Ask the Expert Part One: 3 Easy Hacks for Collecting Even More Customer-Generated Content

September 4, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Key Takeaways:

  • Optimize your emails by testing subject lines, sending a follow-up email after the initial review solicitation email (RSE) and using features like Inbox Submission to make content collection frictionless.
  • Use Syndication to deepen the content from large brands and widen the content from smaller brands for a better coverage rate.
  • Launch a sampling campaign to drive interest in high-margin, low-volume items, give your evergreen products a sales volume boost, and build a better rapport with your brands.
Ross Reitman headshot

TurnTo Customer Success Manager Ross Reitman

You’ve integrated a Customer-Generated Content (CGC) solution like TurnTo into your eCommerce site and are now basking in an abundance of Ratings & Reviews. That’s step one.

But there’s still room for improvement. Step two is adopting some best practices to collect even more Customer-Generated Content for your site.

In Part One of our “Ask the Expert” blog post series, TurnTo Customer Success Account Manager Ross Reitman—our in-house expert—shares some of the tricks he’s learned to help our clients gather the highest volume of Customer-Generated Content with the least amount of effort.

(In next week’s installment, we’ll take a look at some techniques retailers and brands can use to maximize the value of all the great content they’re collecting).

And now, Ross shares 3 Super Easy Hacks to collect even more Customer-Generated Content for your site:

1. Optimize Your Emails.

Email is really the biggest driver of your content collection strategy. If you don’t have a lot of time to try a lot of things—but want to collect more content—you have to optimize your emails.

I tell all of my clients to send an initial review solicitation email [RSE] and then at least one follow-up email after that. Really, I’m curious about the incremental lift from the follow up email.

Are you getting 1% more reviews from the follow up email? Then it’s probably not worth it.

But I’ve seen clients get 20% increases in their content collection with very little effort with a follow-up email. However, you don’t want to barrage your customers with too many emails, that can result in an increase in opt-outs.

I also tell clients to test Inbox Submission. [Inbox Submission is a TurnTo product that allows email recipients to submit the entirety of their product review from within the body of an email.]

Inbox Submission basically eliminates a friction point from the review collection process, and you can use it with either the initial email, the follow-up email, or both. One of my clients saw a 300% increase in their collection rate with that approach.

There are a bunch of other variables that you can also test with emails. One is the subject line, which I think more people should be experimenting with.

We actually built a product that let one of our large office supply retail clients prioritize the SKUs that they showed a customer in the review solicitation email.  That way they could show new products, or private label products, earlier in the email for multiple SKU orders. It helped them get more content for specific products.

2. Go Broad on Syndication

Women holding handsWhen it comes to Syndication, retailers usually start with their big brands. That helps deepen how much content they’re getting—you have 100 reviews on an HP printer and then you get syndicated content and that becomes 800 reviews, which is valuable.

But if you’re interested in increasing your coverage—the percentage of your products that have some type of Customer-Generated Content attached to them—then you have to start looking at smaller, long-tail brands. Syndication is a good way to get more of those reviews in a scalable way.

Our syndication service lets retailers gather reviews from pretty much any brand source, regardless of whether the brands are our clients. And it’s free—we don’t charge either the retailers or the brands for the service, which really helps us collect a higher number of product reviews for our clients.

3. Tap Into Sampling

Sampling is the other easy way to quickly scale your Customer-Generated Content. It’s a good way to get reviews for higher priced items that don’t sell at a high volume, or for items that you’d like to promote to get a pop on sales volume.

One of my fast fashion clients has some more evergreen products. Their director of eCommerce wanted to give some items that were going to be available through the holiday season a boost, and sampling seemed like a natural way to do that.

Sampling is particularly effective for larger retailers and retailers that have good partnerships with their brands. They can go to brands, pitch a sampling campaign, and build stronger relationships while gathering more content.

Retailers can also go for a double whammy where they pitch brands on sampling and then tee them off for syndication as well.


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

July 10, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

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

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

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

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

The Challenge

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

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

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

That’s where TurnTo came in.

The Solution – Syndicated Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Syndication for Brands

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

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

The Bottom Line

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

About TurnTo

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

About Adorama

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

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

June 19, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

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

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

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

Smart Brands Are Doubling Down on Ecommerce

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

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

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

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

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

How Syndication Can Help Brands Increase Online Sales

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

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

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

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

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

TurnTo’s Open Review Syndication Can Help

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

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

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

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

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