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How a Faster Website Helps Your Ecommerce Site’s Bottom Line

June 12, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

The page load speed of your website can have a dramatic impact on your business.

Why? Because faster page load speeds result in higher conversion rates.

Content delivery network (CDN) Akamai found that just a 100 millisecond (that’s 100 thousandths of a second) delay in web site load time can lower conversion rates by 7%, and that more than half of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.1

As page load times go up, conversion rates fall. mPulse Mobile found that pages that loaded in just 2.4 seconds had a conversion rate of 1.9%. When page load times hit 5.7 seconds, the conversion rate fell to just 0.6%.2

mPulse Mobile’s data also revealed that bounce rates climb in tandem with page load times.

The key takeaway: the faster your website, the better your business outcomes.

How Third-Party JavaScript Can Affect Page Load Speed

What’s third-party JavaScript, or JS? According to Google, “Third-party JavaScript often refers to scripts that can be embedded into any site directly from a third-party vendor. These scripts can include ads, analytics, widgets and other scripts that make the web more dynamic and interactive.”

Google explains that these scripts—which can include things like social media share buttons, video embeds and A/B testing tools—are often the cause of page load slowdowns and can be outside of the control of webmasters.

At TurnTo, we understand that fast loading websites are the lifeblood of your business. That’s why we built our new SpeedFlex™ widget architecture from the ground up with a responsive, economical JavaScript framework.

As a result, our JavaScript bundles are a fraction the size of those from our competitors and can be booted by the browser 2 – 3 times faster.

Smaller JS bundles load faster over networks; that effect can be especially pronounced on slower connections and some mobile networks.

Smaller JS bundles are also an indication of good design practices, less bloat, and modularity. TurnTo, for example, only delivers the necessary code to support a particular site’s chosen product and feature set to lessen the load on the browser. We also defer the loading of some JS modules until they’re actually needed by the website.

How to Evaluate Your Third-Party JavaScript

Site performance measuring tools like PageSpeed Insights, Chrome DevTools and WebPageTest are commonly used to evaluate the relative impact of third-party JavaScript on websites. You can use these tools to identify all of the third-party JavaScript running on your site, and which third-party scripts take the most time to execute.

SEO Benefits of Faster Page Loads

Faster page loads can also give your website other benefits in the form of improved search engine optimization (SEO). With its recent “Speed Update,” Google now privileges fast loading pages in its search results, especially on mobile.

In other words, the faster your website, the more positively Google’s search engine algorithm will look on your site.

Since product reviews, Q&A, and customer-generated photos are some of the heaviest components on ecommerce sites, the speed improvements provided by SpeedFlex can make a significant difference to overall site performance.

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1 Akamai Online Retail Performance Report: Milliseconds Are Critical; Akamai, April 2017

2 How Page Load Time Affects Conversion Rates: 12 Case Studies; HubSpot

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Here’s How Product Reviews Can Help Your Omnichannel Strategy

June 5, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Online reviews might seem a world removed from a shopper’s in-store experience. But new research suggests that product reviews play a key role in the path to purchase for shoppers at a physical store.

An April 2019 study from RetailMeNot found that nearly 70% of in-store customers were more likely to look to their smartphones for product reviews, instead of talking with a store associate.1

More than half of shoppers also preferred to use their smartphone to research similar products, or to get specifications about items they were considering purchasing.

An Omnichannel Retail Strategy FTW!

For retailers, these smartphone-centric findings should drive home the importance of omnichannel—the multichannel retail approach that lets shoppers switch between online, mobile and physical experiences seamlessly, based on their needs or personal preferences.

With omnichannel, a shopper might research a product on their phone, receive a coupon, and then make their purchase at a store. Or, they might go to a brick-and-mortar location, view a product in person, then convert on a mobile device.

In a perfect world, omnichannel eliminates friction, makes every touchpoint shoppable, adopts a customer-centric approach, and privileges a superior customer experience above all else.

Smartphones are increasingly a key part of that omnichannel journey, especially among younger demographics. A 2018 study from Salesforce found that 71% of shoppers used their mobile devices at a brick-and-mortar location. That figure was even higher—at 83%—for 18- to 44-year-olds.2

“Mobile browsing and research are standard for most shoppers,” said RetailMeNot CEO Marissa Tarleton in a statement accompanying the research. “A substantial number of consumers are comfortable converting on either that same smartphone device or in a physical store, based on what’s convenient to their needs at the time of their journey.”

How Product Reviews Can Aid Your Omnichannel Efforts

While the idea of omnichannel is simple, a well-executed omnichannel retail strategy is often anything but. RetailMeNot’s research underscores how important online product reviews can be, even when your shoppers are in-store but staring at their smartphones.

Here are a few ways retailers can ensure their Customer-Generated Content strategy also supports their omnichannel efforts:

1. Collect more reviews. Data shows that more reviews result in better conversions; that holds true for shoppers on smartphones as well. A study from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center found that a product with just five reviews was 270% more likely to be purchased than a product with no reviews.3 TurnTo’s innovative features, like reviews that can be submitted directly from the body of an email, have been shown to increase content collection rates by as much as 200%.

2. Optimize displayed content for mobile. It’s not enough to have reviews if they’re difficult to read. Retailers should ensure their websites are optimized for mobile display. TurnTo uses a responsive design approach by default and allows ecommerce sites to configure custom breakpoints to match their site so things like Ratings & Reviews look their best, regardless of what device a shopper is on.

3. Make mobile submissions frictionless. Leaving a product review on your site should be easy, especially if your shoppers are on a mobile device. Smartphone users leave shorter reviews than people on desktops, so ask these shoppers questions that don’t require lengthy answers. TurnTo custom tailors its review collection user experience for shoppers on mobile to get the best answers out of them.

Want to learn more about how TurnTo can help?

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1 New RetailMeNot Data Shows Mobile Devices Play a Critical Role for Consumers While Shopping in Physical Retail Stores; RetailMeNot, April 2019

2 Shopper-First Retailing: New Research from 6,000 Consumers and 1.4 Billion Ecommerce Visits Reveals What Shoppers Actually Want; Salesforce, August 2018

3 How Online Reviews Influence Sales; Spiegel Research Center, June 2017

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5 Ways to Increase Your Customer-Generated Content Collection

May 29, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Gathering as much Customer-Generated Content (CGC) as possible can help your eCommerce site in a number of ways. Content like Ratings & Reviews gives shoppers additional product information, provides social proof for a purchase, and improves search engine optimization (SEO).

Research also shows that your customers want as much content as they can get: a study from Salsify found that, on average, people wanted to see 112 reviews per product.

In a guest post for TurnTo partner and eCommerce agency Classy Llama, we broke down 5 key ways that online stores can improve their content collection rates. Here’s an executive summary of our advice:

1. Get your post-purchase email right. If you want more reviews, you have to ask.

2. Ask your customers to review more stuff. It might seem counterintuitive to ask customers to hand over more content right after they’ve submitted a review, but it works.

3. Optimize for mobile. Mobile is eating the world, and if your content collection strategy isn’t taking that into account, you’re missing out.

4. Get the review first, then authenticate. Asking a customer to authenticate before they’ve submitted content only introduces a possible friction point.

5. Go omnichannel. Consider ways to solicit content from offline channels, like receipts or even packaging.

For a more detailed breakdown of these strategies, check out the full post.

Want to find out how TurnTo can help you improve your content collection strategy?

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Do People Write Reviews Differently on Their Smartphones? You Bet.

May 23, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Are your shoppers leaving fundamentally different reviews on their smartphones than they would on PCs? Some new research from a few business professors suggests that’s exactly what’s happening.

In their paper, “Selectively Emotional: How Smartphone Use Changes User-Generated Content,” authors Shiri Melumad of the Wharton School, J. Jeffrey Inman of Pitt Business, and Michel Tuan Pham of Columbia Business School found that reviews written on smartphones were shorter than those composed on PCs—no surprise there.1

But the researchers also found that smartphone reviews had a higher amount of emotional content when compared with reviews from PCs.

Smartphone Reviews Tend Toward Positivity

Even more interestingly, the study revealed that user-generated content (UGC) written on smartphones tended to be largely positive in nature.

The researchers suggested that the trends they discovered were likely to be seen across a number of platforms and topics, and not just the ones they examined in their study.

In addition, they noted that previous research had shown that an increase in positive sentiment in Amazon reviews led to higher customer conversion rates.

They also offered a simple recommendation for companies: use a content collection strategy that encourages customers to submit reviews from their smartphones.

“Research shows that content that’s more emotional is more likely to go viral, or be shared and discussed by others,” lead author Melumad said in an interview on the Knowledge@Wharton podcast. “From the firm’s perspective, knowing that reviews have been written on phones–and thus more likely to be emotional—can help the firm identify which customer-generated content may be the most influential.”2

Key Takeaways from the Research:

  • Reviews written on smartphones, are shorter, have more emotional content, and are more positive than those written on PCs.
  • Other data shows an increase in positive sentiment in Amazon reviews led to a higher conversion rate.
  • Reviews with more emotional content are more likely to go viral or be shared.
  • eCommerce sites should consider encouraging shoppers to submit Customer-Generated Content (CGC) on a smartphone to take advantage of its more positive nature.

How to Capture Positive Sentiment

One key insight from the paper: eCommerce sites should ensure their Customer-Generated Content (CGC) collection strategy is optimized for mobile if they want to capture as much positive sentiment as possible.

One way online stores can do that is by making sure they use responsive web design—essentially ensuring that their web pages are being displayed correctly regardless of what device a shopper is on.

TurnTo, for example, gives users the ability to set configurable breakpoints in the widgets for our four products—Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews, and Checkout Comments. That ensures product detail pages always look their best on smartphones, tablets, desktops, and laptops.

Not only that, but TurnTo’s review collection process identifies customers on smartphones and offers them a tailored user experience designed to make it as easy as possible to get content.

Another way TurnTo eliminates friction points is with our Inbox Submission feature that lets your customers submit reviews directly from the body of an email, instead of being sent to a browser.

That simple change has resulted in some significant gains for our clients; with the less intrusive approach, content collection rates can increase by as much as 200%.

Measurement matters too. That’s why TurnTo’s reporting tools include breakdowns by device. Say, for example, the word counts of your reviews drop, but overall positive sentiment spikes. With TurnTo reporting, you can analyze the data to see if the change resulted from an increase of reviews coming from mobile devices.

Want to learn more?

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Sources:

1 Selectively Emotional: How Smartphone Use Changes User-Generated Content; Journal of Marketing Research, January 2019

2 User-Generated Content: The Medium Impacts the Message; Knowledge@Wharton, May 2019

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TurnTo Upgrades Partnership with Magento to Enhance Customer-Generated Content for Retailers and Brands

May 14, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

TurnTo Networks, the innovation-leader in Customer-Generated Content solutions like ratings & reviews, community Q&A, photos & videos, and more, today announced its Select Technology partnership with Magento, an Adobe Company, a worldwide leader in cloud digital commerce innovation.

The upgrade of TurnTo’s partnership with Magento to the Select Technology partner level signals the company’s commitment to the Magento ecosystem, and to online merchants powered by the eCommerce platform.

Under the partnership, companies using Magento Commerce will be able to quickly and easily integrate the newest version of TurnTo’s best-in-class voice-of-the-customer platform into their digital storefronts.

“TurnTo’s clients already benefit from higher content collection rates, faster load speeds, easier customization, and simpler maintenance,” said George Eberstadt, CEO and Founder of TurnTo Networks. “Our renewed partnership with Magento and the launch of our newest Magento 2 extension means that retailers using the platform will now have an even easier time taking advantage of our newest products.”

“The team at TurnTo has continued to drive innovation in Customer-Generated Content solutions that our customers leverage to stay ahead of the curve,” said Ryan Murden, Head of Business Development at Magento. “We are pleased to build on our collaboration with TurnTo as a Select Technology Partner and to offer their extension on the Magento Marketplace.”

TurnTo’s partnership with Magento—and its new Magento 2 Extension—gives merchants:

  • An automated catalog sending process that saves eCommerce sites the work of creating custom feeds
  • The sharing of Ratings & Review information for inclusion in Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs)
  • The ability to automatically display Customer-Generated Content like product review counts and average star ratings on their storefronts
  • Improved site performance and SEO value through support for dynamically embedded content
  • The ability to include highly rated products via star ratings in guided navigation experiences in Magento 2
  • Advanced integration capabilities, including single sign-on and SKU families for easy sharing of content across item variants

Magento merchants that use TurnTo also benefit from:

  • More Customer-Generated Content though TurnTo’s optimized review collection process
  • An Open Review Syndication network that allows brand and retailer partners to freely share review content with one another
  • Top-notch client support from the highest-rated Customer-Generated Content solutions vendor, according to technology vendor review site G2 Crowd

TurnTo’s Select Technology Partnership with Magento comes on the heels of the release of SpeedFlex™, the newest version of the TurnTo front-end architecture, which offers clients a breakthrough in load speed and in server-side customizability.

With SpeedFlex, the overall size of TurnTo’s JavaScript bundle is over 60% smaller than the bundles from leading competitors.  This reduced size, together with SpeedFlex’s state-of-the-art architecture which minimizes browser workload, delivers a net load time reduction of over 50% compared to these competitors.  Faster loading not only improves customer experience, it improves SEO, resulting in increased organic traffic, especially on smartphones and slower networks.

Further, SpeedFlex gives retailers the ability to customize all aspects of the user experience through server-side configuration files.  This customizability extends to functionality and layout, going far beyond look-and-feel customization through CSS.  The SpeedFlex configuration model also enables user experiences to be tailored by product category even on a single page type and the easy generation of variants for A/B testing.

Interested in learning more or scheduling a demo?

Let’s Talk

 

 

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Dialing In Your Influencer Strategy—How To Get Beyond the Kardashians

May 8, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Influencer marketing has gotten some negative press lately, with advertisers voicing understandable concerns about issues like attribution and return on investment.

In June 2018, Unilever CMO Keith Weed went so far as to tell a crowd gathered at Cannes that his company would no longer work with influencers who inflated their follower counts by simply buying them.

“We need to take urgent action now to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever,” Weed said in a statement that was picked up by several media outlets.1

When it comes to influencers, Weed’s skeptical gaze is understandable. Unilever’s relationships with influencers who have fake followers has been well documented. For example, analytics company Points North Group estimated that 25% of the followers of influencers working with Unilever brand Dove in 2018 were fake.

The Influencer Paradox

Despite this, the practice of influencer marketing is still drawing significant outlays from advertisers. Points North also estimated that North American marketers spent more than $1 billion on influencers in 2018.2

eMarketer estimates that, worldwide, marketers are allocating about 10% of their budgets to influencers on average, and that marketers plan to continue increasing their spending on the strategy.3

Marketers are stuck in something of an influencer paradox. Influencer agency Mediakix surveyed marketers in January and found that 80% consider influencer marketing to be effective. But 50% also said that spotting fake followers and inauthentic engagement was their chief challenge with influencer marketing, more than any other factor.4

 

Go Micro for a Better Influencer Strategy

Influencer marketing is really just the digital equivalent of an old advertising standby—the celebrity endorsement. In the 90s, Michael Jordan was paid millions for hawking Nikes on TV. Today Kendall Jenner is reportedly pulling in six figures for sponsored posts potentially seen by her roughly 109 million followers.5

But as thinking around influencer marketing evolves, some brands and retailers are moving away from influencers that promise scale. Instead they’re getting replaced by so-called microinfluencers and nanoinfluencers.

These influencers have a fraction of the number of followers that the most famous celebrity influencers have, but often deliver much better levels of engagement.6

Your Shoppers Are Also Influencers

Why are these microinfluencers delivering better results for marketers? One key reason is because they’re seen as authentic sources of information, instead of celebrities looking to make a quick buck.

In that sense, microinfluencers have a lot in common with a resource eCommerce sites might not be taking full advantage of—their own customers.

Like influencer marketing, a Voice of the Customer strategy has proven benefits. Our research shows that 76% of shoppers are less likely to make a purchase from a site that lacks Customer-Generated Content like Ratings & Reviews. And 74% said Customer-Generated Content influenced their decision to shop on one site over another.

When a product is backed by other customers with content like Ratings & Reviews, it gives shoppers the social proof they might need to pull the trigger on a purchase—the same way an influencer endorsement might. Brands and retailers with online stores can benefit from this effect by taking a more expansive view of what an influencer looks like.

How TurnTo Can Help

Instagram’s meteoric growth was due in no small part to its mobile-first approach. Our Visual Reviews product was similarly created with smartphone users in mind, making it simple for them to submit a photo from their device instead of typing out a review.

Those photos can be displayed on your product detail page in a constantly updated gallery row, just like a social media feed. Converse’s site is a great example of how customer created visuals can be showcased on a product page.

TurnTo also partners with services like Curalate, which lets you integrate visually focused social media into product pages right alongside content submitted directly by customers.

In fact, TurnTo’s entire Customer-Generated Content product suite of Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews, and Checkout Comments is designed to help eCommerce sites gather more and better quality content from your customers.

Want to learn more?

Let’s Talk

Sources:

1 Unilever to Crack Down on Influencers Who Buy Fake Followers and Use Bots; Adweek, June 18, 2018

2 Fake Followers Are Hard to Shake, According to New Report; Ad Age, February 6, 2019

3 Global Influencer Marketing 2019; eMarketer, March 5, 2019

4 Influencer Marketing 2019 Industry Benchmarks; Mediakix, January 2019

5 Preview: Kris Jenner as the Force Behind a Family Empire Worth Billions;

6 Are You Ready for the Nanoinfluencers?; New York Times, November 11, 2018

 

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TurnTo Releases New SpeedFlex™ Widget Architecture for Faster Site Speeds and Highly Tailored PDPs

May 2, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

TurnTo Networks has announced the release of its new SpeedFlex™ widget architecture, supporting its full Customer-Generated Content suite of Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews™, and Checkout Comments™. SpeedFlex™ combines the lightest, fastest-loading widget components with a server-side customization model that gives full control over layout and functionality as well as look and feel.

With SpeedFlex™, eCommerce sites no longer face a trade-off between a slow-loading but easy widget implementation, or a fast-loading but time consuming API project. Now, brands and retailers can have the best of both approaches: customer experiences that are uniquely tailored to their brand and product categories, a quick implementation with minimal effort, and fast page loads that improve conversion rates and deliver meaningful search engine optimization (SEO).

An architecture designed for speed

Compared to the other leading enterprise customer content platforms, TurnTo’s SpeedFlex™ provides a JavaScript bundle that is one half to one quarter the size and is parsed, evaluated, and executed by the browser 2-3 times faster.

To achieve these performance levels, TurnTo wrote the SpeedFlex™ code from the ground up using the most modern and efficient reactive JavaScript to deliver a full enterprise feature set in the smallest package. Speed is further improved through a configuration model that loads only the exact code needed for each page and the replacement of heavy sprite graphics with vector SVG images.

Page load speed is an important factor for conversion rates and for SEO. Making web pages load faster can reduce abandonment rates by 20%. And with its recent “Speed Update,” Google’s search ranking algorithm now privileges fast loading pages, especially on mobile.

Since product reviews, Q&A, and customer-generated photos are some of the heaviest components on eCommerce sites, the speed improvements provided by SpeedFlex™ can make a significant difference to overall site performance.

Unique customer experiences without API work

SpeedFlex™ enables online stores to easily tailor not only look-and-feel but also layout and even functionality without resorting to time-consuming API work. With TurnTo’s unique new architecture, configurations of all aspects of design and information architecture are composed server-side and dynamically loaded to the production environment. Configurable breakpoints ensure optimized display on all device types from a single theme definition. With this approach:

  • Changes made to the configuration appear immediately on the site without the need to edit code on the page itself
  • A single page type can support multiple design theme variants for A/B testing
  • The functions and experience provided to the shopper can vary depending on the category of the product

Bliss sees dramatic performance improvements

When skincare brand Bliss switched to TurnTo and implemented SpeedFlex™ on www.blissworld.com, the file size and load time of their product reviews components decreased to less than half of what they were before.

“We’ve been highly satisfied with our switch to TurnTo,” said Karilyn Anderson, VP of Digital at Bliss. “With TurnTo’s SpeedFlex™ architecture, we were able to easily achieve a highly customized layout and look exactly tailored for our brand, while at the same time significantly improving our site performance.”

“SpeedFlex™ is not only the highest-performance widget platform for enterprise-scale eCommerce sites today, it’s the foundation for our vision of bespoke customer experiences, going forward,” said George Eberstadt, TurnTo’s Founder and CEO, said. “In today’s competitive world, one-size-fits-all is not a winning strategy; brands and stores have to differentiate and deliver unique, compelling experiences. SpeedFlex™ enables the rapid innovation that leads to real business advantage for our customers.”

Want to find out more about how TurnTo can help your business?

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How TurnTo Helped Bob’s Red Mill Capture the Passion of Their Customers

April 24, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods was founded in 1978 by Bob Moore and his wife Charlee, who turned their love of healthy foods and whole grains into a business with the goal of making high-quality natural and organic foods available to as many people as possible.

Today, Bob’s Red Mill is an employee-owned company with globally distributed products and a deeply passionate following—many of the company’s customers rely on it to provide quality gluten-free products due to their sensitivities or allergies.

We spoke with Kevin Irish, Digital Marketing Manager for Bob’s Red Mill, about how the company’s new Customer-Generated Content strategy helped to capture the passion of its most ardent customers for some powerful word-of-mouth marketing.

What was the problem Bob’s Red Mill faced before you revamped your Customer-Generated Content approach?

When I started, Bob’s Red Mill sent me to several food trade shows where thousands of attendees would come to our booth. At every single show a grown person would break down in tears while telling me their story. Bob’s Red Mill had made their life—or the life of someone they loved—manageable for the first time, mostly because they could finally deal with a food allergy.

Then I looked at our website, and none of that emotion was present. None. That was my guiding hypothesis for improving our Customer-Generated Content. If we gave our customers a platform to voice their love for us and our products, we would get lots of good content. And with TurnTo’s platform, I turned out to be right.

How did TurnTo’s products help the company?

Before TurnTo, all we had was a “write a review” button—and a poor user experience for those that clicked on it. There was no review solicitation. I crunched the numbers and found out we were getting about 1.3 pieces of Customer-Generated Content per day. After we implemented TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews and other products, that jumped to more than 115 submissions per day.

Bob’s Red Mill almost didn’t turn on TurnTo’s Checkout Comments at launch, correct?

Yes, that’s true. One of TurnTo’s customer success reps highly recommended that we include Checkout Comments in our implementation, which was the right call. It’s been a huge success for us, and a feature we never would have thought of ourselves.

Basically, Checkout Comments pops up on an order confirmation page and asks, “Why did you choose this?” We’re getting content gold from that, so much so that we rebuilt part of our website around it to include a visual pinboard of products that get responses.

We use a slightly customized API from TurnTo that lets us only show comments we think are worth displaying. It’s just pages and pages of comments raving about our products, all based on that one simple question at checkout.

Recipes are also a huge draw for the Bob’s Red Mill website, right?

Yes, about one-third of our traffic is to our recipe section. About 18 months ago a bug in the recipe section of our website took our entire site down. When we brought the site back online we completely remade the recipe platform. A large part of that was to integrate TurnTo’s reviews and Community Q&A into the recipes.

On our old recipe platform users were leaving reviews for recipes that were actually questions. Things like, “Can I use almond milk instead of cow’s milk?” We weren’t really serving our customers’ needs.

With TurnTo’s Community Q&A customers didn’t need to leave a question in a review, they could just ask our recipe pros what would work. We soft-launched the feature without telling anybody and our first organic question came in 30 minutes later. We had 260 questions in the first month.

TurnTo even went back to the old questions that customers left in reviews and paired them with answers. Then they imported that content into the new Community Q&A feature so we wouldn’t lose all of that historical information.

Anything else to add?

I’ve worked with other “top players” for Customer-Generated Content collection in the past and was always really disappointed. They nickel and dimed us, lacked support and weren’t open to any changes to personalize or customize their platforms.

TurnTo met all of those basic needs and then offered us even more features. We love how much of the platform is open via API, and how well documented it is. It’s been a perfect partnership.

To learn more about how TurnTo helped Bob’s Red Mill improve their Customer-Generated Content strategy, see our recent case study with the company. You can also watch a presentation Kevin Irish gave on the benefits of TurnTo at Shop.org 2018.

Want to find out how TurnTo can help you?

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Here’s How eCommerce Sites Can Start Decoding Gen Z

April 11, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Tired of reading clickbait about Millennials’ love of avocado toast? Here’s some good news: GenZ is the next new generation, and over the next few years, people are going to be working hard to figure out this vibrant and dynamic group—the first truly digital native generation.

The boundaries of the US’s youngest generation are still somewhat fuzzy, but the Pew Research Center defines Gen Z as those born in 1997 or later.1

What sets Gen Z apart from its predecessors? For starters, it’s the most racially and ethnically diverse generation the US has ever seen—a group with even greater diversity than Millennials, according to Pew.

Gen Z Has Truly Digital-First Media Habits

It also consumes media in a fundamentally different way than any of its forebears. The oldest Gen Zers were only 10 years old when Apple released the first iPhone; smartphones are likely their default method for heading online.

The Center for Generational Kinetics reports that 95% of Gen Zers had a smartphone in 2018. Their survey also revealed that 61% of Gen Zers spent at least five hours on their smartphone per day, and that more than one-quarter spent a daily average of 10 hours or more with the devices.2

With so much of their time spent on smartphones, legacy media channels like TV hold significantly less sway over them than older generations. That means marketers can have a tough time reaching them at scale through more traditional advertising methods.

Teens and the Power of Recommendations and Reviews

Those media habits could make Gen Z a tough nut for online merchants to crack. But some new research from Social Media Link found that there are still some things that do exert a lot of influence over their purchase decisions: recommendations and reviews.3

According to the company’s survey, nearly all Gen Zers (96%) said they often read recommendations or reviews for products they were thinking about buying.

 

These young shoppers also relied heavily on their personal networks for guidance on purchase decisions. 80% of teens looked to friends and family for recommendations about new products and brands, making it their No. 1 source for those types of endorsements.

 

But online reviews were almost as popular with Gen Zers, with nearly eight in 10 accessing them for insights on potential purchases and brands. In fact, reviews were a bigger influence on their purchase decisions than social media, influencers, and even ads.

Social Media Link also found that these young shoppers aren’t just likely to read product reviews. They’re also highly predisposed to writing them as well. More than 90% of Gen Zers wrote product reviews at least some of the time, and more than a quarter wrote one for every product or service they used.

 

To sum up the research:

  • 96% of Gen Zers often read ratings and reviews about things they’re thinking about buying.
  • Members of the generation tend to look first to friends and family for product recommendations, but online reviews are a close second.
  • Gen Zers are not just reading reviews; more than 9 in 10 also write them for at least some purchases
  • Gen Z spends substantially more time on smartphones than with older media platforms like TV

To Reach Gen Z, Think Mobile-First

Gen Z shoppers, like pretty much all customers, want to see a lot of reviews. TurnTo can help with our Ratings & Reviews product, which generates more Customer-Generated Content than any other.

Just like our entire product suite, Ratings & Reviews is mobile-first and uses responsive design principles to make reviews submitted on a smartphone frictionless. To be clear, we’re not just making things look pretty on mobile devices. We’re changing the way content is collected based on smartphone users’ behavior.

It’s an approach that makes things as easy as possible for Gen Zers on smartphones—who, remember, are already primed to write reviews—to submit more content about their purchases to eCommerce sites.

TurnTo’s Visual Reviews takes this mobile-first approach a step further. Its visual-first collection flow lets shoppers send photos and videos to eCommerce sites with just a few taps. As a result, eCommerce sites get to bank even more content on their product pages, and customers don’t even have to type anything out.

Want to learn more about how TurnTo’s innovative products can help you connect with Gen Z?

Get In Touch

Sources:

1 Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Generation Z Begins; Pew Research Center, January 2019

2 How Obsessed is Gen Z with Mobile Technology?; The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2018

3 Infographic: 27% of Gen Zers Say They Always Write a Product Review After Making a Purchase; Adweek, April 2018

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Why Reviews Matter: Almost 70% of Shoppers Have Left a Product Page Because They Wanted More Info

April 4, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Is your eCommerce site failing to give your shoppers all of the information they want? Some recent data from Salsify1 suggests that might be the case.

In a survey of 1,000 US adults, Salsify discovered that nearly 70% of respondents abandoned a product detail page (PDP) because it didn’t offer enough product detail or other information.

To put those survey results in context: more people left a product page because they wanted more information than those that left because prices were too high, or because they were concerned about potentially buying a fake product.

Nearly 70% of respondents abandoned a product detail page (PDP) because it didn’t offer enough product detail or other information.

eCommerce sites that fail to do the simple work of including enough product information on their PDPs are basically leaving money on the table.

But the problem is also easily fixable. Here are some key takeaways from the report that eCommerce companies should take to heart:

1. The More Reviews, the Better

112 is the magic number. No, that’s not a typo. It’s the average number of reviews that shoppers want to see when they’re looking at a product online, according to Salsify. And that figure was even higher among younger demographic groups.

 

On average, shoppers ages 25- to 34-years old wanted to see 159 reviews per product; that figure jumped to an average of 203 reviews per product among those ages 18 to 24.

In short, your customers want reviews. Lots of them. Why? Because a high review count is social proof that a product is good, and that can alleviate shoppers’ hesitation about pulling the trigger on a purchase.

On average, shoppers want to see 112 reviews for each product

“Consumers are really looking for that extra degree of validation, and it’s not even necessarily the star rating,” Andrew Weber, Data Insights Manager at Salsify, told Retail TouchPoints in an interview. “Those ratings are pretty similar between the top performers and poor performers. The difference is the average review count.” 2

2. Images Are Also in High Demand

The desire for more content extends beyond just five-star ratings and written reviews. Customers want to see more visual content like photos and videos on the product page than they did just a few years ago. In fact, Salsify found that shoppers expect a baseline of six images for each product. But even top-selling items in the image-focused grocery and electronics verticals only had an average of four.

 

The same went for videos; shoppers indicated they wanted, on average, a minimum of two per product page. And some age groups wanted as many as four to five videos for each product.

3. Customers Trust Each Other

It’s not just numbers that matter—customers also want to see highly relevant reviews on product pages. Salsify found that 30% of respondents said it was a good sign that a brand or retailer understood them when product reviews came from people similar to them.

Today’s shoppers place a tremendous amount of faith in one another to share authentic and honest feedback about online goods. Product ratings and reviews written in a conversational tone resonate better with shoppers, rather than marketing copy, which might read as inauthentic.

4. Shoppers Have Questions—Give Them Answers

Unfortunately for online shoppers, there’s usually no sales associate standing by to respond to questions. But your customers still want answers.

In fact, Salsify found that most shoppers wanted answers for anywhere from eight to 13 questions about a particular product to appear right on the product detail page.

“One option is to put in more textual descriptions that reveal what a specific product feature actually does, or have common Q&A questions literally right on the product page that can be interactively displayed,” Weber said in his interview with Retail TouchPoints.

Salsify also noted that commonly asked questions sometimes reveal shortcomings in product descriptions. Brands and retailers can respond to this valuable feedback by updating their product detail pages.

How TurnTo Can Help

Salsify’s research attests to the need for eCommerce sites to provide their customers with more written reviews, better visual content, and answers to their questions. TurnTo’s industry-leading innovations can help with that:

  • More reviews – Our Ratings & Review product is designed to increase review collection rates right off the bat. We do that with features like Inbox Submission, which lets customers submit reviews directly from the body of an email, increasing content collection rates by as much as 200%. Our review solicitations are optimized for mobile, so it’s really easy for customers to submit content on their smartphones. All of that adds up to more Ratings & Reviews for your products.
  • Better Visual Content –TurnTo’s Visual Reviews product is the easiest way for eCommerce sites to collect even more photos and videos. Our review collection flow is designed to collect photos and videos first from smartphone users—and submit reviews without any typing. These customer-created images can help improve sales at every step of the customer journey.
  • Give Shoppers Answers – With our Community Q&A product you can supply answers to customer questions right on the product page. Believe it or not, most customers are happy to share their knowledge—we’ve found that about 90% of questions sent to previous shoppers get answers. But Community Q&A can also draw on information from places like existing product descriptions, previously asked questions, and even a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page to deliver near-instant responses to questions.

Want to learn more?

Get In Touch

Sources:

1 5 New Rules to Tackle Shoppers’ Rising Expectations of Your Brand; Salsify, March 2019

2 Study: 69% of Shoppers Leave a Site if Product Info is Subpar; Retail TouchPoints, March 2019

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5 Ways to Take Advantage of Your eCommerce Site’s FAQ Page

March 27, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

At first blush, a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page might seem like a dated throwback to the earliest days of the web—more dial-up internet than sophisticated eCommerce selling tool. But an FAQ page is actually a crucial part of a modern digital strategy for eCommerce sites.

A well-crafted FAQ page can free a customer who’s hit a friction point, and then ease them back toward a conversion. The proactive nature of FAQs can also reduce customer service costs by eliminating a shopper’s need to reach out to your customer support team.

Most brands understand the importance of FAQs, according to recent research from Gartner L2. The research company found that more than 85% of brands it examined had put FAQs in their sites’ primary or secondary navigation1, a clear nod to how important they’ve become for eCommerce companies.

But it’s not just about serving your shoppers. FAQs provide a source of high-quality, searchable content that can be used by several other systems in your eCommerce toolbox.

Here are 5 ways that eCommerce sites can max out the usefulness of their FAQs:

1. Give the People What They Want

Customer service communications are a great way to identify problem areas and figure what content you should be putting in your FAQ. Is your customer service team fielding the same questions over and over again? That’s a sure sign that your website is either failing to include the information your customers actually want, or that the particulars are difficult for them to find.

Remember, good FAQ pages are about specifics: How do I use this coupon I received in the mail? How long will it take for my new rug to be delivered? Both the question and the answer should zero in on a clearly defined issue.

2. Keep It Simple

Now you know what information your customers are looking for, so make sure you actually give it to them. Keep your answers short and clear; your language should mirror the question being asked. Don’t be afraid to play around with tone either. You can use jargon or slang if your target audience is a niche one that will get it, but only as long as it’s consistent with your overall brand voice.

3. If You Have a Lot of Questions, Group by Topic

Gartner L2’s research found that nearly nine in 10 brands organized their FAQ pages by topic, highlighting a best practice. By grouping a lengthy list of FAQs by topic you’re giving shoppers a better user experience by organizing your content and giving them some visual breathing room, rather than wall of text. You’re also make it easier for shoppers to scan content that’s similar in nature, and might be related to their original question.

WhatsApp, for example, does a great job of breaking up its FAQ by device, platform and vertical. The service rightly assumes that WhatsApp Business users are more likely to have more questions in common with one another than with WhatsApp users on an iPhone.

4. Guide Your Shoppers Back to the Purchase Funnel

FAQs should be a detour on the customer journey, not a dead end. Include links in your FAQs that will guide your shoppers back to the path to purchase, but only when they’re relevant. Think hard about using calls-to-action that serve shoppers’ interests first and foremost, not yours.

5. Search Should Be Top-of-Mind

Shockingly, Gartner L2 found that only about one-quarter of brand sites it analyzed took the effort to make their FAQ pages searchable. Big box brands were leaders in this regard, while fashion and hotel brands lagged behind. Both retailers and brands can benefit from instituting good SEO practices on their eCommerce site’s FAQ pages.

Start by creating a multipage FAQ instead of cramming all of the information on one page. You can add a search bar to your FAQ page if you think it will help shoppers get to the answers to their questions faster, or if you have a lot of information for customers to parse through.

How TurnTo’s Community Q&A Can Help with eCommerce FAQs

TurnTo developed its Community Q&A product to deliver fast answers to shopper questions from a resource they trust: other customers who’ve already bought the product. Answers to questions submitted to Community Q&A come from a number of sources. They can be drawn from previously answered questions, product Ratings & Reviews, as well as other relevant product content.

In addition, with TurnTo’s Community Q&A your FAQ pages—and any other pages on your website for that matter—are searchable, giving shoppers instant answers from both customers and your own in-house experts at the same time.

One of the major benefits of TurnTo’s Community Q&A is that it keeps shoppers on your product detail page even when they have a question that’s unrelated to a particular item.

In the example above, a customer on a product detail page wants information about Cole Haan’s shipping and tracking features. Community Q&A can serve up an answer without forcing a shopper to navigate to another page, removing a customer’s potential digression from a conversion.

Want to learn more about how TurnTo’s Community Q&A can help?

Let’s Talk

1 Helping Customers Help Themselves; Gartner L2, March 2019

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Is Voice Going to Revolutionize eCommerce? Not Just Yet…

March 21, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Is eCommerce in the midst of a voice search revolution? Maybe.

But so far there’s little evidence to show that voice has had a dramatic effect on the way shoppers are buying things online.

Consider the following: an August 2018 survey from Social Lens Research found that just 10% of shoppers had purchased a new product using a voice command.1

And even though smart speakers like the Amazon Alexa have seen rapid adoption rates2, they have yet to move the needle in purchasing behaviors in any substantial way. Last year, tech news site The Information reported that only 2% of Alexa owners had ever used the smart speaker to make a purchase.3

Why Hasn’t Voice Commerce Taken Off?

Alexa, what’s the holdup?

Voice is well-suited for shoppers reordering regular purchases who already know what they want to buy—things like paper towels and laundry detergent. In those instances, voice is saving customers the trouble of typing, tapping, or clicking their repeat orders.

But voice isn’t always as good at helping shoppers on the path of discovery, those who might not know exactly what they want. These customers are likely to read product details, compare prices, and scan product Ratings & Reviews. That kind of browsing can become kludgy—if not downright impossible—for shoppers using a voice-only interface.

In one survey, RetailMeNot found that more than half of customers didn’t want to shop using a smart speaker because they wanted to see an item before they bought it, even if it was just an online picture.4

The takeaway? eCommerce sites can’t ignore the old way of doing things, even as voice search looms on the horizon. Traditional product detail pages that include visuals are still valuable.

And Customer-Generated Content—not just written reviews, but also rich media like shopper-submitted photos and videos you’d find in Visual Reviews—can help serve customer needs and guide them towards a purchase.

Voice Search Isn’t Just About Smart Speakers

Also, the conversation around voice tends to miss a key point: voice search isn’t just about smart speakers. eMarketer estimates that there will be 74.2 million smart speaker users in the US this year.5 But the company also projects that US smartphone users will number 232.2 million in 2019.6

In other words, there will be more than three times as many smartphone users as smart speaker users this year. And nearly everyone with a smartphone can access a voice assistant like Google Assistant, Siri, or even Amazon’s Alexa app. In fact, the Social Lens Research study found that 91% of voice commands are made on smartphones.

The New User Experience is Voice

Unlike shoppers using smart speakers, smartphone users who start their search with a voice query are likely to migrate from the voice interface to review results on their device’s screen. For these customers, voice is just another touchpoint on their path to purchase. Research, browsing, and even conversion can still take place on a more traditional interface: a screen.

As a result, search engine optimization (SEO) strategies that worked well in a pre-voice search world should also deliver results today, and in the near future. But there are still a few unique factors to voice SEO that ecommerce sites should keep in mind.

How to Optimize Your eCommerce Site for Voice SEO

  • Speed matters. This is a fundamental pillar of all SEO. Search engines just like websites that are optimized for fast load times. There are a host of tools out there, such as Google’s Page Speed Insights, that can help you make your pages faster.
  • Embrace natural language. In the world of voice search, queries are getting longer and more closely resemble how we talk, rather than how we type. TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews and Community Q&A products can help by populating your product detail pages with “conversational content” written by real people—your customers—that delivers better search results for voice users.
  • Support snippets. Google’s “rich snippets” are the details placed between the URL and description of a search result. As we pointed out in our last blog post, TurnTo’s widget platform is fully indexable by Google. That means that Google searches will return the average star rating and number of reviews of your product pages right on the search engine results page. And that usually means better conversions.
  • Answer questions. Voice searchers are more likely to phrase their queries in the form of a question. Bolstering your site’s frequently asked questions (FAQ) page can help with voice SEO because FAQ pages include both a question and an answer, something that’s irresistible to search engines. Just make sure the answers you supply are accurate and succinct.

Want to learn more about how TurnTo can help?

 

Let’s Talk.

1 Voice Commands: Current State; Social Lens Research, October 2018

2 Smart Speakers Hit Critical Mass in 2018; TechCrunch, December 2018

3 The Reality Behind Voice Shopping Hype; The Information, August 2018

4 The 2019 Retailer Playbook; RetailMeNot, November 2018

5 Global Smart Speaker Users 2019; eMarketer, January 2019

6 eMarketer: US Smartphone Usage Will Grow 3% to 232.8M People This Year; March 2019

 

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Are Customer Reviews Part of Your eCommerce Site’s SEO Strategy? They Should Be.

March 13, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Let’s start with the obvious: search engine optimization (SEO) needs to be a core element of any eCommerce site’s business strategy.

How can SEO help your eCommerce business? Solid SEO practices can help drive organic traffic to your site, capturing shopper intent and putting your customers seamlessly on the path to purchase.

But if talk of schema markup and other technical jargon makes your head spin and your eyes glaze over, don’t worry. There are some great resources designed to ensure your SEO strategy employs established best practices, even if you’re a beginner.

Start with Google

The best place to start is probably with the 800-pound gorilla of search: Google. If you’re going to focus your SEO strategy on one search engine, make it the company that handles more search queries than any other in the US. According to recent data from Jumpshot complied by SparkToro, Google or Google-owned properties controlled more than 90% of US search share as of fall 2018.1

At the highest level, Google suggests that websites:

  • Give visitors the information they want. That means putting high-quality, useful content on your webpages that’s clear and accurate.
  • Get other sites to link to yours. When another site links to yours—or backlinks—it’s a signal to Google that your site is reputable and generating good content. These links should be “natural,” meaning they weren’t created for the sole purpose of gaming Google’s algorithm. Google’s software is pretty sophisticated and can ding your site’s search results if it decides that sites are linking to yours in an unnatural fashion.
  • Don’t “keyword stuff” or create hidden content targeted to crawlers. It’s tempting to put a bunch of keywords or other hidden content designed to better appeal to Google’s indexing software. But, again, Google can identify these tactics and will rank your site lower as a result.

Google has a helpful SEO Starter Guide that goes into much greater detail on how to improve your organic rankings.

Go Deeper for eCommerce

Google’s best practices are a good place to start. But eCommerce sites need to go beyond the basics to increase the online traffic to their digital storefronts. Thankfully, SEO service and tools provider Ahrefs has created a step-by-step guide for an eCommerce SEO strategy.

The Ahrefs guide understandably highlights the use of the company’s own tools and services, but the guide still contains some valuable concepts that any eCommerce site can apply.

Ahrefs suggests that eCommerce companies:

  • Do keyword research. This entails using keyword planning tools to figure out the best keywords for both category pages and product detail pages. That can include the use of “long-tail” keywords that might not be immediately obvious, but that can deliver strong results over a long period of time.
  • Optimize on-page SEO strategies. This does involve creating meta tags and schema markup. But don’t worry, the Ahrefs guide will walk you through those techniques, as well as the benefits of things like optimized URLs and unique content on both category pages and product detail pages.
  • Fix “technical” SEO problems. This includes things like removing duplicated content—something that Google’s crawler is not terribly fond of—as well as eliminating “deep” or “orphaned” pages that are more than three clicks removed from your home page.

How TurnTo Can Help with SEO

Ratings & Reviews are incredibly important to shoppers. Our research shows that three-quarters of shoppers are less likely to buy something from a site that lacks Customer-Generated Content like Ratings & Reviews.

Why? Because Customer-Generated Content provides an authentic voice to shoppers from a trusted source—themselves.

But more than that, product reviews can yield serious benefits for your SEO efforts. TurnTo’s Ratings and Reviews are fully viewable and indexable by search engines. That means shoppers who submit a review are actually adding relevant keywords to your product detail pages, without you having to do anything.

Reviews also give product detail pages unique content, something highly regarded by search engine algorithms. Product detail pages that are regularly updated are also indexed by search engines with greater frequency, delivering even more value to your SEO strategy.

TurnTo’s widget platform is fully indexable by Google. And the indexability of our reviews also means they’re included in Googles’ “rich snippets,” the search results that include extra information, like a product’s star rating, that’s placed between the URL and the description of a search result.

Rich snippets like the one seen above tend to get higher click-through rates, generating more traffic for your site.

In addition, TurnTo’s Community Q&A product, which lets shoppers answer questions posed by other shoppers directly on the product detail page, also provide the same SEO benefits. They offer new, organically created content that’s updated frequently and can help surface items to customers on search engines.

Want to learn more about how TurnTo can improve your SEO strategy?

Let’s Talk.

1 2018 Search Market Share: Myths vs. Realities of Google, Bing, Amazon, Facebook, DuckDuckGo, & More; SparkToro, October 2018

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Shoptalk 2019 Tech Talk: TurnTo’s Next-Gen Tech and the Power of Open Review Syndication

March 8, 2019 by Belinda Blakley

TurnTo founder and CEO George Eberstadt took to the stage at Shoptalk 2019 to give attendees an overview of the new, next-generation technology powering our front end. He also explains why TurnTo’s truly Open Review Syndication service helps brands maximize sales, and helps retailers distinguish themselves as a shopping destination. Simply stated, TurnTo’s superior approach to syndication means better results for our clients.

 

 

Learn More

Get In Touch!

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How to Use Product Sampling to Increase Brand Awareness and Drive Conversions

March 1, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Ever been handed a granola bar from a friendly stranger on the street? Made a beeline for a bite-sized Vienna sausage on a toothpick at Costco? Been offered a tube of toothpaste by your dentist? Then you’ve already experienced product sampling.

What is Product Sampling?

Product sampling is one of the oldest and most effective marketing techniques for brands and retailers, and a powerful way to achieve a number of marketing objectives. In the simplest terms, it’s when a brand or retailer gives customers a free sample of product.

When done right, sampling can increase brand awareness, build loyalty, expand customer databases, and help gather Ratings & Reviews for products.

Sampling offers brands and retailers several advantages:

  • Zero risk for shoppers. Sampling doesn’t just lower the bar for a customer trying a product, it eliminates it altogether. Customer acquisition doesn’t get any easier than when you’re giving away free stuff.
  • Emotional engagement. Shoppers can browse online product pages for hours, but there’s still no substitute for experiencing a product in real life. Samples put products directly in the hands of customers for stronger emotional engagement.
  • It just works. A recent study from Cadent Consulting Group found that 76% of retailers thought product sampling and demos were effective at generating sales. And the trend line is looking good—that was up from 67% two years earlier.1

It’s Not Just for CPGs Anymore

When most people think of a free sample they probably think of a single serving of instant coffee or a sachet of anti-wrinkle cream. That’s because consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have long used samples as an effective way to acquire new customers or challenge their loyalty to the competition.

But a growing number of eCommerce companies are also tapping into the technique. Brandshare projects that spending by brands on eCommerce sampling will grow to $40.69 billion by 2020.2

One of the core advantages of sampling is that it can generate Ratings & Reviews for products, which in turn helps companies drive site traffic and increase conversions.

The types of products that can benefit from a sampling strategy designed to seed Ratings & Reviews might not be readily apparent. They include:

  • New products. Ever checked out a new product on a website, only to lose interest because there were no reviews? Sampling allows clients to quickly and easily build up a library of reviews for a product, demonstrating social proof of purchase intent. Running a sampling campaign before a product is offered for sale ensures that a product detail page already has Customer-Generated Content when it goes live.
  • Seasonal products. Products with a short selling cycle, like Valentine’s Day gifts, can similarly benefit from a fast build-up of reviews. Again, it’s a key way to show social proof for items that customers usually spend little time thinking about.
  • Established products. Even well-established brands can benefit from sampling, which can generate Customer-Generated Content to deliver new shopper engagement for long-tail products. Fresh review content not only boosts shopper confidence, it can also increase your SEO performance.

Sampling doesn’t need be limited to low-margin, high-volume products typically sold by CPG companies. With the right strategy and sound targeting, sampling can also help drive sales of more expensive goods that usually spend more time languishing in inventory.

How TurnTo Can Help

TurnTo Sampling offers merchants and brands a reliable way to quickly increase the volume of Ratings & Reviews and other types of Customer-Generated Content on their sites. Our turnkey sampling solution only requires our clients to ship the products in bulk. We can do the rest of the work—finding the right target audience, managing fulfillment, and collecting honest, authentic feedback from customers.

For Merchants:

TurnTo Sampling provides white-label sampling services that merchants can offer to their brands, either as a value-add or as a source of revenue. Merchant-branded interfaces are used by brands to manage the campaigns, and by sample recipients to sign up and submit reviews.

This enterprise approach gives merchants the ability to leverage their customer base and fulfillment capabilities on behalf of brands, if they so desire. It works great for marketplaces that need high-quality reviews across a number of brands. And it’s especially effective when those brands run multiple campaigns simultaneously, with different sample audiences and goals.

For Brands:

Brands can use their own panel of reviewers, or use a targeted audience provided by TurnTo. We can supply complete program management, only oversee the content collection, or do anything in between. Sampling program members can sign up for samples, track shipments, and write reviews all in the same place.

Interested in learning more about TurnTo Sampling?

Get In Touch!

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1 2017 Marketing Spending Industry Study; Cadent Consulting Group, 2017

2 eCommerce Fuels Triple Digit Growth of Product Sampling; Brandshare, July 2017

Get a Jump on Your Visual Search Strategy—Start Collecting Visual Content Now

February 20, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Imagine this: You see a friend with a pair of sweet-looking Yeezys, snap a pic with your phone and are seamlessly delivered to a product page featuring the exact same pair of shoes. Too pricey or not your size? The same page also shows visually similar items.

That’s the power of visual search. It can help shoppers zero in on a specific product amid a sea of SKUs. It requires no typing, streamlining the path to purchase. It can help bridge the customer experience gap between the physical and digital worlds. And it’s already here.

“A lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures, not keywords,” -Ben Silbermann, CEO, Pinterest1

Tech and ecommerce giants are already preparing for a sea change in how search queries will work as users migrate away from text-based searches and towards visual and voice. Amazon, Google, Alibaba, Microsoft, Facebook, eBay, Pinterest—all now have their own visual search engines.

The Inflection Point is Approaching

While the groundwork for visual search is currently being laid, it hasn’t reached mainstream adoption just yet. A recent eMarketer/Bizrate survey, for example, found that only 10% of shoppers had ever used visual search.2

But there are some serious signs that customer behavior is changing. One year after rolling out its visual search engine, Pinterest reported that users conducted about 600 million visual searches a month on its platform, a year-over-year increase of 140%.3 And personalization service provider RichRelevance found that 52% of shoppers wanted to see similar items after taking a picture of a product they liked.4

Other research underscores the trend of visual media displacing text among customers. A study from Intent Lab found that 59% of online shoppers thought visual information about products was more important than text.5

That figure was even higher among certain product verticals, with more than eight in 10 furniture and clothing shoppers placing more importance on visuals than the written word.

TurnTo Can Bolster Your Visual Content Strategy

Clearly, the importance of visual media is only set to grow, especially as visual search becomes more common. TurnTo’s Visual Reviews™ are designed to make gathering photos and videos for your product page simple and easy, and are fully indexable by search engines.

Our visual-first collection flow means that customers responding to a review submission request on a mobile device can be asked to share a photo of their purchase before doing anything else. And our use of advanced logic means we can nail the timing of the request, helping to drive up collection rates.

TurnTo’s highly configurable widgets also give brands and retailers granular control over how consumer-generated visual content is displayed. That means that for companies in verticals where photos and videos are especially important to shoppers, Visual Reviews™ can be prominently displayed on product detail pages.

And just like any other review, customer images submitted to our clients are covered by terms of use agreements. That way they don’t have to deal with the hassle of rights issues of images taken from social media.

Want to learn more about Visual Reviews™?

Let’s Talk

Sources:

1The future of search will be all about pictures, not keywords, says Pinterest CEO; CNBC, April 2017

2Visual Search is Poised for Mainstream Adoption; eMarketer, January 2019

3Celebrating one year of Pinterest Lens; Pinterest, February 2018

4RichRelevance Study Shows Americans are Skeptical of Voice-Assisted Shopping; RichRelevance, June 2018

5Visual Search Wins Over Text as Consumers’ Most Trusted Information Source; Intent Lab, February 2019

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Grocery’s Digital Revolution Is Here—What’s Your Voice of Customer Strategy?

February 11, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

The digital revolution has reshaped the retail landscape for nearly every vertical with one major exception—grocery. For a long time, prevailing wisdom said that customers demanded an experience that let them see, touch, and even smell their groceries before heading to checkout.

But that’s changing. Data shows that digital disruption is headed grocery’s way. According to figures released in October 2018 by IGD at industry event Groceryshop, the size of the online grocery market in the US is set to grow from $23.9 billion to $59.5 billion between 2018 and 2023.

And there’s still plenty of room for growth. IGD reported that online grocery’s channel share will hit just 3.5% by 2023, up from a 1.6% share in 2018.

The encroachment of digital means that both grocery retailers and brands will have to rethink old marketing standbys to better appeal to online shoppers. Strategies such as end-caps, print circulars and planograms will have to be reimagined for the digital realm.

Digital investments can have real payoffs for grocers. A recent report from McKinsey & Co. found that grocery companies that were early adopters of technology, including digital solutions, saw a bump of 2% to 5% in earnings before interest and taxes. That’s a great argument for grocery stores to invest in technologies like customer-generated content (CGC) to improve their bottom line.

The TurnTo Advantage for Retailers – Promoting Private Label Goods

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) giants of the world have made huge investments in customer loyalty. But data suggests that grocery shoppers might not have such strong brand fidelity after all. A summer 2018 survey from retail solutions provider Field Agent, for example, found that 46% of customers bought private label store brands always or often when shopping online for groceries or household consumables.

Retailers can tap into the demand for private label goods with upfront placement of customer-generated content like TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews. Stores can leverage pre-existing fan bases for private label goods—a group that’s likely eager to share their thoughts about benefits and value—by putting five-star ratings and enthusiastic testimonials front-and-center.

CPGs have built up a large amount of trust in their brands over time. To compete, private label brands can use CGC to build their own reservoirs of trust among shoppers. Our recent research found that 76% of shoppers trust the authenticity of product reviews on online stores, underscoring how important CGC can be in their purchase decisions.

The TurnTo Advantage for Brands – The Ratings & Review Showcase

No matter what the product category, brands need to feel relevant, personal and authentic to online shoppers to win their business. For brands in the grocery space, CGC can play a key role in putting products in front of customers, and helping shoppers connect with products on an emotional level.

For example, with TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews and Visual Reviews™ products, online customers can read and see authentic experiences provided by fellow shoppers. Honest feedback can help lead your customers further down the conversion funnel.

The TurnTo Advantage for New Products – Sampling

Launching a new product in the grocery space is a tremendous challenge. In his presentation at last year’s Groceryshop, Vivek Kalpande, a Group Vice President at Albertsons, shared that an astounding 80% ­to 90% of new CPG product launches are considered unsuccessful. That’s a tough environment for anyone.

One way to make product launches successful is by gathering up Ratings & Reviews before your product is available to purchase. How? With TurnTo Sampling, our turnkey solution that’s dead simple to implement.

Here’s how it works. You ship the products in bulk. We do the work of finding the right target audience, manage fulfillment, and collect feedback from customers. That way when your product is ready to hit the market, there’s already a buildup of CGC waiting for customers on your site. Our solution works equally well for grocers with private labels, brands, or any product that could use a fresh infusion of customer-generated content.

Customer Experience is Everything

TurnTo has been collecting, monitoring and improving customer-generated content for more than 10 years. We have deep, established relationships with brands and retailers. We know how to help them understand not only the right uses for CGC, but also the best ways to go about collecting it.

For grocery, that means asking customers for the right kind of review at the perfect time in their shopping journey. That’s not limited to collecting CGC on purchased products alone.

TurnTo can help with a range of other questions related to the entire customer experience: How was your buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) experience? How was your grocery delivery experience? Was your delivery on time? Were your bananas ripe? Were your eggs cracked? Was your ice cream still frozen?

TurnTo’s products can help grocery retailers establish a 360-degree view of the customer and spot problems in the customer journey. It’s this kind of intelligence that will help you stay ahead of your competitors. We’re experts in CGC—it’s why we have the highest collection rate of any of our rivals.

Schedule a demo and learn more about TurnTo’s products and services:

Request a Demo

Personalizing the Online Shopping Experience Through Custom CGC: Part 3

January 31, 2019 by Belinda Blakley

In our past two posts, we’ve shown that brands and retailers can reap serious rewards by incorporating customer-generated content (CGC) like ratings and reviews into their personalization efforts.

Leaving CGC out can mean leaving money on the table—our recent survey revealed that 76% of shoppers said they were less likely to make a purchase from a site that didn’t offer customer-generated content. Research from Infosys backs up the importance of personalization—31% of respondents wanted more personalization out of their shopping experiences.

To recap, there are three key pillars of personalization that eCommerce platforms should keep in mind:

  1. Customizing to the individual shopper
  2. Customizing by brand category
  3. Customizing by product

In our last post we covered how companies can customize CGC to individual shoppers. In this one, we’ll take on how eCommerce firms should be thinking about customization by brand category and by product.

Customize by Brand Category

Our research shows that shoppers found different types of customer-generated content more useful depending on what brand category they were browsing. For example, shoppers looking at sporting goods online thought ratings and reviews was the most helpful type of CGC, as helpful as product descriptions written by the brand. Sporting goods shoppers also rated customer-submitted photos and videos as equally helpful as those provided by the store.

When shopping online for sporting goods, how helpful do you find each of the features below?

Using TurnTo’s tools, eCommerce platforms can capitalize on interest in CGC by customizing product pages to prominently feature certain types of CGC by default. For sporting goods retailers, that would mean greeting shoppers with ratings and reviews as prominently displayed as product descriptions.

Retailers in other brand categories can similarly tailor their own product pages according to shopper’s desires, placing the type of CGC that shoppers find the most useful front and center. If shoppers want to change the default display, TurnTo’s platform can easily hand the reins over to them. By utilizing our review sort and search tools, customers can customize their own user experience to find the exact type of customer-generated content they’re looking for.

Meanwhile, Community Q&A can give shoppers Instant Answers to commonly asked questions through an easy search function. Setting shoppers up with this feature in a default view on the product detail page (PDP) can eliminate a potential friction point, making the path to purchase all the more seamless.

Download your brand category quick guide below to gain insights into what your target audience prefers:

CGC Shopper Insights: Clothing & Footwear
CGC Shopper Insights: Beauty & Skincare
CGC Shopper Insights: Electronics
CGC Shopper Insights: Hobby & Craft
CGC Shopper Insights: Housewares & Home Décor
CGC Shopper Insights: Pet
CGC Shopper Insights: Sporting Goods
CGC Shopper Insights: Toys & Child Products

Customization By Product

Finally, the third way that retailers can utilize CGC for a personalized shopping experience is through customization by product. Retailers should consider that some products in their catalog may be better served by unique layouts if those products fall under a different category than their product catalog at large.

Some products are best served by showcasing visual customer-generated content. A shopper thinking about buying a dress is likely to be more interested in how an item looks in the wild than written content, at least initially. Retailers can tap into this customer’s desire by defaulting to a CGC view that serves up product photos and videos over other types of content.

Other products might be better served by giving other types of CGC, such as Community Q&A, greater play on the product display page. No problem. TurnTo’s feature set allows online retailers to address those needs by letting them create unique layouts according to each PDP’s need.

This level of control can prove useful in situations where a product might be somewhat out of line with a brand category, such as when a moisture-wicking shirt is being sold online by a sporting goods store. In such cases, a retailer can use a broader personalization strategy for the bulk of its SKUs, while also offering more granular personalization controls for specific products.

The good news doesn’t stop there. TurnTo’s tools also allow for shoppers to be shown dynamically prioritized reviews from customers with similar profiles to their own, making personalization efforts even easier.

Download our free 2019 State of Customer-Generated Content for more insights into making your CGC outstanding.

Personalizing the Online Shopping Experience Through Custom CGC: Part 2

January 17, 2019 by Belinda Blakley

Last week, we discussed the need for eCommerce stores to focus on personalizing their online shopping experience in order to stay competitive in today’s market. (If you missed it, catch up here.) With 59% of shoppers agreeing that personalization has an effect on what (or how much) they purchase, online retailers should be investing in a strategy around this driving factor—including how they provide and display CGC.

In our previous post, we introduced three key approaches to personalization:

  1. Customize to the individual shopper
  2. Customize by the brand category
  3. Customize by the product

In this post, we’ll focus on the first component of the strategy.

Customize to the Individual Shopper

Show the reviews and the types of content that are most helpful to each shopper. That’s a simple statement, but there are many ways to go about it—and brands should use every avenue available to them.

Reviewer Profile Dimensions

TurnTo’s newest platform allows eCommerce sites to not only display reviewer profile information, but to create a customized experience for a visiting shopper by dynamically prioritizing the reviews from other customer profiles most similar to their own. This not only includes age, gender, and location, but stores can add custom profile details that are most relevant to their shoppers.

Take beauty & skincare for instance. Shoppers could use filters on skin type, hair color, skin tone, etc. to find information from reviewers like themselves. A shopper may want to know if a moisturizer is right for their sensitive skin, or if a foundation color really matches their dark or light skin tone. By giving shoppers the ability to customize the review content they see, stores can increase shoppers’ confidence that the product is the right choice.

 

 

Beauty & skincare isn’t the only product category that can benefit from reviewer profile filters. For example, a sporting goods store could benefit from the ability to sort on profile dimensions such as sport of interest and level of skill. A shopper who is new to a sport or activity will appreciate the reviews of other amateurs, and may not understand the details in reviews from advanced customers. On the other hand, a semi-professional may want to filter out reviews that rate ease-of-use for first-timers. Providing options to sort by custom dimensions allows even unknown shoppers to find the best information for them.

Preferences by Age and Gender

If you only have demographic data about your shopper, you can still make some personalized default settings in the display of your CGC. As with any demographic data, individuals may vary widely in their preferences, but age and gender do play a role in shoppers’ CGC preferences.

All shoppers say that ratings & reviews are the most helpful type of CGC, but women rate all types of CGC higher than men do. With the higher ratings for photos & videos and Q&A, it’s worth displaying customer-submitted photo and video at the top of reviews for female shoppers, and making the Q&A widget easy to find. On the other hand, a PDP designed for men should prioritize easily sortable ratings & reviews.

Divided by age, the 18-24 group rates photos and videos equally as helpful as customer Q&A, while all other age groups rate customer Q&A as more helpful, second only to ratings & reviews. Shoppers over 50, however, are the only group to prioritize product descriptions from the store above any type of CGC (by a small margin, just above ratings & reviews). For them, written content is key, so a PDP designed for that group could de-prioritize visual content.

If dynamic page layouts aren’t an option, companies should design the layout based on their target market, and then run a/b tests to find the optimal UX for their shoppers.

In the next post, we’ll talk about customizing your CGC to your eCommerce category and product.

Download our free 2019 State of Customer-Generated Content for more insights into making your CGC outstanding.

Personalizing the Online Shopping Experience Through Custom CGC: Part 1

January 11, 2019 by Belinda Blakley

It was no surprise to see that online sales over the holiday shopping season were higher than ever. As shoppers continue to shift to online purchases, they also expect more from brands in their online shopping experiences. According to recent research, “77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience” [Evergage]. That’s huge incentive for eCommerce businesses to focus their resources on increasing personalized shopping experience, but many are still lagging behind. According to a study by Infosys, 31% of shoppers don’t feel like their shopping experiences are personalized enough, and at least a fifth of shoppers haven’t ever received personalized promotions or recommendations. That all adds up to a lot of cash that online retailers are leaving on the table.

Add the shopper’s expectation of personalization to their demands for reviews and other customer-generated content, and brands will find a huge area of opportunity. According to our recent survey, 76% of consumers are less likely to buy from a site without CGC, and 73% will even buy a more expensive product if it’s more highly rated. Yet, according to BigCommerce, 69% of online shoppers aren’t getting enough reviews from eCommerce sites, and others say they’d like to see more types of CGC such as images (78%), testimonials (42%), and video (30%).

“77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience”

Many brands still struggle with how to implement more advanced personalization on their sites, but a coupled investment in personalization and high-quality CGC brings big dividends—including an increase in impulse buys, loyalty, and organic reach through recommendations to friends and family and through social media.

When creating a strategy for a customized shopping experience, it’s important to consider three key approaches to personalization:

  1. Customize to the individual shopper
  2. Customize by the brand category
  3. Customize by the product

Next week, we’ll start at the top of this list and discuss on the blog how brands can use customer-generated content to personalize the online shopping experience for the individual shopper. [Update: read the next post here]

Download our free 2019 State of Customer-Generated Content for more insights into making your CGC outstanding.