We can all agree that user-generated content (UGC) like ratings and reviews is important. 

But, why is it so important? What is it about ratings and reviews that drives customers to purchase? And what about other types of UGC, like videos, images, and Q&A? 

How do customers interact with this type of content, and what impact does it ultimately have on their decision to click the “Buy Now” button?

At PowerReviews, we decided to find out. Our analysts mined the data from thousands of brands and retailers using our UGC Analytics technology to see how frequently customers interacted with UGC, how it impacted the buyer journey, and whether certain types of UGC were more effective than others in driving conversions.

Read on to discover what we found, along with pro tips for applying these insights to your own UGC.

Customers Who Interact With UGC Are 103% More Likely to Convert

That’s right. Customers who engage with some form of UGC — be it reviews, imagery, or Q&A — are twice as likely to convert than customers who don’t. 

Here’s the better news. A majority of online shoppers (77%) interact with UGC when it’s available. Which type of UGC is most helpful to pushing customers through that barrier to purchase? Here are the results:

  • Q&A is the most impactful content (153% increase in conversion)
  • Reviews were in second place (115% increase in conversion)
  • Imagery rounded out the list (81% increase in conversion)

Let’s look at some examples of these types of UGC in the wild, and why they’re so impactful on customer purchasing decisions.

Ratings and Reviews

Ratings and reviews allow customers to share their experience with a product or service, and give it an overall star rating. 

How important are reviews? After price, reviews are the second-most important factor to customers making a purchase decision. Displaying ratings and reviews on your product page can lift conversions by 115%. 

Why? Ratings and reviews provide invaluable social proof to shoppers. They can’t see, touch, and smell a product they’re purchasing online. But when they read the reviews, shoppers can cross-reference with people who have already purchased your product, to verify that it looks and works like you say it does.

Reviews help answer questions shoppers have about your products. They can learn from others’ experiences, both positive and negative. 

Yes, even negative UGC is helpful! Our data shows that two-thirds of visitors filter for 1-star reviews when interacting with UGC. Those visitors still convert at 108% the rate of your general web traffic. People want to see one-star reviews because it helps them better evaluate whether a product is the right fit for them. When it comes to UGC, a negative really can be a positive.

A lot of the time, something that is a negative, one-star-worthy dealbreaker for one shopper might not be a big deal for another.

For example, say a shopper is searching for a pair of slipper-type shoes that she can wear outdoors when running errands. She finds a pair of slippers that look perfect, but wants to look through the one-star reviews to see if there’s anything jarringly wrong with the slippers before buying.

She sees that some previous buyers gave the slippers 1-star because they don’t have enough fuzziness on the inside to keep their feet warm enough. The shopper, who lives in Miami, will be wearing the slippers in the hot Florida climate, so really this one-star review validates that these slippers are perfect for her.

WEBS – America’s Yarn Store makes it easy for customers to glean the information they’re looking for from their reviews. Their product pages feature a Review snapshot that captures the average star rating, ratings distribution, pros and cons, and a most liked negative and positive review. 

And with PowerReviews’ UGC Analytics, they can understand the exact ROI of each of the features they are displaying on their site — from pros and cons to visual content.

This presentation of unbiased UGC increases customer trust. It also keeps customers on site, as WEBS eCommerce Manager Dena Childs shared. “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.”

Reviews help your shoppers make a more confident purchase decision. The more you can do to make your reviews more useful to customers, the better. For example, Briogeo added custom fields to their review form to better categorize and sort their review content. 

When displayed on the product page, these fields help customers navigate to relevant information faster, increasing trust and satisfaction. The filters show the wide range of hair types Briogeo products work on, and enable customers to filter to read reviews from customers like them: 

Reviews aren’t just good for customers. They’re good for brands, too. Room & Board has reviews or Q&A for nearly 80% of products on their site. The customers who interact with these features have a 95% higher conversion rate than those who don’t. 

Q&A

Q&A are like mini-FAQ sections for each of your products. Instead of reading every review, customers can find answers and ask questions related to the specific product they are considering. They can ask about anything: size, function, appearance, durability, shipping and delivery times.

How impactful is Q&A? Of all types of UGC, our research shows Q&A is the most impactful content, driving a 153% increase in conversions. 

Why? Q&A helps your customers decide if they really want to buy your product. They might be wondering, “Are these rain boots good enough for Seattle to wear them all the time? Are they waterproof?” With Q&A, they can get those answers instantly — or ask themselves and get an answer in a timely manner. Best of all, their answers come from previous brand buyers, or actual brand experts from your company. 

Duraflame’s Q&A are manned by brand experts like Jessica. Jessica’s answers demonstrate the knowledge the Duraflame team has, impressing shoppers and earning their trust. They’re also helpful for learning the answer to very important questions, like whether their firelogs are safe for s’mores! (They’re not — opt for their Campfire Roasting Logs instead.)

Pro Tip: Pre-seed Q&A for a new product page if there are questions you think will be asked. Add them before someone has to ask, so it’s already there and they don’t have to wait.

What should you do when new questions come in? Answer them quickly. Skechers commits to response times of 3 hours or less. 

How’s that worked out for them? More than half (51%) of shoppers who receive an answer to their question ended up purchasing the product. “Because a customer who submits a question is already engaged, if we can give them the answer they want in a timely fashion, they usually buy the shoe,” shared Tim Lakin, Ecommerce Merchandising Manager for Skechers.

You can also use Q&A to cross-sell other products, like MAC Cosmetics does. In the Q&A for their Matte Lipstick, brand experts offer tips for getting more out of lipstick by using it with a matching lip liner and lip brush, with links to the respective product pages.

As an added bonus, Q&A happens to be great for SEO. It’s a really good way to get fresh content from your customers, which is something Google really prioritizes. With more fresh content, you increase your opportunities to rank for related search terms, and increase traffic to your site. “With Questions & Answers, we were able to boost [Skechers’] rankings in Google’s organic search for the keyword ‘shoes’ to be on the first page of results,” shared Lakin.

Image and Video Content

Image and video content bring UGC to life, whether customers upload their media directly through your website or you curate it from Instagram. It adds visual interest to your product page and motivates shoppers to convert. 

How impactful is UGC imagery? Online shoppers who interact with UGC imagery are 81% more likely to convert.

Why? Image and video content is so important because it accomplishes three things: 

1. It builds customer trust. 

By browsing through customer-submitted photos, shoppers can see what an item looks like when it comes in the mail, and verify that it matches your product photos.

It also gets them excited to purchase the product, because they can visualize using it and imagine all the possibilities. Canyon Bakehouse encourages customers to share photos of dishes they’ve made using their gluten-free bread, giving future buyers fun recipe ideas:

2. It helps customers understand the size of the product. 

Sleek as they may look, stock photography or product photos with white backgrounds give customers no reference for how big (or small) your product is. 

One of my colleagues recently bought a basket on Amazon for raffle tickets. She thought it would fit 500 tickets, but when it arrived, it was so tiny it could fit in the palm of her hand. So, she had to return it. That return cost the retailer money that could have easily been avoided with a customer photo that put it on a coffee table. 

Shure Incorporated has collected over 1,200 images from social media for their product pages. These show customers the size of the product and the type of packaging it arrives in, avoiding scenarios like what happened to my colleague.

3. For apparel and cosmetics, it helps shoppers see what the product looks like on different types of people. 

A dress on a 6-feet-tall model will look different on a shopper who’s 5’4”. UGC photos help shoppers determine how well your products will fit them.

In addition to photos, you can ask questions in your review form to help shoppers assess fit, like Janie and Jack does. Shoppers can rate how “true to size” a product is, and describe the age of the child they purchased it for. Reviewers also have the option to upload a photo, which you can then display in shoppable visual content galleries across your website on product, category, hashtag, or homepages to increase sales and inspire other purchases. 

In the end, it all goes back to helping your customers make confident purchase decisions. The more information you can provide your shoppers with — using actual customer images — the more likely they are to buy something they actually want. That means fewer returns (which can get expensive), and more successful purchases!

The Power of UGC

The most exciting thing about UGC is how quickly it works. When we look at our PowerReviews client data, the average online customer might have a super low conversion rate, say around 4%. But when that same customer simply interacts with UGC — even if they just click on an image or expand a Q&A — it skyrockets to something like 11%. It’s really powerful. Interested in how UGC can impact your conversion rates? Our PDP Site Analytics (where we mined this data) is available for all PowerReviews clients who use Ratings and Reviews. Find out how our UGC solutions can boost your sales by 92%.

Alison Krakowiak

In her role as Product Marketing Manager at PowerReviews, Alison leads new product launches by focusing on communicating the value of our technology to our clients and partners. Alison is excited to bring the voice of our PowerReviews clients into everything she creates.

You can literally win and lose on the speed of your site

By now, you are most likely crystal clear on the critical importance of a quick-loading webpage for your customers’ experience and your site’s conversion rate.

Consumers have high demand when it comes to site performance and load speed. In case you’re not sure what all the hype is about, here are some particularly compelling data points:

As you can see, consumers don’t have the patience for slow-loading sites. And with an endless aisle of options, they don’t need to.

Why PowerReviews wins

When it comes to displaying UGC on your site, it’s important to know if your reviews are slowing down your website and ultimately hurting conversion rates. 

We know how important this is to the success of your business. This is why our ratings and reviews code is 2.5 times lighter than our competitors, leading to way faster page load times.

How we do this

One of the most important aspects impacting site load speed metrics is Javascript size.

And it’s for this reason that PowerReviews has consistently made reducing Javascript size one of our primary goals.

The updates we have made over the past 18 months have reduced Javascript size throughout every touchpoint on our customers’ product pages.

Here’s a breakdown of content types and their size reduction:

Page Type Percent Size Reduction
Product Listing Page (Category Pages) 61%
Product Details Pages 20-26%
Write a Review & Review Your Purchases 40%

What changed?

In order to reduce the size of our Javascript, we added logic to the code to analyze configuration in real-time. Now, PowerReviews only loads the components of pages that are absolutely necessary. This basically means our Javascript is working smarter, not harder. Although this may seem obvious, driving these valuable efficiencies requires a lot of sophisticated technical background work.

We are also constantly iterating and improving. On top of this, PowerReviews has added sophisticated measurement capabilities to monitor the size of our Javascript code each time we make enhancements and updates. If we are increasing the size we are alerted during the development phase so we can proactively make any necessary adjustments prior to release.

This is how we will keep your page load speeds fast.

How do you compare to Bazaarvoice?

One thing we get asked a lot is: how do you compare on site speed to your main competitor?

We can state with complete confidence that the PowerReviews solution is significantly lighter than Bazaarvoice. For example, the most recent data shows that Bazaarvoice loads at least ten javascript files for a total of 385.31KB whereas PowerReviews loads only two javascript files amounting to 204.62KB.

When it comes specifically to PDPs (Product Detail Pages), BazaarVoice needs to render seven urls on all its customers’ PDPs before the Javascript appears. PowerReviews needs to render two. Big difference resulting in way quicker load speeds.

Bazaarvoice

0 +
javascript files
3 0 KB
total file size

PowerReviews

0
javascript files
200 KB
total file size

Another component that affects load time is DNS resolution. DNS resolution can add significant latency to requests. And for websites with open connections to many third parties, this latency can significantly reduce loading performance. Bazaarvoice’s network requests span over six different DNS names, but PowerReviews is limited to three.

All well and good. But what does this mean when applied to actual site speed? Well, the 2019 eCommerce Third Party Technology Index shows Bazaarvoice technology consistently in the “red zone” when validating code – which consistently negatively impacts site performance time and time again.

The experts agree

Site speed experts YOTTAA analyze this sort of stuff everyday. They are constantly evaluating and advising which third party applications most slow down ecommerce websites in order to drive overall optimization.

As Beth Moriarty, VP of Product & Corporate Marketing, YOTTAA, explains: “Because YOTTAA accelerates over 1,500 ecommerce sites, we have the unique visibility to analyze detailed information on the performance of almost 1,000 third parties. We also understand the importance of working with third parties that are always pushing themselves to be better — and faster.”

Content + Speed = More Sales

UGC is meant to help not hinder. So the absolute last thing your UGC provider should be doing is negatively impacting the performance of your site. What’s the point of even bothering with UGC if your customers don’t even see it?

Our streamlined Javascript code – optimized to strike the perfect balance between product page speed and content – is available as a standard part of our core solution. It has been developed to deliver the best possible customer experience to drive conversions and sales.

If you want to understand how we enable faster load times with optimal customization, speak to one of our experts.

Alison Krakowiak

In her role as Product Marketing Manager at PowerReviews, Alison leads new product launches by focusing on communicating the value of our technology to our clients and partners. Alison is excited to bring the voice of our PowerReviews clients into everything she creates.

Introducing the Number 1 UGC-Dedicated Analytics Platform on the Planet

By now the value of User-Generated Content (or UGC for short) on website product pages is well known. Ratings, reviews and consumer imagery/video are all highly valued social proof points for shoppers as they progress through the customer journey on the path to purchase.

But despite the extensive positive impact the UGC they capture has on sales and traffic, and even the more qualitative benefits like shopper confidence, few brands and retailers analyze UGC on a deeper level. Either as insight to drive product portfolio improvements or enhance their customer experience.

Why?

They haven’t had access to an intelligence engine powerful enough to take all of the rich sentiment data (from the thousands of UGC they’ve collected across the web) and turn it into clear, actionable insights.

Well, we at PowerReviews can very confidently say: all that has changed now.

The High-Potential Analytics Power of UGC

UGC offers a ton of context-rich and actionable insight voluntarily provided by your customers. The sort of information organizations otherwise have to go to great lengths to capture through surveys or other methods. What makes UGC so powerful?

  1. You can easily map consumer feedback to specific products. Think about that for a second: most brands and retailers have extensive catalogs of hundreds or even thousands of products. Monitoring customer sentiment accurately across this sheer volume of items is literally impossible via any other methodology.
  2. Reviewers often provide demographic information (be this age, location, gender and – in some cases – use case). Being able to factor this insight in provides a highly valuable extra layer of context. No other type of customer feedback data captured digitally provides that level of specificity. With UGC, you can very precisely map product feedback and information about those who bought it to the actual product itself.
  3. Unlike other forms of customer feedback, UGC is almost always constructive and meaningful in its focus – whether it’s related to a specific product or your entire customer experience. Whether positive or negative, it typically includes extremely powerful, actionable and context-rich recommendations and suggestions for improvements.

UGC is a datasource with incredible potential but has up to now been completely underutilized. It’s time to unleash it.

What makes UGC Analytics a big deal?

We built UGC Analytics with input from today’s top brands and retailers. Over the past year, as we were building and improving upon this suite of analytics products, we asked for feedback from our customers — who also knew their review data was a goldmine of incredible insights just waiting to be discovered.

In fact, we did a thorough analysis of what other vendors in the space are able to offer. UGC Analytics is superior for a number of reasons. Check out our capability comparison chart for a deeper dive.

Here are a three things UGC Analytics does that no other UGC vendor does:

  • Benchmarking: Enables consumer sentiment comparison at the product, product category and brand level. Any product, any product category and any brand.
  • Product-Level Sentiment: Understand sentiment at the individual product level. Analysis of your entire product catalog in granular detail.
  • Potential Syndication Partners Insight: Provides exceptional guidance on who you should partner with to ensure you maximize the reach, value and impact of your UGC content.

Keep reading for more on that.

What does UGC Analytics allow you to do?

UGC Analytics is a reporting and text analytics suite powered by AI and Natural Language Processing that enables you to drive positive change across your business. These include:

Optimize your overall product catalog and drive individual product improvements

Brands and retailers typically have extensive product portfolios. Knowing exactly where and how to make adjustments – both to individual products and at a more holistic level – to drive meaningful business impact is a huge challenge.

More specifically: how do you know how each product resonates with shoppers? What exactly do they like about each of your products? What don’t they like? Is the information provided at point of sale both accurate and detailed enough to generate realistic expectations?

UGC Analytics enables you to mine all the insight-rich customer feedback captured via your UGC program for the most actionable and impactful improvement opportunities. Our pilot customers used it to build specific evidence for their merchants about modifications they needed to make, make adjustments to product descriptions on their site and considered dropping entire product lines.

Benchmark product and website performance against competitors

To become a market leader, you need to know what you’re up against. How exactly do you compare to your competition?

But most brands and retailers are unable to compare product and brand performance in the detail they need and with the precision required to make the desired impact.

This information – in the form of UGC – is all over the internet. It’s on your site, your competitors’ sites and a whole host of big box retailer and ecommerce marketplace sites. And trying to combine all of this data (which is usually structured differently depending on its source) gets overwhelming very quickly.

UGC Analytics enables you to analyze all this UGC data from your site, your competitor’s sites and any other third-party site this information exists on. It then enables you to compare consumer sentiment at the product, product category and brand level.

For example, say you make razors and Gillette is your main competitor. UGC Analytics enables you to see how your brand stacks up against the overall Gillette brand, as well as compare any of your models to any Gillette model. Extremely powerful stuff.

Understand, dissect and improve consumer path to purchase

As we mention above, User-Generated Content (ratings, reviews and visual media from customers) is proven to have a huge impact on the online shopping journey. Often, it’s the driving factor in converting browsers to buyers along the path to purchase.

But most are unable to size or even define this impact. They have no way of knowing the extent of consumer interactions with UGC content and the precise nature of it.

What type of UGC content results in better outcomes? Does consumer imagery or video make purchasing a product more likely? What about product Q&A content? How big an impact do different star ratings have on purchase decisions?

UGC Analytics enables you to answer all these questions and more. How? By capturing very precise insight about how consumers interact with this content, along with their subsequent actions (i.e. do they go on to purchase or not).

For example, across all our data, we have established that online shoppers that interact with some form of UGC are 103% more likely to convert. Q&A is the most impactful content (153% increase in conversion), followed by reviews (115% increase in conversion) and imagery (81% increase in conversion). UGC Analytics enables you to understand UGC’s tangible impact on your specific buyer journey.

Understand how your customers talk about your products so you can ensure your messaging and branding is on point

UGC Analytics analyzes every single piece of ratings and reviews content submitted about each of your products anywhere on the internet.

Due to its NLP-powered text analytics capabilities, it’s therefore able to take all this data and then surface very specific trends and insights to the forefront.

As a result, you can very quickly understand how your product and brand messaging is resonating with shoppers. Are there expectations of your products accurate? Or do your products end up disappointing more often than not? What exactly is it that doesn’t hit the mark?

UGC Analytics enables you to establish answers to all these questions and more. In doing so, it delivers highly actionable insights that drive informed and strategic improvements – whether for an individual product or on a broader basis.

How can you credibly say it’s “the best UGC-dedicated analytics platform on the planet”?

Put simply, because it is. We knew this was a huge gap in the UGC marketplace. As we talk about above, UGC is an incredible datasource that most brands and retailers are simply not leveraging as they could for maximum benefits. But there’s no other vendor in the space that is enabling them to fully realize this incredible potential.

UGC Analytics stacks up favorably to all other analytics platforms offered by our direct competitors. Here are the main reasons why:

Today is a proud day for us at PowerReviews. We are excited to offer brands and retailers the opportunity to maximize the huge potential impact of their UGC data to drive broad and meaningful business change.

For more information on UGC Analytics, check out the dedicated section on our website, or see it in action by requesting a demo.

Alison Krakowiak

In her role as Product Marketing Manager at PowerReviews, Alison leads new product launches by focusing on communicating the value of our technology to our clients and partners. Alison is excited to bring the voice of our PowerReviews clients into everything she creates.

4 Ways to Stay Ahead and Be Prepared to Navigate in New Directions

The retail landscape is constantly evolving, thanks to many factors including technology advancements, new (and different) competition, global market shifts, and the ever-changing expectations of shoppers. Marketers need to constantly be on the lookout for ways to lead the front edge ideas of tomorrow.

Earlier this month, Kim Feil, CEO of bizHive, spoke during the PowerReviews monthly webinar about the importance of going back to the marketing strategy drawing board in order to remain competitive in an ever-changing world. During the webinar, she shared these four ideas for staying ahead and being prepared to navigate in new directions.

  1. Encourage competition between cross-functional teams
    Make sure your cross-functional partners see and embrace the changes ahead. Assign cross-functional teams to compete with each other, and give them the task of playing the role of a competitor or an industry you want to understand better. Bring everyone back together and let them argue about how those competitors or an industry change could potentially put you out of business, and how you’d shift your strategy to prevent that from happening.
  2. Dedicate team time to debate impacts of external trends and identify contingency plans
    Think about the possible positive and negative impacts external trends will have on global industries and brainstorm ways your company can capitalize on possible business deals. In other words, ask yourself what these changes mean for your company and how you can pivot in order to come out on top. For example, if a particular technology is commercialized by a company, what can your company do to be stronger and better?
  3. Shop your category with Millennials
    Millennials have a lot of money and influence. They don’t care about how things were 18 years ago — they just want to know what’s available to them today. They constantly want more, and your company needs to be prepared to give them that. Shop your products with a Millennial, and you’ll get some really eye opening insights.
  4. Identify potential support partners and resources to be part of your strategies
    Ask yourself where can you create joint ventures and acquisitions (such as the case of Amazon and Whole Foods). Identify where you need to build, to buy and to ally.

Curious what else we discussed during the webinar? Check out the on-demand session today.

Alison Krakowiak

In her role as Product Marketing Manager at PowerReviews, Alison leads new product launches by focusing on communicating the value of our technology to our clients and partners. Alison is excited to bring the voice of our PowerReviews clients into everything she creates.

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