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?
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
March 13, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Let’s start with the obvious: search engine optimization (SEO) needs to be a core element of any eCommerce site’s business strategy.
How can SEO help your eCommerce business? Solid SEO practices can help drive organic traffic to your site, capturing shopper intent and putting your customers seamlessly on the path to purchase.
But if talk of schema markup and other technical jargon makes your head spin and your eyes glaze over, don’t worry. There are some great resources designed to ensure your SEO strategy employs established best practices, even if you’re a beginner.
Start with Google
The best place to start is probably with the 800-pound gorilla of search: Google. If you’re going to focus your SEO strategy on one search engine, make it the company that handles more search queries than any other in the US. According to recent data from Jumpshot complied by SparkToro, Google or Google-owned properties controlled more than 90% of US search share as of fall 2018.1
At the highest level, Google suggests that websites:
- Give visitors the information they want. That means putting high-quality, useful content on your webpages that’s clear and accurate.
- Get other sites to link to yours. When another site links to yours—or backlinks—it’s a signal to Google that your site is reputable and generating good content. These links should be “natural,” meaning they weren’t created for the sole purpose of gaming Google’s algorithm. Google’s software is pretty sophisticated and can ding your site’s search results if it decides that sites are linking to yours in an unnatural fashion.
- Don’t “keyword stuff” or create hidden content targeted to crawlers. It’s tempting to put a bunch of keywords or other hidden content designed to better appeal to Google’s indexing software. But, again, Google can identify these tactics and will rank your site lower as a result.
Google has a helpful SEO Starter Guide that goes into much greater detail on how to improve your organic rankings.
Go Deeper for eCommerce
Google’s best practices are a good place to start. But eCommerce sites need to go beyond the basics to increase the online traffic to their digital storefronts. Thankfully, SEO service and tools provider Ahrefs has created a step-by-step guide for an eCommerce SEO strategy.
The Ahrefs guide understandably highlights the use of the company’s own tools and services, but the guide still contains some valuable concepts that any eCommerce site can apply.
Ahrefs suggests that eCommerce companies:
- Do keyword research. This entails using keyword planning tools to figure out the best keywords for both category pages and product detail pages. That can include the use of “long-tail” keywords that might not be immediately obvious, but that can deliver strong results over a long period of time.
- Optimize on-page SEO strategies. This does involve creating meta tags and schema markup. But don’t worry, the Ahrefs guide will walk you through those techniques, as well as the benefits of things like optimized URLs and unique content on both category pages and product detail pages.
- Fix “technical” SEO problems. This includes things like removing duplicated content—something that Google’s crawler is not terribly fond of—as well as eliminating “deep” or “orphaned” pages that are more than three clicks removed from your home page.
How TurnTo Can Help with SEO
Ratings & Reviews are incredibly important to shoppers. Our research shows that three-quarters of shoppers are less likely to buy something from a site that lacks Customer-Generated Content like Ratings & Reviews.
Why? Because Customer-Generated Content provides an authentic voice to shoppers from a trusted source—themselves.
But more than that, product reviews can yield serious benefits for your SEO efforts. TurnTo’s Ratings and Reviews are fully viewable and indexable by search engines. That means shoppers who submit a review are actually adding relevant keywords to your product detail pages, without you having to do anything.
Reviews also give product detail pages unique content, something highly regarded by search engine algorithms. Product detail pages that are regularly updated are also indexed by search engines with greater frequency, delivering even more value to your SEO strategy.
TurnTo’s widget platform is fully indexable by Google. And the indexability of our reviews also means they’re included in Googles’ “rich snippets,” the search results that include extra information, like a product’s star rating, that’s placed between the URL and the description of a search result.
Rich snippets like the one seen above tend to get higher click-through rates, generating more traffic for your site.
In addition, TurnTo’s Community Q&A product, which lets shoppers answer questions posed by other shoppers directly on the product detail page, also provide the same SEO benefits. They offer new, organically created content that’s updated frequently and can help surface items to customers on search engines.
Want to learn more about how TurnTo can improve your SEO strategy?
1 2018 Search Market Share: Myths vs. Realities of Google, Bing, Amazon, Facebook, DuckDuckGo, & More; SparkToro, October 2018
March 8, 2019 by Belinda Blakley
TurnTo founder and CEO George Eberstadt took to the stage at Shoptalk 2019 to give attendees an overview of the new, next-generation technology powering our front end. He also explains why TurnTo’s truly Open Review Syndication service helps brands maximize sales, and helps retailers distinguish themselves as a shopping destination. Simply stated, TurnTo’s superior approach to syndication means better results for our clients.
March 1, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Ever been handed a granola bar from a friendly stranger on the street? Made a beeline for a bite-sized Vienna sausage on a toothpick at Costco? Been offered a tube of toothpaste by your dentist? Then you’ve already experienced product sampling.
What is Product Sampling?
Product sampling is one of the oldest and most effective marketing techniques for brands and retailers, and a powerful way to achieve a number of marketing objectives. In the simplest terms, it’s when a brand or retailer gives customers a free sample of product.
When done right, sampling can increase brand awareness, build loyalty, expand customer databases, and help gather Ratings & Reviews for products.
Sampling offers brands and retailers several advantages:
- Zero risk for shoppers. Sampling doesn’t just lower the bar for a customer trying a product, it eliminates it altogether. Customer acquisition doesn’t get any easier than when you’re giving away free stuff.
- Emotional engagement. Shoppers can browse online product pages for hours, but there’s still no substitute for experiencing a product in real life. Samples put products directly in the hands of customers for stronger emotional engagement.
- It just works. A recent study from Cadent Consulting Group found that 76% of retailers thought product sampling and demos were effective at generating sales. And the trend line is looking good—that was up from 67% two years earlier.1
It’s Not Just for CPGs Anymore
When most people think of a free sample they probably think of a single serving of instant coffee or a sachet of anti-wrinkle cream. That’s because consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have long used samples as an effective way to acquire new customers or challenge their loyalty to the competition.
But a growing number of eCommerce companies are also tapping into the technique. Brandshare projects that spending by brands on eCommerce sampling will grow to $40.69 billion by 2020.2
One of the core advantages of sampling is that it can generate Ratings & Reviews for products, which in turn helps companies drive site traffic and increase conversions.
The types of products that can benefit from a sampling strategy designed to seed Ratings & Reviews might not be readily apparent. They include:
- New products. Ever checked out a new product on a website, only to lose interest because there were no reviews? Sampling allows clients to quickly and easily build up a library of reviews for a product, demonstrating social proof of purchase intent. Running a sampling campaign before a product is offered for sale ensures that a product detail page already has Customer-Generated Content when it goes live.
- Seasonal products. Products with a short selling cycle, like Valentine’s Day gifts, can similarly benefit from a fast build-up of reviews. Again, it’s a key way to show social proof for items that customers usually spend little time thinking about.
- Established products. Even well-established brands can benefit from sampling, which can generate Customer-Generated Content to deliver new shopper engagement for long-tail products. Fresh review content not only boosts shopper confidence, it can also increase your SEO performance.
Sampling doesn’t need be limited to low-margin, high-volume products typically sold by CPG companies. With the right strategy and sound targeting, sampling can also help drive sales of more expensive goods that usually spend more time languishing in inventory.
How TurnTo Can Help
TurnTo Sampling offers merchants and brands a reliable way to quickly increase the volume of Ratings & Reviews and other types of Customer-Generated Content on their sites. Our turnkey sampling solution only requires our clients to ship the products in bulk. We can do the rest of the work—finding the right target audience, managing fulfillment, and collecting honest, authentic feedback from customers.
TurnTo Sampling provides white-label sampling services that merchants can offer to their brands, either as a value-add or as a source of revenue. Merchant-branded interfaces are used by brands to manage the campaigns, and by sample recipients to sign up and submit reviews.
This enterprise approach gives merchants the ability to leverage their customer base and fulfillment capabilities on behalf of brands, if they so desire. It works great for marketplaces that need high-quality reviews across a number of brands. And it’s especially effective when those brands run multiple campaigns simultaneously, with different sample audiences and goals.
Brands can use their own panel of reviewers, or use a targeted audience provided by TurnTo. We can supply complete program management, only oversee the content collection, or do anything in between. Sampling program members can sign up for samples, track shipments, and write reviews all in the same place.
Interested in learning more about TurnTo Sampling?
1 2017 Marketing Spending Industry Study; Cadent Consulting Group, 2017
2 eCommerce Fuels Triple Digit Growth of Product Sampling; Brandshare, July 2017
February 20, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Imagine this: You see a friend with a pair of sweet-looking Yeezys, snap a pic with your phone and are seamlessly delivered to a product page featuring the exact same pair of shoes. Too pricey or not your size? The same page also shows visually similar items.
That’s the power of visual search. It can help shoppers zero in on a specific product amid a sea of SKUs. It requires no typing, streamlining the path to purchase. It can help bridge the customer experience gap between the physical and digital worlds. And it’s already here.
“A lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures, not keywords,” -Ben Silbermann, CEO, Pinterest1
Tech and ecommerce giants are already preparing for a sea change in how search queries will work as users migrate away from text-based searches and towards visual and voice. Amazon, Google, Alibaba, Microsoft, Facebook, eBay, Pinterest—all now have their own visual search engines.
The Inflection Point is Approaching
While the groundwork for visual search is currently being laid, it hasn’t reached mainstream adoption just yet. A recent eMarketer/Bizrate survey, for example, found that only 10% of shoppers had ever used visual search.2
But there are some serious signs that customer behavior is changing. One year after rolling out its visual search engine, Pinterest reported that users conducted about 600 million visual searches a month on its platform, a year-over-year increase of 140%.3 And personalization service provider RichRelevance found that 52% of shoppers wanted to see similar items after taking a picture of a product they liked.4
Other research underscores the trend of visual media displacing text among customers. A study from Intent Lab found that 59% of online shoppers thought visual information about products was more important than text.5
That figure was even higher among certain product verticals, with more than eight in 10 furniture and clothing shoppers placing more importance on visuals than the written word.
TurnTo Can Bolster Your Visual Content Strategy
Clearly, the importance of visual media is only set to grow, especially as visual search becomes more common. TurnTo’s Visual Reviews™ are designed to make gathering photos and videos for your product page simple and easy, and are fully indexable by search engines.
Our visual-first collection flow means that customers responding to a review submission request on a mobile device can be asked to share a photo of their purchase before doing anything else. And our use of advanced logic means we can nail the timing of the request, helping to drive up collection rates.
TurnTo’s highly configurable widgets also give brands and retailers granular control over how consumer-generated visual content is displayed. That means that for companies in verticals where photos and videos are especially important to shoppers, Visual Reviews™ can be prominently displayed on product detail pages.
Want to learn more about Visual Reviews™?
2Visual Search is Poised for Mainstream Adoption; eMarketer, January 2019
3Celebrating one year of Pinterest Lens; Pinterest, February 2018
4RichRelevance Study Shows Americans are Skeptical of Voice-Assisted Shopping; RichRelevance, June 2018
5Visual Search Wins Over Text as Consumers’ Most Trusted Information Source; Intent Lab, February 2019
February 11, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
The digital revolution has reshaped the retail landscape for nearly every vertical with one major exception—grocery. For a long time, prevailing wisdom said that customers demanded an experience that let them see, touch, and even smell their groceries before heading to checkout.
But that’s changing. Data shows that digital disruption is headed grocery’s way. According to figures released in October 2018 by IGD at industry event Groceryshop, the size of the online grocery market in the US is set to grow from $23.9 billion to $59.5 billion between 2018 and 2023.
And there’s still plenty of room for growth. IGD reported that online grocery’s channel share will hit just 3.5% by 2023, up from a 1.6% share in 2018.
The encroachment of digital means that both grocery retailers and brands will have to rethink old marketing standbys to better appeal to online shoppers. Strategies such as end-caps, print circulars and planograms will have to be reimagined for the digital realm.
Digital investments can have real payoffs for grocers. A recent report from McKinsey & Co. found that grocery companies that were early adopters of technology, including digital solutions, saw a bump of 2% to 5% in earnings before interest and taxes. That’s a great argument for grocery stores to invest in technologies like customer-generated content (CGC) to improve their bottom line.
The TurnTo Advantage for Retailers – Promoting Private Label Goods
The consumer packaged goods (CPG) giants of the world have made huge investments in customer loyalty. But data suggests that grocery shoppers might not have such strong brand fidelity after all. A summer 2018 survey from retail solutions provider Field Agent, for example, found that 46% of customers bought private label store brands always or often when shopping online for groceries or household consumables.
Retailers can tap into the demand for private label goods with upfront placement of customer-generated content like TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews. Stores can leverage pre-existing fan bases for private label goods—a group that’s likely eager to share their thoughts about benefits and value—by putting five-star ratings and enthusiastic testimonials front-and-center.
CPGs have built up a large amount of trust in their brands over time. To compete, private label brands can use CGC to build their own reservoirs of trust among shoppers. Our recent research found that 76% of shoppers trust the authenticity of product reviews on online stores, underscoring how important CGC can be in their purchase decisions.
The TurnTo Advantage for Brands – The Ratings & Review Showcase
No matter what the product category, brands need to feel relevant, personal and authentic to online shoppers to win their business. For brands in the grocery space, CGC can play a key role in putting products in front of customers, and helping shoppers connect with products on an emotional level.
For example, with TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews and Visual Reviews™ products, online customers can read and see authentic experiences provided by fellow shoppers. Honest feedback can help lead your customers further down the conversion funnel.
The TurnTo Advantage for New Products – Sampling
Launching a new product in the grocery space is a tremendous challenge. In his presentation at last year’s Groceryshop, Vivek Kalpande, a Group Vice President at Albertsons, shared that an astounding 80% to 90% of new CPG product launches are considered unsuccessful. That’s a tough environment for anyone.
One way to make product launches successful is by gathering up Ratings & Reviews before your product is available to purchase. How? With TurnTo Sampling, our turnkey solution that’s dead simple to implement.
Here’s how it works. You ship the products in bulk. We do the work of finding the right target audience, manage fulfillment, and collect feedback from customers. That way when your product is ready to hit the market, there’s already a buildup of CGC waiting for customers on your site. Our solution works equally well for grocers with private labels, brands, or any product that could use a fresh infusion of customer-generated content.
Customer Experience is Everything
TurnTo has been collecting, monitoring and improving customer-generated content for more than 10 years. We have deep, established relationships with brands and retailers. We know how to help them understand not only the right uses for CGC, but also the best ways to go about collecting it.
For grocery, that means asking customers for the right kind of review at the perfect time in their shopping journey. That’s not limited to collecting CGC on purchased products alone.
TurnTo can help with a range of other questions related to the entire customer experience: How was your buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) experience? How was your grocery delivery experience? Was your delivery on time? Were your bananas ripe? Were your eggs cracked? Was your ice cream still frozen?
TurnTo’s products can help grocery retailers establish a 360-degree view of the customer and spot problems in the customer journey. It’s this kind of intelligence that will help you stay ahead of your competitors. We’re experts in CGC—it’s why we have the highest collection rate of any of our rivals.
Schedule a demo and learn more about TurnTo’s products and services:
January 31, 2019 by Belinda Blakley
In our past two posts, we’ve shown that brands and retailers can reap serious rewards by incorporating customer-generated content (CGC) like ratings and reviews into their personalization efforts.
Leaving CGC out can mean leaving money on the table—our recent survey revealed that 76% of shoppers said they were less likely to make a purchase from a site that didn’t offer customer-generated content. Research from Infosys backs up the importance of personalization—31% of respondents wanted more personalization out of their shopping experiences.
To recap, there are three key pillars of personalization that eCommerce platforms should keep in mind:
- Customizing to the individual shopper
- Customizing by brand category
- Customizing by product
In our last post we covered how companies can customize CGC to individual shoppers. In this one, we’ll take on how eCommerce firms should be thinking about customization by brand category and by product.
Customize by Brand Category
Our research shows that shoppers found different types of customer-generated content more useful depending on what brand category they were browsing. For example, shoppers looking at sporting goods online thought ratings and reviews was the most helpful type of CGC, as helpful as product descriptions written by the brand. Sporting goods shoppers also rated customer-submitted photos and videos as equally helpful as those provided by the store.
When shopping online for sporting goods, how helpful do you find each of the features below?
Using TurnTo’s tools, eCommerce platforms can capitalize on interest in CGC by customizing product pages to prominently feature certain types of CGC by default. For sporting goods retailers, that would mean greeting shoppers with ratings and reviews as prominently displayed as product descriptions.
Retailers in other brand categories can similarly tailor their own product pages according to shopper’s desires, placing the type of CGC that shoppers find the most useful front and center. If shoppers want to change the default display, TurnTo’s platform can easily hand the reins over to them. By utilizing our review sort and search tools, customers can customize their own user experience to find the exact type of customer-generated content they’re looking for.
Meanwhile, Community Q&A can give shoppers Instant Answers to commonly asked questions through an easy search function. Setting shoppers up with this feature in a default view on the product detail page (PDP) can eliminate a potential friction point, making the path to purchase all the more seamless.
Download your brand category quick guide below to gain insights into what your target audience prefers:
CGC Shopper Insights: Clothing & Footwear
CGC Shopper Insights: Beauty & Skincare
CGC Shopper Insights: Electronics
CGC Shopper Insights: Hobby & Craft
CGC Shopper Insights: Housewares & Home Décor
CGC Shopper Insights: Pet
CGC Shopper Insights: Sporting Goods
CGC Shopper Insights: Toys & Child Products
Customization By Product
Finally, the third way that retailers can utilize CGC for a personalized shopping experience is through customization by product. Retailers should consider that some products in their catalog may be better served by unique layouts if those products fall under a different category than their product catalog at large.
Some products are best served by showcasing visual customer-generated content. A shopper thinking about buying a dress is likely to be more interested in how an item looks in the wild than written content, at least initially. Retailers can tap into this customer’s desire by defaulting to a CGC view that serves up product photos and videos over other types of content.
Other products might be better served by giving other types of CGC, such as Community Q&A, greater play on the product display page. No problem. TurnTo’s feature set allows online retailers to address those needs by letting them create unique layouts according to each PDP’s need.
This level of control can prove useful in situations where a product might be somewhat out of line with a brand category, such as when a moisture-wicking shirt is being sold online by a sporting goods store. In such cases, a retailer can use a broader personalization strategy for the bulk of its SKUs, while also offering more granular personalization controls for specific products.
The good news doesn’t stop there. TurnTo’s tools also allow for shoppers to be shown dynamically prioritized reviews from customers with similar profiles to their own, making personalization efforts even easier.
January 17, 2019 by Belinda Blakley
Last week, we discussed the need for eCommerce stores to focus on personalizing their online shopping experience in order to stay competitive in today’s market. (If you missed it, catch up here.) With 59% of shoppers agreeing that personalization has an effect on what (or how much) they purchase, online retailers should be investing in a strategy around this driving factor—including how they provide and display CGC.
In our previous post, we introduced three key approaches to personalization:
- Customize to the individual shopper
- Customize by the brand category
- Customize by the product
In this post, we’ll focus on the first component of the strategy.
Customize to the Individual Shopper
Show the reviews and the types of content that are most helpful to each shopper. That’s a simple statement, but there are many ways to go about it—and brands should use every avenue available to them.
Reviewer Profile Dimensions
TurnTo’s newest platform allows eCommerce sites to not only display reviewer profile information, but to create a customized experience for a visiting shopper by dynamically prioritizing the reviews from other customer profiles most similar to their own. This not only includes age, gender, and location, but stores can add custom profile details that are most relevant to their shoppers.
Take beauty & skincare for instance. Shoppers could use filters on skin type, hair color, skin tone, etc. to find information from reviewers like themselves. A shopper may want to know if a moisturizer is right for their sensitive skin, or if a foundation color really matches their dark or light skin tone. By giving shoppers the ability to customize the review content they see, stores can increase shoppers’ confidence that the product is the right choice.
Beauty & skincare isn’t the only product category that can benefit from reviewer profile filters. For example, a sporting goods store could benefit from the ability to sort on profile dimensions such as sport of interest and level of skill. A shopper who is new to a sport or activity will appreciate the reviews of other amateurs, and may not understand the details in reviews from advanced customers. On the other hand, a semi-professional may want to filter out reviews that rate ease-of-use for first-timers. Providing options to sort by custom dimensions allows even unknown shoppers to find the best information for them.
Preferences by Age and Gender
If you only have demographic data about your shopper, you can still make some personalized default settings in the display of your CGC. As with any demographic data, individuals may vary widely in their preferences, but age and gender do play a role in shoppers’ CGC preferences.
All shoppers say that ratings & reviews are the most helpful type of CGC, but women rate all types of CGC higher than men do. With the higher ratings for photos & videos and Q&A, it’s worth displaying customer-submitted photo and video at the top of reviews for female shoppers, and making the Q&A widget easy to find. On the other hand, a PDP designed for men should prioritize easily sortable ratings & reviews.
Divided by age, the 18-24 group rates photos and videos equally as helpful as customer Q&A, while all other age groups rate customer Q&A as more helpful, second only to ratings & reviews. Shoppers over 50, however, are the only group to prioritize product descriptions from the store above any type of CGC (by a small margin, just above ratings & reviews). For them, written content is key, so a PDP designed for that group could de-prioritize visual content.
If dynamic page layouts aren’t an option, companies should design the layout based on their target market, and then run a/b tests to find the optimal UX for their shoppers.
In the next post, we’ll talk about customizing your CGC to your eCommerce category and product.
January 11, 2019 by Belinda Blakley
It was no surprise to see that online sales over the holiday shopping season were higher than ever. As shoppers continue to shift to online purchases, they also expect more from brands in their online shopping experiences. According to recent research, “77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience” [Evergage]. That’s huge incentive for eCommerce businesses to focus their resources on increasing personalized shopping experience, but many are still lagging behind. According to a study by Infosys, 31% of shoppers don’t feel like their shopping experiences are personalized enough, and at least a fifth of shoppers haven’t ever received personalized promotions or recommendations. That all adds up to a lot of cash that online retailers are leaving on the table.
Add the shopper’s expectation of personalization to their demands for reviews and other customer-generated content, and brands will find a huge area of opportunity. According to our recent survey, 76% of consumers are less likely to buy from a site without CGC, and 73% will even buy a more expensive product if it’s more highly rated. Yet, according to BigCommerce, 69% of online shoppers aren’t getting enough reviews from eCommerce sites, and others say they’d like to see more types of CGC such as images (78%), testimonials (42%), and video (30%).
“77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience”
Many brands still struggle with how to implement more advanced personalization on their sites, but a coupled investment in personalization and high-quality CGC brings big dividends—including an increase in impulse buys, loyalty, and organic reach through recommendations to friends and family and through social media.
When creating a strategy for a customized shopping experience, it’s important to consider three key approaches to personalization:
- Customize to the individual shopper
- Customize by the brand category
- Customize by the product
Next week, we’ll start at the top of this list and discuss on the blog how brands can use customer-generated content to personalize the online shopping experience for the individual shopper. [Update: read the next post here]
December 5, 2018 by Belinda Blakley
As online shopping continues to outpace in-store purchases, especially during the holiday shopping season, one tactic to stand out in the online marketplace is to increase the quality and visibility of your customer-generated content, or CGC.
This year, Reuters reported that on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, online sales were up 23%, while in-store sales were down 4-7% over last year. Shoppers continue to shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping for their holiday deals and gifts. A vast majority of those users will turn to CGC in order to make a purchase decision—whether it’s product ratings, reviews, customer-submitted photos or video, Q&A with previous customers, or a combination of any of these—and eCommerce sites without high-quality CGC will likely miss out on purchases as well as shopper loyalty.
In our recent research study, we found that CGC not only influences shoppers’ product decisions while on an eCommerce site, but that shoppers will choose one online store over another based on the quality of each store’s CGC. Moreover, 76% say they will likely decide not to shop at a store that doesn’t provide any customer-generated content.
To help eCommerce teams make the most out of their CGC, we’ve published a one-page guide detailing holiday shopping trends and CGC tips.
- Learn what types of information shoppers are looking for in their CGC.
- Discover what site features are most influential for shoppers choosing between online stores.
- Get 5 actionable tips for effectively utilizing CGC during the holiday shopping season.
Download your free copy now.
Want to learn more about shopper habits and their CGC preferences? Download The State of Customer-Generated Content eBook to discover research like:
- One-quarter of shoppers seek out negative reviews to help make their purchase decision.
- 41% of shoppers prefer to ask other customers about products over brand experts
- 74% of shoppers will purchase more expensive products if they have higher ratings than similar less-expensive products
November 29, 2018 by Belinda Blakley
The TurnTo team has developed a free eBook about online shopper behavior as related to customer-generated content (also called CGC or UGC), such as ratings & reviews, customer images & video, and shopper Q&A.
The 2019 State of Customer-Generated Content is loaded with analysis and insights, as well as action items that you can implement immediately to improve your eCommerce store’s CGC, increase site traffic, lift conversion rates, and boost your repeat purchase rate.
Here’s a taste of the original research and insights contained within:
- For many shoppers, high-quality CGC is as or more important than good shipping and returns policies.
- Most are looking at CGC to understand product performance, purchaser satisfaction, and product quality.
- 74% of shoppers say that the presence of CGC influences them to buy on one site over another.
- Most shoppers can be swayed to purchase a more expensive item if it has a higher star rating than a similar, less expensive item.
- Shoppers trust each other more than brand experts.
There’s plenty more data, trends, and best practices to discover.
November 19, 2018 by Belinda Blakley
Curious what shoppers will be buying the most this Black Friday and Cyber Monday? TurnTo recently polled shoppers on which categories they shop for online. Using this data, we can make some predictions into where shoppers will be spending their money this holiday weekend.
Overall, clothing is the highest category shopped online by far amongst all demographics.
I guess the gifts of socks and itchy wool sweaters will always be popular choices.
After clothing, electronics comes in a close second for most shopped online items overall. We expect those people will certainly be shopping on Cyber Monday for extra deals!
Even though electronics comes in second overall, when broken down by gender, men will be the ones shopping more for electronics while women will spend their money on beauty including skincare and housewares.
Broken down by age groups, 25-39-year old’s will shop the most this holiday season online, while those 50 years old and over will shop the least online.
Hungry for more research? Look for more shopping trend reports from TurnTo, coming soon!
Find out about how our clients are using their customer-generated content in their eCommerce strategy this holiday season.
Want to learn more about shopper habits and their CGC preferences? Download The State of Customer-Generated Content eBook to discover research like:
- One-quarter of shoppers seek out negative reviews to help make their purchase decision.
- 41% of shoppers prefer to ask other customers about products over brand experts
- 74% of shoppers will purchase more expensive products if they have higher ratings than similar less-expensive products
November 8, 2018 by Sven Tarantik
Customer-generated content just makes sense for grocers and brands. While online grocers definitely have a niche market to conquer, brick and mortar stores and the brands that are sold there have an opportunity to embrace CGC.
By 2020, the online grocery spend is expected to increase to $100 billion—not only is there an opportunity for retailers, but brands can differentiate themselves by allowing shoppers to directly engage with customer–generated content.
What are people looking for when they engage with customer-generated content?
The most influential kind of CGC is one that initiates an emotional response for a shopper and gives them information about the value of a product. When the head of a home needs to decide what to feed their family or when someone is taking their budget into consideration while food shopping; customer-generated content is the perfect medium to convey information.
Ratings and Reviews and customer photos help retailers and brands establish a deeper, emotional connection with shoppers, and help educate them about products during the research stage of their shopping plan. This is crucial in order to disrupt the methodical shopper who makes the same weekly purchase time and again.
Where does customer-generated content fit in a brand or retailers’ marketing strategy?
Interrupting online shopping for groceries is a challenge. In brick and mortar stores, shoppers can engage with end-cap specials and exclusive in-store promotions, which boosts impulse buys. Enticing “free samples” are handed out left and right, encouraging purchase by trying the product. But with less engagement online, people can easily repurchase their previous week’s items in a simple click of a button, or quickly check off item on their list with no incentive to choose tempting extras or add-ons.
Chatting with other customers while waiting in line to pay for groceries, when it happens, is a great for exchanging pleasantries around favorite items and plans for future recipes. This simple interaction sparks interest in new foods or introduces new products to the shoppers from a trusted source. This doesn’t happen as much as it used to in person, but with the migration to online shopping, retailers can reintroduce this genuine interaction with CGC.
A solution such as Checkout Comments™ mimics this in-store engagement. When a shopper makes a purchase online, the retailer asks them what they plan on making with the item they bought. They’ll be excited to share, and it’s a great way to collect customer-generated content without having to wait for people to eat or cook with the item purchased.
Shoppers want to know about taste, quality and nutrition and less about the clinical jargon that brands and retailers provide. By including ratings & reviews on the same page shoppers go to purchase a product, they can read about how other customers used the item and what they thought of the results. A great way to further inspire a shopper to buy is by including uploaded recipes or pictures of the completed recipe alongside the products purchased to make it. These kinds of CGC help products stick out among other similar food items on varying grocery or brand sites.
Utilizing a technology that gets shoppers to interact the way they would—or better—inside a grocery store, make recommendations, and suggest new recipes to each other is the way to get ahead in the changing grocery landscape. Customer-generated content creates an enhanced online shopping experience that can be even more engaging than shopping in-person.
Want to learn more about the future of grocery and CGC?
November 1, 2018 by Sven Tarantik
Holidays are approaching and so is the buzz about the holidays approaching. Every year it seems like we’re talking about gift giving sooner than the year before. Shoppers start asking one another about what will be hot this season and how they can get their hands on it.
Toys are already selling out and that perfect gift for that special someone seems unattainable yet again this year.
What has TurnTo Found Popular Among Clients this Year?
By now, businesses have long buttoned up their plans for making this holiday season better, so brands and retailers that want to get ahead are gearing up for what’s to come post-holiday. A top priority on many of their lists is ramping up their current customer-generated content on their eCommerce sites.
Our suggestion? Let Community Q&A work for you!
41% of shoppers prefer to receive answers from a customer who has already purchased the product.
Shoppers feel more confident in their buying decisions after asking their peers for the answers. Customers provide more influential answers to shopper queries than brand experts ever can—they’ve spent their money purchasing a product and have a personal experience to relate, as opposed to someone who is perceived as “on the side of” the seller and can only tell you the facts. Although shoppers often have specific questions about a product, they’re more trusting of the subjective details that only a previous customer can provide.
The proof is in the numbers…
TurnTo’s current customers can attest that social answers using Community Q&A have yielded incredible conversion results.
Jeff Kitchen, Online Community Manager from Crutchfield says, “On average, 85% of questions sent to past customers received at least one social answer and most received 3 or more!”
Customers are happy to give their opinion on a product and shoppers are genuinely interested in the answers
People who ask questions are 25x more likely to purchase
Scott Ekman of Rockler Woodworking has found the most compelling part of using Community Q&A is not that “askers” are more likely to buy—these customers are already highly engaged—but it’s the data he’s found amongst the customers who answer shopper questions.
“People who answer questions for shoppers are 8 to 10 times more likely to purchase again. In fact, we generate nearly 100 orders per month from people who bought something after getting an email to answer a question,” Scott says.
Those customers that are willing to answer a question for a shopper are actively engaged with the site community. When they’re reminded of their good experience within that community, they’re encouraged to go back to the site and often make another purchase.
In Scott’s case, these customers are sharing their DIY projects and become inspired by the questions they’ve answered to keep creating—often using more supplies or tools from Rockler.
Regardless of the reason why the answerers end up buying something else, it’s remarkable that sending questions to previous buyers can make such a huge impact in turning them into repeat customers.
Active Outreach Model
Only TurnTo Q&A provides unmatched features to maximize the number and speed of answers, like language filtering and automatic routing to accelerate moderation. Advanced logic ensures questions are sent to the right people, and that a customer isn’t pestered by too many questions. Similar item groupings increase owner pools and distribute content accordingly. Clients can even send their customers multi-item questions then display the best answers on their site.
TurnTo retains content on clients’ sites which powers the search feature. Shoppers can use the search functionality in reviews with question, and if a similar question has already been asked, or if their question appears in a seller’s FAQ or knowledgebase, the answer is displayed instantly. This way they can discover their answers quicker and move on to their purchase with that hurdle removed. TurnTo is the only reviews platform that provides this unique ability inside of the review widget.
To start strategizing today about your post-holiday plans, give us a shout! We’ll walk you through it.
October 23, 2018 by Sven Tarantik
During our most recent webinar, one of our loyal customers, Scott Ekman from Rockler Woodworking took us through how he uses the TurnTo platform in his eCommerce strategy; 3 Cs, customer-generated content, community, and commerce.
You can access the entire webinar below, but we’ve compiled the top 5 best practices for you to put to good use now!
1. Best practices for CGC on your product pages
Product description pages are the most crucial places to convince your shoppers to purchase. Customer-generated content should be immediately visible on the page and shoppers should be able to engage with it in multiple forms.
Making CGC as visible as possible reduces the need for shoppers to scroll and relieves shopper uncertainty by providing them with the information and confidence to support their buying decision. In fact, Rockler features their customer-generated content at the top of their product pages. And Scott has found that the most effective place for high-quality content, is next to the “Add to Cart” button.
Rockler allows shoppers to visualize the product in their own hands by displaying real customer photos below the product. Placing a scrolling gallery near the product image ensures it’s seen by your customers.
2. A/B Test the default review order
A third of shoppers recently polled reported being satisfied reviewing customer-generated content however a website displays it. But that leaves 2/3 of shoppers with a strong opinion of how they want to read reviews. Which sort feature makes them more likely to buy? A/B testing the sort order of your reviews will give you a good idea of who responds to what and if it makes a difference for your bottom line.
Scott decided to test the sort feature comparing “Most Helpful” review sort and “Highest Rated” review sort. Rockler chose to update their pages with the sort default using “Highest Rated” as the default view.
This simple update increased revenue per user by 19%!
3. Allow shoppers to ask their product questions to customers
TurnTo discovered 41% of online shoppers prefer to get their answers from other customers. Shoppers feel that other customers better understand the value of an item over the seller, considering they’re the ones spending their hard-earned money on it. Rockler had discovered the same sentiment and implemented TurnTo’s Community Q&A solution.
Rockler has a 94% answer rate on their site using TurnTo’s Community Q&A, and 95% of the questions are answered within the first 48 hours.
Shoppers should be able to ask a question directly on your product description page. Even better as they start to type, the system should pull up similarly asked questions. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, a customer can be emailed the question.
A bonus treat, Scott has found that not only does an answered question increase conversion for the askers, but the customers who answered the shoppers’ questions are 8–10 times more likely to go back to the site and make an additional purchase.
Giving your customers that option to ask on your site is always a good idea.
4. Include Checkout Comments™
Rockler was looking for a fast way to collect reviews for new releases and so Scott and his team started using TurnTo Checkout Comments™ for product pages that did not have many reviews. “Not having to wait for the customer to receive the item, use it and review it really helps to influence sales for new releases earlier,” says Scott.
A great time to ask for customer feedback is at the moment when a shopper becomes a customer. Checkout Comments™ are almost always positive and emotional—therefore highly convincing for shoppers who read them.
5. Include visual reviews everywhere you can
Rockler includes the option to upload photos in their review emails and on their website. Since offering the option to submit photos two years ago, Rockler has received 7,500 pictures. And as Scott mentioned previously, the ideal place to put these submitted photos is near the top of the product description pages. This integral piece of their marketing strategy has created an incredibly engaged digital community.
In fact, they have had so many photos submitted of completed customer projects, that they started using these pictures on many other pages outside of just the product description pages.
Rockler encourages shoppers to engage with these pictures anywhere on their site and allows them to purchase the items featured in a completed project by clicking the photo. “The photo shows the shopper the review caption and what product was associated with the images, so they can easily buy the product,” says Scott.
These visual reviews work much better than trying to tag content from Instagram or other social platforms. Because the image is submitted as part of the review process, there is no need to have to connect the dots. Plus, the review submission process handles user permissions automatically.
These were just a few examples of how Rockler incorporates CGC into their successful 3 C strategy, but we learned so much more. To view the presentation in its entirety, click here. And we hope you take these tips and put them to good use in your own eCommerce strategy!
September 27, 2018 by Sven Tarantik
When it comes to TurnTo content tagging, the possibilities are endless.
The use of keyword taxonomies predates computers, but content tagging is best known today for its role in enabling easy informal search and classification for photo sharing, blogging, and social media (hashtags, anyone?). Behind the scenes, tags are used similarly in content management systems and in the expanding field of data sciences.
While TurnTo’s customer content collection suite isn’t built around cluttering up your social feeds with hashtags, we offer content tagging as a powerful moderation and reporting tool for brands and retailers.
Traditional Ratings & Reviews platforms offer a limited set of “rejection codes” that allow moderators to mark the reason why they acted to hide or publish a review for reporting purposes. We identified an opportunity to create something better, providing customers with a completely customizable tagging taxonomy that they can be tailored to automate their moderation workflows, create nuanced internal reporting and sentiment analysis, and curate the promotion of customer content.
TurnTo clients can still use tagging for routine moderation with more customized labels, but most inventive is the way our clients use tagging for flexible content curation to maximize the value of the content they are collecting in their marketing and merchandising strategies.
For example, Bob’s Red Mill moderates their Checkout Comments™ for “standout” content and tags them as such. The tagged content is displayed on Bob’s homepage using a TurnTo widget. This shows shoppers trending products and allows them to read the most enthusiastic, detailed, or helpful comments.
In this instance, Bob’s Red Mill utilizes content tagging in conjunction with Checkout Comments. When shoppers make a purchase, they are asked to provide feedback about why they chose the products they did. They may say, “because it’s a gluten-free product”, or that they bought the product “to make a pizza crust”, or they may exclaim, it’s “The best tasting steel-cut oats I’ve ever had”. Comments like these are constantly rolling in as customers complete their purchases. Moderators review and selectively tag one or more with a content tag to indicate that the content is highly promotable for their product and brand. Once the tag is in place, TurnTo’s ‘Why did you choose this?’ widgets can be configured to only show content with that tag.
TurnTo clients can use content tagging to create campaign-specific promotions too. And as the holidays are quickly approaching, gift giving is top of mind. Our clients can use content tagging in seasonal campaigns, using tags like “holiday”, or automatically apply tags based on terms like “gift”, and “present”. Then, the tagged holiday content can feed on-site TurnTo widgets, enhancing the shopping experience. It can be used for a category specific photo gallery that features all of the tagged pictures. Or the customer-generated content can be made into a landing page full of campaign-related items. Shoppers can then purchase directly from the curated content.
Graph: Top 10 Tags by Number of Comments
Source: TurnTo reporting for Bob’s Red Mill
Not only are content tags great for marketing materials, but the tags also act as insightful metadata. Clients can compile reports of content that was tagged based on recurring keywords in reviews and find out what the average star rating was of the reviews with those tags. The data can make the connection between how fond people are of a particular product (star rating) and who they are purchasing it for (e.g., tag “Mom”, tag “Holiday”). This is again helpful to market to that audience better and to understand who is purchasing which products.
Tagging possibilities are limitless. TurnTo is unique in giving clients full reign to create subjective tags that apply to both written AND visual reviews. With TurnTo tagging, eCommerce teams can quickly and easily automate, organize, and curate content to keep shoppers engaged and stay at the forefront of shopping experiences.
Got some new ideas but feel limited by your current platform?
September 21, 2018 by Belinda Blakley
A presentation by Kevin Irish, Bob’s Red Mill at Shop.org 2018:
Kevin Irish explains how he developed a marketing strategy of customer-generated content through real accounts of how Bob’s Red Mill changed lives forever. Check out the video below to see what they learned about building an exceptional customer experience and how they more than tripled their customer-generated content in less than a year.
August 15, 2018 by Sven Tarantik
We’re getting ready to release a new-and-improved platform packed full of fast, fresh features! Our Version 5 software will be released in the next few weeks. We took feedback from our valued customers on what they want and need in order to gather and display the best customer-generated content. Our product team has gone beyond finding easy solutions to common concerns and have created a platform that allows customers to re-imagine the future of ratings and reviews software.
We know ease of use for your customer and your team is a top priority when choosing eCommerce software, so our new platform will allow non-developers to create different designs for all of their product categories. Additionally, customers have full transparency into how their customer content strategy is actually performing by testing alternate layouts.
The drag-and-drop functionality is simple, and our customers will love how fast it functions on their site.
Your customers don’t have time to spare, so neither do you.
“Our previous platform provided the best performance among our peers, but with Version 5, we went even farther by reducing the footprint to a third of the size,” says John Swords, Chief Product Officer.
Stay tuned for more details about our new platform, we’ll be rolling them out soon!
July 31, 2018 by Sven Tarantik
A spotlight on a great product, Community Q&A.
Community Q&A, which is one of our first products and a TurnTo original uses an ‘active outreach’ model that delivers fast answers to shoppers’ questions from peers and experts.
What is it?
Q&A tends to differ amongst companies, but TurnTo’s Community Q&A keeps in mind our customers’ customer. Which is a mouthful, but let’s go a little further.
Companies have limited space on their product description pages. And it’s hard to include every piece of vital information. But if the customer is looking for an answer to something that is not explicit, they should be able to find it.
What better way to secure a sale than to give customers every answer they’re looking for?
Q&A lives on the product description page and operates by using search-friendly content, which populates instant answers to questions as customers start typing them.
An interesting quirk that we’ve found is that customers type in questions as if they’re “googling” something. The organic or natural searchability is something an SEO team could only ever dream of. Our clients are using these stored questions from their TurnTo platform and repurposing them in their marketing down the road. A true win for everyone!
The library is just one place where answers are pulled from when a customer has a question. The answers are also taken from the product’s Ratings and Reviews and real customers who have already purchased the item.
If the answer is not found amongst these different sources, then it is either submitted to an “expert” of the company’s choosing or it is emailed to a group of customers who have already purchased the item. Our software is completely customizable—so if you only want product experts to answer questions from your prospective customers—then the platform can function in a way to do just that.
And if the question is routed to a previous customer, advanced logic ensures the question is sent to the right person. Through our automated moderation feature, these questions are routed in less than 30 seconds and are approved just as fast. Typically, customers have an answer within an hour!
Here’s how it works:
Customer user experience is at the heart of our platform. Community Q&A generates a community of “fans,” and they wouldn’t be fans if it wasn’t so simple. When your customer feels supported in their purchases – they’re more likely to return.
Keep your biggest fans happy!
July 9, 2018 by Belinda Blakley
Kellen Fitzgerald recently spoke at Salesforce Connections in Chicago about how Tarte Cosmetics used TurnTo to create a community of shoppers—or “tartelettes” as they’re called. These are Tarte cosmetic advocates who are passionate “fans”, but also act as their most powerful acquisition tool. Watch the video below to learn how over 625K orders were influenced by customer-generated content in the past eight months: