With recent data from JupiterResearch showing that more than 77% of online shoppers seek customer product reviews before making a purchase decision, retailers and their consumer product vendors are looking for new ways to tap into the power of user generated content.
To help expand the reach of reviews and drive higher conversion rates both online and offline, Bazaarvoice launched a new program this week designed to connect distribution partners called BrandVoice. The program allows consumer product vendors to collect and display ratings & reviews on their own brand websites, and then push the content to retail sites that carry their products.
Patti Freeman Evans, Director of Multi-Channel Strategy Research for Jupiter Research, points out that it is a logical progression for manufacturers to add ratings and reviews to their branded sites given the shifting shopping patterns of consumers. “User-generated content is clearly having an impact on commerce. What we’ve seen consistently from our research is that shoppers rank user generated content as the most helpful tools in their shopping experience, specifically from product reviews.”
Based on analysis of a cross-section of its 290+ clients, Bazaarvoice recently found a direct correlation between the volume of reviews and the conversion rates of particular products. As an example, products with 25 or more reviews showed conversion improvements of 100%, while products with fewer than 10 reviews showed a 30% increase in conversions.
In one of the first test cases of the new BrandVoice program, electronics manufacturer Kingston increased the average number of reviews per product on www.officedepot.com from one to10 and drove a 92% overall conversion increase for all Kingston products on the Office Depot site. “By syndicating reviews, we’re able to amplify the voices of our brand advocates and provide shoppers with the information they need to make the right purchase decision,” says Mark Leatham, Kingston’s Director of Flash Business Development. “As a result, we’re able to improve our brand image for channel shoppers, while increasing sales and decreasing returns. In this competitive holiday season, BrandVoice is a powerful add-on to our traditional channel marketing initiatives for Kingston.”
Although product reviews have been available for many years from Amazon and other leading e-commerce sites, Evans says the expansion of programs such as Bazaarvoice have now made reviews and ratings an expectation among consumers. “As brands become more comfortable with an open dialog with consumers they are soliciting reviews and then moving that content out to their channel partners,” Evans says. “This creates more of a network between brands, retailers and consumers. Now there is also an opportunity for retailers to take the user generated content from their own sites and push it out to other relevant vehicles.”
As an example of strategies to extend the reach of user-generated content, Evans says retailers are experimenting with merchandising top rated products within circulars and also making reviews available on kiosks within physical stores. “Retailers are still in the early stages of bringing user-generated content into other mediums, but it is clearly an opportunity because shoppers clearly value feedback from other consumers,” Evans adds. “Utilizing word of mouth marketing has proven to be a great strategy to generate sales, build loyalty and also reduce returns, so it really delivers on all fronts.”
Programs like BrandVoice also answer the growing need for manufacturers to quickly demonstrate the ROI of their marketing investments, according to Bazaarvoice CEO Brett Hurt, founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice, because all results are measurable and transparent. “BrandVoice offers a simple and effective way for manufacturers to change the game by leveraging authentic word of mouth marketing to gain a competitive edge in the sales channel,” Hurt says. “By placing as many reviews in as many shopping areas as possible, manufacturers can increase the ‘voice share’ that leads to sales online and in the store.”