July 17, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Your latest product just got a less than stellar review. A disappointment? Sure.
But don’t hit the panic button just yet. Believe it or not, this might be an opportunity in disguise.
All reviews, even bad ones, can potentially provide valuable feedback about your business and products. Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to gain customer insights from things like focus groups, surveys, and social media monitoring. You’re getting it for free.
If you’re properly attuned to capturing this feedback from product reviews, you can learn about potential problems with your business—before they get out of hand.
It’s Not Always About Product
Bad reviews aren’t always focused on product. They can also reveal shortcomings in your online store’s operations. A report from Brightpearl and Trustpilot highlighted some potential customer pain points that were unrelated to the actual goods for sale.1
The list included things like website user experience, payment options, delivery issues, customer service, after-sales experience, and returns. When online stores get one of these things wrong, their customers might make their dissatisfaction known in a public product review instead of a private email.
Retailers should be scanning reviews for this type of insight to figure out where to better allocate resources. The Brightpearl/Trustpilot study revealed that positive reviews often mentioned good customer service and fast delivery, two areas where all eCommerce sites should already make a priority.
The Poor Review Paradox
It sounds weird, but in addition to giving you valuable feedback, poor reviews can also help build trust in your digital storefront.
How? Online shoppers are pretty sophisticated. As a result, products with a perfect record of five-star ratings arouse suspicion. Shoppers seem to intuitively grasp that—try as you might—you just can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Having a handful of low star-ratings can actually alleviate shopper concerns that an eCommerce site is gaming its own ratings and reviews. And that, in turn, can increase trust in an online store. It’s what we call the Poor Review Paradox.
Our research paper, The State of Consumer Generated Content 2019, showed that negative reviews can serve a key role in the path to purchase for a sizable minority of shoppers.
Twenty-five percent of respondents actually sorted product reviews to highlight bad reviews. For these shoppers, researching negative feedback was a key element of the customer journey. As a result, it pays to ensure these reviews aren’t left unanswered.
How to Handle Negative Feedback
Every negative review should receive a response from your company. The simple act of acknowledging shoppers’ concerns demonstrates a customer-centric attitude and a high level of customer service.
Here are some key methods for handling negative reviews:
Speed is Key. By responding quickly to bad reviews, companies can clearly and publicly demonstrate their responsiveness and commitment to customer service. The Brightpearl/Trustpilot survey found that nearly 40% of shoppers felt that retailers should respond to a negative review within 24 hours or less of posting.
Make the Customer Feel Heard. Go beyond a rote apology. These types of reflexive platitudes can do more harm than good. Instead, make sure your customer service reps understand the problem and are empowered to take the steps needed to correct it. That might mean refunding a shipping cost when an order shows up late, or replacing a defective item.
Turn Complainers into Evangelists. You’ve probably seen a customer give a poor initial review, only to bump up their star rating to a five after receiving a solid customer service effort. A response to a shopper complaint that goes above and beyond can make your detractors some of your fiercest evangelists, and that word-of-mouth marketing can go a long way.
Get More Reviews. Most reviews come from customers who’ve had a very bad experience or those who are ecstatic about their purchase. But there’s usually a “happy middle” of customers who are pleased with their purchase but don’t bother to leave a review.
TurnTo’s products are designed to tap into this slow-to-review segment with features like Inbox Submission, which lets customers submit rating and review content directly from the body of an email. A higher rating and review volume usually translates into a higher average star rating for a product, giving site browsers the social proof they need to become buyers.
Use Moderation Tools to Escalate. With TurnTo Moderation, clients can have reviews with low star ratings automatically flagged for escalation to customer service representatives. That can give your company the jump on fixing a problem. And as we already mentioned, speed is key when it comes to responding to negative reviews.
Make a Preemptive Strike. Perhaps the best way to handle negative reviews is by not giving your customers a reason to leave one in the first place. TurnTo’s Community Q&A product lets shoppers ask questions of people who’ve already purchased the product they’re considering. It can also connect shoppers to your site’s existing knowledgebase—things like frequently asked question (FAQ) pages and existing articles that might hold the answers to their questions. Getting shoppers these answers can help them avoid a disappointing purchase.
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1 Rise of the Review Culture; Brightpearl and Trustpilot, June 2019
July 10, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Although probably best known as the world’s favorite camera store, specialist retailer Adorama also sells a wide assortment of products, including professional video and audio gear, consumer electronics, home office equipment, and mobile computing products.
Adorama’s customer base consists of professional photographers and videographers, but also includes some pretty serious amateur ones as well. These shoppers spend hours closely researching the technical specifications of the types of products in Adorama’s catalog.
Adorama understands the meaning of customer-centric. Their NYC store, for example, has developed a reputation for providing one-on-one customer service from a staff of highly knowledgeable—but still friendly and approachable—experts.
“Shoppers looking for photography equipment and other consumer electronics have a slew of options to choose from,” said Heather Nichols, Adorama’s pro audio and pro video digital merchandiser. “Part of how Adorama puts itself ahead of the competition is by giving customers easy access to expertise about our products through our sales associates.”
Naturally, the company wanted to replicate its superb in-store customer experience on its website.
Nichols said a key element of that strategy was to increase the number of reviews available to shoppers on its site. That way its customers could tap into the collective wisdom of one of the most trusted sources of information available—other shoppers.
“Our customers tend to do a lot of research because they want to make sure an item fits their specific needs, especially because a lot of our products are so technical,” said Nichols. “A lot of people use reviews to make a final decision on their purchase.”
That’s where TurnTo came in.
The Solution – Syndicated Reviews
Through its Open Review Syndication service, TurnTo quickly increased the number of product reviews on Adorama’s site. While some Customer-Generated Content vendors charge steep fees for syndication, TurnTo’s Syndication service is offered at no additional charge for either retailers or brands, ensuring that the maximum number of brands participate.
With TurnTo Syndication, reviews collected by some of the biggest brands in the consumer electronics vertical—like Sony, HP, Canon, and Nikon—also displayed on Adorama’s online storefront. As a result, Adorama saw a 294% spike in the number of reviews displayed on its site.
Getting more reviews has a direct, positive impact on conversion rates. Research from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Center shows that a product with just five reviews was 270% more likely to be purchased than a product with no reviews.
TurnTo Syndication also improved Adorama’s coverage rate—the percentage of products in the company’s catalog that have at least one review.
For example, the coverage rate for HP products on Adorama’s site more than doubled once syndicated reviews were included.
In addition, the average number of ratings per HP product also saw a boost with TurnTo Syndication, increasing by more than 12x. That was especially helpful for Adorama, since more reviews provide social proof for a purchase, helping to convert shoppers to buyers.
Free Syndication for Brands
Adorama’s brand partners were able to participate in TurnTo’s Open Review Syndication at no cost, even if they used another platform to collect and manage Customer-Generated Content on their own site. The brands only needed to give TurnTo permission to syndicate their reviews to the retailers in the TurnTo network.
The brands that syndicated their content through TurnTo also received a number of benefits, including a better digital presence, improved sell-through value, and search engine optimization (SEO) credit.
The Bottom Line
Adorama wanted to bulk up the Customer-Generated Content featured on its online store to help its customers get the information they were looking for when researching products. With TurnTo Review Syndication, Adorama quickly increased the number of product reviews on its site by nearly 300%.
TurnTo is the customer content solution for online retailers and the brands that sell through them. With a unique suite of four innovative products that work beautifully together – Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews, and Checkout Comments – TurnTo produces more content of more different types, delivering greater conversion lift, better SEO, and deeper merchandising insights.
Adorama is the world’s only full-service destination for photo, video and electronics. We’re more than a camera store – we offer the best selection and prices on professional photography and video gear, pro-audio, and consumer electronics such as home theaters, mobile computing, home office equipment and more.
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June 26, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
One of the constant challenges eCommerce sites face is how to draw new customers while keeping a lid on expenses. It’s the reason that eCommerce VPs keep such a close eye on their customer acquisition costs (CACs)—a key metric for any online store.
Some new data suggests there’s a surprisingly low-tech way for online retailers to drive new shoppers to their sites. It’s also pretty old school. It’s word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing.
Word of Mouth Beats Search for Discoverability
A new poll from Yes Marketing reveals that a fair number of digital shoppers use their offline personal networks to learn about unfamiliar retailers.
In fact, Yes Marketing found that 45% of online shoppers discovered a new retailer through a recommendation from a friend or family member.1 That was nearly three times the number of shoppers who had stumbled across a new retailer through a Google search.
But retailers should also tread carefully regarding word-of-mouth. Unsurprisingly, a bad reputation can have a harmful effect on your bottom line. Yes Marketing reported that nearly 70% of shoppers were swayed to avoid a retailer after seeing a negative review from family, friends, or news media.
Of course, drumming up some good word-of-mouth around your online store is easier said than done. You need to deliver quality products at a good price, offer a superior user experience, and provide shoppers with top-notch customer service—no small feat.
One way to improve your word-of-mouth marketing? Yes Marketing suggests giving your existing customers a reason to share their satisfaction by providing them with an incentive. That could consist of an exclusive offer, or a discount for those who recruit a new customer on your behalf.
Get Your Digital WOM On
eCommerce sites can also improve their word-of-mouth marketing with some digital strategies. Ratings and reviews, for example, can serve the same purpose as a personal recommendation. And while they might not provide all the benefits as a recommendation from a friend or family member, ratings and reviews perform a key task: providing shoppers with the social proof they need to overcome their hesitation about a purchase.
Yes Marketing noted that almost 20% of online shoppers were influenced by reviews or customer testimonials when considering making a purchase from a new site. And more than a third of shoppers said getting enough product information from a new retailer would help them to build trust.
When done correctly, Customer-Generated Content (CGC) can address those shopper needs.
Yes Marketing also suggested using content from product reviews and other testimonials in advertising campaigns.
It makes perfect sense. Your most satisfied customers are handing you some of the best ad copy you could ever come up with. Take advantage of it.
TurnTo Can Help
It’s helpful to think of your product reviews, customer testimonials and other CGC as a form of digital word-of-mouth marketing.
CGC can help retailers flesh out their product detail pages with information not normally found in a product description, such as fit or durability.
Sometimes those details are all that’s needed to push someone browsing your site into making a purchase.
TurnTo’s products are designed to collect more Customer-Generated Content like Ratings & Reviews and Visual Reviews so shoppers have a surplus of information at their fingertips. And research shows that the more reviews you have, the better.
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1 The Retail Shopper’s Journey to Loyalty; Yes Marketing, June 2019
June 19, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
It’s no secret that the retail industry is in the midst of a massive sea change spurred by the rise of eCommerce.
That’s created some new challenges for brands, who can no longer bank on getting adequate shelf space at brick-and-mortar retailer locations to drive sales at the same level as in the pre-internet world.
Consequently, it’s become even more important for brands to make sure they’re getting adequate digital shelf space—for some brands a digital presence is even more important than a physical one.
Smart Brands Are Doubling Down on Ecommerce
The strategy appears to be working for brands that have prioritized their eCommerce efforts, and are now seeing some solid gains as a result.
In May 2019, Internet Retailer reported that 127 of the top 500 North American online retailers were consumer brand manufacturers. This group has seen their web sales increase by an average of 17.9%. That’s a growth rate that outpaces all other merchant groups, with the sole exception of digitally native pure play retailers.1
Internet Retailer cited sneaker icon Nike as one the larger brands that’s seen success with its online efforts—the company reported a 25% spike in ecommerce sales in 2018, for a total of $2.75 billion. Nike also set an ambitious goal for itself, hoping that web sales will reach $20 billion by 2020.
Some brands have improved their direct sales by embracing an omnichannel approach to retail that includes eCommerce, brand-owned physical stores and the store-within-a-store model.
Nike, however, hopes to achieve its goal largely by doubling down on its online footprint. Part of that strategy includes forming stronger relationships with multibrand retailers. In one such initiative, Nike opened a branded storefront on the site of Walmart-owned retail site Jet.com.
How Syndication Can Help Brands Increase Online Sales
One key way that brands—even large ones like Nike—can improve their online sales on retailer sites is through the syndication of online reviews. Syndication is simply the sharing of Customer-Generated Content like ratings and reviews between brands’ online stores and online retailers.
Syndication makes it easier for a shopper to see all of the Customer-Generated Content for the same product, regardless of whether they’re on a brand or retailer site. It’s a highly effective way for brands to connect with more customers.
Not only that, but research shows that products with more reviews sell better. A product with a high number of reviews is a sign that a lot of other shoppers have already bought the item—it’s social proof that can help alleviate customer hesitation about making an online purchase.
Simply gathering more product reviews can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line. A study from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center found that a product with five reviews was 270% more likely to be purchased than a product that didn’t have any reviews.
Brands that syndicate their content also benefit with more exposure on digital channels, improved sell-through value, and search engine optimization (SEO) credit.
TurnTo’s Open Review Syndication Can Help
Unlike other platforms, TurnTo offers its Open Review Syndication service to all brands at absolutely no cost—even if they use a competing platform for their Customer-Generated Content.
TurnTo’s approach also requires no technical work on the part of brands. We scan brand sites for product reviews using a highly accurate web crawler, similar to the way Google’s web indexing search crawler does. These reviews can then be displayed on retailer sites within a day or two.
Brands are also given access to a dashboard that shows which retailer sites in TurnTo’s network are receiving the reviews. And control over syndication always remains in the hands of brands; TurnTo doesn’t require a term commitment for syndication.
To find out how to get started with TurnTo Syndication, get in touch.
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1 Consumer Brands Make Big Bets on Ecommerce; Internet Retailer, May 2019
June 12, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
The page load speed of your website can have a dramatic impact on your business.
Why? Because faster page load speeds result in higher conversion rates.
Content delivery network (CDN) Akamai found that just a 100 millisecond (that’s 100 thousandths of a second) delay in web site load time can lower conversion rates by 7%, and that more than half of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.1
As page load times go up, conversion rates fall. mPulse Mobile found that pages that loaded in just 2.4 seconds had a conversion rate of 1.9%. When page load times hit 5.7 seconds, the conversion rate fell to just 0.6%.2
mPulse Mobile’s data also revealed that bounce rates climb in tandem with page load times.
The key takeaway: the faster your website, the better your business outcomes.
Google explains that these scripts—which can include things like social media share buttons, video embeds and A/B testing tools—are often the cause of page load slowdowns and can be outside of the control of webmasters.
Smaller JS bundles load faster over networks; that effect can be especially pronounced on slower connections and some mobile networks.
Smaller JS bundles are also an indication of good design practices, less bloat, and modularity. TurnTo, for example, only delivers the necessary code to support a particular site’s chosen product and feature set to lessen the load on the browser. We also defer the loading of some JS modules until they’re actually needed by the website.
SEO Benefits of Faster Page Loads
Faster page loads can also give your website other benefits in the form of improved search engine optimization (SEO). With its recent “Speed Update,” Google now privileges fast loading pages in its search results, especially on mobile.
In other words, the faster your website, the more positively Google’s search engine algorithm will look on your site.
Since product reviews, Q&A, and customer-generated photos are some of the heaviest components on ecommerce sites, the speed improvements provided by SpeedFlex can make a significant difference to overall site performance.
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1 Akamai Online Retail Performance Report: Milliseconds Are Critical; Akamai, April 2017
2 How Page Load Time Affects Conversion Rates: 12 Case Studies; HubSpot
June 5, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Online reviews might seem a world removed from a shopper’s in-store experience. But new research suggests that product reviews play a key role in the path to purchase for shoppers at a physical store.
An April 2019 study from RetailMeNot found that nearly 70% of in-store customers were more likely to look to their smartphones for product reviews, instead of talking with a store associate.1
More than half of shoppers also preferred to use their smartphone to research similar products, or to get specifications about items they were considering purchasing.
An Omnichannel Retail Strategy FTW!
For retailers, these smartphone-centric findings should drive home the importance of omnichannel—the multichannel retail approach that lets shoppers switch between online, mobile and physical experiences seamlessly, based on their needs or personal preferences.
With omnichannel, a shopper might research a product on their phone, receive a coupon, and then make their purchase at a store. Or, they might go to a brick-and-mortar location, view a product in person, then convert on a mobile device.
In a perfect world, omnichannel eliminates friction, makes every touchpoint shoppable, adopts a customer-centric approach, and privileges a superior customer experience above all else.
Smartphones are increasingly a key part of that omnichannel journey, especially among younger demographics. A 2018 study from Salesforce found that 71% of shoppers used their mobile devices at a brick-and-mortar location. That figure was even higher—at 83%—for 18- to 44-year-olds.2
“Mobile browsing and research are standard for most shoppers,” said RetailMeNot CEO Marissa Tarleton in a statement accompanying the research. “A substantial number of consumers are comfortable converting on either that same smartphone device or in a physical store, based on what’s convenient to their needs at the time of their journey.”
How Product Reviews Can Aid Your Omnichannel Efforts
While the idea of omnichannel is simple, a well-executed omnichannel retail strategy is often anything but. RetailMeNot’s research underscores how important online product reviews can be, even when your shoppers are in-store but staring at their smartphones.
Here are a few ways retailers can ensure their Customer-Generated Content strategy also supports their omnichannel efforts:
1. Collect more reviews. Data shows that more reviews result in better conversions; that holds true for shoppers on smartphones as well. A study from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center found that a product with just five reviews was 270% more likely to be purchased than a product with no reviews.3 TurnTo’s innovative features, like reviews that can be submitted directly from the body of an email, have been shown to increase content collection rates by as much as 200%.
2. Optimize displayed content for mobile. It’s not enough to have reviews if they’re difficult to read. Retailers should ensure their websites are optimized for mobile display. TurnTo uses a responsive design approach by default and allows ecommerce sites to configure custom breakpoints to match their site so things like Ratings & Reviews look their best, regardless of what device a shopper is on.
3. Make mobile submissions frictionless. Leaving a product review on your site should be easy, especially if your shoppers are on a mobile device. Smartphone users leave shorter reviews than people on desktops, so ask these shoppers questions that don’t require lengthy answers. TurnTo custom tailors its review collection user experience for shoppers on mobile to get the best answers out of them.
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1 New RetailMeNot Data Shows Mobile Devices Play a Critical Role for Consumers While Shopping in Physical Retail Stores; RetailMeNot, April 2019
2 Shopper-First Retailing: New Research from 6,000 Consumers and 1.4 Billion Ecommerce Visits Reveals What Shoppers Actually Want; Salesforce, August 2018
3 How Online Reviews Influence Sales; Spiegel Research Center, June 2017
May 29, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Gathering as much Customer-Generated Content (CGC) as possible can help your eCommerce site in a number of ways. Content like Ratings & Reviews gives shoppers additional product information, provides social proof for a purchase, and improves search engine optimization (SEO).
Research also shows that your customers want as much content as they can get: a study from Salsify found that, on average, people wanted to see 112 reviews per product.
In a guest post for TurnTo partner and eCommerce agency Classy Llama, we broke down 5 key ways that online stores can improve their content collection rates. Here’s an executive summary of our advice:
1. Get your post-purchase email right. If you want more reviews, you have to ask.
2. Ask your customers to review more stuff. It might seem counterintuitive to ask customers to hand over more content right after they’ve submitted a review, but it works.
3. Optimize for mobile. Mobile is eating the world, and if your content collection strategy isn’t taking that into account, you’re missing out.
4. Get the review first, then authenticate. Asking a customer to authenticate before they’ve submitted content only introduces a possible friction point.
5. Go omnichannel. Consider ways to solicit content from offline channels, like receipts or even packaging.
For a more detailed breakdown of these strategies, check out the full post.
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May 23, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Are your shoppers leaving fundamentally different reviews on their smartphones than they would on PCs? Some new research from a few business professors suggests that’s exactly what’s happening.
In their paper, “Selectively Emotional: How Smartphone Use Changes User-Generated Content,” authors Shiri Melumad of the Wharton School, J. Jeffrey Inman of Pitt Business, and Michel Tuan Pham of Columbia Business School found that reviews written on smartphones were shorter than those composed on PCs—no surprise there.1
But the researchers also found that smartphone reviews had a higher amount of emotional content when compared with reviews from PCs.
Smartphone Reviews Tend Toward Positivity
Even more interestingly, the study revealed that user-generated content (UGC) written on smartphones tended to be largely positive in nature.
The researchers suggested that the trends they discovered were likely to be seen across a number of platforms and topics, and not just the ones they examined in their study.
In addition, they noted that previous research had shown that an increase in positive sentiment in Amazon reviews led to higher customer conversion rates.
They also offered a simple recommendation for companies: use a content collection strategy that encourages customers to submit reviews from their smartphones.
“Research shows that content that’s more emotional is more likely to go viral, or be shared and discussed by others,” lead author Melumad said in an interview on the Knowledge@Wharton podcast. “From the firm’s perspective, knowing that reviews have been written on phones–and thus more likely to be emotional—can help the firm identify which customer-generated content may be the most influential.”2
Key Takeaways from the Research:
- Reviews written on smartphones, are shorter, have more emotional content, and are more positive than those written on PCs.
- Other data shows an increase in positive sentiment in Amazon reviews led to a higher conversion rate.
- Reviews with more emotional content are more likely to go viral or be shared.
- eCommerce sites should consider encouraging shoppers to submit Customer-Generated Content (CGC) on a smartphone to take advantage of its more positive nature.
How to Capture Positive Sentiment
One key insight from the paper: eCommerce sites should ensure their Customer-Generated Content (CGC) collection strategy is optimized for mobile if they want to capture as much positive sentiment as possible.
One way online stores can do that is by making sure they use responsive web design—essentially ensuring that their web pages are being displayed correctly regardless of what device a shopper is on.
TurnTo, for example, gives users the ability to set configurable breakpoints in the widgets for our four products—Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews, and Checkout Comments. That ensures product detail pages always look their best on smartphones, tablets, desktops, and laptops.
Not only that, but TurnTo’s review collection process identifies customers on smartphones and offers them a tailored user experience designed to make it as easy as possible to get content.
Another way TurnTo eliminates friction points is with our Inbox Submission feature that lets your customers submit reviews directly from the body of an email, instead of being sent to a browser.
That simple change has resulted in some significant gains for our clients; with the less intrusive approach, content collection rates can increase by as much as 200%.
Measurement matters too. That’s why TurnTo’s reporting tools include breakdowns by device. Say, for example, the word counts of your reviews drop, but overall positive sentiment spikes. With TurnTo reporting, you can analyze the data to see if the change resulted from an increase of reviews coming from mobile devices.
Want to learn more?
1 Selectively Emotional: How Smartphone Use Changes User-Generated Content; Journal of Marketing Research, January 2019
2 User-Generated Content: The Medium Impacts the Message; Knowledge@Wharton, May 2019
TurnTo Upgrades Partnership with Magento to Enhance Customer-Generated Content for Retailers and Brands
May 14, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
TurnTo Networks, the innovation-leader in Customer-Generated Content solutions like ratings & reviews, community Q&A, photos & videos, and more, today announced its Select Technology partnership with Magento, an Adobe Company, a worldwide leader in cloud digital commerce innovation.
The upgrade of TurnTo’s partnership with Magento to the Select Technology partner level signals the company’s commitment to the Magento ecosystem, and to online merchants powered by the eCommerce platform.
Under the partnership, companies using Magento Commerce will be able to quickly and easily integrate the newest version of TurnTo’s best-in-class voice-of-the-customer platform into their digital storefronts.
“TurnTo’s clients already benefit from higher content collection rates, faster load speeds, easier customization, and simpler maintenance,” said George Eberstadt, CEO and Founder of TurnTo Networks. “Our renewed partnership with Magento and the launch of our newest Magento 2 extension means that retailers using the platform will now have an even easier time taking advantage of our newest products.”
“The team at TurnTo has continued to drive innovation in Customer-Generated Content solutions that our customers leverage to stay ahead of the curve,” said Ryan Murden, Head of Business Development at Magento. “We are pleased to build on our collaboration with TurnTo as a Select Technology Partner and to offer their extension on the Magento Marketplace.”
TurnTo’s partnership with Magento—and its new Magento 2 Extension—gives merchants:
- An automated catalog sending process that saves eCommerce sites the work of creating custom feeds
- The sharing of Ratings & Review information for inclusion in Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs)
- The ability to automatically display Customer-Generated Content like product review counts and average star ratings on their storefronts
- Improved site performance and SEO value through support for dynamically embedded content
- The ability to include highly rated products via star ratings in guided navigation experiences in Magento 2
- Advanced integration capabilities, including single sign-on and SKU families for easy sharing of content across item variants
Magento merchants that use TurnTo also benefit from:
- More Customer-Generated Content though TurnTo’s optimized review collection process
- An Open Review Syndication network that allows brand and retailer partners to freely share review content with one another
- Top-notch client support from the highest-rated Customer-Generated Content solutions vendor, according to technology vendor review site G2 Crowd
TurnTo’s Select Technology Partnership with Magento comes on the heels of the release of SpeedFlex™, the newest version of the TurnTo front-end architecture, which offers clients a breakthrough in load speed and in server-side customizability.
Further, SpeedFlex gives retailers the ability to customize all aspects of the user experience through server-side configuration files. This customizability extends to functionality and layout, going far beyond look-and-feel customization through CSS. The SpeedFlex configuration model also enables user experiences to be tailored by product category even on a single page type and the easy generation of variants for A/B testing.
Interested in learning more or scheduling a demo?
May 8, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Influencer marketing has gotten some negative press lately, with advertisers voicing understandable concerns about issues like attribution and return on investment.
In June 2018, Unilever CMO Keith Weed went so far as to tell a crowd gathered at Cannes that his company would no longer work with influencers who inflated their follower counts by simply buying them.
“We need to take urgent action now to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever,” Weed said in a statement that was picked up by several media outlets.1
When it comes to influencers, Weed’s skeptical gaze is understandable. Unilever’s relationships with influencers who have fake followers has been well documented. For example, analytics company Points North Group estimated that 25% of the followers of influencers working with Unilever brand Dove in 2018 were fake.
The Influencer Paradox
Despite this, the practice of influencer marketing is still drawing significant outlays from advertisers. Points North also estimated that North American marketers spent more than $1 billion on influencers in 2018.2
eMarketer estimates that, worldwide, marketers are allocating about 10% of their budgets to influencers on average, and that marketers plan to continue increasing their spending on the strategy.3
Marketers are stuck in something of an influencer paradox. Influencer agency Mediakix surveyed marketers in January and found that 80% consider influencer marketing to be effective. But 50% also said that spotting fake followers and inauthentic engagement was their chief challenge with influencer marketing, more than any other factor.4
Go Micro for a Better Influencer Strategy
Influencer marketing is really just the digital equivalent of an old advertising standby—the celebrity endorsement. In the 90s, Michael Jordan was paid millions for hawking Nikes on TV. Today Kendall Jenner is reportedly pulling in six figures for sponsored posts potentially seen by her roughly 109 million followers.5
But as thinking around influencer marketing evolves, some brands and retailers are moving away from influencers that promise scale. Instead they’re getting replaced by so-called microinfluencers and nanoinfluencers.
These influencers have a fraction of the number of followers that the most famous celebrity influencers have, but often deliver much better levels of engagement.6
Your Shoppers Are Also Influencers
Why are these microinfluencers delivering better results for marketers? One key reason is because they’re seen as authentic sources of information, instead of celebrities looking to make a quick buck.
In that sense, microinfluencers have a lot in common with a resource eCommerce sites might not be taking full advantage of—their own customers.
Like influencer marketing, a Voice of the Customer strategy has proven benefits. Our research shows that 76% of shoppers are less likely to make a purchase from a site that lacks Customer-Generated Content like Ratings & Reviews. And 74% said Customer-Generated Content influenced their decision to shop on one site over another.
When a product is backed by other customers with content like Ratings & Reviews, it gives shoppers the social proof they might need to pull the trigger on a purchase—the same way an influencer endorsement might. Brands and retailers with online stores can benefit from this effect by taking a more expansive view of what an influencer looks like.
How TurnTo Can Help
Instagram’s meteoric growth was due in no small part to its mobile-first approach. Our Visual Reviews product was similarly created with smartphone users in mind, making it simple for them to submit a photo from their device instead of typing out a review.
Those photos can be displayed on your product detail page in a constantly updated gallery row, just like a social media feed. Converse’s site is a great example of how customer created visuals can be showcased on a product page.
TurnTo also partners with services like Curalate, which lets you integrate visually focused social media into product pages right alongside content submitted directly by customers.
In fact, TurnTo’s entire Customer-Generated Content product suite of Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews™, and Checkout Comments™ is designed to help eCommerce sites gather more and better quality content from your customers.
Want to learn more?
1 Unilever to Crack Down on Influencers Who Buy Fake Followers and Use Bots; Adweek, June 18, 2018
2 Fake Followers Are Hard to Shake, According to New Report; Ad Age, February 6, 2019
3 Global Influencer Marketing 2019; eMarketer, March 5, 2019
4 Influencer Marketing 2019 Industry Benchmarks; Mediakix, January 2019
5 Preview: Kris Jenner as the Force Behind a Family Empire Worth Billions;
6 Are You Ready for the Nanoinfluencers?; New York Times, November 11, 2018
April 24, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods was founded in 1978 by Bob Moore and his wife Charlee, who turned their love of healthy foods and whole grains into a business with the goal of making high-quality natural and organic foods available to as many people as possible.
Today, Bob’s Red Mill is an employee-owned company with globally distributed products and a deeply passionate following—many of the company’s customers rely on it to provide quality gluten-free products due to their sensitivities or allergies.
We spoke with Kevin Irish, Digital Marketing Manager for Bob’s Red Mill, about how the company’s new Customer-Generated Content strategy helped to capture the passion of its most ardent customers for some powerful word-of-mouth marketing.
What was the problem Bob’s Red Mill faced before you revamped your Customer-Generated Content approach?
When I started, Bob’s Red Mill sent me to several food trade shows where thousands of attendees would come to our booth. At every single show a grown person would break down in tears while telling me their story. Bob’s Red Mill had made their life—or the life of someone they loved—manageable for the first time, mostly because they could finally deal with a food allergy.
Then I looked at our website, and none of that emotion was present. None. That was my guiding hypothesis for improving our Customer-Generated Content. If we gave our customers a platform to voice their love for us and our products, we would get lots of good content. And with TurnTo’s platform, I turned out to be right.
How did TurnTo’s products help the company?
Before TurnTo, all we had was a “write a review” button—and a poor user experience for those that clicked on it. There was no review solicitation. I crunched the numbers and found out we were getting about 1.3 pieces of Customer-Generated Content per day. After we implemented TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews and other products, that jumped to more than 115 submissions per day.
Bob’s Red Mill almost didn’t turn on TurnTo’s Checkout Comments at launch, correct?
Yes, that’s true. One of TurnTo’s customer success reps highly recommended that we include Checkout Comments in our implementation, which was the right call. It’s been a huge success for us, and a feature we never would have thought of ourselves.
Basically, Checkout Comments pops up on an order confirmation page and asks, “Why did you choose this?” We’re getting content gold from that, so much so that we rebuilt part of our website around it to include a visual pinboard of products that get responses.
We use a slightly customized API from TurnTo that lets us only show comments we think are worth displaying. It’s just pages and pages of comments raving about our products, all based on that one simple question at checkout.
Recipes are also a huge draw for the Bob’s Red Mill website, right?
Yes, about one-third of our traffic is to our recipe section. About 18 months ago a bug in the recipe section of our website took our entire site down. When we brought the site back online we completely remade the recipe platform. A large part of that was to integrate TurnTo’s reviews and Community Q&A into the recipes.
On our old recipe platform users were leaving reviews for recipes that were actually questions. Things like, “Can I use almond milk instead of cow’s milk?” We weren’t really serving our customers’ needs.
With TurnTo’s Community Q&A customers didn’t need to leave a question in a review, they could just ask our recipe pros what would work. We soft-launched the feature without telling anybody and our first organic question came in 30 minutes later. We had 260 questions in the first month.
TurnTo even went back to the old questions that customers left in reviews and paired them with answers. Then they imported that content into the new Community Q&A feature so we wouldn’t lose all of that historical information.
Anything else to add?
I’ve worked with other “top players” for Customer-Generated Content collection in the past and was always really disappointed. They nickel and dimed us, lacked support and weren’t open to any changes to personalize or customize their platforms.
TurnTo met all of those basic needs and then offered us even more features. We love how much of the platform is open via API, and how well documented it is. It’s been a perfect partnership.
To learn more about how TurnTo helped Bob’s Red Mill improve their Customer-Generated Content strategy, see our recent case study with the company. You can also watch a presentation Kevin Irish gave on the benefits of TurnTo at Shop.org 2018.
Want to find out how TurnTo can help you?
April 11, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Tired of reading clickbait about Millennials’ love of avocado toast? Here’s some good news: GenZ is the next new generation, and over the next few years, people are going to be working hard to figure out this vibrant and dynamic group—the first truly digital native generation.
The boundaries of the US’s youngest generation are still somewhat fuzzy, but the Pew Research Center defines Gen Z as those born in 1997 or later.1
What sets Gen Z apart from its predecessors? For starters, it’s the most racially and ethnically diverse generation the US has ever seen—a group with even greater diversity than Millennials, according to Pew.
Gen Z Has Truly Digital-First Media Habits
It also consumes media in a fundamentally different way than any of its forebears. The oldest Gen Zers were only 10 years old when Apple released the first iPhone; smartphones are likely their default method for heading online.
The Center for Generational Kinetics reports that 95% of Gen Zers had a smartphone in 2018. Their survey also revealed that 61% of Gen Zers spent at least five hours on their smartphone per day, and that more than one-quarter spent a daily average of 10 hours or more with the devices.2
With so much of their time spent on smartphones, legacy media channels like TV hold significantly less sway over them than older generations. That means marketers can have a tough time reaching them at scale through more traditional advertising methods.
Teens and the Power of Recommendations and Reviews
Those media habits could make Gen Z a tough nut for online merchants to crack. But some new research from Social Media Link found that there are still some things that do exert a lot of influence over their purchase decisions: recommendations and reviews.3
According to the company’s survey, nearly all Gen Zers (96%) said they often read recommendations or reviews for products they were thinking about buying.
These young shoppers also relied heavily on their personal networks for guidance on purchase decisions. 80% of teens looked to friends and family for recommendations about new products and brands, making it their No. 1 source for those types of endorsements.
But online reviews were almost as popular with Gen Zers, with nearly eight in 10 accessing them for insights on potential purchases and brands. In fact, reviews were a bigger influence on their purchase decisions than social media, influencers, and even ads.
Social Media Link also found that these young shoppers aren’t just likely to read product reviews. They’re also highly predisposed to writing them as well. More than 90% of Gen Zers wrote product reviews at least some of the time, and more than a quarter wrote one for every product or service they used.
To sum up the research:
- 96% of Gen Zers often read ratings and reviews about things they’re thinking about buying.
- Members of the generation tend to look first to friends and family for product recommendations, but online reviews are a close second.
- Gen Zers are not just reading reviews; more than 9 in 10 also write them for at least some purchases
- Gen Z spends substantially more time on smartphones than with older media platforms like TV
To Reach Gen Z, Think Mobile-First
Just like our entire product suite, Ratings & Reviews is mobile-first and uses responsive design principles to make reviews submitted on a smartphone frictionless. To be clear, we’re not just making things look pretty on mobile devices. We’re changing the way content is collected based on smartphone users’ behavior.
It’s an approach that makes things as easy as possible for Gen Zers on smartphones—who, remember, are already primed to write reviews—to submit more content about their purchases to eCommerce sites.
TurnTo’s Visual Reviews™ takes this mobile-first approach a step further. Its visual-first collection flow lets shoppers send photos and videos to eCommerce sites with just a few taps. As a result, eCommerce sites get to bank even more content on their product pages, and customers don’t even have to type anything out.
Want to learn more about how TurnTo’s innovative products can help you connect with Gen Z?
1 Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Generation Z Begins; Pew Research Center, January 2019
2 How Obsessed is Gen Z with Mobile Technology?; The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2018
3 Infographic: 27% of Gen Zers Say They Always Write a Product Review After Making a Purchase; Adweek, April 2018
March 27, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
At first blush, a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page might seem like a dated throwback to the earliest days of the web—more dial-up internet than sophisticated eCommerce selling tool. But an FAQ page is actually a crucial part of a modern digital strategy for eCommerce sites.
A well-crafted FAQ page can free a customer who’s hit a friction point, and then ease them back toward a conversion. The proactive nature of FAQs can also reduce customer service costs by eliminating a shopper’s need to reach out to your customer support team.
Most brands understand the importance of FAQs, according to recent research from Gartner L2. The research company found that more than 85% of brands it examined had put FAQs in their sites’ primary or secondary navigation1, a clear nod to how important they’ve become for eCommerce companies.
But it’s not just about serving your shoppers. FAQs provide a source of high-quality, searchable content that can be used by several other systems in your eCommerce toolbox.
Here are 5 ways that eCommerce sites can max out the usefulness of their FAQs:
1. Give the People What They Want
Customer service communications are a great way to identify problem areas and figure what content you should be putting in your FAQ. Is your customer service team fielding the same questions over and over again? That’s a sure sign that your website is either failing to include the information your customers actually want, or that the particulars are difficult for them to find.
Remember, good FAQ pages are about specifics: How do I use this coupon I received in the mail? How long will it take for my new rug to be delivered? Both the question and the answer should zero in on a clearly defined issue.
2. Keep It Simple
Now you know what information your customers are looking for, so make sure you actually give it to them. Keep your answers short and clear; your language should mirror the question being asked. Don’t be afraid to play around with tone either. You can use jargon or slang if your target audience is a niche one that will get it, but only as long as it’s consistent with your overall brand voice.
3. If You Have a Lot of Questions, Group by Topic
Gartner L2’s research found that nearly nine in 10 brands organized their FAQ pages by topic, highlighting a best practice. By grouping a lengthy list of FAQs by topic you’re giving shoppers a better user experience by organizing your content and giving them some visual breathing room, rather than wall of text. You’re also make it easier for shoppers to scan content that’s similar in nature, and might be related to their original question.
WhatsApp, for example, does a great job of breaking up its FAQ by device, platform and vertical. The service rightly assumes that WhatsApp Business users are more likely to have more questions in common with one another than with WhatsApp users on an iPhone.
4. Guide Your Shoppers Back to the Purchase Funnel
FAQs should be a detour on the customer journey, not a dead end. Include links in your FAQs that will guide your shoppers back to the path to purchase, but only when they’re relevant. Think hard about using calls-to-action that serve shoppers’ interests first and foremost, not yours.
5. Search Should Be Top-of-Mind
Shockingly, Gartner L2 found that only about one-quarter of brand sites it analyzed took the effort to make their FAQ pages searchable. Big box brands were leaders in this regard, while fashion and hotel brands lagged behind. Both retailers and brands can benefit from instituting good SEO practices on their eCommerce site’s FAQ pages.
Start by creating a multipage FAQ instead of cramming all of the information on one page. You can add a search bar to your FAQ page if you think it will help shoppers get to the answers to their questions faster, or if you have a lot of information for customers to parse through.
How TurnTo’s Community Q&A Can Help with eCommerce FAQs
TurnTo developed its Community Q&A product to deliver fast answers to shopper questions from a resource they trust: other customers who’ve already bought the product. Answers to questions submitted to Community Q&A come from a number of sources. They can be drawn from previously answered questions, product Ratings & Reviews, as well as other relevant product content.
In addition, with TurnTo’s Community Q&A your FAQ pages—and any other pages on your website for that matter—are searchable, giving shoppers instant answers from both customers and your own in-house experts at the same time.
One of the major benefits of TurnTo’s Community Q&A is that it keeps shoppers on your product detail page even when they have a question that’s unrelated to a particular item.
In the example above, a customer on a product detail page wants information about Cole Haan’s shipping and tracking features. Community Q&A can serve up an answer without forcing a shopper to navigate to another page, removing a customer’s potential digression from a conversion.
Want to learn more about how TurnTo’s Community Q&A can help?
1 Helping Customers Help Themselves; Gartner L2, March 2019
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.
Download our free 2019 State of Customer-Generated Content for more insights into making your CGC outstanding.