Brent Barnhart is a professional writer and content critic. When he’s not battling the latest buzzwords, you can often find him strumming the nearest guitar. Feel free to bug him on Twitter or check out his website brentwrites.com.
As ecommerce spending explodes year-over-year, it’s clear that consumers today aren’t shy about buying from new brands online. And for those same consumers, the path to purchase is paved with visual content.
Heck, just do a quick Google search and see for yourself. What will you find?
Visual content is front-and-center in today’s search results before users even have time to think about sifting through a laundry list of links. That’s because seeing is believing.
Brands need to operate under the principle of “show, don’t tell” if they want to convert modern customers. Perhaps this is why creating and curating visual content remains a top priority for businesses in 2019.
The good news? Harnessing the power of visual content doesn’t require you to be a creative genius. In this guide, we’ll break down the fine details of visual content in the path to purchase. You’ll see firsthand the specific visual strategies top brands are using to convert customers and how to roll them out yourself.
With that, let’s dive right in.
What is the Path to Purchase?
The path to purchase represents the various channels that business rely on to transform leads and prospects into customers. From search engines and social media to email and paid ads, there is no “right” channel for converting customers.
Likewise, there is no single path to purchase in the customer journey. Visual content plays a vital role in the path to purchase for a couple of key reasons. For starters, visual content is easy to digest at a glance.
A video or image can show off a product in action in a fraction of the time that a blog post or lengthy email. This spells good news for appealing to today’s customers and their microscopic attention spans.
Consider also that people typically retain and recall visuals much better than the written word. Consumers today are hit with more marketing messages on a day-to-day basis than we can count. The more often someone sees your brand’s imagery including product photos and logos, the more likely you are to stand out over time.
Think about the marketing rule of seven that states people need to see what you’re offering at least seven times before they’re ready to buy. Paving your path to purchase with visual content means creating meaningful, memorable touch points that’ll result in sales.
And if nothing else, Brandwagon Digital Media wants you to bear in mind businesses boasting unique visuals see conversion rates seven times higher than those that don’t.
What Does a Visual Path to Purchase Look Like in Action?
We’re glad you asked!
Let’s look at a real-world example of how visual content can impact the path to purchase. For example, say you’re taking a Disney vacation with your family and you’ve been tasked with one of life’s greatest challenges: picking a spot for dinner.
More than likely, you’ll start with a simple Google query–and in this case, you’d likely search “places to eat at Disney Springs.” While you’re obviously spoiled for choice, the Google ratings and restaurant snapshots help you narrow down your decision.
As part of your journey through Google results, you find some listicles like this one that shows off pictures of the author’s favorite fare.
Or ever better, you come across a video or two that breaks down the best restaurants in the area.
Based on your research, you pick out a spot with some confidence. Scrolling through customer photos, you see your potential menu firsthand and get a better idea of the restaurant’s vibe. Customer reviews then clue you on what you should expect and which menu items to check out (or avoid).
And if you’re socially savvy, you might even take to social media to which local spots have customers buzzing in real time.
See how that works?
We often hear the notion that effective selling online is all about creating a good customer experience. Through visual content, and especially through user-generated content, businesses create authentic experiences that eventually convert customers. This is just a snapshot of all the various avenues to make those experiences happen.
This is why we created Journey IQ, a completely scalable tool to provide you insights into what happens online and in store. This tools helps incentivize buyers who already love you to go on special missions to help you improve sales and understand the complete shopping experience.
And on a related note, remember that the path to purchase isn’t a straight line. Any combination of these channels are fair game both before and after purchasing (specifically sharing hashtags or leaving reviews).
How to Pave Your Own Path to Purchase via Visual Content
No two paths of purchase are the same for two different businesses. And hey, that’s a good thing.
This gives your business a much-needed sense of freedom when it comes to the types of visual content necessary to make those meaningful touch points. Below are some tips for brands looking to to put their visual content on display regardless of your industry or budget:
Make Sure Your Product Pages Pack a Punch
Product pages are a prime place to step up your visual game. Chances are you couple each of your product listings with some form of imagery, right?
But why stop there?
Vornado includes some still photos as well as action shots of their products to help shoppers visualize them in-person. Additionally, Vornado integrates ratings and reviews to build trust with shoppers.
The star-ratings themselves work to catch the eye of potential buyers, encouraging them to spend longer on the page and eventually make a purchase. Given that Northwestern University data shows 95% of shoppers read online reviews before buying, providing a place for buyers to sound-off is a no-brainer.
Star ratings and customer photos provide shoppers an authentic look at a product while also making the page more aesthetically pleasing. In fact, the PowerReviews Growing Power of Reviews report found 63% of shoppers look for user-generated content and visuals from real customers before making a purchase.
So why not put your biggest fans’ visual content front and center on your product pages? Well, you can do just that with the PowerReviews Visual and Social Suite.
We provide more avenues to collect and display user-generated content directly from your customers and their social channels. Whether your customers share an image from their phone or social media channel like Instagram, we provide the integration tools to make this easy on brands and retailers, but a quick and painless experience for your shoppers.
But what if your customers aren’t uploading visual content for your products? It’s not easy asking for content, but there’s definitely a great place to start looking.
Curate High-Converting Imagery from Social Media
To say that social media is a staple of the path to purchase would be a massive understatement.
The beauty of user-generated content is that it’s, well, user-generated. Rather than worry about coming up with new imagery, you simply let your customers do the legwork for you.
Of course, that involves encouraging those customers to start creatin’.
The first step to making that happen is by asking. For example, brands like Ulta encourage fans to use the hashtag #UltaBeauty for a chance to be featured on their feed.
This results in a slew of new content for that’s a far cry from a typical product photo. Hashtags and opportunities to create user-generated content are smart ways to encourage more engagement from your customers.
User-generated content is likewise great marketing firepower for your website or email list. For example, Ulta features its user-generated photos on-site in the form of a lookbook. Many brands likewise feature similar photos in their email campaigns to encourage more social shoppers.
And to bring the power of user-generated content full-circle with our first tip, customer photos are fantastic for product pages. Brands like Black Milk Clothing promote item-specific hashtags to share for individual products. This is yet another opportunity to build trust and convert buyers through visual content.
Reel Customers in via Video Marketing
We can’t talk about visual content without talking about video.
And speaking o Facebook, video is often cited as the most popular type of content across the major social media platforms.
The specifics of why video works so well to reel in customers is no surprise.
Easy to digest? Check.
More entertaining than a traditional blog post or listicle? Most of the time, yes.
But most importantly, videos quite literally show off your products in action. There’s a reason why unboxings and video reviews are so popular: they’re unfiltered, and well, real.
From raising awareness to serving as an ad itself, video is a powerful medium on the path to purchase. For example, BeardBrand regularly publishes tutorials and how-to’s which subtly highlight their own products.
GoPro might be the best example of a brand killing it with video, mostly due to the fact that they’re, you know, a camera company that has heavily invested in action sports. Their eye-popping clips and user-generated content quite literally show what their products can do.
Some brands might shy away from video because they think they lack the budget or production value. That said, not everything you produce needs to be a mind-blowing production.
Brands like Blue Apron put together simple, 15-second clips to feature through their website and social media to give a glimpse of what they have to offer.
And with that, we wrap up our guide!
Learn From What Your Customers Are Already Telling You
It might not surprise you, but there’s a lot to learn from your previous customers. And to take it one step further, there’s even more to learn from the review content they provide on your products.
Try to find the commonalities with your products and how consumers truly feel about them. What this means is brands have to pay attention to small details that might be causing some concern on a product.
For example, if a few customers are having problems with the zipper on your new coat–it might be time to take these product insights to the manufacturer. The only problem is you might have hundreds of products and even more reviews.
That’s why we created Product Pulse in our Intelligence Suite–so brands and retailers can find, analyze and uncover real product insights within review content. The hours it would take your team to review every single rating would take far too much time–and good luck finding someone to dig through the mess to find insights.
Instead, we do the heavy lifting and analyze sentiment through common adjectives and review analysis from more than 40 million consumer reviews already put through our Intelligence Engine. Your consumers are talking about your products and providing feedback, it’s just a matter if you’re listening to everything they’re saying.
Is Visual Content Part of Your Path to Purchase?
The final takeaway here is that visual content in any shape or form is integral to the path to purchase. Not just because it helps catch the eye of customers but because it builds the trust that results in conversions.
By supplementing your path to purchase with visual experiences for customers, you win more sales.
We want to hear from you, though. Which types of visual content do you find most compelling? Let us know on Twitter!
If you’re looking for a trusted partner to take your visual content to the next level, request a demo of PowerReviews today to see how we can integrate user-generated content onto your product pages.
Let’s get serious–we know the average sales increases by as much as 2 times when the product goes from zero reviews to at least one review. The thing is most businesses know the value of getting more reviews, but they simply struggle on how to ask for reviews.
Retailers have to adopt the mentality of the more, the merrier because positive reviews are not just an ego boost–they represent serious positioning power. According to multiple online shopping statistics and studies, well over 90% of consumers look at online reviews before making a purchase.
Translation? The more reviews you have to show off your satisfied customers, the easier it is to convince prospects your products are the real deal. If nothing else, customer feedback clues you in on what your current and future customers want to see you offer.
Here’s the problem, though–reviews don’t happen by accident.
If you want customers to leave meaningful feedback, you have to learn how to ask for reviews. That’s why we put together this guide on how to ask for reviews without chasing them down one by one.
The Art of Asking for Customer Reviews
Food for thought: 70% of people are willing to write a review if prompted to do so. In other words, you shouldn’t be shy about asking for reviews. But the question isn’t whether or not you should ask for reviews, but rather how to ask for ‘em.
Your parents probably taught you to say “please” and “thank you,” right? Well, figuring out how to ask for reviews is a bit more complicated than that.
For example, how do you avoid coming off as clingy or desperate? Is there an ideal time to pitch your customers for reviews? What the heck do you even say? All great questions!
Before we dive into specific strategies, let’s talk about the art of asking. The following tips are around language, framing and timing so you understand what makes a review pitch pack a punch. These tips are fair game for emails, review-specific promotions and even scripts for your customer service team!
Give Your Customers a ‘Why’
Writing reviews might seem like a simple, straightforward task for your satisfied customers. The reality is reviews represent an exchange. After all, you’re asking them to do something before their initial transaction.
Chances are your customers are crazy busy. Ask yourself: what would compel you to take time from your schedule to write a review? Offering an awesome product or service is a start, but you should strive to give your customers an answer to “Why bother?”
“We want to make sure that we’re delivering top-tier products and to understand if there’s anything we can do to improve in the future!”
These sorts of statements provide subtle yet significant context to your review questions and make them seem less obtrusive.
Frame Your Reviews as Quick & Painless
Reviews shouldn’t be seen as something to tack on your customers’ to-do list. Ideally, they should be empowered to leave feedback quickly and without having to jump through too many hoops.
And no, a “good” review doesn’t have to be novel-length (but more on that later). Something as simple as the following phrase can win over a customer who’s on the fence about writing a review:
“Your feedback is invaluable to us and only takes a few seconds!”
In fact, this is the exact sort of approach that Nokia takes for their post-purchase review request emails. See how that works?
Mind Your Words
Figuring out how to ask for reviews might seem simple on the surface. However, writing your first review request pitch can certainly be daunting.
The good news? Asking for a review doesn’t have to be rocket science. As you brainstorm your pitch, just keep the following three principles in mind:
Start with a question. Review requests centered around questions like what did you think of tend get more responses. Questions manage to engage your customers from the word “go” and naturally prompt a response.
Make your pitch about them, not just you. Again, make sure to drive home the point that you’re eager to hear from your customers because you want to provide the best service possible. You’re doing this to help your customers too.
Be straightforward. There’s no point in being vague or coy when asking for a review. Customers are more than happy to write them, but probably see their fair share of requests too. You don’t need more than a couple of sentences to get the job done.
Time Your Reviews Requests to Perfection
This is a crucial piece of how to ask for reviews that’s easy to overlook. Ever been to a restaurant where a waiter or manager asks you how your food was before you’ve even had a chance to take a bite?
Likewise, you can’t be too eager when it comes to asking for reviews. You don’t want to ask someone how they’re enjoying your product before they’ve had a chance to do so.
And on the flip side, shoppers order a lot of products online. In fact, an NPR report found 28% of U.S. shoppers order at least one product off Amazon a week!
You shouldn’t wait too long and risk losing the interest and initial buzz behind their purchase. For most products and industries, a week or two is fair game in terms of how long to wait before asking for a review.
For reference, MailChimp’s default trigger settings for a post-purchase message series (hint: where a review request would be) are an hour, 10 days and 20 days after a purchase is made. The latter two times would work for most businesses out there.
If you’re still having trouble asking for reviews and actually getting them, we’ve got you. PowerReviews’ Progressive Collection feature allows you to put the products that need reviews at the top of post-purchase emails.
This is perfect for retailers who often see multi-item orders, but don’t see the reviews for all items. If a shopper bought a toothbrush, hairbrush and hair-dying kit, you’d probably want the customer to write that review for the dye above all.
Our collection features lets your customers see review requests forms showing the most expensive item or lowest review count item first in the review submission. Request a demo to learn how else PowerReviews helps increase review rates!
5 Strategies for Encouraging More Customer Reviews
Now that we’ve broken down the art of asking, let’s talk about how to ask customers to reviews. Like, what are the best ways to actually, you know, ask?
Below are 5 tips on how to encourage customers to write reviews and specific tactics that should be part of your various marketing campaigns:
1. Put Together Your Post-Purchase Autoresponders
Email is perhaps the most popular avenue for asking for reviews. It’s no secret as to why, either.
For starters, you’re able to put review quests can be put on autopilot. Just about any major email marketing software includes a post-purchase series which means all you need to do is put together a pitch email to slot in.
The beauty of automated review emails is that you can perfect and optimize your pitch prior to sending it. No awkward conservations: just a sleek, straightforward message to encourage reviews.
By setting up your post-purchase email requests automatically, you ensure that you hit up all of your customers for reviews. This results in a higher overall volume of reviews and no second-guessing who you’ve already asked.
Of course, email autoresponders sometimes feel robotic or pushy if they aren’t crafted with care. That’s exactly why we believe your messages need to have a personal touch and be sent at an appropriate time so they don’t land in the trash (or worse, the spam folder).
However, the key is making an autoresponder that doesn’t annoy someone. This is where the art of asking comes into play as you ask in a reasonable frame of time and don’t want to come off as aggressive or pushy. Flooding someone’s inbox is a bad look and isn’t going to get you much love.
This is a great example of an effective post-purchase email from Massdrop. Short, sweet and to the point, this messages presents itself as a positive request that isn’t going to eat up the customer’s schedule.
2. Sweeten the Deal With Review Incentives
Either as a variation on your autoresponders or as part of a specific promotion, consider providing your customers with incentives as part of your review requests. Remember what we said earlier about giving customers a “Why bother?”
A freebie such as a percentage-off discount or entry into a contest can do the trick. The point here isn’t to break the bank or to come off as fake with your review content. Instead, the right incentive simply helps encourage shoppers to leave a review and possibly even another purchase.
If a discount isn’t doing the trick, consider the power of a product sampling campaign. PowerReviews’ Influencer and Social Suite connects brands to our massive community of everyday influencers who are ready to leave reviews for your products, shout them out on social media and potentially turn them into repeat buyers.
Product sampling is one of the best ways to ask for reviews–especially when you have a new product or low-rated item in need of some reviews.
3. Prompt Your Customers With Review Templates
The more straightforward your review process, the better. That’s exactly why we integrate specific questions and prompts into our review platform.
Think about what it’s like to stare a totally blank page when trying to write, well, anything. Having some form of guidance is enough to get you going.
For example, PowerReviews’ Review Snapshot feature breaks down specific ratings and relevant keywords in addition to providing an open-ended section where reviewers can speak their mind. This gives you the best of both worlds in terms of feedback.
The best part is each brand has the option to select which questions or product details it includes on the Review Snapshot. This means your customers have a tailored experience and the freedom to say what they need to say, all the while you have actionable data points that clue you in on the most important details of your products. In short, a win-win.
4. Monitor Your Social Mentions & Share Customer Content
More customers are taking to social media to shout-out their latest purchases. As a result, it pays to mind your social mentions to see when your buyers are showing you some love.
These represent perfect opportunities to ask for on-site reviews. If someone’s willing to hype you up on social media, they’ll more than likely put in a good word, no questions asked.
We like your style 😉 Can we feature this pic on our social channels, email, in-store displays, or https://t.co/c1lRu6YHuJ? Reply “yes" to us if that sounds good. Thanks!
To encourage more of these types of shout-outs, make a point to share customer photos and user-generated content on a regular basis. If followers and customers know that you frequently promote your fans, they’ll naturally want to get on board.
Hint: PowerReviews makes it a cinch for you to discover and obtain the rights to your user-generated content. In addition to helping you monitor your mentions, our platform taps into customer photos that are perfect to couple with your on-site reviews. Want to see all of our Social Collection capabilities? Request a demo today!
5. Be Transparent By Responding to Reviews & Questions
If you expect your customers to provide feedback and answer questions regarding your products, you should be willing to do the same. Responding to questions and reviews signals that you’re actively listening to your customers and are truly committed to stellar service.
Encouraging customer interactions isn’t just a one-way street. Making your transparent and open, responding to both positive and negative feedback, is a good look for your brand.
Anyone who’s willing to ask a question is likely the same type of person to write a review once they’ve made a purchase.
PowerReviews’ Questions and Answers platform enables prospects to ask questions which you can reply to for the sake of winning more would-be customers.
How Do You Ask Customers for Reviews?
Listen: there is no secret to scoring more reviews.
If you want ‘em, you’re going to have to ask for ‘em.
The tips and tactics in this guide can put you on a path toward consistent positive feedback for your business.
And with the help of platforms like PowerReviews, you know that you’re maximizing the engagement and level of detail from your customer feedback.
When’s the last time you stepped into your customers’ shoes?
Because sure, you probably might know what your ideal customer looks like. But what about the customer journey that results in your repeat, loyal shoppers?
Listen: consumers today are bombarded with marketing messages like never before. This recent retail study from Marketing Charts is just another reminder of how many ways customers discover brands, most of which stem from word-of-mouth.
The takeaway here? There is no “single” or “correct” path to purchase to win more sales. And while businesses obviously have multiple ways to move people from prospect to customer, it’s easy to overlook the importance of customer journey mapping.
In this guide, we detail how to create a customer journey that makes sense, resulting in more conversions and fewer leads falling out of your funnel.
Why the Customer Journey Matters So Much
At a glance, customer journey mapping much might just seem like another item on your seemingly endless to-do list of marketing tasks. However, consider that understanding the customer journey (and touch points along the way) are among some of the top challenges of modern marketers.
According to a recent survey by SmartInsights, 44% of businesses struggle with getting a holistic view of their customer interactions. The same study noted that 40% of marketers have difficulty creating a consistent experience through the customer lifecycle.
Putting your customer journey under the microscope can make these challenges much less daunting. If nothing else, doing so can help you identify weak points in your funnel and give your conversion rates a much-needed boost.
What Does the Customer Journey Look Like?
Here’s a snapshot of how new and current customers might experience the customer journey:
New Customer A
New Customer B
Hears about your brand from a friend or relative
Googles and clicks around your site
Reviews your site, but doesn’t make a purchase
Sees a Facebook sponsored post featuring a discount for first-time customers
Clicks through the social ad and makes a first-time purchase
Clicks your Instagram bio link–leading to your store and makes a purchase using the influencer’s promo code
Return Customer A
Return Customer B
Receives a promotional email for a 24-hour sale, but doesn’t click through
Scrolls through Facebook and sees your brand mentioning the sale again
Clicks through your promotional link–leading to your store and makes a purchase
Shares their latest purchase from you on Instagram
Gets featured in your Instagram feed weeks later
See another promotion from your brand
Clicks your Instagram bio link–leading to your store and makes a purchase
And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s possible, especially if you run a brick-and-mortar store in addition to your online presence.
The unpredictable nature of the customer journey and myriad of available marketing channels isn’t necessarily a negative, though. Consider the old-school marketing “rule of seven” which states you need to make seven touch points with someone before they’re ready to buy.
Having multiple avenues to reach and convert customers is absolutely necessary. The customer journey is rarely linear. That said, you likely have a variety of paths laid out for people to discover and purchase your products, right?
You run ads campaigns and promotions. You have your marketing channels prioritized. But how do you bridge the gap between how people find you and how you want people to find you?
The short answer is customer journey mapping.
The Art of Customer Journey Mapping
Mapping the customer journey starts by breaking it up into various stages. Based on these stages, you clearly assess which parts of your funnel need fine-tuning and likewise, what’s already working.
Looking at your funnel piece-by-piece also encourages you to look at your marketing campaigns as a series of paths rather than something that’s just sort of “there.”
Below we’ve broken down a five-point funnel framework that applies to just about any business.
Part 1: Awareness
This is where you’re dealing with top-of-funnel leads. In other words, folks who are in the learning stage about who you are, what you’re selling and whether or not they need your product in the first place.
Ask yourself: how are you putting yourself out there to people in the “just browsing” phase? What does your discovery phase look like and how do they find you?
And for others, it might be a piece of content or advertising which breaks down their search “at a glance.” Sometimes it takes general statistics to get people to understand what you do.
If you haven’t figured out your customer engagement strategy, it’s high time to do so. But make sure you focus on the first step–awareness, before getting too deep.
Here’s an awesome example from Home Chef (with over a million views to boot).
Part 2: Consideration
This is a critical funnel phase that’s easy to overlook. How do you stack up against the competition when people are faced with an “either-or” choice?
This signals the importance of having a repository of customer reviews. Some studies suggest 95% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. In fact, 20% of shoppers say they’ll leave for another brand or retailer site if there aren’t reviews (or enough reviews) on-site.
Whether it’s a Google search or side-by-side comparison features like what we see on Amazon, having star-rating and social proof is a major point in your favor.
This is where a tool such as PowerReviews for Ratings and Reviews is a game-changer. Aggregating your product’s positive feedback, you put your satisfied customers front-and-center to reel in more leads while they’re in the research phase.
With our Social Collection tools, along with ratings and reviews, you make the consideration process a visual experience. Providing user-generated content on product pages helps give potential consumers visual cues into what exactly they’re getting–and not from just your brand, but other trusted shoppers.
Going beyond reviews, remarketing ads that target former site visitors can serve as your “second chance” to someone who might have looked you up but failed to convert. Facebook cites a ton of success stories such as Brassy Bra who dramatically lowered their cost-per-acquisition while upping their conversion rate via remarketing.
Part 3: Purchase
Let’s say that you’ve won someone over and they’re ready to buy. That doesn’t mean that your job is done. Not by a long shot.
The purchase phase has many moving pieces that oftentimes fly under the radar for brands. Consider that the average cart abandonment rate still sits around 70% in 2019. Someone might have the intention to buy but that doesn’t mean that they’re a “sure thing.”
For starters, a high-converting purchase page loads quickly and is easy to navigate. According to Unbounce, there’s a direct correlation between laggy sites, lower conversion rates and higher bounce rates. This is why effective SEO on product pages is critical.
At the same time, it’s important to include elements on-site that’ll boost conversions. This includes star-ratings, user-generated content and, you guessed it, product reviews.
Room and Board’s product pages are a prime example of what we’re talking about. A variety of product photos and interactive content helps seal the deal with customers who might be on the fence.
Meanwhile, the wealth of reviews help customers better understand the in’s and out’s of a product. PowerReviews Review Snapshot aggregates the most important key terms for customers to help them make informed decisions.
See how that works?
Part 4: Retention
Remember: the customer journey isn’t over when someone makes a purchase. Your end-game should be to turn customers into enthusiastic brand advocates for the long-term.
The good news? Doing so might be easier than you think. Data shows 48% of shoppers say they start the path of purchase with a brand or retailer website because they’re a previous loyal customer.
If you’ve created a seamless experience so far and likewise deliver an awesome product, you’ve already done the “hard part.” Now it’s your job to make frequent, relevant touch points with former buyers.
This might include email offers and newsletters exclusive to your followers. See how Revolve entices their shoppers with bold and flashy sales messages?
You could also go the route of social promotions and remarketing ads. Here you can specifically target past customers (like this example from Smallwoods).
Oh, and don’t forget loyalty programs that encourage customers to return to your storefront time and time again. Creating a sense of community and rewarding your customers for always coming to you is a great way to build better B2C relationships.
For example, Sephora’s Beauty Insider program incentivizes repeat business with free gifts and other perks for sign-ups. What better way to make sure you’re retaining as many customers as possible!
The end-game of your customer journey should be to create brand advocates that help guide others through your path to purchase. That means encouraging people to share their latest purchases and positive customer feedback on a consistent basis.
For example, brands like Skechers show love to their followers with giveaways and opportunities to be featured in their Instagram feed.
Those featured customers also have a chance to be featured on-site in their lookbook. This makes sharing content a breeze with simple advocacy tactics.
And of course, happy customers should be empowered to highlight their positive experience with your brand. PowerReviews helps brands and retailers get more product reviews and through it’s leading review collection capabilities. This helps businesses showcase more product details and consumer feedback to others on their own customer journey.
The customer journey then comes full circle as one customer’s experience leads others to discover your brand themselves.
How to Make Sure Your Customer Journey Makes Sense
Now that you understand the steps of your customer journey, it’s time to figure out what’s working and what’s not. Because all of this stuff is kind of theoretical, right?
You have these marketing tactics in place, but how do you know if it actually clicks with people? What better way to figure it out than by sending actual shoppers through your funnel and to gather real customer experience feedback.
That’s the benefit of working with a mystery shopping program like the one we offer at PowerReviews. With an emphasis on customer experience, Journey IQ helps complete the customer journey by diving into the in-store experience consumers encounter when shopping from you.
There’s no replacement for feedback from flesh-and-blood shoppers, and PowerReviews does the hard work of curating that feedback for you. Through Journey IQ, we send your loyal shoppers on missions to uncover in-store insights all through their mobile devices.
You collect, aggregate and analyze the feedback–and instead of paying the typical hundreds of dollars per mystery shopper, you simply reward these customers with a discount for their work. This allows you gain more sales when they shop from you and incentivizes shoppers to give you feedback for a discount!
Pinpoint what channels you should prioritize, which products people love and weaker points in your funnel. It’s a full circle journey to understand every point for your customers. Luckily, there’s some pretty simple steps to follow to help you get more sales and higher conversion rates.
What Does Your Customer Journey Look Like?
If you want to create an engaging experience for your shoppers, you need to break down your customer journey.
Although customer journey mapping might require some legwork up front, it’s totally worth it in the long-run. With so much competition in any given retail space, doing so is key to maximizing the value of your customer base.
With the help of tools such as PowerReviews, you can make a more positive impression on would-be customers and keep the ones you have happy.
While the concept of personalization marketing isn’t new, the demand for businesses to tailor products, offerings and experiences to customers is clearer than ever. That means it’s time to get personal–with your customers, that is.
A lot of demand for personalization marketing specifically comes from needs of shoppers. In fact, the Segment 2017 State of Personalization Report has some incredibly well-documented positive outcomes of brands that focus on personalization marketing for the modern shopper:
71% of shoppers say there’s “some level of frustration” when shopping experiences aren’t personal.
49% of shoppers unintentionally buy a product after getting a personalized brand recommendation.
25% of shoppers think personalization is the No. 1 improvement needed by brands and retailers.
But why does it matter so much, though? Consider the traditional experience of shopping in the digital age: Browse. Click. Add to cart. Repeat.
On the flip side, personalization marketing empowers businesses to form stronger connections with shoppers. Brands should strive to uniquely market to as many individuals as possible rather than take a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
In this guide, we’ll break down six personalization marketing tactics to illustrate how businesses consistently create meaningful experiences for their customers:
1. Recommend Relevant Products You Know Your Customers Want
Personalization marketing is a tactic to make recommendations on products you know your customers want, whether it’s through data analysis or consumer research. That’ why recommendations are arguably the most straightforward way to personalize your shopping experience.
Here’s some food for thought: Salesforce data shows a staggering 26% of ecommerce revenue comes from product recommendations. The takeaway? Customers love to be told what to buy and are highly influenced by peers.
Much like a concierge or store clerk, recommendations provide that much-needed “push” that results in a purchase. Recommendation engines like Amazon and Google product display ads are the bread and butter of today’s ecommerce product discovery. This is true for brands, including those based on previous purchases.
Recommendations shouldn’t be reserved for post-purchase interactions, though. By organizing your product catalog and tags, you present recommendations while visitors are in “just browsing” mode. Here’s a great example from J. Crew:
Connect the Dots With Product Recommendations
The same rules apply to email too. Even without a full-blown recommendation engine, you also highlight your best sellers and popular products among your customers to create a sort of bandwagon effect.
This could be done in a post-purchase email or even private email only for exclusive customers who bought a specific product. The point is to let them know they’re exclusive and you’re recommending X because they bought Y.
Oh, and let’s not forget emerging trends in personalization marketing such as customer quizzes. Serving as an interactive way to gather invaluable customer feedback, quizzes give shoppers exactly what they want through carefully curated answers.
For example, Birchbox’s “Beauty Profile” quiz ensures every product included in their subscription package is relevant to their subscribers. This is huge for consumers who don’t have time to sort through products and find something specific to them.
Now, that’s your job.
Based on the results, quiz-takers are sent to a recommendations page. Then the shoppers will have their boxes customized accordingly to their answers. This not only breaks down preferred products, but it makes the customer experience that much better.
Your shoppers aren’t always as confident in their purchasing decisions as you think. So provide them with tailored recommendations on products based on customer surveys or quizzes so their search turns into something like this:
See how that works?
2. Give Your Offers a Personal Touch
According to Campaign Monitor, personalized emails result in significantly higher click-through and transactional rates. No surprise there, right?
Let’s say you have a customer repeatedly buy boots from your ecommerce store. Wouldn’t it make sense to offer them the occasional discount on, you know, boots as opposed to cashmere sweaters?
Sure, there’s a time and place for store-wide deals. However, segmenting your offers by individual trends and buyer behaviors is a smarter move toward an easier path to purchase.
Another common tactic for personalization marketing is through cart abandonment or behavior-triggered email marketing campaigns. Here’s an example from TeePublic which includes a “They Miss You” message attached to some previously viewed items.
Another low-hanging personalization marketing strategy is to present your shoppers as a community. Like we mentioned earlier, exclusivity is something shoppers often want.
This works for you because you’re not only creating an personalized experience, you’re also driving urgency to buy. In fact, the “email subscriber exclusive” message from Sierra is a good example. It creates a sense of exclusivity for buyers as if they’re “in the know.”
And of course, personalization marketing means treating people like people. Along with your brand voice, messages that celebrate your customers and show your appreciation (think: birthday, customer anniversary), are an awesome tactic to create a stronger sense of brand loyalty.
Check out how TopShop does it through an exclusive birthday offer.
3. Promote the Products People Truly Want the Most
This might seem like a no-brainer. But as you saw from the first data points in the Segment report, businesses don’t always deliver products and experiences their customers want. Think about it. Do businesses create products on a whim? “Just because?”
Perhaps the best way to vet your product ideas is by listening to what your customers are saying. This email from Pendleton highlights how brands can market their products based on demand.
Of course, this begs the question: how do you listen for what your customers want, anyway? Dig into your customer feedback to see what your customers are already telling you. From reviews content to social comments, there’s a gold mine of product insights to take your items to the next level.
Tools like PowerReviews’ Product Pulse does all the hard work of digging through your content and finding customer comments that matter the most. This includes specific keywords, product features or even adjectives associated to your products that could help you create a more personalized marketing strategy.
Above all, these insights are invaluable for figuring out what your business should promote next. Don’t do the manual work of looking through hundreds of product reviews. Instead, use Product Pulse to analyze your content and uncover insights you might have originally missed or been previously bias to.
4. Understand Your Customer Journey All the Way Through
It might be cliche to say no two customers are the same. But isn’t there a truth to that statement?
From the channels where shoppers discovered you to the ease of their checkout process, it’s paramount that all of your customers have a positive shopper experience from Point A to Point B. But with only 8% of consumers believing brands deliver “incredible” customer experiences, it’s clear that most businesses fail to leave a consistently positive impression.
Being able to see the whole picture does a lot for brands and retailers wanting to improve the customer journey. That’s why tools such as Journey IQ are a game-changer. By turning mystery shoppers into product insights specialists, you pick the brains of your customers and what they think of your shopper experience.
JourneyIQ incentivizes customers who already shop with you to fill out questionnaires, go on search missions and provide helpful feedback to the in-store or online experience. By selecting a specific audience, you have better details of what your shoppers experience in real time.
In such a competitive retail landscape, customer experience personalization is a must. This again speaks to the importance of gathering as much customer data as possible from flesh-and-blood customers.
Similarly, brands should keep an eye on their ecommerce and Google Analytics data to see where there might be drop-off points. If someone’s failing to convert from a particular channel or at a certain point in your funnel, it’s worthwhile to investigate why.
Such detective work might be just what you need to create a better experience for shoppers.
5. Curate as Much Customer Feedback as Possible
Piggybacking on some of the tips above, personalization marketing oftentimes involves picking your customers’ brains. Although analytics data and buying behavior are invaluable, so is good, ol’ fashioned feedback.
For starters, consider some straightforward strategies to figure out what your customers want on a community-wide or individual level. How do you get this information? Well, it’s actually pretty easy and we’ve already mentioned a few ways earlier!
Try to collect information through:
Social questions: This includes Q&A posts, asking customers to highlight their favorite products or what they want to see from you next.
Email surveys: Whether it’s a formal survey or an informal check in, asking for feedback in exchange for a discount is totally fair game.
Quizzes: As noted earlier, quizzes offer direct answers from your customers regarding what they want and more.
Brands shouldn’t be shy about asking for feedback, either. The majority of consumers are more than happy to provide information to businesses if it ultimately results in a better experience. It’s just a matter of asking.
6. Adapt to Your Customers’ Schedule
Timing is an aspect of personalization marketing that’s easy to overlook. Your customers aren’t “on” around the clock, day after day.
Perhaps you’re all about seasonality. Maybe you sell big-ticket items that are prime for “one-and-done” buyers with serious consideration. Regardless of your target audience, you need to reach out to them when they’re in the mood to buy.
There’s no use hitting folks with deals when they’re “cold.” Timing is a subtle yet significant aspect of giving your customers what they want. But a not-so-subtle aspect of scoring more sales is when your customers are most active.
Especially considering how crowded the ecommerce space is, data-driven timing is absolutely key to making your offers stand out. That’s why tools that perform scheduling optimization are so popular.
For example, MailChimp has it’s optimized timing feature that allows businesses to target individual members of their list based on when they’re most likely to be active. This makes targeting that much easier.
This is crucial for businesses with customers across multiple timezones. After all, who wants to get an offer in the dead of night? Spoiler alert: nobody.
On a related note–timing is key for businesses looking to roll out any sort of social ad strategy. Although remarketing ads like those on Facebook are popular as they create another valuable touchpoint with your customers, they still need to be timed to perfection.
These are the steps that businesses today need to take if they want to create meaningful experiences for their customers. Listen: personalization marketing isn’t just a buzzphrase. Customers still crave the personal touch of old-school brick-and-mortar stores even as ecommerce booms.
Are you greeting them at the proverbial door? Offering service with a smile? Pushing them to purchase when they have doubts? If not, you definitely need to be!
Thankfully, modern tools and analytics make the process of creating positive customer experiences so much easier. And by combining the tactics above and taking advantage of the features baked into PowerReviews’ platform, you can start getting personal with your buyers sooner rather than later.
See how our tools help businesses of all sizes manage customer feedback and surface important product insights. Request a demo today!
Don’t let anyone tell you that search marketing is dead if you’re an ecommerce brand.
In fact, the PowerReviews Snapshot for Ecommerce report found a staggering 50% of online purchases begin with a Google search. That’s why the ability to put your products front-and-center in search is a crucial part of paving of the path to purchase.
Think about it. Whether someone is just browsing or is dead-set on making a purchase, showing up on the search engine results page (SERPs) is invaluable for retailers looking to make a lasting impression on shoppers.
Enter the world of product listing ads.
In this quick guide, we’ll break down how to set up Google product listing ads and the best practices for making your ads stand out to shoppers.
Why Product Listing Ads Deserve Your Attention
Product listing ads pull data from your online store to populate for specific Google searches. These image-based ads operate on a pay-per-click model, but are much more eye-popping than text-based ads.
At a glance, you might look at these ads and wonder “why bother?”
Hey, fair question.
On the surface, product listing ads might not seem as “sexy” as social ads or influencer campaigns, right? However, that doesn’t change just how insanely effective image-based PPC can be.
For starters, here are some key benefits of product listing ads.
You Only Pay for The Clicks You Get
This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s worth mentioning.
Unlike ad campaigns which are difficult to measure and budget for, product listing ads are fairly straightforward. After all, you only pay for the clicks you get. This makes it easier to determine the ROI of your campaigns and what product categories are your top performers.
Likewise, don’t forget Google’s robust analytics suite, which is baked into each of your campaigns. Want to know which products are killin’ it? Every click is a valuable data point for your business if nothing else.
Stop Sweating Over Search Rankings
Let’s be honest: ranking for individual product keywords is tedious, time-consuming and sometimes seemingly impossible if you’re an up-and-coming brand.
According to recent PPC statistics, shoppers are happy to click on Google ads and consumers are more likely to convert than organic customers anyway. Product listing ads allow you to “skip the line” by appearing atop any given search query. This removes the “what-ifs” and legwork involved with trying to rank for product-related terms organically.
This benefit is a two-way street. Product listing ads quite literally position your brand right in front of searchers in text, image and shopping searches.
This allows shoppers to use search as a starting point toward choosing a specific item, brand or store. Just look at how many options arise from a simple search of “women’s shoes.”
There’s a ton of opportunity for brands and retailers to take advantage of being in this initial search to shop. However, it’s just as important to also consider how product listing ads position your products from a branding perspective.
Appearing alongside household names in search gives your brand a much-needed sense of authority. In other words, you automatically look “bigger” by association.
Appeal to Visual Customers
Data from a Social Media Examiner 2018 Industry Report found 32% of marketers think visual images is the single most important form of content on their website. And more likely than not, you can guess why.
Seeing is believing for modern customers. Being in search results with visuals gives customers less hesitation and more incentive to click and get additional information.
Everything from high-res photos to showing off products in the wild, product listing ads empower brands to use a variety of imagery to win over customers.
Also, consider how shoppers’ eyes naturally gravitate toward imagery when it comes to search. According to ConversionXL, the traditional ad placements of Google Shopping ads represent prime real estate.
How to Set Up Google Product Listing Ads
Now that we’ve highlighted the benefits, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. That is, how to set up Google product listing ads for the first time.
The good news is that the process is relatively straightforward, especially if you’re already familiar with AdWords. For starters, you’re going to need to link your AdWords and Google Merchant Center account.
The Merchant Center is where you’ll upload your product data, which will flow between your storefront and Google’s ad platform. The setup for Merchant Center simply requires you to verify your website prior to creating your first campaign.
After your accounts are linked, go ahead and pop into AdWords. Click on the “Campaign” dropdown and select “Shopping.”
You’ll then be asked to name your Shopping campaign and select a Merchant ID: this is your Merchant Center account. Then confirm the country of sale depending on where your products are sold.
Assuming this is your first rodeo, don’t worry about campaign priority quite yet. You can then choose to have your campaign to source all of your products or between specific categories based on inventory filters.
From here, you’ll choose where your ads will be served in terms of geography. You can restrict ads only be served via Google search or other third-party sites running ads. You’ll then choose between manual or automatic bidding as well as when your ads will be scheduled.
Finally (and perhaps most importantly) you’ll need to choose your product groups and categories. To double-check your account set up, you can also reference this nifty video from Google themselves.
Google Product Listing Ads Best Practices
Product listing ads have major potential for just about any ecommerce brand. This is especially true given that PowerReviews’ Mapping the Path to Purchase report found 52% of searchers are more than happy to click on them.
That said, you need to make each and every click count. You’re payin’ for ‘em, after all.
It’s crucial to understand both the best practices of product listing ads as well as promotional strategies to entice those ever-so-important clicks. Below are some tips for fine-tuning and setting up your ads to maximize their performance.
Keep Your Product Information Up-to-Date
Bear in mind that Google requires you to send them up-to-date product data including pricing information and imagery every 30 days. Doing so might seem like a pain, but it makes sense.
You don’t want to send someone to a page with a sold out product or inaccurate pricing. These sorts of errors are conversion-rate killers and Google wants to help you steer clear of them for an all-around better customer experience.
Thankfully, Google allows you to send automatic product updates through its Merchant Center to help you save some serious time. Especially if you’re dealing with a massive inventory, the upfront setup of automatic updates is worth your while.
Choose Your Product Categories Carefully
Picking categories for your product listing ads might be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be rocket science. Don’t think of categories the same way you might think of ranking for specific, product-related keywords.
In fact, Google recommends choosing broader categories and branching out from there. For example, let’s say your storefront sells shoes and your women’s black flats are among the most popular items.
After an initial search, you quickly see the product listing ads are full of competitors with affordable options. Additionally, you see product rankings on the last two items, which means they use a ratings and reviews syndication software like PowerReviews to get customer content in more places.
But for this example, let’s say you really want to hone down your category even further. Luckily, you can specify a sect of your audience, which in this scenario, you might want to target “black flats for women.”
Google gives you the option to take it a step further. Brands and retailers can appeal to shoppers looking for products at a specific price point.
This let’s you target searches for products and price point together like “black flats under $20.”
Let’s say you’re currently running a sale on a specific item. You can set up PLAs to target specific audiences searching for bargains.
In this example, we used the search term “black flats on sale.” And if you haven’t noticed yet there are some commonalities between all the search examples. However, each term does bring different results, which is why you must test your campaigns.
See how that works? The beauty of product listing ads is the ability to drill down into specific categories based on your budget and the specifics of your products.
Include Star-Ratings Alongside Your Products
Food for thought: more than a third of shoppers say average star ratings are the most effective way of understanding a product as well as trusting the seller.
Star-ratings provide shoppers with an extra layer of assurance by highlighting your best products and that other customers are satisfied with what you’re selling. With the help of PowerReviews, you can source your star-ratings directly from your storefront to popular in your product listing ads.
Choose Compelling Product Images
Note that people are looking for “real” visuals when it comes to product searches. As we mentioned earlier, some brands rely on “stock photos” of their products while others show off what they’re selling in a real-world setting.
And data from the same Snapshot of Ecommerce report found 72% of shoppers admit to regularly looking for visual content before making a purchase. So why not make sure you’re properly collecting and displaying images as well as gaining rights to user-generated content for your product pages?
PowerReviews’ easy-to-use dashboard provides businesses control over social programs and visual content collection with predefined UGC channels. This allows companies to adjust on the fly and make sure the appropriate visual content is collected successfully to make product pages drive more sales–both organically and through paid ads.
Use Discounts & Promos to Encourage Clicks
Everyone loves a good deal, right?
Whether it’s a sale announcement, percentage-off or free shipping, having a special offer tacked onto your product listing ads is a brilliant move. The oft-cited statistic that free shipping is the No. 1 incentive for shoppers to make a purchase is rather telling, isn’t it?
Check out how Google displays various types of promos to help give searchers an extra reason to click.
Google allows you to create promotions manually or create a promotional feed that automatically updates your ads based on your most recent offers. Give shoppers the extra push to learn about your product and the benefits to choosing your company.
In the end, you’ll provide more context to buyers and stand out among the competition.
And with that, we wrap up our guide!
Ready to Set Up Your First Product Ad Campaign?
If you’re looking for a cost-effective avenue to raise brand awareness and win new customers, product listing ads can make it happen.
There’s a reason why brands big and small already rely on Google’s PPC platform. Prime advertising real estate? Robust analytics? The opportunity to leapfrog your competitors in the SERPs?
Hopefully, this guide on how to set up Google product listing ads can serve as a much-needed dose of inspiration and motivation to get started yourself. With these tips and tools such as PowerReviews, you can start running click-worthy ads sooner rather than later.
Is your Instagram marketing strategy actually resulting in sales?
If the answer is “no” and you’re in the ecommerce space, it’s time to do some soul-searching.
Because to say that business is booming on Instagram would be a massive understatement.
According to Instagram themselves, 60% of users rely on the platform to research and discover products. As a result, retailers and ecommerce brands alike are treating Instagram as a sort of extension of their existing storefronts.
Instagram’s status as a hub for ecommerce sales doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, either. Just look at the ‘gram’s new ad types and features such as checkout on Instagram as proof of that.
The good news? Given how much the platform has evolved and grown, now’s a prime time to rethink your Instagram marketing strategy. For brands primarily interested in scaling their sales from social media, we’ve highlighted eleven actionable Instagram marketing tips below.
1. Stick to a Product-Focused Content Calendar
First thing’s first: what the heck should you post?
As noted in our guide to social commerce, product-related posts are among the most popular types of content on Instagram.
Although brands obviously want to avoid spamming their followers, they also shouldn’t be shy about showing off their products.
As cliche as it may sound, it’s all about presentation. You’re not going to get much traction from simply posting bland, lifeless product photos.
Instead, consider how you can highlight what you’re selling in stylish settings. For example, IKEA showcases their products in a sort of real-world shopping window.
Beyond photos, videos should most definitely be part of your Instagram marketing strategy as well. Eye-catching and entertaining, anything from mini-commercials to loop-able, Boomerang-style videos are fair game.
Even massive brands such as Swatch publish playful, engaging video content to show off their products.
The takeaway here is that product-related posts should be central to your Instagram marketing strategy. Although they shouldn’t necessarily be the only type of content you publish, brand shouldn’t be afraid of self-promotion.
2. Make Your Creativity & Voice Count
The sort of “gold rush” mentality of scoring sales on Instagram means that brands are often facing crowded competition.
To break through the noise, you need to use creativity to your advantage. Brands that are capable of carving out some sort of niche or trademark are often the ones that score significant follower counts.
And the more followers you have, the more opportunities to sell. There’s obviously no “right way to make an impression on your followers, but let’s look at a few examples.
Color is a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) way to grab someone’s attention on Instagram. The example above is a great instance of a color-specific collage from Skullcandy.
The brand cycles through different color schemes periodically, making for an aesthetically pleasing feed that keeps followers guessing.
Another popular tactic for making an impression on Instagram is humor. Whether it’s a meme or clever caption, people will generally appreciate funny content as a sort of “break” from traditional sales messages.
Brands should strive to find their trademark and voice on the ‘gram sooner rather than later. For the sake of doing just that, here’s a quick sample of Instagram marketing tools to step up your creativity:
VSCO: the gold standard for Instagram editing, including a variety of filters and style options
In-Shot: perhaps the most popular video editor for Instagram, boasting features such as music and speed control
Canva: this free editor makes it a cinch to create image macros, memes and text-based posts tailor-made for social media
3. Couple Your Posts With the Right Hashtags
Hashtags and Instagram go hand in hand. That said, their function isn’t totally understood by brands who try to spam them.
Hashtags not only enable new followers to discover your content but also encourage others to share posts related to your brand. For example, a brand-specific hashtag is a must-have for ecommerce brands.
Look at how Rifle Paper Company uses their own #riflepaperco hashtag.
Although these tags are admittedly niche, they highlight an extremely specific audience that’s willing to engage with brands. Digging through these sorts of hashtags is a smart move for brands who want to narrow down who they should target and sell to.
Beyond looking at what tags your target audience is using, you can use free Instagram marketing tools such as All Hashtag to brainstorm even further.
There’s some debate over how many hashtags is considered “ideal.” Although Instagram limits posts to 30, using that many tags can certainly feel akin to keyword stuffing which isn’t a good look for brands.
Generally speaking, you’ll notice that major brands tend to take a “less is more” mentality. Experiment with tags and make a point to take on at least one beyond your branded tag if possible.
4. Curate & Promote User-Generated Content
This is a big one.
Again, customer photos are pure gold from a marketing perspective. Filling up your content calendar with user-generated content is one of the best ways to sell your product and brand at large to Instagram’s audience.
Discovering these photos “by hand” is possible, albeit time-consuming. Digging through hashtag mentions and asking manually for permission for each and every piece of UGC isn’t exactly efficient, especially if you have followers posting customer photos on the regular.
If you want to feature UGC as part of your Instagram marketing strategy in a way that’s scalable, you’ll need a curation tool like the PowerReviews Social Collection.
Our Social Collection abilities removes the legwork of spotting UGC in the wild and enables you to share it without asking for permission from individual accounts over and over again.
5. Sell With Instagram Stories
If there’s a type of content that’s dominating Instagram right now, it’s Stories.
Stories offer brands a ton of creative freedom in terms of promoting products. Want to post an off-the-cuff selfie? A polished product photos with a specific call-to-action? Stories allow you to do both, all the while putting your brand front-and-center in your followers’ Instagram feeds.
For example, ShopDisney encourages followers to swipe up via Stories “see more” feature which takes users directly to a product page.
Meanwhile, MeUndies has a dedicated Stories feed for showing off their user-generated content.
Bear in mind that there are tons of new features and stickers consistently being rolled out for Stories. It’s smart to stay up to date with these new features so you can be fresh with your client base.
Check out how Hot Topic uses the open-ended question sticker to ask followers what they liked best from a recent fashion showcase.
On the other hand, look at how Stok uses a quiz sticker to pick their followers’ brains on what they like about their products. This not only drives engagement, but shows you’re all about community, conversation and learning about what your customers want.
Evolving your Instagram marketing strategy means keeping up with these features to come up with more compelling Stories in the future.
6. Create Instagram-Specific Landing Pages
Instagram only offers brands a single, precious bio link to funnel traffic directly from the platform to your website.
Don’t let this real estate go to waste.
For example, don’t just publish a general homepage link in your Instagram bio. Doing so limits your ability to assess the behavior or your social traffic or the ROI of your Instagram marketing strategy. Oh, and you’ll want to make sure that your destination pages are optimized for Instagram’s mostly mobile user base.
This is exactly why many brands promote Instagram-specific landing pages or, at the very least, mobile-optimized landing pages. The benefit here is two-fold: you create a seamless shopping experience for visitors and have an opportunity to measure how well your Instagram followers convert.
For example, Pura Vida’s Instagram bio link promotes a page dedicated to new arrivals. When we click through, we’re introduced to a landing page that’s scrollable with easy-to-click buttons.
Here’s another example from the Container Store, with large, clickable images and scroll-friendly interface.
If nothing else, make a point to track the clicks and conversions rated to your Instagram bio link. Notice that both brands above use Bitly links which can help you understand the behavior of your Instagram traffic in addition to Instagram’s native analytics.
7. Promote Your Most Popular Products Via Instagram Ads
Once you’ve gotten a handle on your organic Instagram marketing strategy, paid ads shouldn’t be too far behind.
Allowing you to target specific audiences and scale your promotions, Instagram’s ad platform is worth exploring for ecommerce and retail brands in particular.
We highly recommend our Instagram sizes guide to learn the proper dimensions for all formats–organic or paid.
One brand who is using Instagram Stories ads really well is Saint Chic. The company does a wonderful job showcasing the power of Stories ads and their ability to reel users in with great content.
Additionally, you can use your top-performing Instagram posts or products as the basis for an ad to ensure that it performs well. Here’s an example from Milly which uses a product carousel, consisting of photos that actually came from their Instagram feed.
Working with influencers allows brands to put a human face to their brand while also introducing themselves to totally new audiences. Check out even big brands like Skechers rely on influencer relationships to promote their products.
Brands are working with influencers of all shapes and sizes to engage with customers. To streamline and scale your ability to foster influencer relationships, consider how the PowerReviews Influencer and Sampling Suite could help.
We have a massive network of shoppers, advocates and influencers to help you launch a product sampling campaign that will not only boost product awareness across Instagram, but also generate more reviews or even visuals for your product pages.
We help uncover relevant influencers to shout-out your product without requiring extensive outreach on your part.
9. Rethink Your Posting Frequency
To maximize your potential sales from Instagram, it’s important for brands to post on a regular basis.
This means posting at least daily rather than treating Instagram as a sort of secondary platform. Additionally, staying in the good graces of the Instagram algorithm means publishing when your audience is most engaged.
While engagement rates differ based on your business’ location and industry, this data from Sprout Social can give you a general idea of the “ideal” times to publish content.
And yes, the process of posting daily might seem daunting. This is especially true if you’re regularly trying to cover ground on Instagram Stories too.
Rather than scramble for new content, it’s common practice to brands to stick to particular themes for the sake of organizing their content calendar. Here’s a sample content calendar for inspiration:
Monday: Post a meme
Tuesday: Regram a customer photo
Wednesday: Promote your latest story
Thursday: Regram a customer photo
Friday: Post about your upcoming sale
Saturday: Ask followers how they’re spending their weekend
Sunday: Post a product photo
This snapshot of ModCloth’s feed highlights what a diverse content calendar looks like in action. This also serves as an example of the creative freedom you have in terms of your Instagram marketing strategy.
10. Promote Your Instagram Anywhere & Everywhere
Rather than hide your Instagram from potential customers, you should make your presence loud and clear.
For example, let’s say you already have a sizable Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest following. Cross-posting your content and tailoring it for other networks is totally fair game. For example, here’s an Instagram post from Urban Decay.
Your brand’s website is also a place to promote your Instagram through social buttons, hashtags and customer look-books. ThinkGeek’s Instagram showcase is a great example, and again highlights the importance of curating user-generated content.
If you have an engaged email list, sending out Instagram-specific newsletters or promos can help grow your following.
And if you’re a brick-and-mortar business, don’t neglect promoting your Instagram to customers in-person. These business cards from Vistaprint showcase are a great example of that.
This might seem glaringly obvious, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
As you grow your Instagram presence, you’ll find more and more customers sounding off with questions and suggestions.
And hey, that’s a good thing.
For example, Instagram can be used as a customer support channel to answer your followers’ questions to help them decide on a particular purchase.
As a result, Instagram is yet another platform to gather feedback and understand what people want from your brand. These valuable insights can help improve your products and fine-tune your Instagram marketing strategy at large.
On the flip side, you can also use your customers’ favorite features and product details to your advantage on Instagram. One of our features was built just for this reason.
Product Pulse gives brands and retailers a look at the common words, adjectives and sentiment at the product level by analyzing your review content.
Does your new line of backpacks fit a laptop well even without a compartment for it? Does the strap tend to break after heavy use? Use these insights to improve products and take the common promoters to use for marketing material.
And with that, we wrap up our guide!
What Does Your Instagram Marketing Strategy Look Like?
Selling through Instagram is arguably easier than ever for brands.
Granted you understand the landscape of the platform.
Hopefully these Instagram marketing tips provided some insight and much-needed inspiration on what it takes to use Instagram to drive sales. Following these steps along with the help of tools like PowerReviews, you will build a strategy to acquire new customers and show love to the ones you already have.
Reality check: selling on social media isn’t taboo.
Although brands and retailers once tiptoed around sales messages directed toward their followers, today consumers embrace social commerce with open arms.
New data from Avionos shows more than half of all consumers have already made purchases directly from social media. Meanwhile, product-related posts represent the most popular type of social content in terms of shares and engagement.
Social commerce isn’t as simple as hitting your followers with offer after offer. In fact, some of the most effective ways to encourage your followers to buy is by going beyond social media itself.
Listen–brands and retailers don’t score sales via social media by accident. You need a strategy.
To better navigate the world of social media and ecommerce, we’ve put together a five step social commerce playbook for brands and retailers wanting to drive more sales to modern buyers:
1. Empower Your Customers to Be Your Best Billboards to Drive More Sales
If you want to convert more social followers, look no further than your own customers.
User-generated content in the form of customer photos represents some of your best marketing firepower. There’s a reason why brands are curating and publishing UGC like crazy right now.
After all, PwC found social media to be the No. 1 channel for inspiring purchases from consumers.
From product recommendations to customer photos that pop up in people’s social feeds, enabling your audience to advertise on your own behalf is a game changer.
And encouraging customers to boost your products is easier than you might think. For starters, social-savvy consumers absolutely love to talk up their latest purchases and will oftentimes tag the brands they support.
Maybe they want a shout-out themselves. Perhaps they just want to show you a bit of love.
Regardless, what better way to show off your products than through satisfied customers in the real world? This sort of authentic marketing and advertising is night-and-day versus a lifeless product photo.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
But again, this sort of promotion doesn’t happen by accident.
Branded hashtags are a huge piece of any social commerce strategy. Hashtags do double-duty of allowing brands to track their social mentions and reach while also giving customers a point to promote their product photos.
For example, here’s how TopShop promotes its #topshopstyle tag in their Instagram bio (and note how it was featured in the photo above).
And by publishing user-generated content, you can promote your products directly without coming off like a salesperson. It never hurts to specifically ask for styles and looks for apparel brands.
Other industries can use the same strategy by implementing a branded hashtag to get people talking and more importantly, sharing content. This is this type of brand loyalty you want.
User-generated content is a cornerstone of social commerce. That said, curating and publishing means that brands need a streamlined way to discover customer photos and get permissions for them.
Thankfully, tools features from PowerReviews like the Visual and Social Suite help brands manage, collect and display social content from their customers. Our native collection tools are hands down the best in the industry because we believe in making it easy for customers to provide authentic content.
Want to see how our tools do the legwork on behalf of brands and retailers? Schedule a demo to see how PowerReviews empowers businesses by collecting more reviews and social content to increase buyer confidence.
2. Use Social Presence to Increase Your Conversions
Customer photos are a brilliant way to encourage social commerce and more engagement on your brand accounts organically.
However, your social content is also valuable for paid campaigns as well.
How so? Check out how REVOLVE saw an insane lift in ad engagement and conversions through running paid ads on Facebook centered around their social photos.
As noted, not all elements of social commerce are restricted to social media. For example, brands like Steve Madden use their Instagram content as part of their email marketing campaigns.
Given the effort it takes to both create and acquire social content, double-dipping it across multiple channels flat out makes sense. This ultimately allows you to squeeze even more of an ROI from your social marketing.
But arguably the best place to leverage your social content is on site. Many brands feature look books, which pull from their Instagram feeds to bring their products to life.
Here’s a great example from Skechers promoting this content across their site.
This again speaks to the importance of curating social content and how doing so can result in more sales. Applying this content to your website and product pages is a surefire way to increase your customer engagement strategy and build a sense of trust among your shoppers.
3. Reach New Audiences Through Influencer Marketing
Businesses are growing their influencer budgets by a staggering 65% in 2019. That’s up from the 39% influencer budget businesses reported just in 2018.
Considering how both millennial and Gen Z customers are turned off by traditional marketing messages, this trend makes perfect sense. Brands need to achieve a certain sense of authenticity among their customers if they want to nurture them and earn their business.
Influencer marketing represents sort of a spin on user-generated content, encouraging paid relationships between brands and users with relevant audiences to those same brands.
These audiences might mirror your target customer demographics or allow you to tap into a totally new market. No matter what industry you’re in, brands are taking advantage of influencer relationships.
Although influencers are most often associated with the fashion space, just about any type of business can get in on board. Kitchen Aid frequently highlights its influencers on social media.
Of course, building these sorts of relationships takes a lot of research and vetting. That’s where PowerReviews again saves the day with its Influencer and Sampling Suite.
With access to a massive network of everyday influencers, brands and retailers are capable of engaging a slew of new audiences, while ramping up their user-generated content at the same time.
Our product sampling offerings through BzzAgent allow businesses to generate reviews, visual content and new buyers with ease. This approach to influencer marketing is much less time-consuming and simpler for businesses to scale–versus reaching out to influencers one-by-one.
4. Adopt a Hybrid Social Commerce Strategy (Hint: Include Both Paid & Organic)
Let us say tell you this–there is no single “silver bullet” for social commerce.
Brands should be willing to experiment with different channels, including both paid and organic. Likewise, businesses have to understand their own strengths of each channel to make the most of their efforts.
We’ve talked quite a bit about Instagram and know it’s a hotbed for social selling between organic promotion, shoppable posts and influencer marketing. If nothing else, it’s a fantastic platform for keeping your followers up-to-date on your products.
However, it doesn’t have to be your only social network where you sell your products. Even though Facebook has seen a notably drastic fall in organic reach for brands, its ad platform remains unparalleled.
For brands looking to retarget site visitors or run offers for past customers, tools such as dynamic advertising and remarketing ads could be your bread and butter. It’s all about experimenting with what works with you–and obviously, your customers.
But don’t stop at Instagram and Facebook.
Pinterest has become a valuable–and oftentimes overlooked–avenue for both organic social commerce. The platform’s audience has a ton of buying power and is more than willing to spend.
According to Pinterest, 83% of weekly users have made a purchase based on pins from brands they follow. That’s a lot of buying and selling on the platform you might have been ignoring.
And although Twitter may not be known for its social selling power, it is an invaluable network for providing customer service and building relationships with customers. It’s so simple to go back-and-forth on Twitter.
You also have the chance to make meaningful touch points with followers along the way.
No matter social platforms are your go-to, your priority beyond social commerce should be listening to your customers. After all, not all of your social content is going to be purely promotion.
Simply having conversations with your customers can lead you to crucial insights for social selling.
And hey, that leads us to our last point!
5. Listen Carefully to Your Social Customers
Modern customers aren’t shy when it comes to sound off on social media.
Whether it’s a product that they’re in love with or something that disappointed them, brands should listen carefully to any and all customer feedback they receive.
This is especially true when it comes to products that customers might want to purchase in the future. Just a simple acknowledgement from Hot Topic, in this example on Twitter, can mean all the difference.
We'll pass along your suggestion for next year – thanks!
Listening to the wants and needs of your customers is a no-brainer, but is especially important in an era where consumer relationships are so transparent.
Valuable feedback from customers in any shape or form is another overlooked piece of social commerce. The ability to share the positive experiences of people who’ve purchased from you helps ease the minds of folks on the fence about doing the same.
Attention Brands: Listen to Customers on Your Retailer Sites
More often than not, brands are actually paying some attention to customers on social media and throughout their own websites. But what about retailer sites selling your products?
Say your brand is PING Golf, which sells an assortment of equipment and apparel across the web. And one of your biggest retailers, PGA Tour Superstore, sells your golf clubs.
Luckily, the PGA Tour Superstore does a fantastic job of including questions and answers software, which provides answers to purchase-blocking questions by verified buyers or its own customer support team. But what if your buyers are still a little undecided?
That’s why we created Brand Engage, a platform for brands to connect to potential customers across their retailer sites on the PowerReviews Open Network. In this example, we can see the PGA Tour Superstore provides a great answer to consumer question.
But what if your brand could do this across more retailers?
Brands should address all forms of feedback and Brand Engage makes it easier.
Anything you can do to boost your brand reputation across product pages and social media is essential to effective social commerce.
Want to learn more about Brand Engage? Join our network to connect to some of the leading global retailers in the PowerReviews Open Network!
Is Your Brand on Board With Social Commerce?
Consumers today are more than happy to purchase products via social media. But as noted in this guide, you need a scalable strategy to make it happen.
Rather than settle with the occasional social sale, think about how you can take your follower count and translate them into consistent, loyal buyers. Translate your social presence into dollars and cents while building more meaningful connections with your customers along the way.
Have any recommendations to improve strategies? Hit us up on Twitter!
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before:
It costs five times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain the ones that you already have.
While businesses should constantly be pursuing new prospects, they also shouldn’t neglect their goldmine of current customers. And more likely than not, your business has customer retention strategies in place. But are you valuing this base who is already willing to buy as much as you should?
Think about it. They know you. They trust you.You’ve already done the “hard part” of scoring that initial sale, right?
So with the right customer retention strategies in place, you turn those one-off buyers into loyal, long-term advocates.
The good news? Companies today are spoiled for choice when it comes to avenues to engage and reactive their customer lists. To squeeze more out of your existing buyers, we’ve broken down a list of 12 actionable customer retention strategies to ensure you’re getting the most out of your current shoppers:
1. Put Your Customer Follow-Ups on Autopilot
Sometimes if you want something, all you need to do is, well, ask.
Perhaps the best place to encourage repeat purchases is your customers’ inboxes. This is especially true given that some people are checking their emails more than 15 times per day. Additionally, email reach isn’t restricted by any fickle algorithms unlike social media.
How often you should hit your list with offers, deals and updates is hotly debated. According to industry search by CoSchedule, between two and four times per month seems to be the “sweet spot” for most industries.
Although you don’t want to go overboard with offers and deals, don’t be shy about following up with your satisfied customers. Whether it’s a discount, new product launch announcement or your latest promotion, an offer is a great excuse to hit up your list.
Here’s an example of customer retention via email from Moo:
Nothing spammy about that, right?
The beauty of email follow-ups is that you can put them on autopilot. In particular, post-purchase emails and autoresponders are an awesome way to bring your previous customers back into the fold.
For example, you can wait a week or so after an initial purchase before following up with an incentive for your customers to leave feedback on-site. Wolverine commonly offers discount incentives for leaving helpful review content.
In terms of customer retention strategies that directly impact your bottom line, cart abandonment emails are a must. In a day and age where three-fourths of all shoppers abandon their carts without making a purchase, a quick email reminder can provide a much-needed push.
No matter how you re-engage, make sure you’re keeping your brand top of mind for your customer list. The best part is many brands do this automatically.
2. Look for Clues in Your Customer Reviews
Scoring repeat purchases means consistently coming up with products that your customers actually want.
To figure out how to grab the attention of customers in the future, look no further than your existing customer feedback. More likely than not, your customers are giving you the biggest clues about what’s great about your product and what most shoppers commonly dislike.
That’s why so many companies use ratings and reviews software. Review content gives you insights into the popular products with actual buyers. In other words, you don’t have to second-guess what people want.
PowerReviews takes it a step further to provide brands and retailers with detailed information through review content analysis. With Product Pulse, companies zero in on top-performing products, but also find the terms and commonly-used adjectives in your reviews to uncover what’s actually working or causing a ton of product returns.
Try to sprinkle these terms throughout your marketing messages as well (think: email and social media). And during your follow ups, you can better address the issues they’ve commented on before.
3. Ramp Up Your Content Promotion
The number of marketing messages your customers see on a daily basis is staggering.
Cutting through the noise means ramping up your content production and posting more often on social media. Popping up in your customers’ social feeds could be the “Oh, yeah!” moment that encourages them to make their next purchase.
And again, research shows that there’s no need to be shy about content promotion. According to Sprout Social data on the best times to post on social media, many businesses engage with customers throughout the day and week on platforms such as Instagram.
This is just another benefit of Instagram because brands have a much easier time interacting with customers in various times of the day. HelloFresh is a shining example of a brand that goes hard when it comes to content promotion.
For starters, they publish multiple eye-popping photos of their dishes daily on Instagram. The visuals beg for engagement from customers. Whether it’s a “yum” or “I gotta try this,” HelloFresh does a wonderful job at keeping customers engaged on Instagram.
The brand also uses the same photos along with positive comments from their customers to create content for their weekly newsletter. This allows them to double-dip their social content to send more emails, making yet another valuable touchpoint with their customers in the process.
4. Encourage Your Customers to Promote Their Purchases
Some of the most effective customer retention strategies can actually be carried out by none other than your customers themselves.
Encouraging your customers to share their photos and experiences helps you fill up your own content calendar and serve as social proof for new buyers.
For example, promoting a branded hashtag (#WhatMakesMeSmile) empowers your satisfied customers to show off on your behalf.
In return, you can regularly publish user-generated content that shows off your brand advocates. By doing this, you not only get your brand in front of more eyes, but you also engage with your loyal customers.
This will help you create a community of advocates who want to share their experiences with your brand. What’s better than eager customers wanting to help you advertise to their own communities?
If you need any help with the organization of your user-generated content, it’s a cinch with the help of the PowerReviews Visual and Social Suite. Our tools do the legwork of content collection, authorization and even displaying user-generated visuals across your product pages.
Doing this in one fell swoop helps brands save time on searching endlessly through social channels to find the best content from their customers.
If you want your customers to buy again, offer a suggestion to make it happen. Amazon’s recommendation engine is a shining example of how you can drive repeat purchases based on previous buying behavior.
You can likewise implement recommendations as part of your follow-up email campaigns, much like Crate & Barrel does here.
Note that you don’t necessarily need a full-blown recommendation engine to suggest products. For example, you can simply suggest that customers check out your latest offers and frame them as recommendations.
6. Treat Your Customers as a Community
Consumers today support brands as part of their own identity.
Framing your business as representing a sort of community is a smart move for establishing a stronger sense of brand loyalty.
For example, behind Beardbrand’s line of male grooming products is a message of empowerment and self-improvement for their audience of “urban beardsmen.”
Meanwhile, ThinkGeek’s shamelessly nerdy messaging goes hand-in-hand with their target audience obsessed with fandoms. It’s all about understanding your customers needs and putting yourself in their shoes.
Community is all about feedback, which is why it’s so important for brands and retailers to understand what shoppers actually experience in store on online. And what better way to get that feedback than to rely on a community of shoppers who trust and want to help you improve?
Meet Journey IQ, PowerReviews’ latest feature to help companies scale customer experiences, get 360 insights and improve sales, all by improving their journey. Send your shoppers on missions with SMS text messages to get them to provide feedback about their shopping experience.
Instead of traditional mystery shoppers, think of this as a way to incentivize a community that already loves you.
7. Rethink How You Respond to Feedback
Customers have crazy high expectations when it comes to customer service.
This means not only responding to all of your customers’ concerns and questions, but also doing so in a timely manner (like, within 24 hours at the latest).
And those speedy, thoughtful responses are totally worth it as responding to a customer increases the potential for advocacy by as much as 25%. Stepping up your customer service is an example of customer retention that goes beyond your marketing team.
we totally hear you. our engineers are constantly working to improve the Glow app’s functionality. we’ll be sure to update all Glow users when new features are added.
Monitoring your mentions more closely helps you better serve your customers while also coming up with ideas for new products. Ultimately, this keeps folks in your funnel and keeps them from potentially bouncing to a competitor.
There is no “right” way to create that connection, but one way is through supporting a cause. Your customer retention strategies need to focus on the wants your shoppers have and should please them with campaigns you know they’ll love.
For example, Pura Vida highlights how their products support independent artisans and show off their philanthropy via their Instagram Stories.
Another unconventional way to show off the human side and “get real” with your customers is by owning up to your mistakes. In the case that someone might actually fall out of your funnel, a sense of authenticity can actually turn the situation around.
This apology email from Chewy is a prime example of showing sincere concern from your customers. In Chewy’s case, their authenticity turned a potential negative into a brilliant example of customer retention.
This is why I love @Chewy. I didn't email them, I just wrote a review on the food to let other lab owners know that the food didn't agree with my dog pic.twitter.com/tmzJZlaGXu
If you want more organic mentions from your customers, sometimes it helps to sweeten the deal.
Many businesses publish “tag-a-friend” posts and contests, both of which drive engagement while also encouraging new business. Milk Makeup does this with a simple post on Instagram asking their fans to promote. In turn, the brand advocates will receive some samples. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s certainly effective.
And of course, referral programs are a classic way to translate customer loyalty into new business. Anyone who’s willing to refer your products to someone else obviously trusts you and signals themselves as a VIP in your book.
10. Pick Your Customers’ Brains
Remember what we said earlier about the power of asking?
Arguably one of the lowest-hanging customer retention strategies out there is simply asking your customers questions via email or social. This serves as a meaningful way to get conversations going and to create a good back-and-forth with your shoppers.
For example, you can ask about specific products and gather feedback to inform your marketing decisions. Birchbox does this regularly by just asking a question on Instagram to get engagement and see what their customers think.
There are other ways to ask questions on social as well. Again, Birchbox does a great job at engaging their customers.
Here you can see the company is reposting great content from their customers for the sake of encouraging engagement. It’s nothing too ground breaking, but for successful customer engagement strategies, this kind of interaction with your customers pushes them closer toward brand advocacy.
11. Compliment Your Customers & Interact ‘Just Because’
As we’ve said many times now, not all customer retention strategies need to be complicated or represent full-blown campaigns. Simple interactions do a lot more good than you likely think.
Take for instance how many businesses shout-out their customers, which for most, might seem completely random or even without a direct mention to a brand. ModCloth goes out of their way to personally compliment customers as part of their routine customer satisfaction and care initiatives.
Additionally, ModCloth also shows customers love with surprises and gifts. This in turn, results in positive mentions and user-generated content. Come on! Who doesn’t like a surprise gift from one of your favorite brands?
We are so glad you got your surprise, Simona! Enjoy all of those magical gifts! ⚡
12. Run Campaigns Specifically Targeting Current Customers
Finally, you can score points with your current customers by running promotions that are exclusive to past buyers.
In other words, you can give your former buyers the VIP treatment.
For example, “for your eyes only” email deals make being part of your list even more valuable while also encouraging another purchase.
You can also run ad campaigns that target former customers directly. Facebook remarketing ads are a great avenue for such campaigns, rewarding buyers for their past patronage.
Anything you can do to make your current customers feel as special should be highly considered. These are the folks already buying from you, so do your best to make them feel wanted and appreciated. You’ll be surprised how far a little favoritism will take you in the eyes of your customers.
And with that, we wrap up our list.
What Customer Retention Strategies Are You Rolling Out?
Rather than constantly chase new customers, consider the value of the people already on your list.
So much of a good customer retention strategy boils down to consistent engagement. Whether through email or social media, one little “push” could be all they need to make that ever-so-important follow-up purchase.
And so the more customer retention strategies you adopt, the more touch points you make to encourage those repeat buys.
With the help of these tactics and tools such as PowerReviews, you can give your customers exactly what they want time and time again.
An army of loyal customers that hangs on our every word.
That’s the end-game for pretty much any business, right?
Fostering brand loyalty and a bond with your base is so important in a day and age where customers are spoiled for choice. Think about it. In the world of ecommerce, consumers are just an email offer or Facebook ad away from bouncing to a competitor.
Oh, and don’t forget the financial benefits of dedicated, repeat customers. After all, it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain the satisfied ones you have.
But all of this that begs the question: how do you turn those one-off customers into long-term advocates for your business?
How to Build Brand Loyalty the Right Way
Reality check: brand loyalty is about more than ensuring that your customers just “like” you.
At the end of the day, loyalty is about trust.
Customers need to know that you’re reliable. They need to know that you have their best interests at heart after they buy. And at the core of that trust are ratings and reviews and customer feedback.
How so? Below are some tactics to help any business foster a sense of brand loyalty among your current crop of customers and prospects alike.
1. Showcase Your Satisfied Customers
When your customers show you love, they’ve already proven their loyalty. And that loyalty can be your most powerful marketing firepower.
User-generated content (UGC) in the form of customer photos, reviews, testimonials and other visual content are crucial to building brand loyalty. In short, UGC allows you to shout-out your current customers while also marketing to new ones.
Social media is a prime place to find positive mentions and customer photos you can show off to the rest of your followers. For example, brands such as MOO regularly retweet and republish photos from their satisfied customers.
These sorts of customer photos are brilliant marketing materials beyond social media, too. For example, you can display your customer photos as part of marketing campaigns or even on-site.
Speaking of which, the PowerReviews Visual and Social Suite is capable of curating content for social media that you can promote elsewhere. Automatically snagging feedback, visuals and permissions, collecting UGC for your site can be done in no time flat.
And then consider how you can actually leverage your customers’ brand loyalty to increase clicks and conversions on-site.
Let’s look at how Room and Board does exactly through customer reviews and UGC. Star-ratings on your product pages serve as proof that people are digging what you’re selling.
Additionally, coupling your products shows new customers that you already have folks who are all about your brand. So why not promote this type of customer satisfaction to further prove your brand power?
UGC creatives a positive feedback loop between you and your customers that breeds brand loyalty. Doing so is a smart way to include your customers as part of your marketing campaigns.
2. Highlight Your Unique Selling Proposition
Any given industry is crowded with competition.
Beauty. Luxury goods. You name it.
Brands need to figure out sooner rather than later what’s going to set them apart from the crowd. And who better to highlight your unique selling proposition than your own customers?
Customer reviews are a powerful positioning tool in and of themselves. However, reviews are a potential goldmine of terms and ideas for you can separate yourself from competitors.
Maybe your product is “more reliable” or “longer-lasting.” The sooner you can find your angle, the better. And if you’re totally clueless on the sort of features your customers love, don’t panic.
Tools like the Intelligence Suite have you covered. PowerReviews digs through the fine details of your customer reviews to figure out what folks are buzzing about in the content. Is your product insanely comfortable or does the zipper just always seem to catch?
These are critical product insights that would far too many man hours to dig through manually–especially if you’re a brand or retailer generating thousands of reviews each month.
Uncover what shoppers are either praising or complaining about in your reviews and make the changes to improve products. Customers will love the fact that you not only listened, but took action.
Our Intelligence Engine discovers your top terms to clue you in on why your customers bought your products in the first place.
By using these terms in your marketing, you take the aspects of your business that create brand loyalty and put them front-and-center throughout future campaigns.
For example, Bellroy consistently uses phrases like “quick access,” “slim” and “accessible” to highlight their stylish yet minimalist wallets.
And those same benefits are highlighted by customer snippets and shout-outs published throughout their site.
See how that works?
3. Encourage Customer Feedback
Customers today crave conversations with brands. In fact, a study found 80% of shoppers think retailers don’t over personalize product experiences enough to be invasive or too much. That means really driving open communication between your brand and customers is likely not going to overwhelm them.
The more you open yourself up to customer feedback, the better.
Remember what we said about brand loyalty coming from trust? Having an open dialogue with your customers is a good starting point for building that bond.
Bear in mind that there are so many ways for businesses to open up the channels of communication with their customers. Perhaps the most straightforward way is to encourage reviews on-site. Customers want to sound off on the products and services they buy – so let them!
To circle back to our first tip, ratings and reviews are powerful proof that can help win over new prospects. In fact, this particular review from Sketchers is a shining example of how your on-site reviews can display brand loyalty and the quality of your products.
Social media is an obvious avenue to ask for feedback. Making your social presence customer-focused ensures that you’re learning more about how to better serve your base. This not only helps you learn more about what your followers want, but also shows that you’re a good listener.
For example, Beardbrand finds a lot of benefits of Instagram for communication. The brand regularly picks the brains of its followers about what products they’re using and what problems they help solve.
Email is yet another channel to go back-and-forth with your customers. Considering that each of your customers is more than likely already on your list, it’s a no-brainer to get into their inboxes.
For example, you can request a review with a post-purchase emailsor ask for a quick survey to see how you can serve them better. Again, it’s all about positioning yourself as a helping hand that’s looking out for them.
And hey, that actually leads us to our last point.
Be Real & Authentic
One of the key pieces of building brand loyalty is, well, getting “real” with your customers. In other words, don’t be afraid to show off the human side of your business.
This means not only having a distinct tone but also being able to respond to shout-outs and call-outs because you want to, not necessarily because you “have” to. For example, social media is the preferred customer service channel for most consumers because it offers a straightforward, quick avenue for people to bring up their issues.
However, canned responses aren’t going to cut it when your customers have issues. If you want to win people over, even in the face of a complaint or concern, you’re going need to be human.
Here’s an awesome example from Black Milk Clothing who managed to own their mistake during a customer transaction and ultimately won someone over because of how they handled the situation.
Hey, we all make mistakes. Own them.
You might be surprised at how much your customers appreciate your authenticity. In short, responding with grace and transparency can go a long way with today’s buyers.
Aww those ones were limited, so there are no plans to re-stock it once sizes sell out I am sorry ❤️ We never say never though, there is always a tiny chance we might see it again 💕 – Kristen
To wrap things up, let’s run through a quick recap of how brands can use customer feedback to create brand loyalty.
First thing’s first: your business needs to be a good listener!
This is a two-way street, though. You not only need to know when people are talking about and what they’re saying, but you also need to understand the sentiment behind it.
What are people buzzing about? What are they down on? Your ratings, reviews and customer feedback can clue you in on all of the above.
Once your customers have sounded off, let them know what you’re listening.
Send them messages. Shout-out them out. Recommend next steps.
Remember: loyalty comes from conversations. Regularly engaging your customers and letting them know what you’re listening is a prime way to do just that.
React & Repeat
After understanding what’s working and what might need fine-tuning, you can adjust your marketing and product strategies accordingly. By continuously rinsing and repeating the steps above, you can improve everything from your products to customer service and beyond over time.
And with that, we wrap up our guide to brand loyalty!
How Are You Building Brand Loyalty?
Listen: brand loyalty doesn’t happen by accident.
If you want to create advocates out of your customers, you’re going to need a concrete strategy.
By soliciting feedback and going back-and-forth with your base, you can provide your customers with the exact products and experiences they want.
The good news? Communicating and curating that ever-so-valuable feedback is easier than ever. With the help of PowerReviews, you gather everything you need to create a stronger bond with your customers ASAP. Want to see our tools in action? Request a demo today!
Conventional wisdom tells us that businesses should prioritize metrics over emotions, right? But what if your customers’ thoughts and feelings were a measurable data point?
Enter the world of customer sentiment analysis.
Listen: customers are sounding off online like never before. And even more so, customers want to hear each other’s thoughts about your products–whether it’s good or bad.
That’s probably why the PowerReviews Snapshot of Ecommerce report showed a staggering 82% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews before making any sort of purchase.
Between on-site reviews, social media and third-party review sites, the amount of potential data we can gather from customer feedback is absolutely insane. Through customer sentiment analysis, businesses can take that feedback and translate it into action.
What is Customer Sentiment Analysis?
Customer sentiment analysis examines the emotions, impressions and attitudes surrounding your business to make sales and marketing decisions.
Think about it like this: every time somebody writes a review or gives your business a shout-out, there’s an opportunity to gather data.
What products are your audience most hyped about?
How often are your customers complaining versus singing your praises?
Based on these data points, you can learn more about what customers want and expect. Sentiment has a direct impact on how you position your business and market your products.
Digging into your review data allows you to assess your customers’ feedback and put it into a decision-making context. That’s customer sentiment analysis in a nutshell.
Why Does Sentiment Analysis Matter, Though?
Chances are you’re already monitoring your fair share of metrics.
Hey, we totally get it.
Even so, deeper customer sentiment analysis within your specific products should still make the short list of your consumer analysis. That’s why we’re going to provide some key reasons why more brands are taking customer sentiment analysis to the next level:
Make More Informed Business Decisions (Trust the Data)
This is the big one.
There’s no need for businesses to second guess what products and services their customers want: people are telling you–directly.
And nobody knows your products better than your customer base. Rather than rely on gut reactions and assumptions, customer sentiment analysis answers clue you in on exactly what your customers want.
We doubt you expected green tea chocolate, but when there’s enough sentiment around these keywords, why not provide your loyal customers with what they want?
Continuously Improve Your Products & Services (Keep Them Happy)
Just as your customers’ behaviors and expectations evolve, so should your business.
Collecting feedback and conducting sentiment analysis can help you uncover new products and ideas and features that folks actually want to see. Encouraging ratings and reviews creates a direct line between you and what your customers are thinking.
Listening to your customers and improving your products impacts your bottom line too–and in a positive way! The more details you collect from consumer feedback, the easier it is to make your products. And in the end, the better your products, the fewer product returns you’ll see.
Easily Manage Your Online Reputation (Don’t Let the Haters Win)
As noted earlier, those recommendations are scattered across the web. And while many brands look for the hottest Instagram influencer marketing techniques, more likely than not, you already have your own set of micro-influencers talking about you.
The trick is to find this community and provide them a better avenue to get their voices heard. That’s where our very own BzzAgent comes into play. Through our Influencer and Sampling Suite, we connect brands to a trusted community of more than 200 million followers to spread the word of your products and to write honest and trustworthy feedback about your products.
It’s an effective one-two punch of collecting reviews and getting your products out in the masses between your community of everyday influencers.
And as you generate conversations around your product, customer sentiment analysis helps capture those moments rather than let them slip through your fingers. This results in a more holistic view of your online reputation that keeps your business from living in a bubble.
How to Do Sentiment Analysis the Right Way
Now that you understand the basics of customer sentiment analysis, the question remains: how do you get started with all of this stuff?
There is no “right” approach to customer sentiment analysis as different businesses emphasize different channels of customer feedback. That’s why we’ve outlined the series of suggestions below that you can choose from based on your company:
1. Take Advantage of Intelligence Tools
Sentiment analysis is tricky to do “by hand” because there’s so much to sift through.
At the same time, emotions can be difficult to quantify at a glance.
To overcome these challenges and streamline your sentiment analysis, we recommend taking advantage of tools such as the PowerReviews Intelligence Suite. Our intelligence engine takes care of the legwork involved in sentiment analysis by aggregating loads of data from your business’ reviews and industry at large.
In addition to positive versus negative reviews for individual products, the suite also tracks keywords and terms that customers use to describe those same products. This information is crucial for marketing and discovering the quirks of your products that create positive sentiment.
If you want a comprehensive understanding of customer sentiment minus all the digging, an intelligence tool is a must-have for those looking to uncover incredible product insights.
2. Monitor Your Mentions With Social Listening
Social media is an ever-so-popular place for customers to sound off regarding products these days.
Whether it’s a shout-out or customer service concern, social media is a fast-moving channel that likewise represents a treasure trove of information when it comes to sentiment.
Through social listening, you can collect your brand mentions (including reviews) to assess your brand health in the social space.
In a day and age where one interaction can squander your entire customer satisfaction campaign, social sentiment is worth tracking. And there are plenty of ways to monitor and listen to social cues.
Tools like Sprout Social boast listening features that assess positive versus negative sentiment across social networks in addition to individual mentions. At the same time, brands and retailers can listen to similar sentiment with review content.
More often than not, brands have products sold across their own and other retailer sites. But who’s in charge when a customer asks a question about your product when you have the best answer?
To provide a direct line to consumers across numerous sites, PowerReviews Questions and Answers software gives access to a brand to answer potential purchase-blocking questions.
Our Brand Engage tools let your team answer questions with a badge so customers know the answer is verified and from your brand. When you listen to customers, you have to open your ears to every place where customers talk about you.
Want to see a demo of Brand Engage in action? Request a demo today and see how your brand can improve listening across the web!
3. Curate Feedback From Your Email List
The more reviews on hand, the more accurate your customer sentiment analysis will be.
Given that 70% of buyers will leave reviews when prompted, there’s arguably no better place to curate more reviews than your email list.
Through questionnaires, surveys and post-purchase emails, you pick your existing customers’ brains to figure out what you want to see from you in the future. For example, West Elm does a great job at re-engaging customers with a survey.
In an effort to passively curate reviews, you might also consider setting up post-purchase autoresponder messages to encourage more feedback. You’d be surprised at how receptive your customers are when you simply ask for something.
Anyone who takes the time to respond is obviously invested in your business and therefore valuable to your sentiment analysis efforts.
And hey, that actually leads us to our next point.
4. Be Sure to Weigh Your Customer Feedback
Remember that not all reviews are created equal.
There’s a big difference between a review from a long-term customer and someone who’s purposely nitpicking or trolling your business.
As a result, don’t be shocked by outliers during your sentiment analysis and read into the context of your analysis itself.
Don’t shy away from negative feedback. Thoughtful criticism is incredibly valuable for learning how to improve your products to score more business in the future.
The previously mentioned Snapshot of Ecommerce report also found most consumers prefer to buy products with an average star rating of 4.2 and 4.5 stars. So what does this mean?
Embrace your customer sentiment and learn from it–don’t hide it. Trust is all about open communication, so be sure to listen to your customers.
What Happens After You Collect Customer Data?
Let’s say you’ve gotten your feet wet with customer sentiment analysis and are trying to figure out what to do next.
No matter what sort of reviews you already have, your ongoing goal should be to improve your customer sentiment. Also, don’t just collect data and do nothing with it! Below we give a few ways your business can use sentiment analysis data once your process is underway:
Brainstorm Marketing & Product Ideas
After analyzing your reviews, you might come to realize that your customers have mixed feelings about a certain product. As a result, you can start stressing those high-points in your marketing and consider changes to future products based on the low-points.
Here’s an example from our intelligence suite to illustrate what we’re talking about.
Again, sentiment analysis is something that you’ll be doing for the long-term. Although you don’t need to make any immediate decisions based on your data, you should at least start thinking about changes to make in the future.
Communicate Openly With Your Customers
Like we mentioned before, perhaps the most straightforward way to improve your standing with customers is by communicating with them. Opening up a dialogue not only allows you to gain more insight from your customers but also makes your business seem more authentic and transparent.
Some key ways to communicate with your customers include:
Responding to ratings and reviews
Replying to social mentions and call-outs
Answering more product questions across various sites
Make Positive Feedback Part of Your Marketing Campaigns
If you have customers showing serious love for your business, make a point to show them off in your marketing. For example, you can include testimonials or positive reviews on-site or as part of your email campaigns to serve as social proof.
Another smart move is to integrate customer photos and user-generated content as part of your social strategy. Your satisfied customers are arguably your best billboards on social media and even your own product pages!
Lastly, customer sentiment shouldn’t be measured in a vacuum.
While front-facing reviews are insightful, chances are you can learn a thing or two about what customers want from your coworkers and colleagues. For example, consider how various departments and teams can contribute to sentiment analysis:
Marketing: details your biggest challenges with soliciting reviews in the first place
Sales: highlights the most common sales objections for existing and new customers
Customer satisfaction: notes the most frequent complaints they receive from customers
Gathering this internal information helps you flesh out your customer sentiment analysis strategy to paint the most complete consumer profile possible.
And with that, we wrap things up!
Are You On Board With Customer Sentiment Analysis?
Breaking down what your customers want is a no-brainer, but how you do it is what requires a conscious effort on the part of your business. With so much customer data and feedback already out in the open, the information you need to start analyzing sentiment is more than likely there.
And with the help of tools like PowerReviews, you translate those reviews into action sooner rather than later. The end result is a data-driven approach to growing your business and more satisfied customers in your pipeline.
Sounds like a win-win, doesn’t it?