A major milestone is coming to the PowerReviews Open Network in an effort to help brands and retailers reach even more customers. PowerReviews is excited to announce an agreement with Yotpo, inviting Yotpo brands to join the Open Network to display content to billions of customers already shopping within the network.

Since launching the Open Network, PowerReviews has committed to the idea of an “open network” for all brands and retailers. On top of that commitment, PowerReviews also established new products and features to continually improve the amount of customer-generated content syndicated within the network.

The agreement not only benefits the brands and retailers sharing content through the Open Network, but it also gives shoppers more content to confidently make purchases both online and in-store. This ensures consumers will continue to have access to trustworthy and authentic content to make more informed purchasing decisions.

“The syndication agreement with Yotpo demonstrates the power of an open network to the benefit of consumers, retailers and brands,” said Matt Moog, CEO of PowerReviews. “Providing Yotpo’s brand clients with greater reach will benefit consumers, brands and retailers.”

Yotpo Open Network CTA

The Value of Customer-Generated Content & Feedback

We know that customer-generated content such as ratings and reviews plays a critical role in the shopping experience, and it also leverages purchasing decisions in various ways, including:

The continuous growth of the Open Network now boasts 30 of the world’s largest retailers such as Walmart/Jet.com, Target, Ulta, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Dillard’s, Dollar General, P.C. Richard, West Marine, Zappos, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Stage Stores, Shoe Carnival and Ace Hardware. These major retailers are among the 150+ already sharing content in the network.

“We continue to see incredible growth around the Open Network and this agreement with Yotpo only drives our momentum further,” said Sara Rossio, chief product officer of PowerReviews. “Brands and retailers have unanimously called for an Open Network that eliminates cost-prohibitive access fees for brands to share their content. And with the invitation to Yotpo brands, PowerReviews will only reaffirm its support of a truly open network by offering direct syndication to even more major brands.”

Why We’re Extending the Invitation

We believe the invitation to Yotpo brands will help both brands and retailers increase sales by collecting and displaying more customer-generated content. For example, when brands move from zero to at least one review on product pages, the traffic, sales and conversion rate increases dramatically:

PowerReviews-adding ratings and reviews graphic

Once brands collect authentic and fresh content, shoppers are exposed to more customer reviews and product experiences across various ecommerce sites. This ultimately helps customers solidify their purchasing decisions with increased transparency.

Sticking to Our Commitment

Our goal is to provide and grow an open network where retailers, brands and ultimately consumers win. PowerReviews believes retailers should have the opportunity to control the content that appears on their sites, as well as syndication access to the content around their products from various sites, no matter where it originated.

We’re committed to helping brands and retailers distribute content to help increase sales, traffic and conversion rates through a continuously growing open network. The addition of Yotpo brands in the PowerReviews Open Network will only help us expand our customers’ reach.

About PowerReviews
PowerReviews works with more than 1,500 global brands and retailers to collect and syndicate user-generated content and feedback such as reviews, Q&A, images, video and more. Content is syndicated across The PowerReviews Open Network reaching more than 1 billion in-market shoppers every month at the right time and place. User-generated content gives shoppers confidence to make purchases and delivers actionable insights to brands and retailers to drive more traffic, increase sales and improve products and services. To learn more, visit https://www.powerreviews.com.

Brands and retailers continually look for new and inventive ways to get the most out of their user-generated content, whether it’s from social media or ratings and reviews. And to provide clarity and inspire some “outside the box” ideas, PowerReviews hosted four separate hackathon groups of roughly 20 industry experts in retail, CPG and ecommerce. 

What was the goal?

We simply wanted to understand the biggest pain points for brands and retailers in terms of review and UGC collection in 2019. Industry leaders don’t require nearly as much convincing when it comes to the power of the voice of the customer, but instead, these experts want more effective ways to collect consumer feedback.

Through the different sessions, there were a lot of similar themes and challenges for brands and retailers to successfully collect content. To help with this, PowerReviews provided insights into the future of review collection and how businesses can get smarter with their technology without spending a fortune. 

To break down the commonalities, we’re providing the three biggest takeaways coming from the nearly 80 brand and retailer experts at this year’s hackathon:

1. Use On-Pack Solicitation for Review Collection

There’s one piece of real estate brands own when it comes to the shopping experience–your product packaging and labels. Because there’s such a limit to what brands can do with improving shopping experiences, it’s essential to take advantage of what goes on your product packaging. 

Brands are constantly looking for new and inventive ways to spark interest or drive an action through product labeling. One common theme we addressed in each session was the power of asking for reviews specifically on the label.

Through the help of QR codes, the process of collecting reviews is much easier for brands. Additionally, you’re providing customers with an even easier way to write a review with a simple scan of the QR code with a smartphone.

Pew Research estimates 81% of U.S. adults owned a smartphone in 2018, which is drastically higher than the estimated 35% just eight years prior. What used to be a multi-step approach to get people to download a QR code app and then scan has changed. Now it’s practically a universal feature included on new smartphones.

Shoppers only have to open their smartphone camera, scan the code and get sent directly to a review collection page. Making this process easier improves the chances of content collection, especially if the code sends them to a form instead of the product page, which requires further scrolling to get to the “submit a review” section. 

When looking at brands selling perishable products, one of the biggest challenges is collecting ratings and reviews in the first place. But these brands have an opportunity to use QR codes on its packaging to encourage consumers to quickly leave a review while in the moment.

2. Continually Keep Review Content Fresh & Organic

While it sounds like we’re describing the produce aisle of a Whole Foods, there’s no question in the power of fresh and organic review content. One of the bigger challenges of brands running product sampling campaigns is they generate a ton of review content during the initiative, but don’t see reviews to continue to flow in once it ends. 

This is why PowerReviews works hard to ensure that our clients don’t just collect content, but generate the most possible ratings and reviews on a regular basis. Even though products with several reviews is a good thing, that sentiment can come to a screeching halt if the last review was from 3 years ago.

That might not seem like a long time, but for consumers, it’s an eternity. Remove the doubt by constantly running campaigns to keep content fresh. One campaign is not enough to plug and forget. 

Brands have to keep their review content fresh and one way to do this is through a sweepstakes campaign. By running a sweepstakes for your customers, you increase their interest by monetizing their efforts to leave feedback.

Some of the attending brands and retailers explained that event marketing campaigns are also a great (and unique) avenue to generate more reviews. It’s smart to get feedback directly from product samples at various events to have fresh, relevant content.

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At the end of the day, your customers have a natural inclination to talk about your products. So why not provide them with the easiest ways possible to leave reviews or submit user-generated content?

3. Tailor Social Collection to Your Own Needs

We heard you–social collection is essential to your user-generated content campaigns. This type of content helps solidify and build trust in other shoppers’ purchasing decisions.

The challenge is user-generated content collection has a lot of nuances and special needs for each brand. And the problem is many review syndication companies don’t let you tailor social collection capabilities to your specific needs.

visual and social collection for user generated content

PowerReviews believes social collection is not a “one size fits all” solution, which is why we let brands and retailers restructure their collection capabilities to meet the needs of their own processes. Having the ability to put images where you want on your product or category pages is essential to many businesses.

Another common challenge brands and retailers discussed was fitting some of their products into the budget to generate more review content. In fact, several brands have problems getting the budget to get more reviews. This is especially true for the tail-end list of their product portfolio. 

This means brands have to get strategic with the way they collect more content and make use of it. One avenue brands forget about is SMS for review collection. We’ve found that brands using SMS review collection see up to 4 times more reviews. 

Ratings and Reviews SMS Collection Solution

We know that SMS is a great collection capability that delivers more conversation-driving content. Additionally, these features help you keep review content fresh and relevant. It’s all about finding new and unique ways to get more content to your product pages.

Conclusion

We hope everyone who attended the Hoboken Hackathon walked away with some inspiration. It’s time to get strategic about UGC and review collection. For those who didn’t attend, our team felt it was a great opportunity to showcase our knowledge of the industry. We wanted to provide quick ways to win at content collection.

Our next session will be at the London Hackathon October 22 to 23, 2019. So book your spot today to hear our industry experts provide amazing insights into simpler and more effective review collection.

Peter Bond

Peter Bond

Peter V.S. Bond is Vice President Of CPG Commercialization, focused on enabling commercial success within the Consumer Packaged Goods/Retail vertical. His experience also includes working with large enterprise CPG and Retail clients Kroger, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Campbell Soup and others. He is a voice of the customer and CRM evangelist.

Every savvy ecommerce business knows the holiday season is a time of great opportunity to boost sales, increase brand loyalty and reach new customers. Shoppers are willing to spend hundreds on gifts for loved ones. In fact, Statista found the average U.S. consumer spent $794 on Christmas gifts in 2018. As for Cyber Monday shoppers, there were roughly 122.2 million of them in the U.S. last year.

No wonder it’s ’tis the season for profitability and out-of-the-box marketing campaigns. Holiday cheer aside, the rising ecommerce competition from retailers–and Amazon–has businesses wondering how to approach the holidays all together.

To get in your last-minute changes to your ecommerce website, we’ll help you cover important things like customer engagement, popular retail trends and go over our holiday marketing checklist. Let’s get started.

A Profitable Holiday Season Starts With Engaged Customers

Planning your holiday marketing campaign is a long process. But there are ways to make improvements in the final months to get more out of your campaign. The importance of connecting with your customers is huge for ecommerce brands seeing a spike in web traffic.

Customers seemingly tackle their lists earlier every year. In fact, a 2018 report from Credit Karma found 86% of consumers started shopping for the holidays between June and September. But don’t sweat it just yet if you’re a little late to the prepping season.

Credit Karma Graphic on Holiday Shopping

There are still plenty of ways to optimize your ecommerce efforts in time for the holidays to maximize customer engagement and increase conversions. Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Involve Your Customers As Soon As Possible

Customers love your attention. That’s why personalization marketing efforts help ecommerce businesses increase sales and conversion rates. A 2018 Evergage report found 87% of marketers accredited personalization marketing to their sales lift.

evergage impact on personalization marketing graphic

Give your shoppers a better shopping experience by providing in-depth review content that covers everything from size and fit to product pros and cons. A lot of holiday purchases are made for others so product details are more critical.

2. Focus on Shareable Visual Content

Consumers not only want personalized experiences, they also want visual examples from people just like them. In fact, the PowerReviews Health and Beauty Study found 68% of shoppers actively seek product photos and videos from other shoppers before buying.

Health and Beauty Whitepaper stat on likeness

Additionally, 7 in 10 respondents said they look for similar attributes from reviewers’ visual content, such as skin tone, body type and age. Use the power of social media to collect the images and videos your shoppers are already sharing then display this content directly on your product pages. More visual cues will help reduce purchase hurdles.

Already a PowerReviews customer? We can activate social collection for you now! Get started today. Contact our team!

3. Incentivize Holiday Shopping for Customers

A 2019 eMarketer report found the majority of shoppers “always” or “often” use coupons or discount codes for the items they buy online. Incentivizing shoppers during the holidays with specific discount codes could be the push you need.

influencer and sampling suite syndication example

Another way to incentivize is through holiday product sampling campaigns. By running a product sampling for reviews campaign, the turnaround makes it easier to get in last minute reviews to your most important products.

This is a great way to get prepared for the holiday season by generating more reviews through influencers and product sampling. And for last-minute marketers, this is even more critical.

Important Holiday Shopping Trends to Watch

Every holiday season brings about a new trove of trends to keep up with. As you continue to plan through the end of the year, it’s important to be on top of some of the trends taking over the retail industry.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of holiday shopping retail trends that you might have missed in your preparation:

Consumers Are More Confident About Shopping Online

Data from Adobe Digital Insights found online sales increased by 16.5% in 2018 year over year. The highest online sales day was–predictably–Cyber Monday. Ecommerce continues to evolve and an emphasis on quality user experiences continues to be a driving factor in purchasing decisions.

Adobe analytics graphic

Retailers With Engaging Online & In-Store Experiences Have the Upper Hand

The same report also found retailers with both brick-and-mortar and online storefronts had a 50% increase in buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). The growth of BOPIS in 2019 has been astronomical–especially as bigger players like Walmart and Target have invested more into this option. BOPIS checkout carts typically have fewer items, which allows retailers to upsell customers once they’re in-store. Visual in-store experiences maximize the opportunity to chip away at higher sales.

AI Will Help Retailers Retain More Abandoned Carts

A Baymard survey discovered the three biggest factors for online abandoned carts were extra costs, the need to create an account and complicated UX. What was once a tool for larger companies is now a tool used by merchants of all sizes. AI in ecommerce is a must for brands wanting to retain customers, limit shopping cart abandonment and provide better user experiences.

Baymard cart abandonment graphic

NRF’s Annual October Holiday Consumer Survey found 60% of respondents want gift cards or certificates instead of other gifts. Consumers crave flexibility, so having gift cards available on your site is key—especially for last-minute shoppers. The best part is this sort of implementation is ideal for last-second marketers looking to make small changes that will have a big impact.

target homepage gift card deal

The Holiday Planning Checklist for 2019

If your customers start shopping earlier for the holidays, you really need to jump ahead of their search. There are so many moving parts when planning for the holiday season, which is why we’ve put together this checklist to keep you on track.

Holiday Marketing Checklist: Phase 1

  • Reassess last year’s efforts and numbers: Deep dive into last year’s campaign and rehash your theme, plan of execution, goals and areas of improvement. If you’re just getting started, now is the time to track everything. Historical data is your best friend because it gives you the quickest answers to overall performance.
  • Establish new goals for 2019: You know where you need to improve from last year, so start setting goals that achieve a specific initiative in your campaign. Whether it’s increased relevant traffic, average order sizes, conversion rates on specific products or post-purchase engagement, you have to set goals you know are at least possible. Unrealistic goals will only do harm to your team.
  • Develop your launch strategy: As you begin your initial planning, now is the time to develop your go-to-market or launch strategy. Holiday campaigns are complicated, which is why it’s crucial to create a detailed plan. This is when you assign roles to team members and set up communication avenues to keep the team updated on goals.

  • Map out your email strategy: Email is a powerful marketing tactic during the holidays. Your competitors are ramping up their email efforts so it’s imperative to think outside the box and develop a sequence that will resonate with your customers.

Holiday Marketing Checklist: Phase 2

  • Launch gift guides with your holiday hashtag: Finalize your gift guide to allow customers an early look at your deals, biggest products and other holiday offerings. A quality gift guide is visually engaging, highlights popular products based on consumer trends and is easy to navigate. At the same time, this is when you want to launch your branded hashtag or jump on a popular holiday hashtag.

  • Segment and leverage your audiences: The holiday season is a great time to fine-tune your personalization efforts. Figure out how you want to slice your email lists and how best to leverage them. Try segmenting email addresses from a previous launch by order value to help you retarget these customers.
  • Implement any last minute site changes: The holiday season brings big traffic numbers for ecommerce businesses, but it’s also a time where developers slow down their work. Get website implementations finalized now to avoid delays in development work through the actual holiday period.

Holiday Marketing Checklist: Phase 3

  • Prep your inventory. There’s nothing worse than hiccups with inventory management during the holiday season. Use current and historical data to make informed inventory decisions right now. Your inventory management system should be equipped to support this busy time.

  • Optimize your campaigns: As things truly start to pick up, this is the time to monitor campaign performance and make tweaks or small changes to optimize growth. Compare campaign performance with the benchmarks you set in September and adjust accordingly.
  • Celebrate small wins with your team: You didn’t get to this month alone, so make sure you celebrate with your team and show the results of your campaign so far. Even if they’re not the prettiest numbers yet, you want to find encouragement to prevent fatigue or burnout through the holiday push. This is the time to order your team lunch and show gratitude. Bigger celebrations come later.

Holiday Marketing Checklist: Phase 4

  • Deploy countdowns on shipping: Communicate to customers when to place orders to ensure timely shipment. Use popup modals clearly displayed on your site to ensure shoppers know your delivery capabilities.
  • Give last-minute shoppers plenty of options: Super Saturday, known as the Saturday before Christmas, is one of the busiest shopping days of the season. The National Retail Federation found 56% of consumers said they shop on this day. Additionally, 70% of shoppers between the ages 18 and 24 are more likely to purchase gifts the last week before Christmas. The two weeks before Christmas are prime spots for boosting sales, so extend sales or offer free shipping to get last-minute customers to spend.

NRF last shopping day graphic

  • Take note of what’s working for future campaigns: As mentioned earlier, collecting data is highly encouraged. In fact, you should use what you’ve learned so far to begin planning your post-holiday events. Watch for the most impactful tactics and strategize how these ideas could boost sales in 2020.
  • Hold a post-holiday debrief with your team: After the craziness of the holidays, it’s smart to connect with your team and assess what went right and wrong. This is the perfect time to collect notes for next year’s holiday campaign while this one is still fresh in your mind. And don’t forget to celebrate and reward your team for their hard work.

Last-Minute Moves Can Make the Difference

Planning for the holiday season gives you the chance to really figure out what tactics will work best for your brand based on current trends and past campaigns. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments on the fly to get maximum results. Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that prevents you from massive conversions in sales.

PowerReviews can take your customer review collection, analysis and customer experience to the next level. Contact us today, and a member of our team will help find the solution that’s right for you.

Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose is a writer who specializes in creating value-packed blog content for ecommerce and SaaS companies. When she's not writing, you can find her out running, checking out a thriller novel—or two—from the library, or trying to pet the nearest dog. Say hi on Twitter or check out her website Katambrose.com.

Your customers are always a few taps away from launching an investigation of the century into your products and brand on their smartphone. While this seems a little scary, it’s simply the reality of how shoppers leverage online customer reviews.

Whether it’s choosing an auto shop, jeweler, restaurant or finding the best place to buy a new dog bed, online customer reviews heavily impact purchasing decisions. For ecommerce brands and retailers, product reviews are now a common step of the decision making process.

Data from the PowerReviews Health and Beauty Study found 95% of consumers say online customer reviews play a role in their product search and another 86% said reviews are essential to the purchase decision.

Health and Beauty Reasons why consumers purchase utems

Specifically for health and beauty products, respondents said the No. 1 reason they buy from the places they regularly shop is because of the customer feedback–like ratings and reviews. Consumers want to hear about the experiences of others like them. The easiest way to satisfy this need for information is by leveraging online customer reviews.

If you’re still on the fence about the impact of feedback, see our five recommendations to leverage online customer reviews to attract and convert shoppers:

1. Invest In Advanced Review Collection Capabilities

Online customer reviews are capable of swaying shoppers into making a purchase. Data from our Power of Reviews survey found approximately 30% of respondents between ages 18 and 44 look at reviews before every single purchase.

Shoppers Looking at Reviews on Every Purchase PowerReviews Graphic

That’s a huge amount of trust going into your review content. But one of the biggest hurdles for businesses is having enough online customers reviews on product pages to actually influence shoppers.

Brands and retailers are often hesitant on heavily investing in customer feedback because they’re unsure how to generate more reviews to begin with. PowerReviews own customer data shows when products move from zero to more than one review, the conversion rate increases by up to 65%.

How to Collect More Online Customer Reviews

We’ve gone over the impact of review content, but how do you actually generate more customer feedback on your products? Here’s a couple of ways you can immediately boost your review collection capabilities:

  • Post-Purchase Emails: Your customers just bought your product, so why aren’t you sending requests to ask for a review afterward? Data from the same Health and Beauty Study found 59% shoppers need a few weeks with a product before giving feedback. Try to analyze the best time to send post-purchase emails for your specific products.
    Ulta Post Purchase Email
  • Make Review Collection Easy for Customers: Reviews are hard to collect because there’s not a lot of benefit in leaving a review versus reading a review. Make review collection simple by avoiding lengthy forms or by asking too many questions. Provide clear instructions with a simple user-experience that don’t navigate to separate pages for each review.
  • Ask for Reviews for Key Products First: If a customer buys a $5 dog food bowl and a $75 dog bed, you’re likely going to want to push for a review on the higher-priced item. PowerReviews’ Progressive Collection lets you set high-value products or items in need of reviews to the top of a multiple review collection form to ensure you get the reviews you need first.

review collection

PowerReviews discovered when brands use a single review form for multiple products reviews, the average increase in review volume grew by 92% year over year–compared to a review form for each product. If you truly want to increase your review count, contact our team today to see a demo our advanced review collection capabilities!

2. Put Your Reviews Front & Center on Product Pages

When shopping online, 63% of consumers specifically seek out websites that have product reviews. Additionally, 77% of mobile shoppers are more likely to purchase an item if the website or app offers product reviews.

Once you’ve started generating reviews, start prominently displaying this content on your product page designs so shoppers can easily find it, regardless of the device they’re using to shop. A good rule of thumb is to pass the 3-second test.

Shoppers, well, all of us, have a very short attention spans, which means you need to capture the eyes on your product page quickly. In 3 seconds, can you easily find where to read online customer reviews on your product page?

PowerReviews Review Snapshot GIF Example

If you don’t think you passed the test, it’s high time to invest in a reviews collection platform that makes it incredibly easy to find and locate customer reviews. Don’t give your shoppers any reason to exit your product page by making sure consumers have a great breakdown the product reviews.

For a lot of online retailers, clothing products are difficult to show true size and fit to make customers confident in their purchase. In fact, the majority of product returns for these companies are due to items not fitting correctly.

Crocs Customer Fit Report Example

That’s why we recommend adding size and fit features to your product pages so customers get a much better understanding of how an item will actually look on them. Reviews are always a great way to understand size and fit, but by collecting size and fit data from your reviewers, you present more accurate information–front and center.

Don’t just stop at your product pages too. Look for opportunities to include ratings and reviews on other parts of your website like category pages and even your homepage.

3. Highlight Your Customer Reviews In-Store

A growing number of consumers turn to reviews to make their in-store purchases too! In fact, data from the same PowerReviews Health and Beauty Study discovered 80% of shoppers search for product reviews while shopping in-store.

PowerReviews Health and Beauty Study In-Store Graphic

In addition to ensuring this content is easy to find and read on your website from any device, look for opportunities to display review content in your brick-and-mortar store locations. For example, include star ratings and excerpts from reviews on signage alongside key products.

Like we mentioned at the very beginning, consumers are seconds away from reading your product reviews online. That means it’s getting easier to browse review content while shopping in-store.

Now more than ever, it’s extremely important that your review content is easy to access and more importantly, mobile friendly. That means using appropriate font sizes and ensuring page load speeds are as fast as possible.

PowerReviews Health and Beauty Report Litmus Graphic

In a 2018 Email Client Market Share Trends Report by Litmus, the company found mobile devices were responsible for 46% of all email opens–beating out desktop. The data should have businesses perking up a bit. So make sure your review content is accessible and readable for shoppers in-store.

4. Syndicate Reviews for More Coverage

Review syndication might not sound appealing to some businesses wanting more reviews. However, it’s one of the best and most authentic ways to give your shoppers more access to online customer reviews.

For example, review syndication is the transfer of user-generated content like ratings and reviews collected on a brand site to its retail partners. If you’re a brand that syndicates content to retail sites, you benefit by getting content in front of more shoppers and locations.

On the flip side, if you’re a retailer accepting syndicated brand content, you benefit from increased review coverage and depth. That means you don’t have to worry about generating all the content yourself. In fact, retailers receive an average of 58% of their review content from syndication.

So, how does the process work? There are essentially two major steps to the review syndication process:

Step 1: Product Matching

Product Matching Example

The complex process of product matching is to ensure review data is correctly connected across one site to another. This allows brands and retailers, who might use different product names, numbers and codes, to match and align items.

In fact, PowerReviews’ AI-powered Product Knowledge Graph automatically matches on UPC, which gives brands 79% more products matched compared to other providers.

Step 2: Share & Display Review Content

PowerReviews Review Syndication Display Example

After products are matches across retailer sites, the reviews are then shared to retailers to display across their own sites. To provide authenticity and transparency, there’s a requirement to show the original review collection location.

PowerReviews has brands include their name, logo and a link on reviews displayed through retailer sites. This helps customers be confident in the content and it’s original location.

Want more info on review syndication best practices? Contact our team to learn about the PowerReviews Open Network. Our network features more than 150 of the world’s largest retailers and more than 1,000 brands!

5. Embrace Negative Reviews & Don’t Be Afraid of Critical Feedback

Perfect online customer reviews might seem ideal, right? But consumers consider products with 5-star reviews are less helpful than those with both positive and negative feedback.

average star rating for purchases graphic

Our research with Northwestern University found that purchase probability peaks when a product’s average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5. The mythical perfect 5-star review was deemed to be less profitable.

Additionally, the PowerReviews report How to Beat Amazon found a third of shoppers believe poor reviews gave balance to their shopping research. Consumers agreed that a negative perspective was actually very important to their overall purchasing decision.

That’s why brands and retailers shouldn’t be afraid of negative reviews, but instead, embrace the critical feedback. The same report found 85% shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews before making a purchase. That number increases to 91% when looking at consumers between the ages of 18 and 29.

How to Beat Amazon Top trust factor graphic

There’s a growing demand for transparency with businesses today. It’s up to brands and retailers to provide authenticity with consumers. This is especially true as the number of fake reviews continues to increase across Amazon. And the company’s fake review problem doesn’t just affect their customers, but all online shoppers.

No business should aim for negative reviews. But allowing both positive and negative feedback on your site adds authenticity to your content and builds trust.

Help your shoppers make better purchasing decisions by providing more authentic online customers reviews. And if you need any help through the process, our team is happy to provide more information on the value of reviews.

Alex York

Avatar

Alex York is the Content and SEO Marketing Manager at PowerReviews. Catch him hunting down the perfect gin cocktail in Chicago or endlessly scrolling through Netflix. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjyork.

The amount of customer content has skyrocketed in recent years, which leaves many wondering about the credibility of reviews. That’s why PowerReviews partnered with Northwestern University’s Spiegel Digital and Database Research Center. Our goal was to understand how reviews vary depending on whether they’re written by verified buyers or anonymous consumers.

In the case of verified buyers, a shopper makes a purchase online and receives an email from the brand requesting a review. Reviews from verified buyers are tied back to a transaction.

But with anonymous consumers, a shopper navigates to a brand or retailer website without any prompting and writes a review. Since these reviews aren’t tied to a specific transaction, there’s no way to determine if the reviewer actually purchased the product.

The amount of fake reviews can be detrimental to the customer decision making process, which why brands and retailers have to increase the credibility of their reviews. So what can brands and retailers do?

Here are five practical recommendations to preserve the credibility of reviews:

1. Get More Reviews From Verified Buyers

The biggest insight from this research is reviews from verified buyers are significantly more positive than reviews from anonymous consumers. The average star rating for reviews from verified buyers is 4.34.

Take that into comparison to an average star rating of 3.89 for reviews written by anonymous consumers. Reviews from verified buyers boast a larger percentage of 5-star ratings too.

Stat Images2-09

In fact, reviews from anonymous consumers have a larger percentage of 1-star ratings. But reviews from verified buyers own 6.5% more product “pros” and 50% fewer product “cons.”

This is consistent with a theory that users who write reviews without prompting are likely to have extreme (often more negative) opinions.

2. Eliminate Fake Reviews Right Now

Allowing reviews to be submitted via the web opens retailers up to the possibility of receiving fraudulent reviews. And fake reviews can tarnish the trust you’ve built with your consumers.

A recent report from the company Which? found Amazon to have an outstanding amount of fake reviews for popular items like smartwatches and headphones.

amazon fake reviews graphic on fake reviews

That’s why it’s key to have measures in place so review content remains authentic and fraud-free. For example, all content submitted on the PowerReviews platform passes through our advanced technology. This is so we ensure the content is fraud-free and free of innuendo and profanity.

The content is then reviewed by our team of human moderators before it’s displayed on a client’s site.

3. Be Transparent About Who Writes Reviews

Though it’s unclear whether consumers place more trust in reviews from verified buyers, it’s important to be transparent about the source of reviews. Ask your ratings and reviews provider if they allow you to use a Verified Buyer badge so future shoppers know who wrote each review.

ijet display badges on powerreviews

This allows shoppers to have the information they need to make their own decisions on the reviews. Don’t leave out details that could make shoppers second-guess your content.

4. Implement a Post-Purchase Email Program to Collect More Reviews

If you aren’t already, be sure to send a post-purchase email to each shopper reminding him or her to review the products he or she has recently purchased. Reviews from verified buyers not only build credibility for retailers by capturing the opinions of customers who’ve actually used the product, but also help drive sales with consistently positive sentiment.

preview your post purchase email

Additionally, you have to consider timing with your asks. Timing on a customer writing a review varies between different products. The PowerReviews The State of Consumer Trust in Health & Beauty Shoppers discovered there’s a massive difference between asking for reviews 1 day after the consumer made the purchase or 1 month.

PowerReviews Health and Beauty Review Ask Timing Graphic

Our data found nearly 60% of shoppers need a few weeks with a health and beauty product before writing a review. This means you should first ask your customers how long they need with your product or test different periods of time.

5. Provide Incentives to Attract a Better User Sample

When you generate more reviews, you gather more insights from the content. But the problem is not all review readers are writers.

In fact, PowerReviews research found while the vast majority of consumers use reviews, only 42% write them. And more than half of consumers who aren’t writing reviews cited needing motivation to do so.

nordstrom post-purchase email example

Test different incentives in your post purchase emails, like a sweepstakes, giveaway contest, coupon code campaign for free shipping or by leveraging an existing loyalty or rewards program. Again, transparency is key.

Ask your reviews software partner if they allow you to indicate whether a reviewer received a sample or other incentive for writing a review so future shoppers have a clear picture of who wrote each review.

Want to see how product sampling, post-purchase emails and review moderation all fit under one umbrella? Contact our team today see a demo of PowerReviews in action so you can immediately impact the validity of your reviews!

Alex York

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Alex York is the Content and SEO Marketing Manager at PowerReviews. Catch him hunting down the perfect gin cocktail in Chicago or endlessly scrolling through Netflix. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjyork.

You can’t have a retail business without a good product to sell, which is why companies invest enormous resources into a thoughtful product development strategy.

The most successful retailers understand the importance of developing new products and improving their existing merchandise. Continuously finding ways to innovate will keep your business competitive.

Not sure where to start?

This post will walk you through the seven stages of an ecommerce product development strategy. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid idea of how winning products make it to the market—and how you can create more of them.

1. Smarter Product Ideation

Every great product starts with an idea. It happens when you and your team get that light bulb moment and come up with a concept that would change the world—or at least, add value to other people’s lives.

There are multiple ways to navigate the ideation process, but one of the most popular and effective methods is to start with by gathering customer feedback from your existing shoppers. Conduct surveys and analyze your product reviews to identify pain points and opportunities to improve.

Let’s say you discovered that a significant chunk of your customers are asking if an item comes in another color or size. You now have valuable feedback that you can use when developing your next product line.

Image describing the rating sentiment of Blackberry Syrup

Pro tip: Want to make this process easier? Instead of manually combing through your reviews, use a review analytics solution like Product Pulse, which uses natural language processing and sentiment analysis to uncover trends and insights that you can use in your product development strategy. Powered by our Intelligence Engine, the solution has processed over 40 million product reviews, 2 million unique topics and 5 million unique opinions. 

Learn more about Product Pulse and see a demo by contacting our team today!

Learn the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Technique

In addition to analyzing reviews, you should also consider the SCAMPER technique when cooking up product ideas. SCAMPER stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate and Reverse/Rearrange.

It’s a way of thinking that prompts you to ask questions about how you can innovate and improve an existing product.

  • Substitute – Think about a product and ask yourself if you can substitute any of its materials or parts. For instance, if you’re selling brownies and want to make them healthier, you could use other ingredients to replace things like sugar or butter.
  • Combine – Find two or more things that your customers love and combine them. A great example of this can be found in the Doritos Locos Taco, Taco Bell’s most popular menu item, which combined the restaurant’s famous tacos with Doritos.
  • Adapt – You could enhance a product so it adapts to modern changes. For instance, when more people started using their camera phones to take selfies, smartphone companies adapted to consumer behavior by developing front-facing cameras.
  • Modify – The “M” can also stand for “Minify” or “Magnify.” It prompts you to think of ways to modify an existing product by highlighting or reducing specific features. A fashion designer could modify existing work by making dress buttons larger or by shortening overall length.
  • Put to another use – Can you use the product (or the technology behind it) for another purpose? An increasing number of retailers, for instance, are upcycling old clothes and materials to create new ones.
  • Eliminate – How can you simplify the product? Are there features that you can eliminate? We can see this in action in the latest Apple products, which contain fewer ports. Take the latest Macbook Air, which no longer has USB ports.
  • Reverse/Rearrange – Can you interchange or reverse the components of a product? For instance, a shoe designer can move the brand’s logo around to see if it would make a bigger impact on the design.

2. Determining Product Demand

Already have a product idea that you love? Great. The next phase is to determine if there is a demand for it. The last thing you want is to go into full-on production mode only to realize that people don’t want it.

So, take some time to assess just how much your market wants or needs your product. You can do this by:

Conducting Customer Surveys

One of the easiest ways to determine whether or not people like your idea is to ask them. Conduct a survey or speak directly to your most engaged customers to run the idea by them. Ask them what they think, why they like or dislike the concept and how much they would be willing to pay for the item.

The answers to these questions will tell you if your idea is a winner or a dud.

Take Pre-Orders

You can take things a step further and see if you can get people to place pre-orders for the product. Set up a product page for your concept—complete with a product description, photos and a CTA to buy.

If you get enough pre-orders you can take that as a sign to move forward with production.

Start A Crowdfunding Campaign

Another route is to crowdfund your idea. Use a platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to set up a campaign explaining your idea and mapping out your plan. If you get enough people to back your campaign, you might just have a winner on your hands.

Analyze Search Trends

Use tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends to find out if people searching for the type of product you want to develop or if they’re looking for a solution that your idea can solve.

3. Creating a Prototype

The next step is prototyping.

Prototypes are essential in any product development strategy because they enable you to test the design and functionality of your concept. After all, an idea may seem possible in theory, but you won’t find out for sure until you have a physical representation of the product.

The specifics of this stage will vary from one product to the next, but here’s what’s typically involved in the prototyping process:

Sketching the Idea

It’s one thing to have an idea in your head, but bringing it to reality requires solidifying the concept on paper. Create a sketch of your idea so you and your team can better visualize what the prototype would look like. The sketch should communicate general details like the major components of the item and what the product will be used for.

Creating a Digital Prototype

Once you’ve nailed the sketch, you can proceed to create a digital prototype. This would be a 3-D rendering of the product that allows you to view it from multiple angles. Having a digital prototype will enable you to see the item in more detail, so you can refine it before creating the physical version.

Building a Physical Prototype

When you’re happy with the digital version of your product, you can move forward with your physical prototype. Get help from an engineer or prototype designer to create one that you can touch, feel and evaluate.

Note that you can build multiple prototypes for each of your ideas. It’s actually recommended that you do this, as it enables you to compare and test different variations to see what works best.

Take Spanx, as an example. When the brand developed the strap for its Bra-llelujah! Bra, Spanx tested hundreds of prototypes and construction trials to determine the best one.

Iterate. Iterate. Iterate. ⭐ When was the last time you tested something dozens of times to make sure it works? For us,…

Posted by SPANX on Thursday, June 20, 2019

4. Testing & Validation

Got your working prototypes? Test them out on your target customers and gather feedback. The key here is to find your actual customers and let them try the product themselves.

Using Spanx as an example, founder Sara Blakely said that during the prototyping phase of her first product, she was “blown away” by how the production mill tested the prototype.

As she recalled in her presentation at Inc Live:

They had these plastic forms in their mill, and they would put the product up on the plastic form and they’d all stand back with their clipboards and go, “Yep, that’s a medium.” I remember I leaned in, I’m like, “Ask her how she feels.”

Sara took a different approach. Rather than testing her prototypes on lifeless forms, she asked actual women to try her product.

“So, with Spanx, I started testing my prototypes on real women, my mom, my grandmother, all my friends,” she added in the video. “And to this day, all of the Spanx products are obviously tested and worn by me and all of my friends and family and I really appreciate that honest feedback, it’s what makes us better than what had existed out there.”

Follow Blakely’s playbook when testing your prototypes. Find real consumers to test them out and strive to get their honest feedback on how to improve.

5. Don’t Forget Your Product Creation

Once you’ve perfected your prototype, you can move on to production. Again, the specifics of this phase will depend on the product—the materials, complexity, etc. But generally speaking, one of the most important parts of the product creation process is selecting your manufacturer.

There are several websites and directories that you can use to find the right one. Here are a few that you can start with:

You can also check out trade publications and directories in your industry to find potential manufacturers.

Use the above resources to search and identify companies that can bring your product to life. Once you have a list of manufacturers, contact them to discuss:

  • Payment terms
  • Turnaround time
  • Minimum order sizes
  • Their facilities and production environment
  • What happens in the event of delays and special circumstances

Also, consider asking for examples of similar products that they’ve manufactured. References from companies in your space are also beneficial.

6. Launching the Product on the Right Foot

The key to a good product launch is to do it explosively. When your product goes live, you want to make a strong and memorable impression on your target market, so they’ll be compelled to check out it out.

Accomplishing this requires a well-coordinated marketing push. You should ensure that all your marketing initiatives (e.g., email marketing, Facebook ads, paid search ads, influencers, etc.) are in sync. Doing so maximizes the impact and visibility of your product.

Certain book authors are particularly good at this. Consider Marie Forleo, when she launched her book, Everything Is Figureoutable, Forleo had a well-timed and well-coordinated marketing campaign that covered multiple channels.

She drummed excitement on social media, leveraged email marketing, kicked off a live event and went on the TODAY Show to talk about her book.

Forleo made a huge splash on the day of her launch, which led to multiple online reviews, numerous mentions on social media and sold out book tour events in multiple cities.

Strive to market your new products in the same way. Create an explosive launch by leveraging various marketing tools and maximizing your impact on multiple channels.

7. Gathering Feedback (Hint: Look to Your Product Reviews)

Your product development strategy doesn’t end with a launch. You need to close the loop by gathering feedback from your customers. You can do this by:

Analyzing Product Ratings & Reviews

The product reviews section of your site is your most valuable source of feedback. Pay close attention to what people are saying about the item, the star rating that they’re giving the product and any common trends or themes that come up.

The insights that you gather at this stage will be incredibly useful when you decide to create a new product or improve an existing one.

product pulse carry-all backpack shapshot

For best results, automate this process using a tool like Product Pulse, which analyzes product review data for you and delivers actionable insights that you can put to good use.

Engaging in Social Listening

If you have an active social media presence, then sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be valuable sources of feedback. Look at what people are saying on these sites and take note of the photos that they’re posting. Social media content offer insights into how people are using the product and how it fits into their lives.

Listening to Your Customers Is a Must in Any Product Development Strategy

Product development magic can’t happen in a vacuum. Amazing ideas aren’t born in the boardroom. You get them by listening to your customers and making sure that they’re involved in every step of the development process.

Francesca Nicasio

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Francesca Nicasio is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B content for companies in the retail, technology and SMB space.

Last year we wrote about what a transformative trade conference the inaugural GroceryShop event had been. Few of the attendees–even among the event creators who developed the wildly-successful Shoptalk event–understood the magnitude with which the GroceryShop experience would resonate with brands, retailers and solutions providers.

Originally planned for 1,000 attendees, the rolls swelled to over 2,000 by the time the show opened. This year, attendance is expected to exceed 3,000 grocery-focused industry professionals. 

GroceryShop is able to draw such a crowd because the gravitas of their speakers eclipse those of any other similar food and beverage show. A veritable who’s who of retail and brand ecommerce and marketing luminaries, GroceryShop is poised to define the omnichannel customer experience direction of the industry for the year to come.

Here are seven major themes that we expect to play out in the presentations and discussions next week in Las Vegas:

1. Content Is King

Shoppers expect product content to be accessible online, in-store and in-between. This includes pricing, availability, visual content, product descriptions, in-store aisle location, ratings, reviews, questions, answers, coupons, recipes, nutritional information and health lifestyle compliance (Vegan, Paleo, Non-GMO, etc.).

If a retailer isn’t able to make the content available to its shoppers, expect them to turn to Amazon, even if they are walking your aisles or browsing your site. Amazon now displays product ratings and review count on digital shelf tags in their physical stores. Other retailers need to wake up and take notice.

2. Shoppers Seek Trust & Demand Authenticity

It should not surprise anyone that shoppers are more willing to trust product opinions of other shoppers they have never met more than the brand or the retailer that sold them an item. With all the talk of fake reviews, and government regulators seeking to identify and punish companies that do not deliver authenticity, expect success to be driven by how a brand communicates the underlying trust factors that go into the collection and display of shopper-generated content.

3. Digital Must Reach Brick & Mortar

If “click and mortar” retailers think digital is only meaningful for shopping outside of the store, think again. You cannot win shoppers in one channel only to lose them in another. Digital must be a complement to the physical shopping experience, informing and directing the customer as they traverse the store.

4. Native & Traditional Brands Blurring the Line

Remember digitally-native and micro brands like Dollar Shave Club? Now, these brands are entering physical stores. Check out Target with Harry’s, Quip and other brands that originally started online. Then look at Nike’s efforts to shift its business model to focus on direct to consumer. It isn’t just one or the other, and omnichannel retailers are competing to find the right model for growth.

5. Measuring the Customer Journey

Whether offline or online, retailers need to start benchmarking the shopper journey over time and against competitors. This is the only way they improve and grow their businesses. It’s important that retailers measure the customer journey, reduce costs and improve customer experience.

6. Retailers Must Own Their Customer Experience

Several years ago, grocery retailers of all sizes were faced with the challenge that Peapod, Amazon Fresh and Walmart mounted in establishing formidable ecommerce beachheads in their industry. Anyone who works in retail understands the resource constraints, both technical and financial, that inhibit them from moving quickly and decisively.

Along comes Instacart with a model that involves little to no capital or resource investment in exchange for a digital presence. But the price paid by the retailers who joined the Instacart family was a homogeneous customer experience that they can no longer afford to tolerate, especially if Instacart is poised to be a direct competitor.

Expect grocers small and large to seek ways to customize or even configure the customer experience to be more unique. 

7. Data Will Define Success

This week Target announced it would launch a new loyalty program in October. Getting customers to willingly identify themselves in transactions helps build rich longitudinal sales data. This in turn can be used to profile shoppers and build propensity models for communications targeting.

Club stores already attribute 100% of item sales to individual households. Major grocers like Kroger are close and in the 95%+ range, which allows them to drive measurable sales lift through precision marketing (just ask Kroger’s 84.51 division).

Retailers need to use AI-driven Natural Language Processing to make sense of all the shopper sentiment they collect that informs brands about what themes and words are most closely associated with positive and negative product perceptions.

Expectations are set high and Groceryshop is sure to please.

Peter Bond

Peter Bond

Peter V.S. Bond is Vice President Of CPG Commercialization, focused on enabling commercial success within the Consumer Packaged Goods/Retail vertical. His experience also includes working with large enterprise CPG and Retail clients Kroger, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Campbell Soup and others. He is a voice of the customer and CRM evangelist.

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?

Product photos.

Brand logos.

Star ratings and reviews.

Video thumbnails.

gopro hero google search results

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.

Ratings and reviews banner

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.

Google search for restaurants

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.

spare ribs search example from author

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).

Google scroll through menu items

And if you’re socially savvy, you might even take to social media to which local spots have customers buzzing in real time.

disney dining hashtag on instagram

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.

SMS invite for journeyIQ

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 mini air circulator product page

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.

vornado air circulator review exmaple

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.

powerreviews write a review with visual content example

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.

Here’s some food for thought: over half of millennial consumers research products via social. Meanwhile, a staggering 85% of Gen Z customers are doing the same.

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’.

ulta instagram bio

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.

ulta beauty hashtag example

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.

black milk clothing examples of ugc

Reel Customers in via Video Marketing

We can’t talk about visual content without talking about video.

As you might already know, video content is taking over the internet itself as the majority of all web traffic will be video-based in the coming years. To drive this point home, YouTube is now second only to Google in terms of today’s most-visited websites (recently passing Facebook).

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.

Intelligence Suite Product Insights

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.

Brent Barnhart

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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.

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!”

nokia survey email example

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?

Awkward, right?

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.

NPR Amazon Ordering Graphic

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.

ProgressiveCollection_Video

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.

Ulta Post Purchase Email

 

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.

Massdrop Keyboard Review Collection Example

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.

Fly Wheel Incentivized Review

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.

campaign progress influencer and sampling suite

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.

PowerReviews Review Snapshot GIF Example

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.

PowerReviews Review Snapshot quick overview

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.

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.

Think of it as a sort of snowball effect.

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

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.

Brent Barnhart

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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.

It’s 2019 and surprisingly, one of the hottest customer communication methods is a technology that’s existed since 1992–text messaging. Brands have increasingly found value in SMS marketing due to the fact it earns higher open rates, engagement and click-through rates.

Do we have your attention?

This isn’t the first time SMS marketing strategies have gained popularity. Like we mentioned, text capabilities have been around for decades and a lot of companies found success with SMS marketing campaigns in the early 2000s.

But technology, cost and the simplicity of SMS has made a strong comeback for marketers, especially in an age where the average U.S. consumer checks their phone 52 times a day. In this post, we’ll shed light on the ins and outs of SMS marketing in today’s digital environment and how brands effectively use text messages to increase customer engagement.

Let’s get started.

What Is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing (short message service) is a type of customer communication method that requires permission from a business to communicate with a customer via text message to promote, sell, update or confirm specific messages. This technique needs the customer to opt-in, much like an email marketing subscription, so brands and retailers have the ability to send product updates, discounts and important information directly to the consumers’ device.

Pew Research Smartphone Graphic

And for SMS marketing in 2019, this typically means a smartphone. In fact, Pew Research found 81% of U.S. adults now own a smartphone, while 96% at least own a cell phone. So it’s probably safe to say, if you’re struggling to connect with your customers, SMS gives you the chance to communicate through a device nearly every consumer owns.

Before diving into SMS marketing tips and tricks, it’s worth taking a look at why text messaging works and how it performs compared to other channels:

SMS Gets More Engagement

Customer engagement is a tough cookie to crack these days. Between short attention spans and the growing number of distractions all around, it’s difficult to get your messages in front of your target audience.

SMS, when used correctly, cuts through the noise and capture people’s attention in ways that traditional channels (e.g., email, PPC) can’t. According to Gartner, SMS open rates run as high as 98% compared to email’s 20% mark. What’s more is the data cited by Digital Marketing Magazine indicating 75% of consumers actually prefer to receive promotions via text message.

These numbers tell us that consumers are a lot more receptive toward messages they receive via text.

SMS Is Widely Used

Smartphone users love SMS messaging. The same study from Pew Research also found 97% of smartphone owners send text messages–making SMS the most used feature on smartphones. Not only is it the most popular feature, but survey respondents said it’s the most-frequently used feature with the majority stating they’ve sent or received a text in the last hour.

SMS is clearly an invaluable communication method for consumers, so it makes sense to use (or at least test) it in your marketing efforts.

SMS Messaging Promotes Immediate Communication

Text messaging also paves the way for faster communication and even back-and-forth conversations with your customers. That same Gartner research cited earlier discovered SMS had a response rate of 45%, compared to email, which had a 6% response rate. Additionally, data from the GSM Association shows that on average, it takes 90 seconds for users to respond to text messages.

You Can Efficiently Track Results

With the right platform, you can measure the performance of your SMS campaigns and improve your results. Most SMS marketing solutions have reporting analytics features, which allow you to track open rates, CTRs, offer and redemption.

You don’t have to go into SMS marketing blind. As long as you choose the right messaging platform, you can closely track how your initiatives are doing and measure the ROI.

Mobile Messaging Is Poised for (Even More) Growth

Mobile messaging has gained a lot of steam, and marketers are taking notice. According to Salesforce’s 2018 State of Marketing Report, 53% are currently using mobile messaging to market to prospects or customers and 31% are planning to use mobile messaging within the next 12 months.

Salesforce report on mobile messaging

Marketers are evidently going to be using mobile messaging (which includes text) even more. And while this helps validate the value of SMS marketing, it also means that the landscape is going to be more crowded.

As such, if you’re looking to jump into text messaging as a marketing tool, you’ll want to do it sooner rather than later. This is why PowerReviews is striving to help businesses with their SMS marketing strategy by providing a simple tool to engage your shoppers post-purchase to generate more ratings and reviews.

Ratings and Reviews SMS Collection Solution

By asking your customers for feedback via SMS, brands have seen up to 4 times higher review collection rate. Our goal is to help businesses collect the most content possible to help you drive more sales, all while making it easier for the consumer to interact.

Want to see our SMS review collection feature in action? Contact our team today and learn how to get more authentic reviews! 

SMS Marketing Examples & Tips: How to Get It Right

Now that you know the value of text messaging and the impact it has on customer engagement, it’s time to look at how you can make SMS work for you. Here are a handful of SMS marketing examples and tips to inspire your efforts:

Run Timely SMS Marketing Campaigns

Text messages may get a ton of engagement, but that doesn’t mean you can send customers whenever you want. Timing makes or breaks your campaigns, so make sure shoppers receive your messages at the most optimal times.

In addition to sending at the right time of the day, consider the time of the year your subscribers are reading your messages and when you’re running your campaigns. Mark special holidays on your calendar and launch SMS marketing campaigns that align with these events.

Kape Republik Mothers Day SMS Marketing

Check out this message from Kape Republik. The business obviously pays attention to yearly holidays and makes it a point to engage its customers through text. On Mother’s Day, Kape Republik sent moms a special BOGO (buy one get one) offer.

Additionally, the company got in touch once more on Memorial Day with a 10% coupon. The company’s timing is effective because it’s not over the top and the the discount makes it worth it for customers to continue receiving messages.

Kape Republik Memorial Day SMS Marketing

Take a leaf out of Kape Republik’s playbook and run seasonal and holiday SMS campaigns to boost your engagement.

Make Them Visual

Don’t let the term “text” stop you from sending visually stimulating messages via SMS. Aside from giving your messages more personality, visual elements help you stand out and be more memorable. A study on the effects of emoticons found that the presence of emojis in messages can boost the cognition and memory scores of recipients.

An excellent example of a brand putting emojis to good use is Sumo. In the appointment reminder below, the Sumo team included a couple of relevant emojis to spruce up the text.

Sumo SMS Marketing example

But why stop at emojis?

If you’re sending a sweet offer and really want to get people’s attention, consider throwing images into the mix. The jewelry retailer AUrate does this with their SMS strategy.

To promote its gold jewelry, AUrate sent a photo of someone wearing the brand’s shiny pieces to give its consumers a visual example of the product–directly to their device.

AURate SMS Example

Adding a bit of visual flair to your messages doesn’t take a lot of effort. Strive to include images and emojis in your texts whenever it’s appropriate to do so. Your audience will remember you for it!

Instill a Sense of Urgency

Because people tend to open text messages immediately, SMS is an ideal platform for sending time-sensitive messages. If you have an offer that’s expiring soon or want people to respond quickly, SMS is your best communication channel.

The haircare brand Function of Beauty clearly understands this. The website recently ran a 20% off promotion, and 3 hours before it ended, Function of Beauty sent its subscribers a heads up via text. This helped urge shoppers to take advantage of the offer while it lasted.

Function of beauty SMS Marketing Example

Make Taking Action Quick & Easy

Remember that users reading messages on their smartphones don’t have time to type up long responses or jump through several hoops. So, if you require recipients to take action—such as visiting your website—you should make the process as easy as possible.

We already saw this in action in the messages above. Both AUrate and Function of Beauty made it easy to get to their promotions by sending a clickable link via text. In some cases, the action you want people to take is to confirm an appointment or opt-in. In such situations, make sure the task takes as little effort as possible.

When someone makes a service appointment at Sephora and can’t make it, they simply need to reply with “1” and the retailer will cancel their appointment.

Sephora SMS Appointment Example

Go Beyond Self-Promotion

SMS is obviously a great channel for sending promotional messages. But you’d do your audience and your brand a favor by using text messaging to actually help your customers–not just spam them.

In other words, rather than leveraging SMS solely to promote your business, you should also use the medium to provide a service or send information that your audience would truly find useful. In doing so, your recipients value your messages more and are encouraged to keep opening and reading your texts.

Macrobox Meals, for example, sends delivery notifications via text when people’s meals have been delivered. Macrobox knows that its customers would want to be notified when their food reaches their doorstep, so the company makes it a point to give them a heads up.

Macrobox Meals SMS Example

Strive to do something similar to your efforts. Ask yourself: How can you use text to add value to the customer experience? What types of non-promotional messages would people want to receive from you? The answers to these questions will help you craft a better SMS strategy.

Ask for Feedback

As we mentioned earlier, SMS is an effective tool for gathering customer feedback. Since people are more likely to read and respond to text messages, you have a greater chance of collecting responses. And for brands wanting to improve their ratings and reviews collection, PowerReviews’ SMS Collection is a must.

You don’t want to make the process complicated. PowerReviews helps brands send quick message asking your customers to give feedback on a product so you increase the chances of getting more information about your products–and ultimately more reviews.

SMS also helps brands and retailers improve customer satisfaction by getting appropriate feedback on a specific experience. CVS Pharmacy sends its visitors a text asking them to fill out a short survey.

CVS Pharmacy Experience SMS Example

Use SMS Marketing to Re-Engage Inactive Customers

Do you have customers who haven’t visited your store or website in a while? Send them a quick text to get back on their radar.

Bakers & Baristas, a cafe in Cerritos, CA, does exactly that. Have a look at the store’s text below. In addition to a quick “we miss you” message, the cafe sent a promo to sweeten the deal. This helps compel customers to come back.

Bakers and Baristas SMS Example

Use Branded Links

Branded links look at lot cleaner and trustworthy compared to generic ones, and they promote trust and credibility. In fact, data from Rebrandly found branded links see up to 39% more click-throughs compared to non-branded URLs. It’s worth it to use them in your messages as much as possible.

Check out these messages from Appsumo. For Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018, Appsumo used branded links in its text messages to direct people to its website.

AppSumo SMS Example

Is SMS Marketing Part of Your Customer Engagement Toolkit Yet?

SMS clearly offers a lot of value in the customer engagement department. Use text messaging to drive sales, gather feedback, provide services and communicate with your audience.

This technique has the potential to outperform traditional channels in open, click-through and response rates. So see how SMS could fit into your customer engagement strategy and start looking for right messaging platform.

Once you’ve collected enough data, use those insights to get to know your audience better, and then refine your efforts.

Good luck and happy texting!

Francesca Nicasio

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Francesca Nicasio is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B content for companies in the retail, technology and SMB space.

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