April 14, 2016 by George Eberstadt
A version of this post originally ran on Multichannel Merchant.
A study we just completed shows that a new type of customer-generated content captured online at the point of purchase can solve the problem of low customer review volume.
“Be the first to write a review” is one of most negative messages retailers can show on their product pages. Research shows that much of the power of customer reviews is in the count, not just the rating. High counts indicate an item is popular, and popular items sell. Low or zero counts suggest an item is unpopular, which hurts sales. Ironically, many truly popular items have no reviews just when they are being most heavily promoted – when they are newly on sale – because of the lag before reviews start to arrive.
The pain is not confined to the product page. Most stores show ratings on discovery, list, and search pages. Items shown with no ratings are much less likely to attract shoppers, resulting in lost sales opportunities. A catalog with many “zero reviews” items may be worse than one that doesn’t use reviews at all.
One way around this conundrum is for retailers to capture a sort of micro-review at the moment of purchase (on the order confirmation page), rather than waiting weeks to ask for a traditional review by email. On the order confirmation page, a shopper can’t yet speak to her experience with the item, but she can answer a different question: “Why did you choose this?”
The answers to this question directly address purchase motivation, something that’s not usually covered in reviews and is particularly effective at helping shoppers make the decision to buy. For example, seeing that many people chose to give an item as a Mother’s Day gift will help others feel comfortable doing the same. Multiple comments that people bought an item for some particular attribute – smell, weight, comfort, style, performance… – call attention to the key features that drive purchase. And there’s no substitute for the customer’s own voice; like the comment on a set of woodworking clamps: “They are the extra hands we could all use.”
We recently ran a study looking at the rate at which these “Checkout Comments” build up. We found that overall, when that question is posed in a modal window on the order confirmation page, shoppers provide an answer on 10-15% of all orders. For most stores, that’s a rate 3-5 times higher than the rate at which they collect customer reviews. And for new items, the first comments start to arrive, on average, 10 days earlier than with traditional reviews.
Displaying this content on product pages, especially with a count near the top where the reviews count usually appears, provides powerful social validation that drives conversion. Showing these counts on navigation pages helps get shoppers to click through to more product pages, which also drives sales. And since the comments are collected at the moment of purchase, they tend to contain highly positive sentiment, which further increases conversion rates.
From our study, we’ve called out 4 examples to illustrate the differences in the rate of content build-up between Checkout Comments and customer reviews when items first go on sale and over time. We selected these items because they were among those that received the most, fastest reviews. These examples show that even compared to the most successful review collection efforts, Checkout Comments start coming in much sooner – usually on the first day a new item is available – and build up much faster.
March 9, 2016 by John Swords
The Risks of Image Harvesting
Recently the online retailing industry took some heat over the practice of harvesting images from social media. The New York Times highlighted some especially egregious cases in which retail brands re-published Instagram photos of children against the expectations of their parents.
A variety of experts chimed in with conflicting advice. Does using a brand’s hashtag in a photo caption count as giving consent for the brand to post the picture? The article portrays an industry still figuring out where the lines are, with best practices still unsettled.
What’s clear is that “image harvesting” is developing a risky reputation. When retailers pull pictures off social media and place them in a merchandising context, such as a product page or a gallery on a brand’s website, customers sometimes feel blindsided. Doing it right means getting each customer’s permission individually, and making sure customers understand what they’re consenting to.
That all adds up to a high-effort process. Retailers win when customers share pictures of products they love, but shouldn’t there be a better way to get them?
Enter Visual Reviews
TurnTo is leading the way in a new product that offers a clear-cut path to collect customer images that’s beneficial to both the customer and the retailer. Rather than pulling images from customers’ personal social media feeds, Visual Reviews gives the customers a way to submit product photos and videos directly to the store where they bought the item or to the brand that manufactured it.
TurnTo Visual Reviews adds a rich layer of visual information to fashion, beauty, and home brands, where a picture can say more than a written review ever could. It also works well for hobby and craft retailers, where buyers are eager to share things they’ve made with the products they’ve bought. Whatever the category, it provides a worry-free source of great content for TurnTo clients.
September 8, 2015 by John Swords
… And we mean LOOK different.
- 90% of reviews come in response to emails
- >60% of emails are opened on phones
- Phones are bad for long text (like reviews)
- Phones are great for photos!
The implications are clear:
- Your strategy for collecting customer reviews needs to work on phones
- On phones, the strategy should be “visual first.”
So what is a visual review? It’s a photo (or video) submitted by a customer in response to a request for a review – the proverbial picture that is worth a thousand words. Instead of text stating, “With my new cookware, I was finally able to perfectly brown the crust of my famous chicken-pot-pie,” it is a photo of that perfect chicken-pot-pie.
Instead of text stating, “The shirt fit perfectly, with no extra blousing around my waist,” it is a selfie of the customer looking great in her new shirt.
Instead of text stating, “The fabric on the sofa was gorgeous, but the cushions were way too saggy,” it is a photo of the sofa with its gorgeous fabric and saggy cushions.
Far from being yet another “gotta-keep-up-with-changing-platforms chore,” the shift to visual content that the rise of smart phones demands creates a huge opportunity. Simply put, visual content converts better. Few shoppers have the patience to read the full body of customer reviews, and those that read any rarely go past the first couple of entries. So while having lots of reviews is valuable for signaling that an item is popular, most of the text you are collecting has little impact on conversion. On the other hand, shoppers can scan an image gallery in a blink and come away with a powerful, visceral sense of the appeal of a product.
This is not to say that you should abandon collecting text reviews; there is plenty of information in text reviews that images can’t convey. If a customer is on a desktop when they get your request to write a review, you should lead with the request for a standard text review (with an option to attach an image). But when the customer is on a mobile device, don’t try to force a round peg into a square hole by asking for text. Instead, ask the customer to do what comes more naturally on these devices and submit an image.
The applications are broad and go way beyond selfies. Image subjects can vary such as:
- Things made with the product (cooking, crafts, do-it-yourself projects)
- The product in use (home furnishings, hobby items)
- Unboxing and explainers (electronics, fashion)
- Travel (Hotel rooms, attractions)
- And yes, selfies (fashion, beauty, sporting goods)
Visual reviews are a great complement to imagery you can gather from social media sites, if you’ve taken that approach. But visual reviews also have some important advantages over social media harvesting and may be all the visual content collection you need:
- Images are automatically connected to the relevant SKU (saving a lot of work)
- Usage rights are automatically acquired
- You can collect a lot more images, since there is a big portion of your customer base that is happy to write a review but isn’t going to post your product to their Instagram page.
- The image collection is continuous; there’s no need for special hashtag campaigns
So as we said, the next generation of product reviews is going to look very different.
May 27, 2015 by John Swords
Learn how Kevin Ertell, SVP of Digital at Sur La Table, was able to seamlessly build community with customers by leveraging product insights contributed by the customers themselves.
He spoke recently at a key industry trade show and shared Sur La Table’s secrets for using Community Q&A to answer shopper questions quickly with detailed responses — and elevating engagement between customers beyond what Ratings & Reviews alone could ever provide.
December 3, 2014 by John Swords
To provide some more context, I sat down with our CEO to discuss how this new product came about.
Heather: TurnTo is well known for providing the top-performing community-powered Q&A solution for eCommerce. Why branch out to Ratings & Reviews?
George: Well, we resisted for a long time! One reason we’ve been able to build up such a lead on the Q&A side is focus. But 4 things changed our minds. I’ll go through them:
- First, some businesses wanted to adopt our Q&A without increasing their vendor count. Our Q&A has always been targeted at businesses that take a best-of-breed approach to vendors; but with integrated Ratings & Reviews we can meet the needs of those who prefer suite providers, too.
- Second, we identified some very exciting ways to integrate the two products to deliver more value than either can alone.
- Third, we realized that all of the enterprise-grade infrastructure we built for Q&A could be leveraged by our Ratings & Reviews product, enabling us to rapidly build out the application and launch with a full enterprise-ready feature set.
- And finally, our customer research revealed some pretty wide-spread dissatisfaction with the existing choices and a strong demand for a better option.
Heather: What was the overall philosophy behind the design of TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews product?
George: We spent a lot of time talking with both current customers and prospects to understand what they wanted in a Ratings & Reviews product, and the feedback was very consistent: all the important functions that have been proven to work, beautifully executed, on an enterprise-grade platform, at an affordable price. We also heard consistent requests to stay away from bells and whistles that don’t add value and clutter up the user experience or make the system management difficult just to appear different. The architect Mies van der Rohe was famous for saying “God is in the details”, by which he meant creativity doesn’t necessarily require wild gestures – there’s plenty of opportunity for innovation in just honing an idea until it’s really right. I’d say that was the philosophy guiding us here.
Heather: OK, so there’s nothing radically different about TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews product, but are there still some innovations you’d like to point out?
George: At the application level, one nice touch is that the “purchaser credential” (like the Verified Buyer badge) provides an approximate date of purchase. That increases the credibility of the review and also enables the shopper to see how much experience the reviewer has had with the product. We also offer state-of-the-art mobile capabilities – responsive design right out of the box and phone-optimized UX for review collection. Plus, as I mentioned, we’ve found some very valuable new ways to integrate Ratings & Reviews with Q&A. For example, when a shopper enters a question, our Instant Answers feature now searches the Ratings & Reviews for relevant information (as well as the existing Q&A dialog and the store’s knowledge base). Also, the please-review-your-purchase email can now include an offer for customers to get help with their recent purchase from others who already own the item. That turns Q&A into a post-purchase support tool; and by coupling it to the review solicitation, stores can head off potential negative reviews and turn them into positive ones.
Heather: How has the market received TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews so far?
George: The reception has been great. Many of our existing Q&A customers have already or are in the process of switching their reviews over to us, too. Many of our new customers are signing up for both reviews and Q&A together. And we’ve even got a some new customers who are starting with our Ratings & Reviews and planning to add Q&A later. And that’s all before we’ve really started to market this new product.
Heather: Does this mean TurnTo is no longer a “Q&A first” company?
George: No, we’re still Q&A-first. We expect that online business who are satisfied with the current reviews providers will still come to us for best-of-breed community-powered Q&A. It’s already the industry leader, and we have many big enhancements coming in 2015. But when you look the whole package of our Ratings & Reviews offering – the product itself, TurnTo’s outstanding support, affordability, integration with our industry-leading Q&A, and our extraordinary roadmap – it compares very favorably to the existing alternatives.
November 6, 2012 by George Eberstadt
We don’t usually link to our competitors’ marketing collateral; they don’t usually link to ours. But when we saw PowerReviews’ latest case study of their “Social Answers” product running on Skechers.com, we thought it would be interesting to check out just how “Social” it really is. We figured: if this is the site they are featuring in their newest case study, it has got to be their newest product and a best-practice implementation.
So we did a simple test. We asked a normal shopper question on each of 8 products on Skechers.com through the PowerReviews tool and we asked the identical question about the identical product on Shoes.com, which also sells Skechers shoes and uses TurnTo for Social Q&A. Like usual, we kept track of when answers were posted, and if the answers were emailed before they were posted we counted the earlier email time. Half the questions were asked on both sites at around 9:00am eastern, and half were asked at around 1:00pm.
The bottom line: TurnTo generated >3X more answers total, >90% were truly “Social” (from actual past customers), most arrived in 1/3 the time, with 1/4 the staff workload vs PowerReviews.
- Just one hour after the questions were submitted, the 8 questions asked through the TurnTo system had generated 7 social answers. There were no answers to the questions asked through the PowerReviews system.
- At 8 hours, the TurnTo system had delivered 16 social answers and 2 staff answers. Still none through PowerReviews.
- At 24 hours, TurnTo was up to 20 social and 2 staff answers. PowerReviews delivered 8 staff answers – one to each question – but no social answers. In fact, even after 2 weeks, PowerReviews never produced a social answer.
- At 24 hours, 7 of the 8 questions asked through TurnTo had received at least 2 answers total, including at least one social answer. One of the TurnTo questions was unanswered. The 8 questions asked through PowerReviews received one staff answer each.
Skechers says they’ve seen a 30% increase in sales when Q&A is installed on their product pages. We believe it, and we congratulate them! Social Q&A is a powerful way to increase conversion and to create the sort of user-generated content that search engines increasingly favor.
But we also wonder: imagine how much better their results would have been if their Social Q&A system delivered 3X more answers with most answers coming from actual past customers in under 8 hours (many in under 1 hour), the way TurnTo’s does?
Appendix: here are the specific questions asked on each shoe type.
|Skechers Men Energy – Downforce||Can these shoes be worn in the rain?|
|Skechers Women’s Keepsakes Postage||Can I wear these outside?|
|Skechers Work Women’s Softie Med/Wide||Are these shoes good for running?|
|Skechers Women’s Dream Come True||I have a pretty wide foot. Will these shoes work for me?|
|Skechers Men’s Sparta||I need a good pair of shoes for street running and hiking. Do you think these shoes will work for both?|
|Skechers Women’s Keepsakes Boiling Pt||I have a wide calves and am worried these boots won’t fit. How wide is the calf area of the boot?|
|Skechers Women’s Dlite Clog||I have a pretty narrow foot. Do you think these shoes will fit me well? Are they good for lots of walking?|
|Skechers Work Men’s Galley||I’m on my feet at work all day… are these shoes very comfortable?|
October 18, 2011 by John Swords
It’s always nice to get positive feedback from someone, and it’s even nicer when you don’t know them yet. The team at KitchenDesigns.com recently had some nice things to say about one of our clients, LightingShowroom.com, and the on-site features that they use to improve the shopping experience. In their post, they mentioned two of the products in TurnTo’s Social Commerce Suite. First, they referenced our best-in-class Social Q&A product Ask Owners:
“In addition, [LightingShowroom.com] has integrated social hooks that fascinated me. Their “ASK others” button allows a person to direct questions to past customers about the product or to pose any kind of question to the staff or to Facebook contacts.”
Then, they brought up our Social Merchandising application which allows customers to “see what your friends bought here”:
“If this isn’t enough, they incorporated a slider on the right that displays things other clients bought and includes social hooks where you can engage in a dialog about the product purchased. It can also select from zip codes if you would like to ask local buyers what they thought…”
We love to be reminded that our work at TurnTo is having benefits for both our customers, and especially for their shoppers. Thank you to everyone at KitchenDesigns.com for the shout-out!
What’s the best online shout-out that you’ve ever given or received? Tell us in the comments below.
September 27, 2011 by George Eberstadt
[For a downloadable version of this study, click here.]
To date, Q&A on ecommerce sites has been primarily a tag-along application to customer reviews (provided by vendors that specialize in customer reviews). This approach results in a Q&A model that’s more like customer reviews than a true social experience between shoppers and customers, missing the benefits that a truly social approach to ecommerce Q&A provides.
The key to Social Q&A is that shopper questions should reliably and quickly get answered by real customers, and participants should have the ability to go back-and-forth beyond the initial question, if they choose to. If shopper questions receive customer answers only rarely or after an extended period, the shopper is disappointed and the store has missed the chance to provide a fast reminder to the shopper about the purchase she was considering. Further, getting past customers to share their experience with real shoppers is a great way for stores to keep their relationships with the customer base fresh. The rise of social networks has conditioned people to expect a high level of interactivity from social applications – so if a Q&A tool isn’t providing that, it’s not really Social.
On many online stores’ Q&A systems, we’ve observed that most answers come from store staff. That can be an OK supplement to social answers (especially if the staff are really experts), but the store may be better off directing those questions to a live chat or phone line so the staff can interact with the shopper in real time. And if a shopper wants to know something subjective – like how the product held up after 3 months, or how it felt, or just if it’s really as fabulous as they hope it is(!) – they may only want an answer from someone like them who really bought the item. A Q&A system that relies heavily on staff answers also isn’t really Social.
That’s why TurnTo created an approach to Q&A for ecommerce that reliably provides a true Social experience – multiple, fast answers from real purchasers with continuing back-and-forth dialog. To measure the difference between the TurnTo approach and that provided by the leading customer reviews vendors, Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews, we conducted a simple test. We asked 16 shopper questions on a range of sites with Q&A powered by TurnTo and these other vendors, and we tracked how long it took for the answers to arrive. Here are the aggregated results:
Methodology: In our test design, we tried to keep the playing field level. We asked general questions that could easily be answered by anyone with experience with the product. We tried to ask the identical question about identical products wherever possible. Where not possible we tried to pick featured items on the Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews sites likely to have high traffic and have been purchased many times (no new arrivals items were used). We tried to pick sites where the Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews Q&A tools were implemented in a highly visible way on the page. That meant that the PowerReviews and Bazaarvoice sites were not always the largest in each vertical (in particular, in the photo gear category), but more often than not, the Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews sites had far more traffic than the TurnTo sites, and they did so in aggregate. We checked the item page where each question was asked at exactly the specified intervals and counted posted answers. We also provided our email address with each question asked and counted answers received by email. (The Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews stores often emailed answers well before those answers appeared on the sites, in some cases even before the questions appeared on the sites.) None of the sites were alerted in any way about this test. All questions were submitted on Wednesday, August 10, 2011 between 9am and 11am eastern time. Here were the test sites that we used:
On each site, we asked 4 questions. So in total, we asked 16 questions per vendor. Here are the details of the answers received, by individual site. (All numbers are for social answers – answers from customers – except those in parentheses, which are answers from store staff.)
Staff answers: We also tracked answers from store staff. These are shown in parentheses in the table above. At the end of the two week test period, the questions on PowerReviews sites received a total of 10 staff answers vs 7 social answers. The questions on Bazaarvoice sites received a total of 5 staff answers vs 9 social answers. No staff answers were received on the TurnTo sites – note that 15 out of 16 questions on TurnTo sites received at least 1 social answer within 24 hours.
We encourage you to try this test for yourself.
The raw data: Here are the urls for all the item pages for all questions in the test. The asker is “Andrew P”, “Andrew RP” or “Anonymous” – also look for a submit date of August 10th where that is shown. Note that on the Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews sites, we counted answers received by email, even though some of those answers – in some cases, even the questions – were not posted on the site by the end of the test period.
Sierra Trading Post (PowerReviews)
Johnston & Murphy (PowerReviews)
Abes of Maine (PowerReviews)
Bass Pro Shop (Bazaarvoice)
Cameras Direct (Bazaarvoice)
Bazaarvoice is a registered trademark of Bazaarvoice, Inc.PowerReviews is a registered trademark of PowerReviews, Inc.
July 12, 2011 by John Swords
We’ve been noticing an interesting correlation between the well-known 1-9-90 rule derived from online forums and the participation rate in our ecommerce-based Q&A system.
Initially noted by Bradley Horowitz in 2006, the 1-9-90 rule claims that online forums can be divided into 3 participation groups: Creators (1%), Contributors (9%) and Lurkers (90%). Creators will initiate content production unprompted. Contributors will respond to content others have initiated. And lurkers just read. (For a primer on the 1-9-90 Principle check out Bradley Horowitz’s post, and for some serious number-crunching check out Dr. Michael Wu’s articles.)
Here’s what we noticed. The TurnTo system emails questions from people shopping on an online store to past customers who bought the item that the shopper is considering. The people who receive those emails are a pretty random sample of the overall customer base of the store. And those randomly selected customers answer those shopper questions at an 8% rate per email sent (average across all stores using TurnTo – top stores get a 10-12% answer rate). That’s awfully close to the 9% that Horowitz observed on forums. And it suggests that from a “participation” point-of-view the composition of an online store’s customer base may look a lot like the composition of the membership of an online forum. Namely, a small percentage will initiate a dialog, around 9% will respond, and the rest will read what the other two groups produce.
This is a significant insight if you run an ecommerce business and want to build deeper customer relationships through online community. There’s a big part of your customer base that is very willing to engage if given the right invitation. You can’t count on them to actively seek out ways to contribute, but if you reach out to them, they will respond. Don’t settle for 1% when you could have 9%!
– – – – –
Have you noticed online activity that relates to the 1-9-90 Principle? Tell us about it in the comments below.
April 1, 2011 by George Eberstadt
Here’s the full video from our webinar on Tuesday with our partner and leading Yahoo Store design and development shop FastPivot. It’s about an hour.
March 17, 2011 by George Eberstadt
Last month, I wrote about the challenges of social commerce – in particular, why it’s so hard to get people to share purchase-related information. And I promised I’d follow up with a more optimistic post about an approach that’s working. We call this “contextual sharing”.
Try this: Ask a random sample of people how they feel about telling their friends about recent purchases. Most of the people you ask will probably give you an answer like this: once in a while they’ll tell some friends about some purchases, but the idea of mass-sharing their purchases is repulsive. Now ask them how they feel about answering questions about their purchases. You’ll probably get a very consistent response: sure, I’m happy to help; in fact, I enjoy sharing my experience. Now try a 3rd question. Ask these people if they’d be willing to let people who are shopping for items like ones they’ve already bought know that they are available for advice, if needed. The answer will probably sound like this: as long as I’m not broadcasting about my purchase in a spammy or self-promotional way, sure.
This is the big idea behind contextual sharing: people will share purchase-related information when they have confidence that it will be relevant to the audience.
If you sell online, this has huge implications for your sharing strategy. Don’t over-reach by trying to get your customers to mass-share. Instead, start by asking for contextual sharing. You’ll get a much higher sharing rate, and you can always put the request for a mass-share at then end, to catch that small % of customers who will participate.
Here’s some data from our experience running the TurnTo Purchase Sharing application, which uses a contextual model, on several dozen websites spanning a broad range of verticals for over a year. The system opens an overlay box on the order confirmation page (ie immediately after purchase) that looks like this:
15% of customers click “Sure” (!!). Then the system asks for an answer to the question “Why did you choose this?”
About 1/3 of the people who clicked “Sure” also add a comment. That means that about 5% of all items purchased are getting one of these check-out comments attached, along with permission to show that comment to other shoppers. Finally, the system offers shoppers the opportunity to post that comment to Facebook and Twitter. The rate there is much lower. But by having asked first for the contextual sharing permission, the store at least got that.
August 4, 2010 by George Eberstadt
Many thanks to Nate and Brandon for another fabulous NYTM. Here’s our first public demo and announcement of the general availability of TurnTo 2.0 (aka the Social Commerce Suite). The TurnTo segment starts at 10:30 and runs for about 3 minutes.
June 8, 2010 by George Eberstadt
It’s a big day at TurnTo: we’re introducing our Social Commerce Suite. (Yes, we know that it’s ambitious to call it a “Suite” with just 2 products – please humor us. Also, there’s more in the pipeline…) Official press release here.
So what’s new? 1. We’ve done a nearly complete overhaul of our current product, now branded “Social Merchandising” and 2. We’re introducing a new product called “Social Purchase Sharing”.
Social Merchandising. We’ve made improvements top to bottom.
- Shoppers who open the widget but don’t personalize it by checking for friends will now see a range of other customers and their purchases designed to give the site that buzzing busy-store feeling and to encourage consideration and purchase of more items. (The goal is to address one of the big limitations of the shopping online: lots of stuff in the stores, but no people.) We’ve built a ranking engine that selects which customers and which items to show, ensuring the greatest relevance given limited data.
- We’ve made the value and process of personalizing the widget a lot more transparent to the user, so many more of those who open the widget will go the next step and personalize it to see their own friends in place of those the system picks. Underlying this is a simplification of the sharing rules to a vanilla Twitter-style “follow” model. (See our last post about the importance of simplicity when it comes to privacy and sharing.) We’ve also switched to delegated login for most of the friend list sources we support, including the newest Facebook protocols. (The short explanation: it’s better.)
- The widget now shows big, attractive product images throughout, so not only are shoppers seeing which of their friends also shop at that store, the purchases those friends made look particularly inviting. Good for cross-sell and order size improvement.
- The comment mechanism has been redone to both capture more input from buyers and to show it more visibly to shoppers.
- We’ve made significant enhancements to the guts of the system to provide greater speed and reliability. These include use of a Content Delivery Network as well as a range of server-side caching and summarizing strategies. The design point was to be able to support the largest ecommerce sites out there.
- We’ve added new tools for optimizing the button that calls up the widget. It doesn’t do stores any good to have a fabulous social merchandising tool if only a few shoppers use it. We now provide a range of more interactive button designs as well as tools for doing rotation tests (randomized A/B/C tests) of alternatives. In its initial use, we’ve already seen large engagement rate improvements.
In a nutshell: you have to see it. So here’s the first screen shot we’ve released:
Social Purchase Sharing. Our partner merchants have been telling us how valuable it is when a customer posts to their social network (most often Facebook and Twitter) about their purchase. So we’ve added a simple tool to significantly increase the amount of purchase sharing online stores can generate. It’s an overlay that appears on the order confirmation page right after a purchase and makes a clear, persuasive appeal to share. The permission obtained from the buyer is also used to power the Social Merchandising widget, so the “sharing” appears both on the social networks and on the store site itself. Here’s an example of the overlay – just picture it on top of your order confirmation page. (See also our blog post on “Like” vs. “Bought”.
The TurnTo Social Commerce Suite will be generally available to online retailers at the beginning of Q3, 2010. If you are in Chicago this week for the Internet Retailer show (IRCE), please come by booth #431 and we’ll give you a full demo. If you’d like more information on the thinking that went into these products, please have a look at the white paper we just released: Onsite Social for Online Commerce.
August 18, 2009 by George Eberstadt
The enhancements in this release improve both the user experience and the value for sites that use the system. Here’s a summary:
The widget now shows basic social shopping content to all users without requiring any sign-up:
- Items recently recommended by other shoppers
- Popular items
- The number of neighbors who also shop at the store and the items those neighbors have purchased (based on zip code matches)
Users can now import their friends list without ever leaving the widget and immediately see how many of their friends are also customers of the store and what those friends bought. All the information is anonymous, but shoppers can request the store to send a connect invitation on their behalf to those friends. This new approach has a number of benefits:
- Shoppers see more first-degree friend reference information
- Shoppers have a way to connect to friends who have not yet opted in to the site’s “trusted reference system” while still preserving customers’ privacy
- The sign-up flow for shoppers is cleaner and more intuitive
We’ve made a slew of visual and usability improvements. Please go to one of our partner sites and have a look.
Sites currently using the TurnTo system will get this upgrade without any action required.
January 22, 2009 by George Eberstadt
We just rolled out Rave. If you’ve had a particularly good experience with a product from a TurnTo network site – the sort of experience you’d normally tell your friends about – rave it. Your TurnTo friends will see your rave in their TurnTo news feed, and you can also push it out to your Facebook friends. (Coming soon: you’ll be able to push your raves out to other networks, Twitter, and the like…) Other people can see your raves, too, but we don’t push it to them, and they don’t see your name as the author.
How come only “rave” and not “pan”? The main idea behind rave is to make it easy for you to bring something to the attention of your friends that they might find valuable. Getting warned off of a bad product is useful mainly if you were already considering it. There’s no need to tell me not to get something I didn’t want anyway. But getting alerted to something really special can spark a brand new idea. Plus, we wanted to focus on the positive. And a lot of our partner sites already have tools for collecting ratings and reviews, so we felt it was more important to focus on the communicating-with-friends aspect than on collecting scores and feedback.
We’d love to hear what you think. Please drop us line.
November 8, 2008 by George Eberstadt
Happy to announce some new features from the last few releases:
- Connect TurnTo to your Facebook friends
- See friends-of-friends and people-who-live-near-you in the widget on our partner sites
- Streamlined registration flow and Add Friends page
- Lots of things are faster
We have also added lots of enhancements that make implementation and management even easier for our partner sites. Enjoy!
September 25, 2008 by George Eberstadt
We’ve made a number of small and large fixes that improve performance and usability. Here are some of the more visible additions.
- Upload contacts from Outlook
- AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) integration, so you can get quick advice while you’re shopping
For partner sites:
- Trackable “Join TurnTo” links you can put on your order confirmation screen, confirmation email, and marketing emails. These also let you show a message to users when they land on the TurnTo registration page, so you can explain in your own words the benefits of signing up for TurnTo.
September 9, 2008 by George Eberstadt
We get a lot of questions about whether TurnTo will work before we’ve achieved a “critical mass” of users. We built the TurnTo model so massive scale is not a requirement for the system to deliver value to users or to our partner sites. I thought I’d explain how that works:
- Sites that use TurnTo suggest to their customers that they join TurnTo. This message is delivered on the order confirmation page, the confirmation e-mail, or in on-going marketing campaigns. The pitch is basically: be there for your friends and they’ll be there for you. The sites may offer incentives, as well. Not all customers join, but enough do.
- When these customers join TurnTo, they import their friends’ e-mail addresses and authorize that their purchases be shared with those friends. Most likely, many of the imported friends are not yet TurnTo members. That’s OK – those friends won’t see any of the purchase information that has been shared with them until they join TurnTo.
- A visitor – someone who is not yet a TurnTo member – comes to the TurnTo partner site. The TurnTo widget shows a message like “See if friends can advise you about shopping here.” The visitor clicks, is brought to the TurnTo registration form, and signs up. TurnTo compares the visitor’s e-mail addresses to those with which TurnTo members are sharing. Immediately – before she has done any network building of her own – the visitor sees the information that her friends are sharing with her on that site. Instant gratification.
The power of this model is that each TurnTo partner site can make TurnTo productive without needing a massive TurnTo user network. Individual partner sites don’t care about the size of the overall TurnTo network, they only care about whether their customers are TurnTo members. And visitors to those sites don’t care about the size of the overall network either. They only care if friends who shop on the particular site they are visiting are TurnTo members.
Of course, if you don’t shop at any of the TurnTo partner sites, then TurnTo won’t do anything for you. But if you do visit a TurnTo partner site and have friends who shop there, there’s a good chance you’ll see these “trusted references” within a month or two of those sites installing the TurnTo system.
August 27, 2008 by George Eberstadt
We’re on a roughly bi-weekly release cycle, but I missed the previous one, so some of these enhancements have been up for a couple weeks.
We’ve been spending a lot of time on usability items that became clear the moment people started using the live system. You may not notice them individually, but overall, the number of times you think, “Hmm, I wish it worked just a bit differently” should be going down. We’ve got more to do in that department.
The most visible change is our new home page. We’re using a news item model but grouping the items by type to make them easier to digest. We’ve also added a summary of your key statistics on the right. The goal is to provide an at-a-glance way to keep track of all your TurnTo activity.
We’ve been working on the instructional text throughout the site as we learn what’s intuitive for users and what not. The one you’re sure to notice is the big welcome message on the home page with advice on getting started.
And we added a Delete Account button on the profile page. We hope this won’t get used much, but we think it’s good web citizenship to make it easy for people to leave if they want to.
We’re eager for your feedback. Please let us know.