How TurnTo Can Help Improve Your eCommerce Site’s SEO

August 21, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Speed Matters for SEO

In recent years, many of Google’s changes to its much vaunted search algorithm and ranking system have made site speed more important than ever. Essentially, Google wants everything on the web to be faster, and now gives preference to sites that load quickly, especially mobile sites.1

TurnTo has made improving our clients’ SEO a core performance metric for our four products—Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews, and Checkout Comments. Here’s how:

  1. TurnTo’s product widgets are written using an extremely lightweight JavaScript framework for the fastest display rendering.
  2. Our JavaScript bundle is one-half to one-quarter the size of our competitors’ and it’s fully optimized for speed.
  3. TurnTo’s code libraries dynamically load only what’s needed on a given page, improving browser performance.

TurnTo JavaScript File Size vs. Competitors

The Freshness Factor

Search engines love active pages that are frequently updated. TurnTo’s products capture more content than the competition with innovations like Inbox Submission, which lets shoppers submit product reviews and ratings directly from within the body of an email. Features like this and others provided by TurnTo give your product pages a steady stream of frequent updates. That’s a signal to search engine web crawlers that your page is important and will boost your SEO as a result.

Star Ratings Drive Click-Throughs

TurnTo’s star ratings are fully indexable by search engines. That lets an average star rating for a product on your website show up right on the search engine results page (SERP). A recent study from Conversion XL found that having star ratings appear in search results can improve click-through rates by as much as 35%.2

Carhartt Product Listing Ad example

Lots of Long-Tail Keywords

Some great news about voice of the customer: your customers write product reviews using the same words and phrases that people searching for those products also use. Product reviews embed these long-tail keywords right into your site, with little to no effort on your part.

Long-tail keywords are especially useful to eCommerce sites because they tend to be three- or four-word phrases that are highly specific and indicate that a shopper is close to a purchase. That means your website and product pages will rank higher in search engine results pages for shoppers who are pretty far down the sales funnel and have signaled a strong intent to make a purchase.

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1 Using Page Speed in Mobile Ranking; Google Webmaster Central Blog, January 2018

2 Do Review Stars on Google Help Click-Through Rate?; Conversion XL, December 2017


5 Ways to Improve Your eCommerce Site’s Product Detail Pages

August 8, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Your product detail pages (PDPs) are arguably the linchpin of your eCommerce site. Think about everything they do:

  • They’re tasked with displaying a ton of product information to help your shoppers make informed decisions
  • They’re expected to reflect your site’s inventory in real time
  • They serve as the destination for traffic coming from paid and organic search, as well as social media.

And that’s just for starters.

“[A product detail page] is not only an awareness driver and a consideration driver, but also a conversion driver. Once a consumer determines that your page is a relevant result, they’re going to click through, look at your page, and determine whether to purchase your product” said Megan Harbold, vice president of The Mars Agency in a recent interview with eMarketer.1

Are your product detail pages optimized to take advantage of buyer intent and lead your shoppers to a conversion? Here are 5 recommendations to help you get there:

1. Optimize for Mobile

Suffice it to say that if your product detail page (and by extension, your website) is not easy to use and read on mobile, you’re in trouble. The internet has shifted the customer’s path-to-purchase from something that was once largely linear to a much more labyrinthine process. And mobile plays a key role.

A recent report from Episerver found that 50% of visits to retail sites were made on smartphones, with 41% coming from shoppers on desktops.2

However, people are buying more items on desktops than on their smartphones—average units per order are actually 24% higher on desktops than on mobile phones, according to Episerver. Taken together, the two data points suggest that shoppers are often browsing and researching their purchases on mobile devices, but then using a desktop to complete their purchase.

Episerver suggested that pattern of behavior results from desktops offering a better user experience than smartphones with smaller screens. They even concluded that it was “critical for retailers and brands to re-evaluate and optimize mobile experiences including addressing site speed, content priority, and user experience.”

2. The More Photos The Better

There are reams of data regarding how important product photos are to the online shopping experience. It makes perfect sense. Customers can’t see an item in person or hold it in their hands. Photos are the next best thing to that sort of tactile experience, so eCommerce sites need to get their visuals right.

A survey of smartphone users from Field Agent revealed that 83% said that product images and photos influenced their digital purchase. Visual content held sway over consumers more than any other product detail feature, including product descriptions and specifications.3

Research also shows that, when it comes to photos, volume matters. A study commissioned by Salsify found that online shoppers across all verticals wanted a baseline of six images for each product. But their analysis found that even top-selling items fell below that count, averaging less than four images.4

But eCommerce businesses should be thinking beyond just carefully stylized and curated catalog photos. Shoppers who have already made a purchase can augment catalog photos with Customer-Generated Content, displayed right alongside it.

Customer-submitted visual content can also give shoppers a wealth of information about products that might not be readily apparent from a catalog photo. For example, user-generated photos can give shoppers a better sense of how product characteristics such as size and color might look out in the real world. In some cases, such as with apparel, shopper photos can even help other customers get an idea of how to style an item.

TurnTo’s Visual Reviews product was designed to make it easy to collect photos and videos from your shoppers by using a visual-first collection flow for smartphone users, with an easy submission process for mobile shoppers.

3. Provide Social Proof

Social proof does wonders for eCommerce conversion rates. Humans have a basic psychological need for assurance that they’re making the right decision. Social proof provides that assurance from a source that’s highly trusted by your customers—other shoppers.

On a product detail page, social proof can be provided in a few ways. One of the most common is an average star rating that’s paired with a review count. This approach gives shoppers a lot of information that can be digested with just a glance.

Written reviews are another great way to feature social proof on your product detail page. These types of customer testimonials can help assuage doubts or concerns that your shoppers might have and guide them to a purchase.

The more reviews, the happier your customers will be. In TurnTo’s research report, 2019 State of Customer-Generated Content, we found that 76% of shoppers were less likely to make a purchase from a site when it lacked content like Ratings & Reviews.

Collecting a higher volume of reviews can result from getting some basics right, like optimizing the timing of your review solicitation emails, asking reviewers to submit additional reviews when they’re in the best mindset to do so, and making review submissions painless for smartphone users.

Another key way eCommerce sites can boost their Ratings & Reviews count is through product review syndication. With syndication, reviews collected by brand eCommerce sites can be shared with retailer sites. That gives the products featured on retailer sites a higher review count and gives brands greater exposure on retailer sites. It’s a win-win.

4. Feature a Clear Call to Action

It should go without saying, but your product detail page’s call to action (CTA) should be clear, simple and easy for shoppers to complete. The less complicated it is for a shopper to find and click, the better.

In the example below, beauty brand Tarte Cosmetics has boiled the product detail page down to the most salient information, avoiding design clutter and letting the browser’s eye drift naturally to the ‘’add to bag” button.

Still, the page manages to include compelling visuals of the product, an average star rating, a review count, a CTA, and details about the product, and fit it all at the top of the page in a clean, efficient fashion. The CTA is short and to the point, and differentiated from the rest of the page with a colored button.

5. Answer Frequently Asked Questions

Your product detail page can’t always give shoppers all the information they’re looking for. That’s where a frequently asked question feature that’s unique to a specific product can come into play, providing an elegant solution to the problem while keeping your shoppers onsite.

Here’s a great example: watch-seller Nixon lets shoppers ask customers who’ve already made a purchase through a Community Q&A feature on its product detail pages. Shoppers who’ve already bought the item receive the question via email.

And while you might assume customers receiving these emails would be unlikely to respond, that’s just not the case with TurnTo’s optimized Q&A email. TurnTo is able to identify customers that are most likely to respond to these questions. As a result, more than 90% of questions sent to customers through TurnTo’s Q&A received an answer. It turns out that people seem to like helping out other people!

Nixon also allows its in-house customer service team to answer questions. In the example above, a staff member identified by a badge provided the answer to a question posed by a shopper. This approach can be useful when the question asked is highly technical, or is something that the average shopper won’t know the answer to.

Optimize Your PDPs!

To recap, here’s a rundown of some solid strategies to improve your product detail pages:

  1. Make sure your page is optimized for mobile devices. This move will yield benefits for your eCommerce site far beyond just your product detail page.
  2. The more photos you have, the better. TurnTo’s Visual Reviews product is designed with a visual-first collection flow and makes it simple for shoppers on smartphones to submit visual content.
  3. Give your shoppers social proof in the form of Ratings & Reviews.
  4. Make sure your call to action—effectively your buy button—is simple and clear.
  5. Draw on previous customers and customer service to answer shopper questions by using a feature like Community Q&A.

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1 Why Product Detail Pages Matter; eMarketer, October 2018.

2 The 2018-2019 B2C Dot-Com Report; Episerver

3 The Digital Shopper: Insights Into Today’s Most ‘Connected’ Shoppers; Field Agent, April 2018

4 5 New Rules To Tackle Shoppers’ Rising Expectations on Your Brands; Salsify, March 2019


4 Ways for eCommerce Sites to Take Advantage of Customer Testimonials

July 31, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Your products are flying off the digital shelf. Five-star ratings and positive reviews are flowing onto your product detail pages (PDPs) faster than you can even read them.

That’s great. Research shows that shoppers rely heavily on Customer-Generated Content (CGC) during their path to purchase. And displaying all of that material on your product pages gives your customers a ton of product information, along with solid word-of-mouth marketing from a highly trusted source—other shoppers.

But are you taking full advantage of the persuasive power that customer reviews and testimonials offer?

Your shoppers are handing you some ad copy that might be better than anything an agency could ever pump out. Make it count.

Here are four ways you can use Customer-Generated Content outside of your product pages:

1. Digital Ads

You probably only have a handful of seconds to attract the attention of an internet user with a digital display ad. One way to counter that problem is by boiling your Customer-Generated Content down to its essentials.

An average star rating paired with a review count for your product can convey a ton of easily digested information at a glance. A good model for this approach is the Google Product Listing Ad (PLA), a search ad format that shows searchers a product image, a price, and a short description.

In the example above, a Google search for “Carhartt medium pants” returns a list of Product Listing Ads that feature average star ratings and review counts.

Brands and retailers should make sure average star ratings and review counts (the number of reviews a product has collected) are being automatically shared with Google for inclusion in their PLAs.

For digital display ad formats with more real estate, online sellers should consider including a quote pulled from a positive review. But be a judicious editor; slapping a wall of text into your ad is an easy way to lose the attention of online browsers.

2. Email Marketing

Customer testimonials can work really well as part of an email marketing strategy, especially in abandoned cart emails.

Every eCommerce site understands that sometimes browsers need a little nudge to become buyers, and abandoned cart emails are a useful way to re-engage with shoppers.

Direct to consumer (DTC) bedding brand Brooklinen is a great example of an eCommerce company that uses an engaging abandoned cart email technique that features customer testimonials at its core.

Brooklinen sandwiches its customer testimonials between two calls-to-action (CTAs), both of which take the shopper back to their abandoned cart.

Brooklinen doesn’t bother trying to match the product reviews featured in the email with the SKUs of items in the shopper’s cart. Instead it uses more general reviews to convey a sense of customer satisfaction and draws on humor to engage readers.

The reviews are smartly intended to match Brooklinen’s brand and overall tone in the hopes they’ll provide the nudge needed to get shoppers to convert.

Footwear brand Adidas takes a slightly different approach with its emails by including more targeted content. In the example below, the company draws on the email recipient’s browsing history to showcase a product they recently viewed.

Adidas also includes a quote pulled from a customer review, along with a star rating—but it uses content specific to the product. It also pairs that material with customer-generated photos, a technique that probably works best in the footwear and apparel verticals

3. Social Media

Social media can help improve customer engagement and drive clicks to your website when paired with a customer testimonial.

Makeup company Morphe is a great example of an eCommerce site leveraging the power of social media. It actually draws images from its shoppers’ Instagram posts, then pairs the customer-generated photos with a star rating and short review.

This way shoppers can see a real-world application of Morphe’s makeup, right next to a bit of social proof. The customer testimonial is also buy button-adjacent to make the path to purchase as frictionless as possible.

Morphe’s approach is a good reminder that, while traditional staged product photos are still a necessary element of any product detail page, augmenting them with customer-submitted images can add a splash of dazzle. They can also help shoppers get a better sense of product attributes like size, color, and even styling.

4. Catalogs

In a world where digital increasingly dominates, it’s easy to overlook old-school media. But there’s some strong evidence that catalogs can be an effective component of your marketing mix.

Just last year Amazon rolled out a printed holiday toy catalog that it mailed to millions of its customers. Amazon is very likely drawing on its troves of customer data to integrate its catalogs with its digital marketing strategy.

But even if you don’t have access to the type of customer data that Amazon does, you can still use Customer-Generated Content to support your direct mail efforts.

For example, woodworking and hardware retailer Rockler mines its Ratings & Reviews to power its “Customer Favorites Sale,” a promotion that features inventory with high star ratings and stellar reviews.

These ratings and reviews are featured as customer testimonials in the print catalog promoting the sale. Product listings are often accompanied by a pull quote from a review, along with a star rating.

Rockler’s customer testimonials are carefully chosen. They go beyond the generic endorsement of an item, instead highlighting a product’s ease of use or some aspect of its functionality. It’s a good lesson to learn for retailers looking to maximize the impact of their customer testimonials.

How TurnTo Can Help 

TurnTo’s platform collects more high-quality Customer-Generated Content than any other solution in the market. This shopper-supplied material can aid your digital word-of-mouth marketing strategy, but can also be repurposed in places aside from your product detail pages.

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TurnTo Partner Profile: BounceX

July 24, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Q&A With BounceX CEO and Co-Founder Ryan Urban

Ryan Urban is the Co-Founder and CEO at BounceX, an international marketing technology solution that brings a “logged-in” experience to logged-out website visitors across all their devices. They’re best known for their impact on triggered email performance and website personalization.

A veteran of the eCommerce space, Ryan was formerly Director of Acquisition at Bonobos and prior to that, Head of eCommerce at Brickhouse Security. He has served on the advisory boards of both and Bonobos. Outside BounceX, Ryan spends most of his free time working on the behavior of his dog – Telemundo.

We spoke with Ryan to get his thoughts on the best way to gauge technology vendors, how eCommerce sites should be approaching personalization, and why you should ask him about his five-year plan.

TurnTo Networks: The market is awash in technology-based solutions. How do you think companies should evaluate potential vendors to make sure they’re worth the time (and money)?

Ryan Urban: When evaluating tech vendors, especially in the martech space, companies need to look past the sales pitch and consider what it’s going to take to get the maximum value and performance out of that tool.

Capabilities are just one part of the equation. What’s often overlooked is what’s necessary to execute on the technology’s potential. If you’re bringing on a solution, do you know what resources are required on your end to see value? Do you have those resources internally? If not, does the vendor offer them? If so, at what caliber and additional cost?

A great sales pitch is just that…a pitch. Companies need to understand the full lifetime value of their investments—starting with knowing if they’re prepared internally to bring on the solution and ending with fully understanding its use case. If the idea of the technology sounds good, but you don’t have a tangible output or use case for it, it won’t be worth it in the long run. You’re often being sold the dream, but what can it do for you tomorrow?

TurnTo: It’s pretty much universally agreed that personalization is an important way to appeal to online shoppers, but the devil’s in the details. What are some personalization best practices that eCommerce sites should be thinking about?

Urban: When talking about personalization, eCommerce leaders need to first ask themselves what that nebulous word means to them. For all the talk about personalization, it is often manifested as simple product recommendations. But it’s really so much more than that, so retailers need to be truly introspective to determine what their goals are when it comes to personalization.

A good first step is asking themselves: what experiences should a consumer have on my site based on the way my consumers tend to shop, the products we sell, the industry and vertical we’re in and the price point of our items?

Once they know what personalization means to their organization, they can dive deeper into how to build out those capabilities. This begins with bridging the gap between the data they have and their personalization goals. One way to do this is by building out their identification abilities by getting their consumers to identify themselves by providing their email addresses. Email is today’s universal identifier and if shoppers provide it, without logging in to a profile, brands can act on the wealth of historical and behavioral data they have on that customer to provide personalized experiences.

TurnTo: What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you, but no one ever does?  And what’s the answer?

Urban: Everyone always asks me where the idea for BounceX came from. They ask about the past. They never ask about the future—about where we’re going. No one asks me, “Where will BounceX be in 5 years?”

And the answer is: in five years, we’ll have ended spam-and-slam emails. We’ll be delivering real, one-to-one personalization for our customers and for their shoppers. And we’ll be at the point where we can use individual customer data, not segments and not cohorts, to inform experiences.

The age of personalization is really just beginning. We all have the basics down, but there’s so much more that we can do to improve the online experience and eCommerce in general, and BounceX will be on the front line of bringing those ideas and technologies to reality.

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Here’s How to Handle Negative Reviews

July 17, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Your latest product just got a less than stellar review. A disappointment? Sure.

But don’t hit the panic button just yet. Believe it or not, this might be an opportunity in disguise.

All reviews, even bad ones, can potentially provide valuable feedback about your business and products. Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to gain customer insights from things like focus groups, surveys, and social media monitoring. You’re getting it for free.

If you’re properly attuned to capturing this feedback from product reviews, you can learn about potential problems with your business—before they get out of hand.

It’s Not Always About Product

Bad reviews aren’t always focused on product. They can also reveal shortcomings in your online store’s operations. A report from Brightpearl and Trustpilot highlighted some potential customer pain points that were unrelated to the actual goods for sale.1

The list included things like website user experience, payment options, delivery issues, customer service, after-sales experience, and returns. When online stores get one of these things wrong, their customers might make their dissatisfaction known in a public product review instead of a private email.

Retailers should be scanning reviews for this type of insight to figure out where to better allocate resources. The Brightpearl/Trustpilot study revealed that positive reviews often mentioned good customer service and fast delivery, two areas where all eCommerce sites should already make a priority.

The Poor Review Paradox

It sounds weird, but in addition to giving you valuable feedback, poor reviews can also help build trust in your digital storefront.

How? Online shoppers are pretty sophisticated. As a result, products with a perfect record of five-star ratings arouse suspicion. Shoppers seem to intuitively grasp that—try as you might—you just can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Having a handful of low star-ratings can actually alleviate shopper concerns that an eCommerce site is gaming its own ratings and reviews. And that, in turn, can increase trust in an online store. It’s what we call the Poor Review Paradox.

Our research paper, The State of Consumer Generated Content 2019, showed that negative reviews can serve a key role in the path to purchase for a sizable minority of shoppers.

Twenty-five percent of respondents actually sorted product reviews to highlight bad reviews. For these shoppers, researching negative feedback was a key element of the customer journey. As a result, it pays to ensure these reviews aren’t left unanswered.

How to Handle Negative Feedback

Every negative review should receive a response from your company. The simple act of acknowledging shoppers’ concerns demonstrates a customer-centric attitude and a high level of customer service.

Here are some key methods for handling negative reviews:

Speed is Key. By responding quickly to bad reviews, companies can clearly and publicly demonstrate their responsiveness and commitment to customer service. The Brightpearl/Trustpilot survey found that nearly 40% of shoppers felt that retailers should respond to a negative review within 24 hours or less of posting.

Make the Customer Feel Heard. Go beyond a rote apology. These types of reflexive platitudes can do more harm than good. Instead, make sure your customer service reps understand the problem and are empowered to take the steps needed to correct it. That might mean refunding a shipping cost when an order shows up late, or replacing a defective item.

Turn Complainers into Evangelists. You’ve probably seen a customer give a poor initial review, only to bump up their star rating to a five after receiving a solid customer service effort. A response to a shopper complaint that goes above and beyond can make your detractors some of your fiercest evangelists, and that word-of-mouth marketing can go a long way.

Get More Reviews. Most reviews come from customers who’ve had a very bad experience or those who are ecstatic about their purchase. But there’s usually a “happy middle” of customers who are pleased with their purchase but don’t bother to leave a review.

TurnTo’s products are designed to tap into this slow-to-review segment with features like Inbox Submission, which lets customers submit rating and review content directly from the body of an email. A higher rating and review volume usually translates into a higher average star rating for a product, giving site browsers the social proof they need to become buyers.

Use Moderation Tools to Escalate. With TurnTo Moderation, clients can have reviews with low star ratings automatically flagged for escalation to customer service representatives. That can give your company the jump on fixing a problem. And as we already mentioned, speed is key when it comes to responding to negative reviews.

Make a Preemptive Strike. Perhaps the best way to handle negative reviews is by not giving your customers a reason to leave one in the first place. TurnTo’s Community Q&A product lets shoppers ask questions of people who’ve already purchased the product they’re considering. It can also connect shoppers to your site’s existing knowledgebase—things like frequently asked question (FAQ) pages and existing articles that might hold the answers to their questions. Getting shoppers these answers can help them avoid a disappointing purchase.

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1 Rise of the Review Culture; Brightpearl and Trustpilot, June 2019


Adorama Taps Into the Power of TurnTo Review Syndication For More Content

July 10, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Although probably best known as the world’s favorite camera store, specialist retailer Adorama also sells a wide assortment of products, including professional video and audio gear, consumer electronics, home office equipment, and mobile computing products.

Adorama’s customer base consists of professional photographers and videographers, but also includes some pretty serious amateur ones as well. These shoppers spend hours closely researching the technical specifications of the types of products in Adorama’s catalog.

Adorama understands the meaning of customer-centric. Their NYC store, for example, has developed a reputation for providing one-on-one customer service from a staff of highly knowledgeable—but still friendly and approachable—experts.

“Shoppers looking for photography equipment and other consumer electronics have a slew of options to choose from,” said Heather Nichols, Adorama’s pro audio and pro video digital merchandiser. “Part of how Adorama puts itself ahead of the competition is by giving customers easy access to expertise about our products through our sales associates.”

The Challenge

Naturally, the company wanted to replicate its superb in-store customer experience on its website.

Nichols said a key element of that strategy was to increase the number of reviews available to shoppers on its site. That way its customers could tap into the collective wisdom of one of the most trusted sources of information available—other shoppers.

“Our customers tend to do a lot of research because they want to make sure an item fits their specific needs, especially because a lot of our products are so technical,” said Nichols. “A lot of people use reviews to make a final decision on their purchase.”

That’s where TurnTo came in.

The Solution – Syndicated Reviews

Through its Open Review Syndication service, TurnTo quickly increased the number of product reviews on Adorama’s site. While some Customer-Generated Content vendors charge steep fees for syndication, TurnTo’s Syndication service is offered at no additional charge for either retailers or brands, ensuring that the maximum number of brands participate.

With TurnTo Syndication, reviews collected by some of the biggest brands in the consumer electronics vertical—like Sony, HP, Canon, and Nikon—also displayed on Adorama’s online storefront. As a result, Adorama saw a 294% spike in the number of reviews displayed on its site.

Getting more reviews has a direct, positive impact on conversion rates. Research from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Center shows that a product with just five reviews was 270% more likely to be purchased than a product with no reviews.

TurnTo Syndication also improved Adorama’s coverage rate—the percentage of products in the company’s catalog that have at least one review.

For example, the coverage rate for HP products on Adorama’s site more than doubled once syndicated reviews were included.

In addition, the average number of ratings per HP product also saw a boost with TurnTo Syndication, increasing by more than 12x. That was especially helpful for Adorama, since more reviews provide social proof for a purchase, helping to convert shoppers to buyers.

Free Syndication for Brands

Adorama’s brand partners were able to participate in TurnTo’s Open Review Syndication at no cost, even if they used another platform to collect and manage Customer-Generated Content on their own site. The brands only needed to give TurnTo permission to syndicate their reviews to the retailers in the TurnTo network.

The brands that syndicated their content through TurnTo also received a number of benefits, including a better digital presence, improved sell-through value, and search engine optimization (SEO) credit.

The Bottom Line

Adorama wanted to bulk up the Customer-Generated Content featured on its online store to help its customers get the information they were looking for when researching products. With TurnTo Review Syndication, Adorama quickly increased the number of product reviews on its site by nearly 300%.

About TurnTo

TurnTo is the customer content solution for online retailers and the brands that sell through them. With a unique suite of four innovative products that work beautifully together – Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews, and Checkout Comments – TurnTo produces more content of more different types, delivering greater conversion lift, better SEO, and deeper merchandising insights.

About Adorama

Adorama is the world’s only full-service destination for photo, video and electronics. We’re more than a camera store – we offer the best selection and prices on professional photography and video gear, pro-audio, and consumer electronics such as home theaters, mobile computing, home office equipment and more. Adorama Rental Co also rents and supports the full range of still and motion cameras (including lenses & accessories), lighting, and grip equipment.

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There’s A Surprisingly Low-Tech Way for eCommerce Sites to Draw New Customers

June 26, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

One of the constant challenges eCommerce sites face is how to draw new customers while keeping a lid on expenses. It’s the reason that eCommerce VPs keep such a close eye on their customer acquisition costs (CACs)—a key metric for any online store.

Some new data suggests there’s a surprisingly low-tech way for online retailers to drive new shoppers to their sites. It’s also pretty old school. It’s word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing.

Word of Mouth Beats Search for Discoverability

A new poll from Yes Marketing reveals that a fair number of digital shoppers use their offline personal networks to learn about unfamiliar retailers.

In fact, Yes Marketing found that 45% of online shoppers discovered a new retailer through a recommendation from a friend or family member.1 That was nearly three times the number of shoppers who had stumbled across a new retailer through a Google search.

But retailers should also tread carefully regarding word-of-mouth. Unsurprisingly, a bad reputation can have a harmful effect on your bottom line. Yes Marketing reported that nearly 70% of shoppers were swayed to avoid a retailer after seeing a negative review from family, friends, or news media.

Of course, drumming up some good word-of-mouth around your online store is easier said than done. You need to deliver quality products at a good price, offer a superior user experience, and provide shoppers with top-notch customer service—no small feat.

One way to improve your word-of-mouth marketing? Yes Marketing suggests giving your existing customers a reason to share their satisfaction by providing them with an incentive. That could consist of an exclusive offer, or a discount for those who recruit a new customer on your behalf.

Get Your Digital WOM On

eCommerce sites can also improve their word-of-mouth marketing with some digital strategies. Ratings and reviews, for example, can serve the same purpose as a personal recommendation. And while they might not provide all the benefits as a recommendation from a friend or family member, ratings and reviews perform a key task: providing shoppers with the social proof they need to overcome their hesitation about a purchase.

Yes Marketing noted that almost 20% of online shoppers were influenced by reviews or customer testimonials when considering making a purchase from a new site. And more than a third of shoppers said getting enough product information from a new retailer would help them to build trust.

When done correctly, Customer-Generated Content (CGC) can address those shopper needs.

Yes Marketing also suggested using content from product reviews and other testimonials in advertising campaigns.

It makes perfect sense. Your most satisfied customers are handing you some of the best ad copy you could ever come up with. Take advantage of it.

TurnTo Can Help

It’s helpful to think of your product reviews, customer testimonials and other CGC as a form of digital word-of-mouth marketing.

CGC can help retailers flesh out their product detail pages with information not normally found in a product description, such as fit or durability.

Sometimes those details are all that’s needed to push someone browsing your site into making a purchase.

TurnTo’s products are designed to collect more Customer-Generated Content like Ratings & Reviews and Visual Reviews so shoppers have a surplus of information at their fingertips. And research shows that the more reviews you have, the better.

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1 The Retail Shopper’s Journey to Loyalty; Yes Marketing, June 2019


Here’s How Smart Brands Are Surviving Retail’s Sea Change

June 19, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

It’s no secret that the retail industry is in the midst of a massive sea change spurred by the rise of eCommerce.

That’s created some new challenges for brands, who can no longer bank on getting adequate shelf space at brick-and-mortar retailer locations to drive sales at the same level as in the pre-internet world.

Consequently, it’s become even more important for brands to make sure they’re getting adequate digital shelf space—for some brands a digital presence is even more important than a physical one.

Smart Brands Are Doubling Down on Ecommerce

The strategy appears to be working for brands that have prioritized their eCommerce efforts, and are now seeing some solid gains as a result.

In May 2019, Internet Retailer reported that 127 of the top 500 North American online retailers were consumer brand manufacturers. This group has seen their web sales increase by an average of 17.9%. That’s a growth rate that outpaces all other merchant groups, with the sole exception of digitally native pure play retailers.1

Internet Retailer cited sneaker icon Nike as one the larger brands that’s seen success with its online efforts—the company reported a 25% spike in ecommerce sales in 2018, for a total of $2.75 billion. Nike also set an ambitious goal for itself, hoping that web sales will reach $20 billion by 2020.

Some brands have improved their direct sales by embracing an omnichannel approach to retail that includes eCommerce, brand-owned physical stores and the store-within-a-store model.

Nike, however, hopes to achieve its goal largely by doubling down on its online footprint. Part of that strategy includes forming stronger relationships with multibrand retailers. In one such initiative, Nike opened a branded storefront on the site of Walmart-owned retail site

How Syndication Can Help Brands Increase Online Sales

One key way that brands—even large ones like Nike—can improve their online sales on retailer sites is through the syndication of online reviews. Syndication is simply the sharing of Customer-Generated Content like ratings and reviews between brands’ online stores and online retailers.

Syndication makes it easier for a shopper to see all of the Customer-Generated Content for the same product, regardless of whether they’re on a brand or retailer site. It’s a highly effective way for brands to connect with more customers.

Not only that, but research shows that products with more reviews sell better. A product with a high number of reviews is a sign that a lot of other shoppers have already bought the item—it’s social proof that can help alleviate customer hesitation about making an online purchase.

Simply gathering more product reviews can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line. A study from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center found that a product with five reviews was 270% more likely to be purchased than a product that didn’t have any reviews.

Brands that syndicate their content also benefit with more exposure on digital channels, improved sell-through value, and search engine optimization (SEO) credit.

TurnTo’s Open Review Syndication Can Help

Unlike other platforms, TurnTo offers its Open Review Syndication service to all brands at absolutely no cost—even if they use a competing platform for their Customer-Generated Content.

TurnTo’s approach also requires no technical work on the part of brands. We scan brand sites for product reviews using a highly accurate web crawler, similar to the way Google’s web indexing search crawler does. These reviews can then be displayed on retailer sites within a day or two.

Brands are also given access to a dashboard that shows which retailer sites in TurnTo’s network are receiving the reviews. And control over syndication always remains in the hands of brands; TurnTo doesn’t require a term commitment for syndication.

To find out how to get started with TurnTo Syndication, get in touch.

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1 Consumer Brands Make Big Bets on Ecommerce; Internet Retailer, May 2019



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


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.

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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


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.

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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.

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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


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?

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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?

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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



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, 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 2018.

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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?

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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


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?

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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


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?

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1 Helping Customers Help Themselves; Gartner L2, March 2019


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