprecedented circumstances.
Given market conditions are unlikely to change any time soon, this “new normal” will soon simply become “the normal”.