Strengthening your ratings and reviews program can increase the discoverability and awareness of your products, boost sales, help your business talk in the language of your customers and much more. In fact, nearly half of shoppers say they are less likely to buy from a brand or retailer if they don’t have reviews on their sites, and 70% of shoppers use reviews to evaluate similar products before buying.

I recently presented an Econsultancy webinar on ratings and reviews best practices and want to share some highlights in this article.

Here are the six steps you need to take to make sure your business reaps the rewards of a ratings and reviews program.

Set yourself up for success
Select the right partner
Generate reviews
Invest time in daily management
Identify and apply actionable insights
Track the ROI

Learn more about ratings and reviews best practices.

1. Set yourself up for success

Start by defining what success looks like for your business by documenting your current pain points and goals. Some common goals for a user-generated content (UGC) program include: boosting conversion on your product pages, launching new products with immediate success, standing out on an increasingly competitive retail shelf, or optimising SEO to increase search traffic. Some common aims for retailers include creating an omnichannel experience, improving customer engagement on product pages, identifying why certain products perform the way they do, and reducing return rates.

It’s also useful to understand the multitude of UGC value drivers to get investment from other individuals or departments across areas of your company. UGC is most commonly seen as a means for increasing online conversion, but it can do so much more for your business.

2. Select the right partner

Regardless of why you are investing, choosing the right partner is crucial and requires some diligence on your part. Create a list of questions to evaluate providers and document and compare answers.

From a high-level, you want to know if the provider:

offers the right types of UGC;
will be a true partner from implementation to growth;
can show you how to make smarter, consumer-driven business decisions;
and can get more eyes on your reviews at critical decision-making moments and in the places your customers love to shop.

More specifically, as detailed in the checklist below, consider whether or not the provider can enable more than a simple star rating; can ensure reviews are verified and authentic; helps you execute the right strategies and tactics; has access to multiple retail websites; offers insights and reporting; and is constantly innovating its solutions, features, and functionalities.

checklist for selecting a ratings and review providerA checklist for selecting a ratings and review provider
3. Generate reviews

More reviews means more consumer confidence, purchases, SEO benefits, and insights. That’s why actively collecting reviews from customers to increase volume is so important. Shoppers not only prefer products with a high number of reviews versus ones without many, but the recency of reviews plays a major role in conversion rates.

One of the most common ways to generate reviews is using a post-purchase email sent to customers after they purchase, making it quick and easy for recent buyers to share their feedback.

Sending consumers free samples can help you generate reviews before its official launch. Product sampling can also be used to accelerate review collection of seasonal products, and give existing products an influx of fresh content.

In addition, you can leverage a variety of other touch-points you have with your customers, including emails, social media, and even product packaging. Regardless of the tactic, review moderation to ensure authenticity is critical.

4. Invest time in daily management

The most successful organizations have a team in place to manage the ongoing activities required to monitor and improve a UGC program. Some of these activities include communicating with others across the company about the benefits of reviews, implementing review generation strategies, responding to negative feedback, and answering product-specific questions in a timely manner.

5. Identify and apply actionable insights

There’s no better way for brands and retailers to understand their consumers and products than by gathering feedback directly from their customers. Getting insights straight from the source can inform important business decisions, and it’s especially useful to dig deeper than the star rating. Even small details within a review can help you differentiate your offerings, make your marketing and messaging more impactful, and surface ways to re-design products and develop new ones.

Good or bad, real-time voice of the customer in content can be empowering. It reveals opportunities to see how you can better serve your shoppers — from customer service and product to brand and category managers and merchants.

6. Track the ROI

The most important metrics depend on your company’s objectives and can range drastically. Most UGC providers offer different tools to measure the impact of your UGC program. These metrics commonly include conversion rate (the impact of reviews on specific product purchases), engagement (how long a shopper stays on the page), and cost benefits (how much money is saved by setting customers’ expectations correctly).

Ultimately, you can report on the revenue impact if you takes into account factors such as a drop in return rate, offline sales impact of reviews, lift in marketing efficacy, and value of gathering insights.

Want to learn more on how you can maximise the ROI of a ratings and reviews program? Watch the webinar for more information on ratings and reviews best practices and to hear from La Redoute on how the large French ecommerce retailer leverages UGC for business success.

About us: Bazaarvoice connects the world’s largest network of brands, retailers, and shoppers, which allows thousands of brands to connect with retailers and distribute their UGC to the places customers shop and makes it easy for retailers to provide more than a billion monthly shoppers with the content they trust most.

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