Five Ways to Get Your User-Generated Content in Front of More Shoppers in More Places During Holiday 2017
It may only be October 3, but brands and retailers have already been busy for months developing strategies to reach and convert more shoppers this holiday season. And for good reason. Holiday 2017 is expected to be a busy time — eMarketer predicts that total retail will grow 2% this holiday season over holiday 2016, with 15.8% growth in ecommerce.
Shoppers are increasingly turning to user-generated content — such as ratings and reviews, photos and videos — to help them make informed purchase decisions. This is especially true during the holidays when consumers are shopping for products they’re not quite as familiar with. For example, there’s Aunt Callie — a recent college grad searching for a gift for her two year old nephew. Or Kevin, a 35 year old suburban dad picking out perfume for his grandmother. Collecting and displaying UGC allows you to break through the noise to reach your shoppers — and it helps your shoppers make better purchase decisions for everyone on their holiday shopping list.
By now, you’ve likely been collecting UGC for awhile. The next step is to display this content in unique ways to capture the attention of shoppers in more places. Read on to learn five ways to get your user-generated content in front of more shoppers this holiday season.
1. Start with Your Own Website
We’ve found that 45% of shoppers will turn to a search engine if there aren’t reviews (or aren’t enough reviews) for a product on a brand or retailer site. An additional 25% will head to Amazon to find this content. And here’s the thing — if a shopper has to look elsewhere to find this content, they probably won’t come back to your site.
So after you’ve started generating reviews, make sure you’re prominently displaying this content on your product pages. Avoid hiding your review content behind tabs or requiring your visitors to aimlessly click around to find what they’re looking for. And since a growing number of consumers are browsing and buying via a mobile device (eMarketer predicts that mobile-based purchases will increase by more than 50% this year), make sure your review content is easy to find and read, regardless of the device a shopper is using to consume it.
Then, think beyond the product page to identify ways to enhance other areas of your website with UGC, including category pages and even your homepage. For example, feature star ratings for your featured items or entice visitors to click through to a landing page that features top rated holiday gifts.
2. Enhance Holiday Advertising Campaigns
Social media, display, email and other targeted digital marketing campaigns can be a great way to reach more consumers this holiday season. To make yours stand out, add star ratings and review snippets to the advertisements.
For example, let’s say you’re a toy retailer promoting a new toddler learning toy that you’ve released in time for the holidays. You create a Facebook advertising campaign targeted at parents of toddlers. Then, you serve this audience an ad for this new toy that includes its average star rating, as well as text from a review written by a parent like them.
3. Add Star Ratings to Cart Abandonment Emails
If your shoppers are anything like me, they have no fewer than a million tabs open when they’re shopping for a gift. It’s easy to get distracted and leave the site without completing a transaction.
One effective way to bring shoppers back to your site to make a purchase is by sending cart abandonment emails. Adding star ratings and reviews for the items the consumer has in her cart can make these emails even more compelling. Bonus points if you include text from a review that mentions a product being a great gift.
4. Add Reviews to Holiday Signage
Ecommerce growth is expected to outpace that of overall retail this holiday season. But that doesn’t mean that consumers are completely steering clear of brick-and-mortar retail. In fact, physical stores still play a large role in the holiday shopping experience for many consumers. According to data from the National Retail Federation, 47% of shoppers say they browse physical stores to find gift ideas.
[bctt tweet=”47% of shoppers say they browse physical stores to find holiday gift ideas. ” username=”powerofreviews”]
If you have physical store locations, catch your shoppers’ attention by including star ratings and review snippets on your in-store signage. Doing this doesn’t have to be a big investment. Take a page out of Amazon’s book and display star ratings and customer reviews on signs alongside your products. And be sure to include this powerful content in your window displays to attract additional foot traffic.
5. Syndicate Your Content
Sometimes, a consumer will purchase an item directly from a brand’s ecommerce site. But in other cases, a consumer will make the purchase on the website of a retailer that carries the product. Review syndication — which is the distribution of user-generated content collected on brand sites to retail ecommerce sites — allows you to reach both types of consumers.
If you’re a brand who syndicates reviews, you’ll benefit from increased reach — your reviews get in front of more consumers on more websites. On the other hand, if you’re a retailer that accepts syndicated brand content, you get the benefits of having reviews on your site without having to generate them yourself. On average, retailers receive 58% of their review content from syndication.
[bctt tweet=”Retailers receive an average of 58% of their review content from syndication.” username=”powerofreviews”]
Consumers today have more shopping options than ever before. This holiday season, capture the attention of more shoppers by featuring UGC in more places. Best of luck!
This blog post is the first in our series of key takeaways from the keynotes and breakout sessions from the 2017 PowerReviews Digital Commerce Summit.
Last week, PowerReviews hosted our first annual Digital Commerce Summit in Chicago. It was a great time — with tons of opportunities to network with other industry professionals and hear from a great lineup of speakers on various topics related to building trust with consumers.
During the Summit, I had the opportunity to present to attendees on the growing role of visual content on a consumer’s path to purchase. Shoppers are increasingly turning to visual content to help them make purchase decisions. And more and more of them are specifically seeking out photos and videos submitted by other consumers like them. Our recent research found that 88% of consumers specifically look for visual content submitted by other consumers before making a purchase. Providing shoppers with the visual content they crave helps brands and retailers build trust. We also found that 65% of shoppers are more likely to trust products that have user-submitted photos or videos in their reviews.
It’s clear that visual content has become an important part of the purchase journey. So how can brands and retailers collect and leverage user-generated photos and videos to attract and convert shoppers? Here are five tips I shared during the PowerReviews Digital Commerce Summit.
1. Request Videos and Photos Directly from Your Shoppers
In a perfect world, your customers would automatically submit a review with a great photo or video of your products. But the reality is, most customers need a little nudge. The best way to provide that nudge is by sending a post purchase email, asking shoppers to submit photos and videos along with reviews of the products they’ve recently purchased.
Use a direct, compelling subject line with 55 characters or less to entice recipients to open your email. And make sure the email itself is short and sweet, with a clear call to action. Finally, be sure your post purchase email is mobile friendly, since more and more consumers are opening their emails on a mobile device. evo, a leading online retailer of outdoor gear and fashion apparel, experienced a 23% increase in reviews written on all devices after switching to a mobile-friendly post purchase email.
2. Capture Visual Content Natively
In order to generate more visual content, you need to make the collection process as simple as possible. Rather than requiring consumers to take the extra step of first uploading content to a third party service such as YouTube or asking your internal teams to curate visual content by combing through millions of photos on social media sites, allow shoppers to natively submit their photos and videos through your website. Capturing this content natively will also allow future shoppers to find all the product information they need right on your product page, which means they’re more likely to stay on your site and make a purchase.
3. Prominently Display User-Generated Visual Content on Product Pages
Once you’ve generated consumer-submitted photos and videos, display this content where future shoppers can easily find it. A great way to do this is by showcasing consumer images in an engaging gallery on your product pages. If you’re a PowerReviews customer, the image gallery is available out of the box.
4. Enhance Other Marketing Initiatives with User-Generated Photos
In addition to displaying user-generated visual content on product pages, think of ways you can include this powerful content in other marketing initiatives, too. For example, include user submitted photos on other areas of your website, including your homepage, category pages, and campaign-specific landing pages. And consider ways to integrate these images into other digital marketing initiatives, such as email, display and social campaigns. Finally, don’t forget about traditional marketing campaigns, too. For example, Apple does a great job integrating photos taken by their customers on their iPhones into their billboard advertising.
5. Keep Your Visual Content Authentic
Professional photos of your products are important. But more and more shoppers are specifically seeking out photos and videos submitted by other consumers. This user-generated content adds a level of authenticity and builds trust between consumers and the companies they do business with. Our research found that 65% of consumers are more likely to trust products that have user-submitted photos or videos as part of reviews.
Preserve the authenticity of user submitted visual content by avoiding editing or otherwise altering this content. However, it’s also important to make sure you have measures in place to make sure no inappropriate or fraudulent content makes its way on your site, which can break down the trust you’ve worked hard to earn with your shoppers.
Want to learn more about the role of visual content in a consumer’s path to purchase? Download this PowerReviews study on the power of visual content.
3 Ways to Leverage UGC to Reduce Return Rates and Improve Your Bottom Line
The three largest package delivery companies serving the IR 500 have recently announced new shipping rates. And it’s bad news for ecommerce companies. While UPS and FedEx are increasing shipping rates by 4.9% at the beginning of 2017, the US Postal Service has already increased its rates an average of 9.5% for several of the shipping services commonly used by ecommerce companies.
It’s no secret that shipping costs are a large — and growing — expense for ecommerce brands and retailers. At the same time, many consumers have come to expect free shipping and returns. PowerReviews research found that 38% of shoppers start the purchase journey on Amazon, and of those, 64% say that free shipping is a top reason they choose to do so.
Now is the time for brands and retailers to think about what they can do to keep shipping costs in check. Negotiating favorable shipping contracts and finding more efficient ways to ship — such as smaller, lightweight packaging — is one piece of the puzzle. But another important way to keep shipping costs at bay is to reduce return rates.
Easier said than done? Not necessarily. The key is to do what you can to make sure shoppers know exactly what to expect from the products they order. That way there are no surprises when the item arrives on their doorstep. After all, a study from Shorr Packaging found that the top reason shoppers return merchandise is because the product wasn’t what they expected. Luckily for brands and retailers, User Generated Content (UGC) — such as ratings and reviews, questions and answers, photos, and videos — is an effective way to help shoppers make smarter shopping decisions.
Read on for three ways your brand can start leveraging UGC to reduce return rates — and improve your bottom line.
1. Feature Ratings and Reviews
A consumer who shops in-store has the benefit of experiencing a product firsthand before making a purchase. She can feel the fabric of a sweater to access its quality, sample a facial moisturizer to determine how easily it absorbs, or try on a pair of shoes to see whether they run true to size.
With more and more consumers craving the convenience of online shopping, brands need to bring this comprehensive product information online, too. Then shoppers can make the right purchase decisions, and are less likely to return the products they purchase.
Ratings and reviews are one of the best ways to provide this important information to your shoppers. For example, let’s say there’s a consumer shopping for a pair of jeans. She’s 5’8” and debating whether to purchase regular or tall length jeans. She reads several reviews, and notices that many consumers mention that the pants run short, so she orders the tall length. The pants arrive on her doorstep a week later and fit perfectly, and you avoid the costs of an unnecessary return.
2. Allow Shoppers to Submit Photos and Videos
Visual content is quickly becoming an expected part of the purchase journey. And though professional photos and videos are important, a growing number of shoppers specifically look for visual content from other consumers. In fact, a recent PowerReviews study found that 88% of consumers seek out user generated photos and images when browsing for products.
Allow your shoppers to submit photos and videos as part of their reviews, so future shoppers can use this as yet another tool to help them make the best purchase decisions. For example, a shopper can browse through user submitted photos to see what a dress looks like on someone with a body type similar to hers.
3. Allow Your Customers to Ask Questions
Regardless of how thorough your product descriptions are, shoppers will likely still have questions. This is especially true if they’re shopping for products that require a higher level of consideration, due to factors such as cost and lack of familiarity.
Implement a Q&A solution on your website to provide your shoppers with a way to get their questions answered and identify the products that will best fit their needs. Well informed purchases mean less returns — and therefore fewer shipping expenses.
Want to learn more about how to reduce return rates with ratings and reviews, Q&A, and visual content? Contact us to schedule a free demo!
When customers come to your site, you want them to have all the information available about a product and remove any roadblocks to purchase. We know that both reviews and Q&A give customers valuable content, and allow them to get answers to their questions. PowerReviews builds on your customers’ need for easy access to answers — and minimizes the number of customers who might ask duplicate questions — by adding search functionality to our Q&A solution.
Search Makes it Easy to Find Answers
Now when customers land on your product pages, they can consume your Q&A content, and quickly find the information they’re looking for. Customers can search to see if anyone else had the same question before asking a new one, which amplifies the positive impact of having the living and breathing FAQ section on your site.
Over time popular products may have dozens of questions displayed, which can get a bit unwieldy for customers to read through. When a customer types into the search box, their search words will be highlighted in both the question content and the answer content, putting the information front and center. If a customer is getting close to being ready to buy and comes to your site to ask a question but instead finds the answer they’re looking for, this can help close the gap to conversion.
Take the Legwork Off Your Teams
PowerReviews wants to help you win internally, and we know how valuable your time is. Adding search capability to our Q&A solution reduces the number of duplicate questions your Subject Matter Experts — your team members who are answering questions for customers — might need to answer. If customers are able to find what they’re looking for with a quick search, they won’t need to ask for additional information, meaning your internal teams can focus on other things.
Improving on an Already Valuable Solution
Search is a new feature added to an already robust product that significantly improves conversion rate. In fact, for Room & Board, the conversion rate from consumers who either read reviews or Q&A was 95% higher than the site average in 2015.
Remember, it’s always an option to leverage customers who have previously purchased the product to answer questions for potential buyers with our ‘Ask a Product Owner’ feature. And it works: nearly 20% of customers who receive an email asking them to help another shopper respond with an answer, and our customers have seen up to a 50% conversion rate when a consumer receives an email answering their question.
With the Q&A update, we’ve also given badges a facelift and rearranged the way the questions and answers display, making the customer experience more engaging. Plus, the new display is ADA/WCAG compliant.
Search functionality for Q&A is available now. If you’re a brand or retailer that’s interested in increasing conversion rates, boosting sales, and making it easy for your customers to find answers to purchase blocking questions, contact us so that we can help you reach your goals.
Two Takeaways from our Apparel Webinar
Today, according to Forrester Research, only 15% of apparel is purchased online. But as more and more consumers crave the convenience of browsing and shopping for just about everything online, the number of people shopping for apparel online is expected to grow. Amazon’s expansion into the online retail space will likely accelerate this growth.
According to a Morgan Stanley report, Amazon currently has a 7% market share of the apparel industry, but by 2020 that number is predicted to climb to 19%. During our recent monthly webinar, I shared five recommendations for apparel brands and retailers looking to leverage reviews in order to provide a differentiated experience to today’s information-hungry shoppers and avoid losing market share to Amazon. Read on for two of those recommendations.
Allow Consumers to Submit Photos & Video
According to a survey from Body Labs, 23% of all clothing gets returned, and 64% of consumers say “incorrect fit” is the major reason for the return. In addition to collecting text reviews, encourage your shoppers to submit photos and videos of the products they’ve recently purchased.
Seeing images and videos of a product on a real person will allow future shoppers to understand how an apparel item fits on different body types, so they know what to expect when the item arrives. In addition, user-submitted photos and videos can also spark ideas for different ways to accessorize a piece of clothing, leading to more multi-item transactions.
If you don’t provide shoppers access to user-submitted photos and videos, they’re less likely to convert. A recent PowerReviews study found that 40% of Centennials (age 13-18) won’t purchase a product if there are no photos of people using the product. And if they do convert, there’s a good chance they’ll return the item once it arrives on their doorstep.
Generate Content Quickly
Apparel merchandise often moves on and off the shelves quickly, due to seasons changing or styles going in and out of fashion. For example, in most parts of the country, heavy winter jackets are only sold a few months of the year.
Since reviews play a powerful role in driving traffic and conversion, it’s key for apparel brands and retailers to generate quality reviews as quickly as possible. PowerReviews data has found that around 60% of reviews are written as a result of a post purchase email, which asks customers to review items they’ve recently purchased.
So be sure to send a mobile-friendly post purchase email to all consumers who make a purchase. In addition, while longer reviews provide valuable insights for shoppers and businesses alike, there’s great value in shorter reviews too, especially for products with a short shelf live.
Simply asking a shopper “Why Did You Buy?” immediately after purchase will provide you with additional content to drive traffic, sales, and insights.
Missed Our Apparel Webinar?
Did you miss our recent webinar on the importance of reviews for apparel brands and retailers? Hear all the tips I shared by watching the on-demand session.
When we speak with our clients to assess goals, we hear the same thing over and over: more content. PowerReviews provides the engine to do so, but it’s important for you to provide some fuel — and with the benefit of our decade of experience in the user-generated content space, you can maximize content to drive more sales.
Send a Follow Up Email to Every. Single. Purchaser. (Including In-Store Purchasers!)
Your first and most important step in generating content is to send that follow up email. Getting the most out of the email requires the implementation of a few key best practices.
- Personalize it. Use the customer’s name and thank them for their purchase.
- Keep it simple. Remember that the purpose of this email is to solicit a review.
- Keep it short. The subject line should be less than 55 characters.
- Don’t distract from the write a review action. Try not to include any other calls-to-action or marketing language.
- Include an image and link to the product. Let the customer see their purchase.
In-Store Purchasers Matter — Don’t Forget About Them
If you have a brick and mortar store, soliciting reviews from in-store purchasers can make a significant difference in the volume of review content you’re able to collect. In May of this year, The Sports Authority began soliciting reviews from their in-store purchasers by leveraging their already existing transactional loyalty program to link customer email addresses with in-store purchases. This push combined with the implementation of a simple, mobile optimized email template resulted in a 178% increase in month-over-month content.
Mobile Optimization is Key
Based on PowerReviews’ client data, more than 50% customers are opening their emails on mobile devices — which means that follow up email that you’re sending is likely to be opened on your customer’s phone. PowerReviews’ follow up email solution is completely mobile-optimized and allows for a simple and elegant user experience. With our mobile template, customers saw up to a 20% increase in mobile conversion rates.
Having a mobile-responsive email isn’t enough — you also need a mobile-optimized write a review experience. Customers want to easily be guided from one step to the next, with consideration of details like clicking with your finger rather than a mouse. Our responsive write a review form, available to all clients, saw a 40-85% increase in mobile completion rates during its pilot phase.
Choose the Right ‘Write a Review’ Template
The write a review form itself should be intuitive with prominent star buttons and customized questions for the product that’s being reviewed. If it’s a couch that your customer is reviewing — don’t ask if the fit was too big, too small or true to size. If it’s a pair of pants, don’t ask if they’re good for decorating. Customers count on you knowing your product, so give them options that matter to them and that will matter to other customers. PowerReviews’ Tag Based approach makes this easy, with forms specific to 3,000 product categories.
Use Best Practices from Start to Finish
Generating content isn’t an exact science, but it can be managed with careful consideration of best practices and the flow from the initial purchase to writing a review.
- Sending a follow up email is essential, and will always be the first — and most important — way to solicit a review. Don’t forget offline shoppers when sending that email, in-store purchasers can be valuable content creators.
- Make it mobile-friendly. Since you have a 50% chance that your customer will open your email on their phones, you need to play the odds.
- Customize the write a review experience. PowerReviews offers more than 3,000 templates for a reason — so that you can ask the right questions. Customized templates take the guess work out of sharing an honest opinion of a purchase.
The value of reviews is no longer debatable: 96% of customers consult product reviews and more than 86% of consumers say reviews are an essential resource when making a purchasing decision. So, you have reviews, great. But there’s one important addition to reviews that perhaps has an even larger impact on engagement: images.
Visual Connection is Key
Images allow your customers to visually connect with the product. It’s hard to find a better way to know how a product will look than by seeing a picture of someone who owns the product wearing or using it. It helps customers visualize how the item will fit into their own life. It’s the same logic behind including images of meals on restaurant menu items, people connect to the visual representation. According to our partners at Olapic, 32% of customers would be more likely to buy clothing online if the site featured photos of real customers wearing the product.
Images Influence Purchase Decisions
Customer images in reviews can move the needle when it comes to conversion — Crowdtap found that 53% of millennials say user generated content influences their product purchases. People are more likely to order a meal in a restaurant when there is a photo beside it. The same logic applies to buying products online. People are more likely to purchase the product if there is a customer image associated with it. Sure, product images from the brand or retailer do some of the leg work for you here, but customers trust other customers. They identify with other customers more so than with an anonymous model or a shoe stand propping up the shoes in the image. They want to see the product in the wild. A picture is worth a thousand words, and even more dollars.
Make it Mobile and Make it Easy
The trend in image-driven media isn’t going anywhere — 60 million photos are shared on Instagram every day — and it’s important for brands and retailers to stay ahead and kick start their image acquisition strategies.
With most consumers posting photos from their smartphone and increasingly reading and writing reviews on mobile (up 237% from Holiday 2013 to 2014!), PowerReviews recently introduced product updates focused on mobile and ease of use. This release empowers consumers to upload unlimited photos with their reviews, both on desktop and on mobile, making it easy for them to share photos as part of a review.
How Do You Encourage Visual Content?
With the value of images rapidly increasing, you need to consider how you can increase images and videos as part of your ratings and reviews:
- People need motivation. According to a survey of consumers, more than 55% of shoppers need motivation to write a review.
- Recognition is a motivator. Everyone likes when their pictures are liked and shared on social media. That “like” or positive comment is an emotional motivator.
- PowerReviews’ Social Loyalty helps generate more content — including images — by providing points and showing ranks on the leaderboard. Users who earn enough points can earn coupons, gift cards, samples, and other rewards. By awarding more points for images, you can help consumers earn rewards more quickly and help generate more images.