When consumer product reviews became popular on web sites in the early Aughts, designers were horrified. What? An aspect of the brand we can’t control?
Since then, consumer-generated content such as product reviews has become so commonplace that a lack of content sometimes leads consumers to think that a company is hiding something.
On March 7, Austin, Texas-based reporting and analytics firm Bazaarvoice Inc., released its 2016 CGC Index, which shows that consumer- or user-generated content is weighing more heavily in shoppers’ purchasing decisions.
The Bazaarvoice analysis included 233 million transactions, 54.8 billion product page views and 59 million pieces of consumer-generated content. The Bazaarvoice CGC Index for 2016 drew on data from the Bazaarvoice Network’s more than 2,200 global brand and retail sites and 54.8 billion shopper touch points. The Index reported a 90 percent to 106 percent lift in conversion rates for best-in-class retailers and brands, and a revenue increase of more than 101 percent to 116 percent per visitor among consumers who interacted with consumer-generated content during the shopping process.
Bazaarvoice said content viewed online also impacted purchases in stores. Depending on the category, there was a $2 to $30 lift when consumers researched online and bought at brick-and-mortar locations.
Several practices were seen consistently among top-performing brands, including actively collecting content from purchasers and potential customers, including asking for feedback. Best-in-class brands amplified their content on social channels to reach omnichannel shoppers; used photos and videos to tell their story and create emotional connections with consumers; solicited feedback to improve customer service, product features or marketing tactics, and responded to consumer questions.
About 78 percent of Bazaarvoice clients used feedback from consumers to improve service, 71 percent improved products by removing features or correcting flaws and 50 percent stepped up marketing tactics such as messaging and targeting.
Sara Spivey, chief marketing officer of Bazaarvoice, noted that two-way conversations between consumer and brand no longer exist. Rather, questions and answers are within earshot of social media channels and messaging apps, multiplying the number of listeners by hundreds or thousands.
“Consumers’ decisions are shaped by a massive amount of information and opinions,” Spivey said. “The research in the CGC Index demonstrates how critical consumer-generated content is to winning hard-to-reach customers.”
The issue of brands ceding some control to consumers isn’t heard a lot anymore. “We’ve seen more luxury brands come around,” Spivey said. “Quite a few high-end health and beauty and fashion companies have power ratings and reviews.”
If every picture tells a story, every visual drives customer engagement. According to the Index, 98 percent of consumers said visuals make shopping more efficient, while the lack of visuals prompted 48 percent to leave a web page.
The Bazaarvoice Curations platform on which visual content is processed saw a 12-fold increase in the number of photos posted from 2014 to 2016, and videos multiplied 16 times during the same period.
“Our latest thing is harnessing all this valuable shopper data to allow brands and retailers to personalize experiences for their online guests,” Spivey said.