UGC Holiday Best Practices: Your 2020 Guide

If you’re like us, you’re savoring every last minute of summer. But we all know the holidays are just around the corner, and it’s time to start planning. There are emails to draft, product catalogs to update, and sales to promote. As marketers, there’s no shortage of things on your to-do list.  

However, considering 70% of shoppers won’t even buy products online before reading reviews, your holiday UGC strategy should undoubtedly be on that list.

UGC in the 2020 Holiday Season

And UGC will be even more important this Holiday season. The focus on ecommerce this year has been widely publicized. Our Holiday Survey conclusively backs this up: 64% of the 5,000+ consumers we surveyed say they will do more shopping online this year than last. And what’s more, 83% of those who expect to increase their overall holiday spend this year will do more of that shopping online than in previous years.

In this environment, ratings and reviews will be critical to converting browsers to buyers. In fact, our survey also reveals that 37% say ratings and reviews will be more important this year than last (61% say they will be of equal importance, only 2% say they will be less important).

You need to be ready for this. You will make more money online this year than ever before. There is no doubt of that. But in order to maximize your share, UGC will be absolutely critical.

How to ensure you’re ready for Holiday 2020

As someone who works with leading brands and retailers on their UGC strategies day-in day-out (and has worked through my fair share of holiday seasons), I wanted to share some helpful recommendations for optimizing your ratings and reviews program at this time of year.

There are four areas we’ll focus on to get you ready for your best holiday season yet:

Optimize Your Review Collection Methods

The holidays are a big sales season. That means you can expect to see a surge in reviews (especially if you follow these best practices!).

Now is a good time to audit your review collection processes and consider if there are any improvements you can make — before the holidays are in full-swing.

Review Your Review Form

Take a look at your review form. 

Is there some type of feedback you are looking to collect for specific products that you aren’t currently gathering? 

The holidays are the perfect time to edit your review form as your review volume will be increasing. Instead of just comments and an overall star rating, ask additional questions specific to your product or consumer to get more detailed feedback. 

Are you currently collecting images and videos on your review form? 

If visual content strategy is going to be a focus for 2021, you might want to start! Our consumer survey found that 88% of users want to see more user photos and videos. When just one image is added, it can increase conversion as much as 69%. 

Would you like your reviews to be longer? 

Based on our own review interaction data (taken from an analysis of 1.5m+ product pages across 1,200+ brand and retail sites), longer reviews are more likely to receive “helpful” ratings by consumers. Consumers who engage with “helpful” reviews convert at higher rates than those who engage with any old review.

Consider Your Post-Purchase Email Strategy

Your shoppers’ email inbox is the perfect place to gather new reviews. If you aren’t currently, follow up with customers soon after they receive their purchases, and ask them to write a review, with a link to your review channels.

People can get busy during the holidays. Make your shoppers’ lives easier by inviting them to submit their review right from the email itself (for PowerReviews customers, our In-Mail Submission enables customers to provide review content directly within review invitation emails).

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Ulta Post Purchase Email

What about customers who purchase multiple gifts from you?

You can make their lives easier, too. Invite them to write multiple, shorter reviews all at the same time. 

For example, our Review Your Purchases feature lets customers write multiple product reviews on one form through the post-purchase email. These reviews collect the star rating, headline, review comments, and an image or video for multiple products from a single email.

We’ve seen exceptional results from clients who implemented Review Your Purchases — one client saw a 54% increase in collection in just 30 days!

Share Reviews Across Channels

Once you’ve taken care of reviews on your own website, consider how you can grow your review coverage across other websites and social media.

Do you sell your products on Amazon? 

How are you currently funneling your customers to write reviews? Ideally, you should provide them with an option to replicate their review content to your product pages on Amazon.com too (for example, our Share Button makes this whole process super easy. On average, 31% of customers click this button. That’s a lot of reviews!)

How about social media? 

60% of online shoppers discover new products through Instagram alone. It’s therefore super important that you enable your customers to share review content to this social platform and beyond (we do this through our “Share to Social” button, which quickly syndicates to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest). This ultimately increases the reach of your UGC, driving organic traffic to your product pages, and boosting your conversion rates. We track clicks and coverage so you can measure impact.

Increase Review Content

With your review collection methods all in order, it’s time to drum up more reviews — and all the sales that come along with them! Engage your followers on social media and leverage your email list to collect more reviews. Here are a few creative ideas to get you started. 

Generate Reviews Through Social Media

Have you considered asking for reviews on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? 

You may already have a community of engaged followers across your social channels, so why not ask these customers to write reviews for specific products?

Taking that a step further, do you have customers who are already raving about your products on social? Lucky you! Rather than simply responding with a generic “Thank you, we’re glad you loved it,” why don’t you point the happy customer directly to your website to write a review? They are clearly impressed with your product, so this is the perfect opportunity to gather a positive review!

Ask for Reviews Through Other Emails

Do you plan to highlight specific holiday products within your newsletters or other marketing communications? 

If so, we recommend embedding your review form (or link) within these communications. This is especially impactful for non-eCommerce sites that are unable to send a post-purchase email. You could also highlight a product with low review volume to increase coverage prior to the holiday.

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Host a Review Contest

We have had many clients find success with creating and promoting a giveaway contest to collect reviews. In this example, Bumble and Bumble offered ten $100 gift cards for customers who wrote a review within a specific time period. All the customer had to do was sign into their account and submit a review on any product that they’ve used. 

Once the contest was over, Bumble & Bumble was able to use our reporting to identify customers who had written a review within that time period, and they picked the winner randomly with that data. This specific campaign increased review collection by 1400% month over month.

Get More Out of Your Holiday Reviews

You want to be prepared once the reviews start flowing in. Bring your customer service team up to speed on review moderation best practices. Identify key opportunities to feature top-rated products on your site banners and gift guides during the holidays. Finally, amplify the impact of your existing reviews content through email marketing and social channels.

Let’s start with moderation best practices.

Respond to Reviews

Always respond to reviews, positive or negative.

This simple task builds credibility with shoppers by demonstrating you care about what they have to say.

Remember, negative reviews aren’t all bad. Our research shows 44% of Centennials (ages 13-18) would not trust a product that had no negative reviews. In fact, 60% of Centennials read negative reviews first.

Customers know things can happen. Something broke during shipping, or the wrong item was sent. What’s more important to them is how you deal with it. Your review response is the place to share that information. Showing customers that you are there to support them and make it right is just as powerful as the experience with the product.

By responding to your reviews, you have the opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive. Then, you can ask customers to update their review.

Leverage Your Review Content

By now you’ll have tons of positive reviews coming in, so put them to good use!

You can include star ratings and review quotes in your Instagram posts throughout the holidays. 

You can also highlight reviews in your marketing emails as customer testimonials.

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Gather Post-Holiday Insights

Now that you’ve made it through the holidays, I’m sure you are ready for a much needed vacation but don’t head to a tropical beach just yet. We’ve got some essential things for you to consider when planning for the New Year.

Your holiday reviews are chock full of useful customer feedback and sentiment. You want to gather this content so you can share it with your internal teams for product enhancements, marketing, and more. 

At a minimum, we recommend looking at:

4.5/5
4 & 5 star reviews
These can supply your product managers and marketing team with sound bites to leverage in campaigns.
1.5/5
1 & 2 star reviews
These can alert customer service and product development teams about common issues and complaints.

As you’re reading through your reviews, make notes of any trends in customer sentiment. Which products get the best (or the worst) reviews? Are any products having a harder time generating reviews, despite having similar sales numbers to other, more-reviewed products? If you made changes to a product during the holiday season, did it affect the reviews positively or negatively? 

Don’t forget your competition. Take time to review your competitors’ reviews, too. For similar products, how do your reviews match up against the competition? Is there anything you can learn from how your competitors respond to their reviews? 

When you’ve got thousands, hundreds — or heck, even dozens — of products, it can be tough to answer these questions without turning it into a full-time job. As you head into the next year, it might be time to consider looking into reviews analytics software. These platforms use AI to analyze reviews at scale, deliver competitive insights, and spin up smart, actionable reports for you to use when crafting your UGC success plan for 2021.

If you’re a PowerReviews customer, talk to your Customer Success Manager about your goals and objectives for UGC in 2021. We can be a partner throughout this process.

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Wrapping Up

We hope that these UGC best practices were informative and will help you to prepare for the holidays. Start by reviewing your review collection methods now. Then work on generating reviews before and throughout the holiday sales season. Finally, gather actionable insights you can apply to next year’s goals.

Good luck this holiday season. We wish you happy holidays, and lots of positive reviews!

Kelli Seaquist

Kelli Seaquist

Kelli manages the Enterprise Customer Success team at PowerReviews. Over the past four years, she has worked with our largest brands and retailers to provide strategic recommendations for collecting, analyzing, and leveraging user-generated content. Her passion for ratings and reviews has truly helped her thrive at her number one hobby: online shopping. Seriously, she rarely has to return a purchase!

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