More Reviews and Stronger Average Ratings Increase Product Page Visits

Key Findings:

  • Basic review information – typically review count and average rating – is usually displayed at earlier discovery-focused stages of the digital shopping journey to create interest and ultimately drive traffic to specific product pages.

  • This article explores the relationship between review information and resulting page views by examining shopper activity across a representative sample of 8.8 million product pages.

  • A higher volume of reviews and favorable average product ratings clearly drive more traffic to product pages.

When it comes to conversions on product pages and reviews, the evidence is very clear: a strong reviews footprint (i.e. average ratings of more than 4 stars and high review volumes) leads to more conversions.

But how much of an impact does review footprint have on attracting shoppers to product pages in the first place? We analyzed shopper interaction data from more than 8.8 million product pages to find out.

Understanding the Digital Shopper Journey

Average rating and review volume are displayed prominently throughout most digital shopping journeys, being prioritized by most sites at the early stages of the funnel.

Typically, this information is published alongside a product image, price (including any discount) and shipping specifics on Product Listing Pages (PLPs), search result pages and even – in some cases – home pages.

Review Volume Impact on Traffic - All Ecommerce Sites

The below two charts are an analysis of all time site behavior across an illustrative sample of more than 8.8 million Product Display Pages (PDPs) from brand and retailer sites – which accounts for more than 27.7 billion page visits in total.

The chart highlights the percentage of total PDPs that exist of those we analyzed with the corresponding review volumes at the time the data was pulled.

Once a page has reviews displayed, it outperforms in terms of % of visitors going to that page relative to the % of total product pages it represents.
Analysis based on an illustrative sample of 8,841,414 Product Display Pages (PDPs) - which accounts for 27,702,856,033 page visits in total. Review volume data correct as at August 11, 2022.
Bottom line: having any reviews on your product pages drives more traffic to those pages.

Across all the product pages we analyzed, the overwhelming majority (60.2%) don’t have any reviews. However, these PDPs only accounted for 11.6% of all page visits. This firstly demonstrates the huge opportunity for brands and retailers with review-less product pages.

Beyond that, this analysis clearly illustrates how the presence of reviews leads to significantly higher volumes of traffic to product pages.

The obvious next question to ask is how many reviews do I need to experience the benefits? This is never an easy question to answer as there is so much nuance and individual circumstance involved.

In the above, for example, around a quarter of all page visits occur on pages with between one and ten reviews. But this also accounts for a similar proportion of pages analyzed.

There are simply fewer pages with higher review volumes, and that’s because collecting reviews is hard. This means that that dataset is smaller.

However, we start to see the biggest increments in traffic for products with 11 reviews or more. And the numbers for pages with more than 100 reviews clearly standout.

Overall, these account for 2% of pages but 31% of traffic (both totals are rounded to the nearest whole number). So we can say with confidence that this should be the aspiration for all brands and retailers looking to get more eyeballs on their product pages and their products.

Review Volume Impact on Traffic - Retailer Sites

Brands selling their products on retail sites are of course preoccupied with standing out on and maximizing returns from those channels. So, drivers of traffic to PDPs is something they should be thinking about – assuming they are not already.

In this section, we therefore restrict the analysis to the retailer websites included in the above sample – examining the relationship between product page visits and review volumes on those product pages.

Distribution of Page Visits by Review Volume on Retailer Sites
Analysis based on an illustrative sample of more than 8,105,477 Product Display Pages (PDPs) - which accounts for 19,838,070,215 page visits in total. Review volume data correct as at August 11, 2022.

While the numbers deviate a little, the main trends are similar to the combined brand and retailer analysis. 

For brands looking to stand out on retail channel websites, there are three key takeaways: while the majority of product pages (61%) do not have reviews, those that do attract significantly more traffic and – for the most part – the more reviews, the bigger the page view gains.

In other words: ensuring that you have the maximum volume of reviews on your product pages on retailer sites is a critical retail channel marketing strategy.

Average Rating Impact on Traffic - All Ecommerce Sites

Typically, an average rating is displayed alongside a review count at any time it is highlighted in the buyer journey. The chart directly below – a different methodology from the above analysis – highlights the lift in traffic volumes over the average rating band with the lowest review volume (1.0 – 1.9 average rating).

For full transparency, we also wanted to highlight the average review volumes of products in each of the average rating bands. This is the total volume of reviews for products in that average rating band divided by the total volume of products in that average rating band. 

As identified in the above section, review volume clearly has a factor on traffic and – as indicated here – is correlated to the average rating of the product.

Impact of Average Star Rating on Page Traffic
Analysis based on an illustrative sample of 8,841,414 Product Display Pages (PDPs) - which accounts for 27,702,856,033 page visits in total. Review volume data correct as at August 11, 2022.

In line with our conversion-based analysis on the impact of average ratings, the largest gains in Product Display Page (PDP) views occur above the 4.0 star mark. So this should be the aspiration for all brands and retailers running a ratings and reviews program.

Products in the 4.5 – 4.99 average rating range attract the most traffic and highest review volumes, making this the absolute sweet spot.

Consumers are skeptical of 5.0 average star ratings. They typically follow the mantra: if something looks to be good to be true, it invariably is.

Average Rating Impact on Traffic - Retailer Sites Only

But what impact does average rating have specifically on retail sites for brands that use these as key sales channels?

In this section, we again restrict our analysis to the retailer websites included in our sample – examining the relationship between product page visits and average rating on those product pages.

Impact of Average Star Rating on Page Traffic for Retailer Sites
Analysis based on an illustrative sample of more than 8,105,477 Product Display Pages (PDPs) - which accounts for 19,838,070,215 page visits in total. Review volume data correct as at August 11, 2022.

As with the brand and retailer analysis, the retailer only segmentation demonstrates the same themes: that more than four stars should be the goal and that 4.5 – 4.99 average rating range is the absolute sweet spot for traffic (and review volume).

However, the specific numbers do differ slightly. For example, 4.5 – 4.74 average rating products experience lower traffic lifts in the retailer only analysis (12,829% vs 16,671% for brands AND retailers).

But – really – this is splitting hairs. The overall impact of a strong average rating on product page traffic is immense whichever way you slice it.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your ratings and reviews footprint and presence has a significant impact on your ability to capture interest earlier in the customer journey and pull shoppers into your funnel.

  2. You should aim for a minimum average rating of 4.0 stars across a minimum of 11 reviews for each product in order to drive traffic to your product pages.

  3. However, any improvement on either of these baselines will create meaningful performance improvements.

Note: We use the terms Product Display Page (PDP) and Product Page interchangeably above. They have the same meaning in the context of this article.
Consumers’ growing concern with fake and manipulated product review footprints – and how brands and retailers can preserve the authenticity of this content, according to a survey of more than 3,200 shoppers in the UK

Survey at a Glance:

The Growing Threat of Fake Reviews for Brands and Retailers in the UK is based on survey responses from 3,265 consumers in the UK from July 2022. Here’s a sneak peek of our key findings.

Fake Reviews are Top of Mind for Consumers
  • When reading reviews, 90% of consumers in the UK are concerned about fake content.

  • While they’re concerned about the entire ecommerce ecosystem, one site rises far above the others: Amazon. 83% are concerned with review reviews on Amazon.co.uk.
Fraudulent Reviews are Common – and Their Presence Negatively Impacts Purchase Behaviour
  • 87% of consumers think they’ve read a fake review in the past.

  • 67% of shoppers in the UK indicate that they’d be less likely to purchase a product if they found what they thought was a fake review. 
Consumers Value Review Authenticity – and Brands and Retailers Must Preserve It
  • When browsing reviews, 71% of consumers consider how authentic the content is.

  • 82% of UK shoppers regard reviews tagged with information about the source of said review as more authentic and real. Verified buyer and verified reviewer tags have a particularly favourable perception among shoppers.
When Perfect Isn’t - In Fact - Perfect
  • A mere 6% of shoppers believe that the ideal star rating for a product they’re considering is a perfect 5.0.

  • The largest portion of shoppers – 45% – say that the ideal average star rating falls between 4.0 and 4.49. 
Chapter 1

Introduction

The vast majority of consumers rely on reviews to make informed purchase decisions – whether they’re shopping online, in-store, or some combination of the two. Consumers value this content because it’s honest, authentic and unbiased – for better or worse. 

But there are threats to this authenticity: fake reviews and manufactured review presences (i.e. creating an artificially positive representation of the product by blocking negative reviews).

Recently, there have been plenty of news stories about rising concerns over fake reviews – and businesses that suppress negative content. In fact, governments are even stepping in to squelch this growing problem. The European Union (EU) Omnibus Directive 2019/2161, which came into effect in 2020, expands regulations to protect consumers – including stricter demands on fake and misleading reviews. And earlier this year, in the US, the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) fined clothing retailer Fashion Nova $4.2m for suppressing negative reviews.

It’s undoubtedly a global problem. But the fake and inauthentic reviews issue has perhaps garnered more attention in the UK than anywhere else.

Fake reviews – and suppressing negative content – misleads consumers. This leads to poor purchase decisions. It’s a short-term play that will catch up with the brand concerned before long. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be effective to driving sales before it does.

What’s more, the presence of fake reviews can tarnish a business’ hard earned reputation. And failing to publish negative content can cause consumers to lose trust in a brand or retailer.

Now, more than ever, brands and retailers must make it a priority to preserve the authenticity of reviews. But why? And how?

Recently, we surveyed more than 3,200 consumers in the UK to understand the importance to shoppers of review authenticity – and what can be done to preserve it. In this report, we share our key findings – as well as recommendations for brands and retailers looking to preserve consumer trust.

Chapter 2

Who We Surveyed

This report is based on an analysis of a survey completed by 3,265 UK consumers during the month of July 2022. Here’s a snapshot of who we surveyed. 

Generations

Gen Z
(1997-present)
3%
Millennials
(1981-1996)
52%
Gen X
(1965-1980)
38%
Baby Boomers
(1946-1964)
7%

Household Income

£0-£25,000
29%
£26,000-£50,000
34%
£51,000-£75,000
18%
£76,000-£100,000
7%
£100,001+
3%
Prefer not to say
9%

Monthly Online Spend

Nothing
1%
£1-£50
16%
£51-£100
33%
£101-500
35%
£501+
11%
Prefer not to say
4%
Chapter 3

Growing Concern About Fake Reviews

These days, the majority of consumers consult reviews when shopping for just about anything. But for consumers in the UK, fake reviews are top of mind.

Most Consumers are Concerned with Fake Reviews

When reading product reviews from other customers, nine out of 10 shoppers in the UK indicate that they’re concerned with fake content. Notably, Gen Z shoppers are more likely to be concerned with fake reviews than older shoppers – but it’s still relatively consistent across the board. 

Fake Reviews are a Concern Among Shoppers of All Ages
When reading product reviews from customers, are you concerned about fake reviews?
Overall
90%
Gen Z
95%
Millennials
89%
Gen X
90%
Boomers
91%

But just how concerned are shoppers by fake reviews?

When asked to rank their concern on a scale of one to five (with one being least concerned and five being the most), the average response was 3.22. In fact, many consumers are quite concerned with fake reviews, with 89% ranking their concern as three or higher.

Many Consumers Assign a High Rank to Their Concern with Fake Reviews
Rank your level of concern about the presence of fake reviews on a scale of one to five
1 (least concerned)
2%
2
9%
3
40%
4
27%
5 (most concerned)
22%

UK Consumers are Particularly Concerned with Fake Reviews on Amazon

When shopping online, consumers in the UK have a wide array of options. But are there certain sites for which consumers are particularly leery of fake reviews?

As it turns out, yes. 

Amazon wins by a long shot. The largest portion of consumers – 83% – are concerned about fake reviews when shopping on Amazon.co.uk. Argos.co.uk is a distant second, with just over a quarter (26%) of UK shoppers feeling concerned about fake reviews there. Fake reviews are still a concern – but much less so – for other top online stores in the UK. 

The Websites UK Concerns are Most Concerned About Fake Reviews
Which of the following online shopping websites are you concerned about having fake reviews?
Amazon.co.uk
83%
Argos.co.uk
26%
Currys.com.uk
19%
Tesco.com
12%
Asda.com
12%
JohnLewis.com
10%
Sainsburys.co.uk
9%
Morrisons.com
9%
MarksandSpencer.com
8%
Ocado.com
7%
Chapter 4

The Prevalence of Fake Reviews – and How Consumers Spot Them

The vast majority of consumers in the UK are concerned with fake reviews. But how prevalent is this content? And how do consumers spot it?

Most Consumers in the UK Have Spotted a Fake Review in the Wild

As it turns out, consumers are very familiar with fake reviews. Nearly nine in ten (87%) of consumers believe they’ve read a fake review in the past. 

Interestingly, younger consumers are more likely to think they’ve read a fake review than older ones. Perhaps this is because younger shoppers are more adept at spotting the signs of a fake (more on that later) – or maybe they’re simply more cynical. 

Most Consumers Suspect They’ve Read Fake Reviews
Do you think that you’ve ever read a fake review?
Overall
87%
Gen Z
95%
Millennials
88%
Gen X
85%
Boomers
80%

The likelihood of having read a fake review is also correlated with income. The higher the income, the more likely shoppers are to suspect they’ve read fake reviews. 

But why? Most likely, because higher income consumers spend more online. Therefore, they read more reviews – and are more likely to encounter fakes.

Higher Income Consumers are More Likely to Have Come Across Fake Reviews
Do you think that you’ve ever read a fake review?
£0-£25,000
84%
£26,000-£50,000
86%
£51,000-£75,000
89%
£76,000-£100,000
95%
£100,001+
93%
Prefer not to say
85%

How Shoppers Identify Fake Reviews

It seems fake reviews are quite prevalent, with most consumers in the UK suspecting they’ve run into them at least a time or two. But what is it that makest a shopper suspect a review is a fake?

The top red flag is the wording of the review. In other words, how it’s written. However, there are several other features that make shoppers think a review may be fake, including extremity and a lack of specific detail. 

Red Flags for Fake Reviews, According to UK Consumers
Which of the following features in a review makes you concerned it may be fake?
Wording of reviews and/or how it’s written
60%
Too extreme (whether positive or negative)
55%
Lack of specific detail
53%
Poor grammar or doesn’t make sense
52%
The name/profile of the reviewer
33%
Chapter 5

The Negative Impact of Fake Reviews

Consumers keep an eye out for fake reviews. And if they find one that looks fishy, they’re less likely to make a purchase. 

Fake Reviews Deter Many Shoppers

Nearly seven in ten (67%) of shoppers say that if they found what they thought was a fake review, they wouldn’t buy the product in question. 

Interestingly, Boomers are the generation most likely to pass up a product if they find a potentially fake review. 

Consumers Steer Clear of Products with Fake Reviews
If you read what you thought was a fake review for a product that you were interested in, would you still buy it?
Overall
67%
Gen Z
70%
Millennials
68%
Gen X
67%
Boomers
71%
Chapter 6

The Importance of Preserving Review Authenticity

Consumers consider many factors when reading reviews. One factor that rises to the top is review authenticity. Nearly three-quarters (71%) say that when reading reviews, they consider how authentic this content is.

And, as we’ve discussed earlier in this report, the presence of a review thought to be fake can send a shopper running in the other direction.

Clearly, brands and retailers must work to preserve the authenticity of reviews to preserve shoppers’ trust.

Transparency is Key

Reviews can originate from a number of sources. For example, a shopper might submit a review as the result of a post purchase email from the brand or retailer. In that case, the business knows the consumer is a verified buyer. Or, another shopper might have received a free sample of a product in exchange for a review.

One key way to boost shoppers’ trust in reviews is to disclose who wrote each one. The majority of shoppers – 82% – say they regard reviews tagged with information about the source as more authentic and real. Notably, such tags boost the confidence of younger shoppers slightly more than their older counterparts.

Disclosing the Source of a Review Boosts Consumer Trust
Do you regard reviews tagged with information about how the review was sourced (e.g. “Verified Reviewer”, “Verified Purchaser”, “Review submitted as part of sampling campaign”) as more authentic and real?
Overall
82%
Gen Z
84%
Millennials
82%
Gen X
82%
Boomers
75%

“Verified buyer” is the tag that has the biggest impact on shoppers’ perception of a given review. This makes sense, as readers can clearly see that the reviewer actually purchased the product in question. 

Verified Buyer and Verified Reviewer Badges are Especially Impactful
Which of the following tags, if any, on review content positively impact how you perceive that review content?
Verified buyer
66%
Verified reviewer
57%
Review submitted as part of sampling campaign
47%
Review submitted as part of sweepstakes campaign
12%
Staff reviewer
12%

Perfect Ratings Don’t Seem Real to Consumers

If there are only glowing reviews for a product, it can raise suspicions among shoppers. As we highlighted earlier in this report, a review being too extreme – whether positive or negative – raises suspicions among 55% of shoppers. What’s more, previous research found that 46% of shoppers are suspicious of products with a perfect average star rating of five out of five.  

Our most recent research found that a mere 6% of consumers feel that 5.0 is the ideal average star rating for a product they’re considering. On the other hand, the largest portion of consumers – 45% – believe the ideal average star rating falls between 4.0 and 4.49.

While negative reviews aren’t something to aim for, the occasional negative review isn’t the end of the world. Negative reviews help shoppers determine the worst case scenario for a given product. Then, they can make the call if it’s something they can live with. What’s more, by displaying negative content, you’re letting shoppers know you have nothing to hide – and that you’re a business they can trust.

Perfect Isn’t Ideal
What is the ideal average star rating (out of five) for a product in your opinion when considering purchasing a product?
Overall
Under 3.5 stars
1%
3.51-3.99 stars
7%
4.0-4.49 stars
45%
4.5-4.99 stars
41%
5.0 stars
6%
Gen Z
Under 3.5 stars
0%
3.51-3.99 stars
10%
4.0-4.49 stars
43%
4.5-4.99 stars
42%
5.0 stars
5%
Millennials
Under 3.5 stars
2%
3.51-3.99 stars
8%
4.0-4.49 stars
45%
4.5-4.99 stars
41%
5.0 stars
4%
Gen X
Under 3.5 stars
1%
3.51-3.99 stars
6%
4.0-4.49 stars
45%
4.5-4.99 stars
41%
5.0 stars
7%
Boomers
Under 3.5 stars
0%
3.51-3.99 stars
6%
4.0-4.49 stars
41%
4.5-4.99 stars
43%
5.0 stars
10%
Chapter 7

6 Key Takeaways for All Brands and Retailers

Reviews have become a key part of the purchase journey. Preserving the authenticity of this content must be a top priority for any business. Here are our five key takeaways from our latest survey.

One
Consumers Value Reviews – But They’re Wary of Fake Ones

We know from previous research that nearly all consumers read reviews when shopping online and over half (57%) do so when shopping in a brick-and-mortar shop. The presence of this content is proven to positively impact conversion.

However, fraudulent content is top of mind for shoppers, with 90% indicating they’re concerned about fake reviews. The shopping site they’re most concerned with fake reviews is Amazon.

Two
Consumers Have a Keen Eye for Fake Reviews

The majority of shoppers (87%) believe they’ve read a fake review in the past. There are certain things that make them suspicious of a specific review, including wording, extremity, and lack of detail. 

Your ratings and reviews provider should have a strong moderation process in place to identify potentially fraudulent reviews with these key red flags (among others). Be sure to ask. 

Three
Fake Reviews Tarnish Trust and Diminish Sales

The presence of even a single fake review can cause a shopper to rethink a purchase. Our research found that 67% of shoppers that found what they thought was a fake review wouldn’t purchase the product in question. 

Once trust has been lost, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to restore. Brands and retailers must ensure fake reviews never make their way onto product pages. 

Be sure your ratings and reviews provider – as well as your retail and marketplace partners – have strong measures in place to ensure fake reviews are identified – and never see the light of day.

Four
Transparency About the Source of Reviews Bolsters Shoppers’ Confidence

Consumers value reviews because they are authentic. One key way to preserve that authenticity is to let shoppers know the source of reviews. 82% say that reviews tagged with information about who wrote it are more authentic and real.

Be sure to appropriately badge all reviews. For example, if a review was written by a verified buyer, indicate it in the review. And if a shopper received a free sample, disclose it. Providing information about the source of reviews will bolster shoppers’ trust – and help them make more informed purchase decisions.

Five
Perfect Reviews Raise Red Flags

Over half of shoppers (55%) are suspicious when a given review is too positive or too negative. And only 6% of shoppers feel that the ideal star rating for a product is 5.0.

If a product only has glowing reviews, it can raise suspicions that the brand or retailer is suppressing negative content. So while it’s important to moderate content for fraud and appropriateness, never suppress a review simply because it’s negative. 

Consumers actively seek out negative reviews, and by displaying them, you’re empowering your shoppers to make more informed purchase decisions – while showing them you’re an honest company with nothing to hide.

Crocs product pages feature interactive image galleries and searchable reviews, along with specific ratings related to key words
Six
Implement a Robust Review Verification Process

While there are a lot of things you can do to promote authentic review content, fraudsters tend to be a determined bunch. If you struggle to identify fake reviews at the scale you need to, you might need to call in the experts. PowerReviews has robust fraud detection processes that combine human involvement with the best technology to power the most authentic review programs in the world.

Modest conversion lift for Visual UGC impressions; but Visual UGC Interactions more than double conversion

Key Findings:

  • When site visitors interact with visual UGC (user-generated images and videos), the product experiences a 114.4% conversion lift, on average.

  • Product verticals with the highest conversion lift when visitors interact with visual UGC are Automotive & Motor Sport (161.3%); Luggage & Bags (157.7%); and Apparel & Accessories (151%).

  • Even a Visual UGC impression has a mildly positive impact on conversion, lifting it by 2.5%.

  • The verticals with the highest Visual UGC impression conversion lift were Office Supplies; Shoes; and Department/Multi-Category Retail. 

Methodology: Analysis of consumer UGC interaction across 25.4MM+ online product pages on 3,600+ brand and retailer sites in the previous 12 month period prior to June 28, 2022. Conversion data based on visits (i.e. subsequent conversion action took place 24 hours after the interaction or impression was recorded).

Pictures (and videos) paint a thousand words

Reviews can paint a picture, but there’s a reason they say an image is worth a thousand words. Visual UGC brings your product to life. It allows customers to see how your product looks, how it can be used, and who is using it — all of which makes them feel more confident about their purchase. 

That confidence is key and it is a huge factor in why consumers overwhelmingly prefer photos from other customers over photos provided by the brand. Pictures taken by real people, in real settings, feel more trustworthy. Today, a majority (80%) of consumers find photos from other customers more valuable than photos from brands or retailers, a number that has nearly doubled in the past five years (this same number was 44% in 2016).

At the same time, visual media is simply another input for customers. So – while for some it will be a positive – for others, it will give them the information they need to move onto another product. This explains why the impression uplifts are relatively modest while the interaction (which implies a deeper interest in the product) uplifts are significant.

What We Measured

In our analysis, we looked at both the conversion lift by visitor (those who merely saw visual UGC on the product page they visited) and by interactor (those who interacted with visual UGC on the product page they visited). We’ve also shared the average conversion rate for each vertical as a baseline.

Modest Visual UGC Impression Uplift

The mere presence of visual UGC had a slight, but positive, impact on conversion, at an average conversion lift of 2.5% across verticals. However, some categories benefited much more from the presence of visual UGC on their product pages. These included Office Supplies (+14.6%), Shoes (+8.2%), and Department/Multi-Category Retail (+5.3%).

Significant Visual UGC Interaction Uplift

When site visitors actually interact with visual UGC – e.g. clicking on an image, browsing a gallery, or watching a video – the conversion lift is much, much higher. Across verticals, interacting with visual UGC resulted in an average conversion lift of 114.4%. Even the vertical with the lowest media interactor conversion lift – Office Supplies – experienced a significant lift of 30.1%, showing just how powerful visual UGC can be when it comes to converting customers. The verticals that enjoyed the highest media interactor conversion lift included Automotive & Motor Sport (+161.3%), Luggage & Bags (+157.7%), and Apparel & Accessories (151.0%).

Five Snackable Data-Backed Visual UGC Tips

  1. Enable easy media collection through your review form. 85% of shoppers indicate they’re more likely to buy a product that has reviews that feature photos and videos in addition to written text. Make sure you have plenty of media on-hand by asking for it in your review form.

  2. Collect more content from social media. A third of Gen Zers and nearly a quarter of Millennials simply won’t purchase a product if there are no photos or videos from others who have purchased it. If you need to beef up your visual UGC, use your customers’ social media posts as an additional resource. 

  3. Display customer media in a visual content gallery. Our research found there’s a 110.7% conversion lift among shoppers who click on any image within such a gallery. 

  4. The more, the merrier: Create an extensive gallery. People like being able to easily browse through a gallery of customer-generated photos and videos. And, the ones who do are around twice more likely to convert.

  5. Make reviews containing images easily findable. Consumers that seek out this additional context about a product have a demonstrably bigger intent to buy. In fact, our research shows that shoppers who sort for reviews containing images have a 89.3% conversion lift.

More Benchmarks

UGC Benchmarks: Review Influence on Online Traffic to Product Pages

More Reviews and Stronger Average Ratings Increase Product Page Visits

Read More →

Q&A: Av. Interactor and Impression Conversion Lift

A Q&A Impression Lifts Conversion by 51%, While a Q&A Interaction Lift Conversion 138%

Read More →
SEO Lamp Search Results with star ratings on PLAs

Ratings & Reviews: Av. Interactor and Impression Conversion Lift

Simply Seeing Reviews Lifts Conversion by 20%, While Interacting With Reviews Lifts Conversion by 128%

Read More →

Ratings & Reviews Benchmarks: Visual UGC

Despite Increasing Importance to Consumers, Average Media Coverage for Most Brands Hovers Around 37%

Read More →

Power Points

  • Consumers value visual UGC across product categories, from food and beverage to health and beauty.

  • One of the easiest ways for brands to generate visual UGC quickly and consistently is with social curation.

  • Social curation – or the process of sourcing real-life imagery and videos of your products from social channels like Instagram – can help brands establish trust, lift conversions, and stimulate product discovery.

From window displays to television commercials, shoppers have always placed a high value on visual content. That’s not anything new. We’re visual creatures, after all.

What is new is the type of visual content shoppers value. User-generated visual content has become increasingly important to consumers. 94% of shoppers seek out visual UGC at least sometimes. One in four shoppers always seek it out. 

“But aren’t our photos enough?” you may ask. No, they’re not. Today, 80% of consumers say photos from other customers are more valuable than those provided by brands or retailers. That’s a big increase from five years ago, when only 44% felt this way.

What’s more, 54% of consumers say company-generated product photos are “unhelpful” and actually dissuade them from buying.

Fashion brands have embraced the power of UGC for years, mining their social media channels for customer images to share on their own websites and marketing materials.

We have a newsflash for you: this process, which is known as social curation, is no longer just for fashion brands. Increasingly, consumers expect to see visual UGC content across product verticals. Nearly 40% of online grocery shoppers, for example, seek out customer-submitted imagery and videos. From CPG to health and beauty, consumers want to see more imagery from other customers. 

Read on as we explore the power of social UGC for non-fashion brands, complete with real-world examples.

What is social curation?

Social curation is the process of sourcing product images posted by your customers on Instagram, and then displaying it through your own website to provide social proof and lift conversions. Here’s how it works.

88% of consumers specifically look for visuals (such as photos or videos) submitted by other consumers prior to making a purchase.

Step 1: Choose your collection criteria

The first step is choosing how you’ll collect the images from social media. With PowerReviews, you can designate certain @mentions, @tags, and #hashtags to source content from, such as mentions of your brand name or a campaign-specific hashtag.

It can be helpful to be specific with this (e.g. #BrandNameLove vs. #OOTD), as that ensures you generate more relevant content that actually features your products. For example, Duraflame uses the hashtag #BetterByTheFire:

Step 2: Get permission

You’ll need to get permission from consumers before using their photos or videos across your website or in other marketing materials. Work with your legal team to establish a Terms and Conditions page, and link to this page whenever you ask for permission. 

Always be sure to attribute your customers’ content to them, such as linking to their Instagram page or including a caption like “Photo courtesy of [insert Instagram handle]. Here’s an example from Janie and Jack:

Step 3: Encourage customers to post

Once you’ve taken care of the legal p’s and q’s, it’s time to promote your campaign. Encourage customers to post photos with your products via email campaigns, social media posts, product packaging, billboards, and anywhere else you communicate with your customers. Give them some tips for how you want them to post, such as the hashtag they should use, and to be sure they’re actually featuring your products in their post. Here’s an example from Benefit Cosmetics:

Step 4: Reshare the images on your channels

Next, it’s time to put that social content to work! Once you have your customers’ permission, you can reshare their images on your:

  • Product pages
  • Home page
  • Category pages
  • In-store displays
  • Marketing emails
  • Advertisements
  • Social media channels

Step 5: Analyze your performance

Want extra credit? Monitor the performance of your social content. Who are your top creator contributors? What products are featured more, or less, often? How is the photo quality? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you find ways to improve your campaigns and collect more effective social imagery.

5 powerful benefits and use cases of social UGC

How important is social imagery, really? Visual media is so important to consumers that they overwhelmingly rate images as the most valuable part of any individual review, even above the review length, title, and aggregated pros and cons lists.  

Consumers Value Many Aspects of Individual Reviews
Which of the following types of detail included within individual reviews do you find useful or would find useful when reading them?
A picture/image of the product from someone who has used it
65%
Longer, more descriptive reviews
59%
Stories and accounts that relate to and are consistent with how you intend to use the product
57%
Aggregated pros and cons pulled from all the reviews submitted
54%
“Most positive review” vs “most negative review” pulled from all reviews submitted
45%
The tag/badge signifying how the reviewer obtained the product
42%
A video of the product from someone who has used it
36%
Demographic profile information
19%
Longer, more descriptive title
17%

Let’s take a look at some of the value brands and retailers can derive from curating and sharing social UGC.

1. Generate more conversions and sales.

More than half of consumers say imagery provided by previous purchasers is a top factor influencing their purchase decision. When people interact with visual UGC, their conversion rate doubles. Our latest data shows a 106.3% lift in conversion among visitors who interact with user-generated imagery on a product page. That’s a significant increase from the conversion lift of 91.4% found the year prior, indicating the increasing impact of user-generated imagery on purchase behavior. 

Imagery interactions that are particularly impactful on conversion include:

  • Clicking on the image gallery (110.7%)
  • Clicking to view the next image/video (103.6%)
  • Clicking to see the previous image/video (96.4%)

Further, our research shows that consumers who spend more online are more likely to “always” seek out visual content within reviews. 35% of consumers who spend $2,000+ online each month always seek out visual content within reviews, compared to 20% of those who spend $250 or less monthly.

Benefit Cosmetics curates photos from their own social feed featuring real customers. They include the precise shade and product used in each image, enabling shoppers to see how the different shades look on different people.

2. Provide the authentic content consumers crave.

57% of shoppers read reviews to find imagery or photos of the product from a real-life shopper. Several of the top reasons consumers value visual UGC speak to authenticity

Top Reasons Consumers Value User-Submitted Photos and Videos
To see what the product looks like in real life
86%
To get a better sense of the size or sizing of the product
75%
It’s more authentic and “real” than standard brand-created imagery
65%
To understand how the product performs
58%
To see if the product fits your own personal need
56%
It creates trust in the product and/or brand
42%

Visual UGC that is collected from social media authenticates your marketing claims and provides powerful social proof. Not only are your customers willing to write a rave review, they’re so passionate that they’re happy to promote your brand on their social media pages. 

There’s another added benefit to social image curation. Almost everyone, whether or not they’re an influencer, treats their social media like they are an influencer. That means you get to collect influencer quality content without the pricey cost of maintaining an influencer relationship.

Here are two examples of social UGC, one from a beauty influencer for Babor and another from an everyday customer of Soylent. Both are persuasive and feature the product in an authentic light. 

3. Make inroads with younger demographics.

Visual UGC is especially important to younger consumers, with 91% of Gen Z’ers and 84% of Millennials always or regularly seeking it out. In fact, a third of Gen Z shoppers and nearly a quarter (21%) of Millennials won’t purchase a product if there is no visual content from people who previously bought it. 

Soylent recognized that social media is the essential medium for targeting a younger audience. The brand found that 100% of customers who go to their site look at their image gallery. This knowledge has helped them grow their business, launch new flavors, and expand to new retailers.

4. Share recipes and inspiration.

With all of the food influencers out there, there is a huge opportunity for CPG and grocery brands to pull in their content to their product pages. These creators dream up yummy recipes and show off the results on social media. By curating images like these from social media, your brand can inspire other shoppers.

Canyon Bakehouse’s product pages are filled with the types of images we’re talking about. They feature their customer’s delicious creations on the product pages, offering different ideas for how shoppers can use their gluten-free bread. “Social curation has allowed us to add a lot of color and credibility to the product display pages on our site,” shared Katie Pusateri, Marketing for Canyon Bakehouse.

5. Stimulate product discovery and inspire purchases.

With social curation, you can display shoppable customer image galleries on your site wherever you need to provide social proof, enable product discovery, and inspire sales. 

You can reuse these images in marketing materials across your website and email. You can even get really meta and showcase reviews in your social media, only to curate those same images right back on your product page, like Indie Lee does. It’s like the movie Inception for UGC!

The #1 reason shoppers value visual UGC is to see what the product looks like in real life. Another popular reason is to understand how the product performs. By curating images from social media that include their branded hashtag, Beauty Brands enables shoppers to easily see how their product works for a wide range of hair colors, styles, and lengths. This helps build trust and inspire purchases for a wider range of shoppers than a simple product photo gallery could ever provide.

How to gather more social UGC

How many images is enough? You can never have too many images. Fortunately, when you’re collecting images from social media, you tap into an endless supply of creative and beautiful imagery created by real customers. 

If you’re looking for hard numbers, though, check out our latest benchmark study on visual UGC. Independent of vertical, the average product has 12.8 images or videos. However, what’s typical can vary by vertical. The typical food and beverage product has 14 images or videos, on average, while CPG products have 20 images or videos, and health & beauty products have 23 images or videos. 

The key, of course, is to have strong visual UGC coverage across all your products. Get started with these four tips for getting the most out of your visual UGC.

Reward reviewers for adding a photo or video.

From free samples to free discounts, up to 86% of customers need an incentive to leave a review.

zazzle incentive for customer feedback

Make your galleries easily searchable.

Over three-quarters (77%) of shoppers find filtering options useful when browsing review content. Include a filter for reviews that feature visual UGC. 

Include social links in your review form.

Make it easy for reviewers to add social UGC, by letting them upload photos from their Facebook or Instagram page.

Use social curation.

With PowerReviews Social Curation, brands and retailers capture 221% more images and videos. You can collect images posted with specific hashtags, from both your brand and customers. Suja Juice includes images from their brand account as well as fans in their review snapshot.

Unlock the power of social UGC

Social media is not just for sharing; it’s for selling. The brands who recognize this have a clear competitive advantage. They’re the ones who are collecting native content from their customers, showcasing it on their site, and leveraging it to boost sales and engagement. Adopt an image-first mindset today, and watch as your brand connects with – and sells to – customers better than before.

Kylie Sheehan

Kylie Sheehan is an Enterprise Customer Success Manager at PowerReviews. When she's not helping her clients optimize their Ratings and Reviews strategy to help them grow their sales, you can find her doing home renovation projects (and spending the majority of her time at Target and Home Depot)!

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