Exploring the Benefits of Customer Review Content
After spending time researching product feature and benefit statements from a cross section of brands, consumers often look to customer reviews before making their purchase decisions. Adding consumer reviews to an online store can be a complicated process. Here is a brief collection of pros and cons to help you explore adding a customer review function.
- Boost conversion rates: Case studies of retailers by social review vendors credit customer reviews with double-digit percent increases in conversion rates, search traffic, paid search sales and average order rates.
- Build community: Offering customer reviews is a great way to build a sense of community, which can be the biggest challenge that online specialty retailers face.
- Generate content: Customer reviews provide an abundant source of content that can be leveraged in other marketing channels, such as email campaigns, online banners, mobile applications, print campaigns and in-store signage. Some brands are even incorporating customer reviews into their packaging.
- Lower returns: Some retailers have reported that products with product reviews have lower return rates.
- Boost SEO: Over time, when coded directly into product pages, customer reviews can boost search engine optimization (SEO) efforts because search engines consider customer reviews and other user content when ranking retail sites for organic search results. Also, customer reviews may include search terms that you did not use in your product description. Many cloud-based customer review solutions enable social reviews, or reviews that can be easily shared via Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.
- Implementation costs: There are upfront integration costs involved regardless of whether you implement an in-house or a cloud-based solution. These costs vary tremendously, depending on your e-commerce platform, but can easily run into the thousands of dollars in programming expenses.
- Monthly expense: If you outsource customer reviews, you will need to pay a monthly or annual fee that will be tied to which features you use and the volume of traffic on your website. According to Bazaarvoice, the most common solution implemented by retailers with less than $2 million in annual sales is its Express service, which — for $99 a month — provides access to 3,000 templates across 10,000 product categories, enables reviewers to upload images and videos and generate Review Snapshots using tags to highlight product features, and automatically sends custom, branded post-purchase emails asking customers to review products.
- Marketing expense: The cost of securing customer reviews will likely increase as more retailers and independent review sites compete for user-generated content. Backcountry.com plans to start awarding free products or certificates to its top 50 reviewers beginning in July, the first time the retailer has done so.
- Disruptive innovation: While consumers overwhelmingly visit retailer sites to read customer reviews, Bazaarvoice identifies Facebook, Google and other well-financed sites as potential competitive risks. If these companies develop more compelling ways for consumers to review products, they could lure customers away from retailers’ sites.
- Portability: Make sure you retain ownership of all content created on a vendor’s site, in case you decide to switch to a new platform later. Bazaarvoice, for instance, will provide an XML feed of data submitted by the client’s users in connection with their services, which the client may use to migrate to a new vendor or in-house solution.
Read these online OIA resources to learn more about customer reviews: