Later this month, myself, along with other members of the PowerReviews team, will be headed to Los Angeles, California for Shop.org 2017, a three-day ecommerce conference hosted each year by the National Retail Federation.
This year’s agenda is packed with sessions on all things digital, from creating omnichannel experiences, to using data to drive personalization, to making your company fit for the future with new technologies. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from industry leaders, including Walmart, Kohl’s and Wayfair, among many others. Plus, there will be plenty of time for ecommerce pros to network with their industry peers. It’s going to be a fantastic time, and I’m looking forward to it.
If you’re going to be at Shop.org, don’t miss these two opportunities to connect with the PowerReviews team:
Hear about the Transparency Economy I’m not a neuroscientist, but I’m playing one at Shop.org. On Wednesday, September 27 at 9:00am, I’m presenting a tech talk session on the Transparency Economy. Today, consumers have access to more information than ever before. They expect it, but even more importantly, their brains require it to make better decisions in all aspects of their lives.
During the session, I’ll explore how the human brain makes decisions, and its connection to how transparency through authentic feedback from other consumers (both positive and negative) drives the Transparency Economy.
Meet with the PowerReviews Team Our team will be at booth #732 in the expo hall, so be sure to stop by to find out what’s new at PowerReviews, win prizes and discuss the opportunities and challenges your business is facing and how PowerReviews can help.
We’ll be in the expo hall during the following shifts:
Tuesday, September 26 from 9am-5:30pm
Wednesday, September 27 from 9am-3pm
If you’re not currently a PowerReviews client and would like to schedule a time to meet with a member of our team, reach out to us and we’ll get something scheduled. If you are a current PowerReviews client and want to schedule time to connect with the Client Success team while you’re at Shop.org, feel free to reach out to your Client Success Director and they can make that happen.
I hope to see you September 25-27 in LA!
There’s no longer any doubt that reviews are a helpful tool for consumers. 95% of consumers consult customer reviews and 86% consider them an essential resource when making a purchase decision.
But here’s the thing — when it comes to helpfulness, not all reviews are created equal. While one review may be full of detailed insights to help a customer make a smart purchase decision, another may provide no insight at all.
Let’s say you’re an expectant mother shopping for a rocking chair for your baby’s nursery. There are two reviews for one model you’re considering. The first review is full of details and even includes a photo of the chair in a nursery, to give you a better idea of what it looks like “in the wild.”
“I live in a small condo in Chicago and searched forever for a rocking chair that would work for my son’s small nursery. This one was exactly what I was looking for. It’s high quality and sturdy and has a high back to accommodate my tall husband. As an added bonus, the chair is very stylish so once we no longer need it in the nursery, we’ll move it out to the living room.”
This review helped you determine that you want to add this rocking chair to your shortlist, so you give it a “helpful” vote.
The next review is also five stars, but provides short, vague feedback, with no visual content.
Since this review didn’t provide very much insight, you give it an “unhelpful” vote.
What Makes a Review Helpful
So what makes one review more helpful than another? Recently, we analyzed 7.8 million reviews from the past year in the PowerReviews Open Network to identify common characteristics of reviews that have been voted by consumers as helpful. Here are four of our key findings:
1. Longer is Better: The longer the character count of a review, the greater its average number of helpful votes. This makes sense, since longer reviews likely provide more details, as illustrated in my example above.
2. Visual Media Matters: Reviews with helpful votes have a 16% higher volume of videos and a 13.8% higher volume of photos than those without. This comes as no surprise, since previous PowerReviews research found that 88% of consumers look for visual content (think photos and videos) submitted by other consumers prior to making a purchase.
3. Product Price Makes a Difference:Reviews with helpful votes tend to be on higher priced items, most likely because shoppers are spending more time consuming reviews for expensive products and taking the time to indicate a review’s helpfulness.
4. One-Star Reviews Pull in the Most Helpful Votes: One-star reviews, on average, generate more “helpful” votes than any other star rating. In addition to adding a layer of authenticity to your review content, negative reviews steer consumers away from a product that doesn’t meet their needs, and steer them toward products that do.
Six Tips for Collecting and Displaying the Review Content Most Helpful to Your Shoppers
Reviews are a key tool for helping consumers make smart purchase decisions. But, as our analysis found, not all reviews are created equal. Here are six recommendations for generating and displaying more of the review content that’s most helpful to your consumers.
1. Identify Your Most Helpful Reviewers Analyze your review content to identify contributors of helpful content. For example, look at the number of reviews your consumers have written, as well as the components of those reviews — including helpful votes, visual content and length.
2. Reward Reviewers for Optimal Content Once you’ve identified your helpful reviewers, ask them to contribute additional content. Consider tying review generation to your existing loyalty program and awarding points to reviewers whose content meets certain criteria. For example, give points to reviewers that write reviews that are a certain number of characters long or include a photo or a video. Then, when the consumer accrues a certain number of points, he can redeem the points for a reward such as free shipping or a percentage off a future purchase.
3. Focus on High Priced Items We know from previous research with Northwestern University that reviews are more impactful for items that are higher priced in their category — for example, an organic cereal that is more expensive than a non-organic variety. And our most recent analysis found that reviews with helpful votes tend to be on higher priced items, likely because consumers are spending more time reading reviews for items that cost more.
Identify higher priced items in your product catalog, and prioritize generating reviews for these products. There are many ways to do this, but the most impactful way is to send a post purchase email to shoppers, asking them to contribute reviews for products they’ve recently purchased. In fact, we’ve found that more than 60% of reviews are written as the result of a post purchase email.
4. Allow Consumers to Sort By Review Helpfulness Most likely, your website allows visitors to sort reviews for a given product by a number of different factors, such as star rating (highest rated vs lowest rating) and recency (most recent vs oldest). Be sure you’re also allowing consumers to sort reviews by helpfulness. This allows shoppers to easily identify the content that has been most helpful to others like them.
5. Prominently Feature Helpful Reviews Once you’ve generated plenty of reviews, make it easy for shoppers to find the most helpful review content for each of your products. Ask your ratings and reviews provider if they offer a review “faceoff” that provides consumers with an at-a-glance summary of the most helpful positive and negative reviews. This faceoff will help your shoppers more quickly determine if a product is right for their needs.
6. Embrace Negative Reviews Our analysis also found that one-star reviews, on average, generate more “helpful” votes than any other star rating. And though you certainly don’t want to aim for negative reviews, this content is a helpful tool that allows consumers to identify products that best fit their needs. In fact, 82% of consumers seek out negative reviews. And 44% of Centennial shoppers (age 13-18) don’t trust a product’s reviews if there’s no negative feedback present.
In addition to helping shoppers make smart purchase decisions, allowing negative reviews to be posted on your website provides a level of authenticity to your content, which helps you build trust with your shoppers. Plus, negative reviews allow you to identify insights to improve future iterations of your products in order to better serve your customers.
What’s the best way to encourage your customers to review your products?
With an automated post purchase email simply asking your shoppers to write reviews for recently purchased products. The following guide covers everything you need to know about post purchase emails — from the importance of sending these emails to getting your own Collect Email program live with PowerReviews.
Read the post in its entirety or use these jump links to find the content you need.
Post purchase emails are typically automated communications sent to your recent customers a set number of days after a purchase. These emails ask about their experience with your product or service. The idea is to solicit — then display feedback that will help you get more customers and to make your products even better.
The image below is an example of a Collect Email, asking a customer named Jenny to rate the product she recently purchased. Feel like you’re ready to dive in and create your own program? See how PowerReviews helps increase your review content.
Why Send Post Purchase Emails?
Post purchase emails are the most effective way to generate more products reviews, which are proven to increase traffic, sales and insights. In addition, post purchase emails help you increase the lifetime value of your customers.
Increasing Customer Lifetime Value
Post purchase emails help you build relationships with past shoppers. By letting consumers know that you care about their feedback, they’ll be more inclined to turn to your brand when they’re in need of a product you sell. And by driving former customers back to your website you also benefit from another potential purchase.
Generating More Product Reviews
One of the best ways to get more reviews is to ask for them. Encourage customers to review the products they’ve purchased in an easy, streamlined, mobile-friendly post purchase email.
Why Product Reviews Are Important
Product reviews are important for many reasons. For one, Google indexes product reviews, which means the more reviews you have, the higher your products will place in Google search results. This leads to more traffic on your site. In fact, we’ve found that when a product without reviews adds at least one review, that product experiences a 108% lift in traffic, on average.
Reviews also increase conversion by helping your customers make more confident purchases. When a product without reviews adds one or more reviews, that product experiences an average conversion increase of 65%. In addition, our research with Northwestern University found that reviews are especially important for high consideration items.
Another reason reviews are helpful is that brands can use the authentic customer feedback in reviews — both positive and negative — to improve their products and their customer’s experience.
Hammacher Schlemmer, a PowerReviews customer, noticed that a watch they sold on their website had an average star rating of 2.7. After digging into the reviews for the watch, the company noticed that several customers mentioned the clasp on the watch wasn’t working. Hammacher Schlemmer took this information to their manufacturer to change the clasp, and the average star rating for the watch climbed to 4.7.
Want yet another reason why reviews are important? Your customers want to read them. 86% of consumers indicate that reviews are an essential resource in the purchase journey. And 70% of mobile shoppers reported being more likely to purchase a product if the mobile site or app they’re purchasing from has reviews.
Best Practices for Post Purchase Email Content
Many elements contribute to the performance of your emails — including design, timing, mobile friendliness and incentives. But one of the biggest factors is the content — the words you use to ask shoppers for a review. Here are some tips to create Collect email content that will drive big results.
Keep Things Short and Simple
Research from Microsoft found that the average attention span of a human is 8 seconds — one second shorter than that of a goldfish. Since humans are easily distracted, it’s crucial to keep the text of your emails short, simple and to the point. The purpose of this email is to solicit reviews, so make sure to include a direct call to action to write a review. Avoid elements that will pull customers away from writing a review, such as banners, links to other parts of your website, or other sales or marketing calls to action.
Personalize When Possible
Shoppers have come to expect personalized experiences throughout their shopping journey. Always use the customer’s name in the body of the email, and consider including it in the subject line, too. Research from Experian found that personalized subject lines garnered a 26% higher open rate.
In addition, thank the customer for purchasing a specific product. And include a photo of the product so the customer knows what product they should review.
Avoid Truncated Subject Lines
The subject line will play a big role in whether or not the customer opens your post purchase email. So make sure it’s compelling. Also, keep in mind that more than 50% of emails are opened on a mobile device. So keep your subject lines under 55 characters to avoid being truncated on mobile devices. Use mobile responsive ratings and reviews software when possible.
Measure, Test and Optimize
Don’t adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to your post purchase emails. Instead, build your post purchase email program, continuously measure results, and look for ways to improve.
Consider testing different elements of the email, including:
The look and feel of the email
If you’re seeing a higher conversion rate, great! But keep tracking progress so you know if that number ever starts to dip.
Best Practices for Post Purchase Email Design
Now we’ll focus on some design do’s and don’ts that can help you improve the performance of your post purchase emails.
Do: Keep it Simple
Keep the design of your post purchase emails clean and simple, with the important elements in the upper portion of the email whenever possible. That way, shoppers will quickly understand the call to action, even if they don’t scroll through the entire email.
In addition, avoid banners, links and other promotions that will distract shoppers from writing a review.
Don’t: Use a Small Font
Using small fonts can cause your customers to squint and struggle, and potentially miss the value of your follow up message. Because more than half of people are reading their email on a mobile device, it’s important to use a readable font size. A 16 or 18 point font size will make your email easy to read — regardless of the device your shoppers use.
Do: Use a Single Column Format
Your multi-column email format might look beautiful on a desktop browser, but there’s a good chance it’ll get awkwardly broken up on a mobile device, resulting in something that’s difficult to read and engage with. Use a single column layout so the email scales down nicely on mobile devices and your customers aren’t forced to pinch, zoom, and scroll to see the entire message.
Don’t: Bury the “Write a Review” Action
The easier you make it for your customers, the more likely they are to write a review. Make the “Write a Review” action stand out by including an image of the product you want the customer to review, along with a button that takes him to the Write a Review form. And remember — people are using their finger (not a mouse) on their mobile devices. So avoid tiny links and opt for larger buttons instead.
The Best Time to Send Post Purchase Emails
A key factor that can make or break the success of your post purchase emails is timing.
So, when’s the best time to send a post purchase email? In general, Wednesdays and Saturdays have the highest conversion rate for reviews. But how long should you wait to send a post purchase email? The short answer is, “it depends.” The ideal timing depends on the type of product the consumer purchased.
Hard Goods – 21 Days
Hard goods are items that are durable and don’t wear out quickly. Here are some examples of hard goods.
Wait 21 days before sending a post purchase email for hard goods. Why so long? Let’s say a customer purchases a new washing machine. If you send a post purchase email too quickly after the purchase, the customer has probably only used the machine a few times. But if you wait 21 days, he’ll have enough time to get a good feel for the washing machine so he can write a well-informed, thorough review.
Soft Goods – 14 Days
Soft goods are items that are immediately consumed or have a lifespan of three years or less. Here are some examples of soft goods.
As with hard goods, you’ll want to give customers the opportunity to try out the product before writing a review. But don’t wait too long, since the lifespan of soft goods is much shorter than hard goods and the purchase won’t be top of mind for long.
Perishable Goods – 14 Days
Though you want to give customers the opportunity to experience the product, if you wait too long, the product will be out of sight and out of mind. Some examples of perishable goods include:
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Start Sending Your Post Purchase Emails with PowerReviews
1. If you’re not already a user, request a demo to chat with the team and figure out whether our solution is a good fit.
2. Install our Checkout Beacon on your confirmation page. This beacon sends PowerReviews your customer order data so our software can automatically send your Collect Emails to your customers. If you have your own email service provider that’s no problem, we can work with you on getting it automated on your side.
3. Edit the content of your email to match your brand. You can tweak the from-name, reply-to address, subject line, header logo, body and footer copy.
4. Preview your new email to make sure that it’s capturing the proper data and looks good across multiple devices.
5. Once your email looks the way you want it to, you’ll need to schedule it. In the wizard, enter the number of days after the order date when you want your emails to be sent to your customers.
Prep Your Product Pages for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Traffic
Gift givers are increasingly turning to user-generated content such as ratings and reviews to inform their holiday purchases. How can you ensure you have plenty of this content available for your key products so you can boost traffic and conversion this holiday season?
Read on to learn five things you should do now so you have plenty of reviews for plenty of your products by the time Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around.
1. Send Collect Emails If you’re an existing PowerReviews customer, you’ve heard this tip time and again…but it’s worth mentioning again. Make sure you’re sending an email to your shoppers asking them to write reviews for recent purchases. Your post-purchase emails should be mobile-friendly, include a short subject line, and a clear call to action. We’ve found that more than 60% of reviews are written as the result of a Collect email.
[bctt tweet=”More than 60% of reviews are written as the result of a Collect email.” username=”powerofreviews”]
2. Launch a Product Sampling Campaign for New Products If you’re like many brands and retailers, you’re likely introducing new products in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. Be sure you’re launching these products with plenty of reviews in place in order to build confidence for your shoppers — if you don’t, you risk losing shoppers to a site that provides the content they crave. PowerReviews research on the path to purchase found that 45% of shoppers will turn to a search engine if there aren’t reviews (or aren’t enough reviews) for a product on a brand or retailer site.
How can you generate reviews for products you haven’t yet launched? With a product sampling program. Work with your ratings and reviews provider to send samples to your own list of consumers or an on-demand community of reviewers. Then, collect reviews from those who received a free sample. Vornado, a leader in airflow products, found that 97% of consumers who received a sample as part of their most recent product sampling campaign with PowerReviews went on to write a product review. Read more about how Vornado uses product sampling to generate and syndicate reviews.
3. Streamline the Process for Collecting Reviews for Multiple Items You’re shopping for a pair of shoes, and you end up with socks, too. You put a dress shirt in your shopping cart, and at the last minute, you add a tie. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. We’ve found that about 60% of orders coming through the PowerReviews network include more than one item.
[bctt tweet=”60% of orders coming through the PowerReviews network include more than one item.” username=”powerofreviews”]
So, make it easy for shoppers to write multiple reviews in one sitting. PowerReviews offers a product feature called Review Your Purchases that allows consumers to quickly review all purchases within a single, mobile-friendly page, rather than requiring them to navigate to a different page to write each review. We’ve found that our clients who use Review Your Purchases have increased review volume by 92% year over year, compared to just using a standard, single product review form.
4. Collect Reviews from In-Store Shoppers The National Retail Federation predicts that online retail will grow 8-12% in 2017 — three times the growth rate of total retail sales. And while ecommerce continues to grow, the fact remains that today, the majority of retail transactions still happen within the four walls of a brick and mortar store.
If you’re not currently collecting reviews from your in-store shoppers, you’re missing out on an opportunity to generate a ton of content. How can you start collecting reviews from in-store shoppers? Leverage your existing rewards or loyalty program to send emails to consumers who shop in your stores, asking them to submit reviews. Consider rewarding these shoppers with loyalty points for contributing content, and once they accrue a certain amount of points, send them a coupon for a percentage off a future purchase.
If you don’t have a rewards or loyalty program, print a call to action on all of your store receipts, asking shoppers to write reviews for the products they purchase.
5. Ask Your Staff Members to Write Reviews Chances are, some of your biggest brand advocates are the folks who work in your corporate office and your stores. For example, if you’re a retailer that sells snowboards, I’m willing to bet there are a good number of your employees who own one of your snowboards.
So, ask your staff members to write reviews for products they own. In order to maintain transparency — and the trust you’ve work hard to earn, be sure to add a badge to all reviews that were written by a member of your team.
4 Ways to Stay Ahead and Be Prepared to Navigate in New Directions
The retail landscape is constantly evolving, thanks to many factors including technology advancements, new (and different) competition, global market shifts, and the ever-changing expectations of shoppers. Marketers need to constantly be on the lookout for ways to lead the front edge ideas of tomorrow.
Earlier this month, Kim Feil, CEO of bizHive, spoke during the PowerReviews monthly webinar about the importance of going back to the marketing strategy drawing board in order to remain competitive in an ever-changing world. During the webinar, she shared these four ideas for staying ahead and being prepared to navigate in new directions.
Encourage competition between cross-functional teams Make sure your cross-functional partners see and embrace the changes ahead. Assign cross-functional teams to compete with each other, and give them the task of playing the role of a competitor or an industry you want to understand better. Bring everyone back together and let them argue about how those competitors or an industry change could potentially put you out of business, and how you’d shift your strategy to prevent that from happening.
Dedicate team time to debate impacts of external trends and identify contingency plans Think about the possible positive and negative impacts external trends will have on global industries and brainstorm ways your company can capitalize on possible business deals. In other words, ask yourself what these changes mean for your company and how you can pivot in order to come out on top. For example, if a particular technology is commercialized by a company, what can your company do to be stronger and better?
Shop your category with Millennials Millennials have a lot of money and influence. They don’t care about how things were 18 years ago — they just want to know what’s available to them today. They constantly want more, and your company needs to be prepared to give them that. Shop your products with a Millennial, and you’ll get some really eye opening insights.
Identify potential support partners and resources to be part of your strategies Ask yourself where can you create joint ventures and acquisitions (such as the case of Amazon and Whole Foods). Identify where you need to build, to buy and to ally.
The following is a guest post from Lesli Esposito, Partner and Co-Chair of the Antitrust Group at DLA Piper.
How the Administration Views Consumer Protection and Reviews
User-generated content — including reviews, images and videos — has become an expected part of the path to purchase. PowerReviews research found that 86% of consumers consider reviews an essential resource when making purchase decisions.
In addition to helping consumers make informed purchases, user-generated content can be a valuable tool for helping businesses drive traffic and sales — especially when this content is of a positive nature. And some businesses can be tempted to modify user-generated content in their favor in order to attract — and convert — more shoppers. However, the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees consumer protection, actively works to prevent companies from engaging in this harmful and fraudulent behavior.
Earlier this month, the PowerReviews team invited me to present their monthly webinar. During the webinar, I shared some recent developments in consumer protection when it comes to reviews, as well as practical do’s and don’ts to help ensure businesses don’t break their customers’ trust — or the law.
Recent Developments: Consumer Review Fairness Act
If you’re not familiar with the Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA), now’s the time to get acquainted. The CRFA is a new federal law that, according to the FTC’s website, “protects people’s ability to share their honest opinions about a business’ products, services, or conduct, in any forum, including social media.” The law does this by prohibiting certain things, including:
Contract provisions that bar or otherwise restrict a person’s ability to provide a review of the company’s products, services or conduct
Contract provisions that impose a penalty or fee if someone gives a review
Contract provisions that require a reviewer to give up their intellectual property rights in the content of their reviews
In other words, the law ensures that companies can’t prohibit consumers from writing reviews, or penalize them for doing so. And, it’s worth noting, that for the purposes of this law, a review is defined as comments regarding a product or customer service and includes online reviews, social media posts, photos and videos.
Though it’s generally a best practice to avoid deleting negative reviews, there actually are a few circumstances when you should remove reviews, including if the review:
Contains confidential or private information
Is libelous, harassing, abusive, obscene, vulgar or sexually explicit
Is “inappropriate” with regard to race, gender or ethnicity
Is unrelated to the company’s products or services
Is clearly false or misleading
The penalties for breaking this law include financial penalties, court orders, and consent orders (with reporting requirements), so it’s important for businesses to ensure they have measures in place to comply.
Practical Advice: The Do’s and Don’ts of Reviews
The good news is, complying with this new law isn’t hard to do. The key is to maintain transparency and authenticity.
I wrapped up the webinar by sharing some practical advice for brands and retailers. Read on to learn the do’s and don’ts I shared for being compliant — and transparent — when it comes to reviews.
8 Do’s for Reviews
In order to protect consumers — as well as the trust you’ve worked hard to earn — make sure your business does these eight things.
Remove provisions in contracts with consumers that restrict a customer’s right to give a review or penalize a customer for giving a review, including negative reviews
Remove provisions that require reviewers to give up their IP rights to the content of their reviews or claim copyright over someone’s review
Remove reviews that contain confidential or private information
Remove reviews that are libelous, harassing, obscene, inappropriate as to race, gender, ethnicity
Remove reviews that are unrelated to a product or customer service
Remove reviews that are clearly false or misleading
Disclose material connections with endorsers
Ensure all claims are substantiated
8 Don’ts for Reviews
There are also eight things brands and retailers should avoid when it comes to reviews. Make sure you don’t:
Restrict a customer’s ability to review a product or customer service
Penalize a customer for giving a review, including a negative review
Claim copyright over the contents of a customer’s review
Remove negative reviews
Post false reviews
Fail to disclose material connections in a clear and conspicuous manner
Blame social media constraints for failing to disclose
Lesli C. Esposito focuses on complex commercial litigation and government investigations, concentrating in the fields of antitrust and consumer protection. She represents a wide range of corporations, as well as individuals, as both plaintiffs and defendants.
Lesli has extensive experience litigating antitrust and consumer protection matters in both federal and state courts, as well as representing parties in class actions. She also has extensive experience representing clients in antitrust and consumer protection government investigations, including investigations conducted by the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and state Attorneys General.
She represents clients in a variety of industries, among them pharmaceuticals, healthcare, consumer products, telemarketing, oil and gas, mortgage lending and legal services. Her matters have involved a wide range of claims, including but not limited to allegations of price fixing, abuse of monopoly power, conspiracy, false advertising, and tortious interference, as well as alleged violations of various FTC, FCC and FDA regulations, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.