February 23, 2017 by John Swords
Organized. Structured. Logical. Predictable. None of these words describe your customer’s path to purchase. There is no grid system. No wide-lane expressway will guide your shopper from initial awareness to the ultimate destination of submitting an order.
Marketers struggle to steer shoppers down the purchase path when there are so many cost-cutting, channel-crossing competitors distracting the shopper along the way.
Rather than trying to dictate each move on the customer journey, marketers can shift strategies to support the consumer as they shop.
Your site and stores may be the roads that customers use, but tools such as user-generated content and email can help to keep them focused, engaged and on course to complete a purchase.
TurnTo’s white paper series, “Driving the Customer Journey: User-Generated Content and the Purchase Path,” examines how this ecommerce evolution has impacted consumer behaviors, marketing strategies and the role of user-generated content in the customer journey.
Part one of the series, “The Journey Begins – Pre-Purchase,” details how thoughtfully featuring UGC throughout the purchase path can engage shoppers from initial product searches to product pages.
While the customer’s journey is an unpredictable, winding road, there are ways you can keep the shopper focused and moving toward a purchase. Download “Driving the Customer Journey: The Journey Begins” to learn more.
December 20, 2016 by John Swords
Whether you are exploring your first user-generated content strategies or looking for ways to expand your current UGC offerings, it can be a challenge to figure out which tools and methodologies are going to connect with your shoppers.
Many marketers may simply add ratings and reviews to product pages and think they have launched enough of a UGC program that will boost sales and engagement. Rarely will that “just flip a switch” strategy be enough to truly impact the customer experience or your bottom line.
Imagine throwing a dinner party where you invite friends, family and co-workers. When the first guests arrive, you run upstairs and hide hoping everyone will get along, converse, find the food and have an enjoyable evening. A few guests will make the most of the situation, but most will probably feel a bit confused and may just leave.
The evening would be much more enjoyable if you are a good host. You must consider how the various groups will interact and foster an environment that will bring everyone together. Guide the conversation. Serve the main course. Delight with a dessert.
Make these same considerations when you are planning your UGC implementations. Your shoppers and customers are showing up to your site, what are you doing to bring them together? Analyze your customer segments to identify behaviors that could encourage content submissions, spark conversations and educate first-time shoppers.
Check out these 3 common customer behaviors and how they can be translated into a powerful UGC strategy.
You know your shoppers are using mobile devices to research products and to check the status of their orders. You have probably invested in mobile-friendly product pages and checkout processes. Augment these efforts by including a mobile-optimized UGC submission flow. Give customers the power to take and submit photos on their mobile phones when they are reviewing a product. Ensure that this UGC is easily found on your mobile site and viewable on a variety of devices by shoppers considering their next purchase.
Pride and Projects
Brand advocates are rarely bashful. From unboxings to shopping hauls, completing a project or completely taking a product apart, your most active customers have a lot to say and a lot to show off. Help your most enthusiastic customers to share their stories by prominently featuring customer-created video reviews of your products. Build awareness that videos can be included on your site and then actively share their hard work to spread their message as well as your own!
An informed shopper can become a valuable customer. They may just need to have a few questions answered before they can confidently make their first purchase. Think about conversations your customer service reps and store employees have with customers. Identify the topics that happen organically in your product reviews and Q&A sections. Certain products or product categories could benefit from having these themes prominently featured on product pages or in search results. For tough to answer questions or overly complex products, consider developing videos or written guides that can be an additional resource for shoppers. UGC comments and Q&A can supplement and complement these efforts and motivate shoppers to move further along the customer journey toward completing a purchase.
Using existing consumer behaviors to build a UGC strategy can help you to develop meaningful site interactions, motivate shoppers to buy and give customers a reason to come back and share thoughts on purchases. As you plan to add UGC features to your site, think about how you can help to expand on these successes rather than just adding features to your product pages and hoping for the best.
Learn how TurnTo customer Sur La Table identified a UGC collection opportunity on their order confirmation page. Download the “The Power of the Customer Voice” white paper.
December 6, 2016 by John Swords
The end is near. Not exactly the holly, jolly message you want to hear during the holidays. Whether you’re ready or not, you only have a few days to grab that gift that every marketer wants – record-breaking Q4 revenue!
As your festive promotions approach their final days, you may find your marketing messages getting staler than your Aunt Bertha’s fruitcake. How many times can you effectively promote percent off sales, dollar discounts and free shipping offers?
It may be time to change the conversation you are having with your customers. After all, you don’t want to be that person at the holiday party who keeps repeating the same story.
User-generated content can be an effective tool to re-energize your exhausted shoppers. Inboxes have been overstuffed with emails and sites have been slammed with special seasonal sales. It can all take its toll on consumers.
Shifting the conversation away from what you want to say to what other consumers say about your products can be a refreshing way to fight shopper fatigue. User-generated content can help you to pivot the promotional perspective of your holiday marketing without having to significantly overhaul your existing plans.
TurnTo’s 2016 UGC Holiday Lookbook showcases various ways top retailers featured user-generated content during the peak shopping days of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These UGC strategies can be a source of inspiration as the holidays wrap up.
Here are a few ways to use your existing user-generated content to mix up your final few merry messages.
Get into the Gifting Groove
Your remaining holiday messages will likely feature lifestyle shots of your products being worn or used. Pair these promotional photos with quotes and comments that your customers left as reviews on your product pages. UGC that evokes the senses can be especially impactful during this season of gifting. Remember, many shoppers will be buying for others. Help shoppers who are unfamiliar with your products to buy with confidence by quoting reviews that explain why customers love the product.
This email sent by Garnet Hill contains a quote from a review of a customer who bought the product as a gift. This kind of quote may be more effective than one that focuses on product details that could motivate someone buying for their own use.
Feature the Quality and Quantity of Ratings
Curated collections are perfect for last-minute shoppers looking for those final few gifts. Many retailers will feature shop by price, gifts by recipient (him/her, mom/dad), top sellers, staff picks, etc…
These gift guides will help the shopper to self-select their shopping path and help you to direct them to related products. Boost the power of these promotions by coupling the collections with the ratings for related products.
A simple star rating may be an effective addition to a variety of hand-picked products, though you should consider additional UGC data points that could entice the shopper to click and cart the items.
The numerical value of the star rating, the quantity of reviews and even the number of questions answered or customer photos can offer a more compelling reason for the shopper to explore a collection.
Athleta added the star rating, numerical rating and the number of reviews to the products featured in their Black Friday email.
Boost Your Brand
Shipping deadlines are quickly approaching. Last-minute shoppers will be searching for expedited shipping offers, in-store pick-up and digital gifts that can help them to check off the final few folks on their list.
Calm these procrastinating purchasers by assuring them that your brand can make things merry before Christmas Day arrives. Feature customer service ratings and quotes that highlight happy customers and showcase your company’s commitment to their satisfaction.
This strategy can be effective for retailers who do not have a rich supply of UGC to use, sell bespoke products or have limited inventory items.
In addition to featuring how their products were showcased on Ellen, Balsam Hill used quotes from happy customers to give shoppers even more reasons to buy.
The holiday season is a crazy, chaotic stress fest for marketers. Months of planning will go into ensuring that year-end revenue goals are met. As you approach these final days of the final quarter of 2016, take a moment to see if there are any tweaks you can make to your marketing plan that will build on the successes seen so far this season. UGC can be a valuable resource for boosting holiday sales and finishing the season strong.
Download the 2016 UGC Holiday Lookbook to see how top retailers featured user-generated content in their Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing.