Harnessing User Reviews and Questions to Drive e-Commerce Performance

We invest significant time and effort in understanding our target audiences and their shopping patterns. Most marketers’ best efforts tend to focus on the moment of purchase and the journey leading up to it. However, there are many performance benefits we can tap into through spending time building a comprehensive strategy around reviews and questions generated by our products.

Most consumers under 65 now consider reviews more important than brand name when it comes to determining the quality of a product and research suggests 90% of customers now say their buying decisions are influenced by reviews. It’s more important than ever to ensure brands have an approach that boosts product discoverability, reduces buying friction and improves the overall shopper experience.  Doing this right can have a big impact on product sales and customer lifetime value.

The importance of user-generated content (UGC) as a make or break purchase journey connector

Despite all the hype about retail moving online, more than 85% of shopping today is still done in-store. The bigger story is that a significant part of the shopper journey for those in-store sales is now taking place online. Research suggests that by 2023, 58% of all retail sales will be influenced by digital, meaning around 45% of in-store sales across all categories will be digitally influenced.

A big part of that influence is driven by shoppers who are checking reviews orratings and product details during the research phase and on the move. In one study, 90% of shoppers said that even when they have found a product somewhere else, they still check back to Amazon before buying.  Platforms like Amazon and TripAdvisor provide fundamental reassurances to shoppers and are now a key part of the decision-making process for most shoppers. If brands don’t pay attention, it could be a key reason why purchase journeys break down and sales are lost to competitors.

How UGC can help optimise the shopper experience, remove friction and boost conversion

Data suggests that featuring user-generated  reviews can uplift sales by 18% and that an increase of one star in a rating on Amazon can equate to a 26% increase in sales. This highlights the sales and performance benefits from having the right strategy in place when it comes to user-generated content.

Feedback from customers also helps us to continuously improve products and optimise the shopper experience. A lack of detailed product information is one of the top reasons that shoppers bounce from product pages. Customer questions and reviews are a wonderful resource to help improve that content, connect touchpoints, empower shoppers and reduce returns.

Boost discoverability and performance by optimising for people and algorithms

When it comes to improving visibility, the quality and quantity of product reviews really matter. Having plenty of reviews and a high star rating will certainly help to ensure Amazon’s search algorithm ranks your products favourably. The rating level at a glance can also have a huge influence on clickthrough rates via paid search, shopping and SEO or review snippets.

However, it’s important we don’t become too fixated on calculations and remain focused on putting the consumer’s needs first. For example, we are often told by Amazon that we must have at least 15 product reviews, while some  research suggests that many consumers are actually looking for in excess of 100 reviews before feeling they can confidently trust a product. The same is true for growing shopper expectations around rich media, product images and videos which appear to be far greater than the often-quoted SEO-recommended levels.

What can we do to maximise trust and reassure shoppers

There has been plenty of coverage around fake reviews in recent times and consumers are increasingly cautious. Brands need to develop a strategy that captures post-sale reviews effectively and then tracks and responds in a way that helps to create a positive, authentic review profile. Whilst only receiving positive feedback is great, a profile that is entirely positive can often appear unnatural or suspicious.

We recommend reacting quickly to negative reviews and attempting to rectify customer issues in a visible way. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate positive brand values and a willingness to resolve issues with any dissatisfied customers.

Some shoppers are dubious of reviews placed directly on brands’ websites and so it’s important to surface your genuine, verified reviews consistently across other key platforms and touchpoints. For example, you could leverage the well-earned reviews from Amazon, across other key touchpoints and/or use reviews collected via a third-party tool to display across the likes of Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor and other platforms.

So, what are the main components of a good product UGC approach?

  • An effective process for collecting reviews post-purchase, either directly or in partnership with a trusted third party

  • A consistent way to track, collate, report and react to reviews in a visible and helpful way

  • A feedback loop that helps to optimise product content and fuel product development

  • A system that supports leveraging reviews through other platforms and shopper touchpoints

Key takeaways

Product UGC is fundamental to commerce success online and in-store. With the right approach you can nurture a review profile that’s positive and authentic. This can be a powerful way to reassure shoppers at key moments, demonstrate your brand values and drive incremental sales through existing and prospective customers. With a good process in place, you can boost your overall ecommerce performance as well as the performance you see across many of your other paid and organic channels.

Want to go further? Get more details on how iProspect can help you build a winning approach to reviews and product UGC. Contact us today.