Optimizing Online Product Ratings and Reviews

Monitoring Online Ratings and Reviews
Responding to Reviews
Managing Negative Reviews
Driving More Online Ratings and Reviews For Your Products
Ratings and Reviews: An Essential Stop on the Path to Purchase
Managing Online Ratings and Reviews: How Clavis Helps

Through product ratings and reviews, consumers have discovered a prominent platform within online retailers to give a voice to their brand experiences. What once was a one-way channel is now a two-way conversation between brands and consumers. The New York Times described product reviews a “a report on the match between reality and expectations,” and consumers clearly relish their collective power to hold brands accountable for the marketing promises they make.  online ratings and reviews

Product ratings and reviews (even some negative reviews) are proven sales drivers on retailer sites like Amazon or Walmart.com. According to Bazaarvoice, 61% of online buyers and 39% of in-store buyers read reviews before purchase. What’s more is that the presence of product reviews and ratings improves product page conversion rates by an average of 52%.

Why? Because consumers have three times more trust in reviews than in brand advertising. Shopper engagement with online ratings and reviews builds both trust and loyalty, and the proof is in the positive sales impact. Shoppers who interact with both reviews and customer questions and answers are 105% more likely to purchase while visiting, and spend 11% more than visitors who don’t interact with this content.

Monitoring Online Ratings and Reviews

Monitoring online ratings and reviews can help your brand stay ahead of the game by uncovering patterns in consumer feedback and exposing critical issues. You can use these insights across your organization to fine tune your messaging, branding, and even product design.

Shoppers are the best at using shopper language – and they’re likely using the same words to leave reviews and search for your products. Mining this unvarnished user generated content and making note of patterns and trends can help marketing and ecommerce teams more fully speak their shoppers’ language. Driving ecommerce results (online or off) is a game of inches—making seemingly small adjustments to words, phrases, or other product content might make the incremental difference you need to win (or stay on top of) your category. For example, you could utilize user generated content from product ratings and reviews to adapt messaging for different shopper profiles, identify pairing opportunities with other products in your assortment, or identify which criteria shoppers use to compare your products to your competitors.’

Classifying and filtering reviews will allow you to identify trends in review volume and shopper sentiment. In addition, cross-comparing online ratings and reviews data with other online retailer analytics such as price tracking or portfolio availability allows you to correlate price and availability to shopper sentiment and measure its sales impact.

Brands need this ecommerce intelligence not only for new products and reformulations, but for their legacy products as well. The messaging or benefits that resonate with consumers now may be different in 10, five, or even two years from now. Monitoring online ratings and reviews can help brands evolve with consumers.

In addition to uncovering effective messaging, reviews will highlight what benefits matter the most to shoppers and consumers. You can also use the information gathered when a consumer submits a review to validate a claim. That intelligence can help to shed light on development opportunities for products and assortments. For example, consumers will often reveal which products they pair. This kind of regimine building is common in the skincare and cosmetics categories.

Responding to Reviews

Online product ratings and reviews are a resource and an opportunity for brands to engage their shoppers. By responding to reviews, you not only build rapport with a single commenter, you are demonstrating to any shopper reading the review that your brand is willing to engage and take customer feedback seriously.

Prioritizing which reviews require a response (and what that response should be) can be a very time-consuming task for brands. Identifying trigger words related to common concerns can help your brand promptly route and address issues.

Managing Negative Reviews

But what if your online ratings and reviews are lackluster or (gulp) even negative? First of all, consider it an opportunity. Demonstrate your brand’s strong customer service by identifying and responding to negative consumer feedback. The good news is that consumers understand that even the best products will have detractors who leave negative product reviews. In fact, “bad” reviews can even increase your conversion rate.

Why? Products devoid of negative reviews seem “too good to be true” to most consumers. They may suspect censorship or review fabrication. Reviews are powerful because of their authenticity. Brands can mitigate the impact of negative comments by responding in a helpful, credible way.

While a small percentage of negative reviews can make a product page more authentic, product pages with a significant proportion of negative reviews can deter a potential customer. Setting up alerts that notify category/brand managers when new negative reviews are published is an immediately actionable strategy for customer service teams.

Additionally, analyzing negative reviews can uncover inaccurate negative sentiments that can be addressed with the retail channel (or through moderation). Strategically tracking trigger words related to shipping issues, identifying reviews that are spam, and finding reviews that incorrectly associate products are ways that inaccurate negative reviews can be handled quickly and helps you avoid negative impacts to sales and your brand integrity.

Driving More Online Ratings and Reviews For Your Products

To help drive the volume of online ratings and reviews for your core products, it’s often as simple as asking. Brand managers should use existing communication channels to ask their current customers to write reviews. When positioned prominently in locations where loyal customers frequent, such as a homepage feature on your brand website or email newsletter, messages that drive ratings and reviews can create high volumes of cost-effective shopper engagements. When planning out collateral or sample delivery, simple tweaks to brand communications can help to drive review volume.

researching online reviews

Some brands are combining social media and ecommerce efforts by re-engaging shoppers who comment on the brand’s social media channels. If a shopper states that they love a product or have been using it for years, the brand responds and drives the consumer to the review form, thereby catching consumers at a “micromoment” when they are most engaged. Brands with large, engaged communities on social media channels will be able to drive significant volumes of reviews. However, brands with small to medium social media followings will still derive signifcant value through social activation of brand advocates and promoters.

Sampling and sweepstakes are great ways to target your influencers. When executing these programs (whether in-house or through a third party vendor) you can include communications that educate the consumer on how to use a product or explain the product benefits. This foundational information often leads to better experiences, and thus better reviews. However, it’s important to note that the Federal Trade Commission has strict guidance around the need to disclose if a review has been incentivized in any way.

Many online retailers, including Walmart.com and Target.com, will allow brands to syndicate product reviews, pulling product reviews from other retailer and brand sites onto retailer product pages. That way brands can boost their product ratings and reviews volume by “sharing” that user generated content across retailers. Implementing a reviews and ratings syndication strategy can immediately fill review volume gaps on retail channels and spread positive review sentiment across the web quickly.

Additionally, recency is an important variable when it comes to reviews. Like many of the products brands sell, reviews also have a shelf life. Reviews older than a year aren’t seen as relevant to consumers as newer reviews, so it is important to monitor review velocity as well as volume and react to decreases in reviews and ratings over time by creating custom reporting and alerts.

Ratings and Reviews: An Essential Stop on the Path to Purchase

With the endless digital shelf, consumers have the luxury (and the burden) of having an abundance of product choices. Whether purchasing online or in-store, online product research–whether it’s for a tablet, a toaster, or a new brand of toothpaste–has become an almost predetermined step on the path to purchase. By the power of peer validation (or scrutiny), online ratings and reviews help shoppers wade through all the potential options to maximize their purchases.

Brands that monitor, maximize, and manage product reviews at their online retailers clearly increase their sales potential. But even more valuable is that brands can go beyond what their shoppers buy to a deeper understanding of why their shoppers buy.

Managing Online Ratings and Reviews: How Clavis Helps

Our ecommerce intelligence platforms allows brands  and manufacturers to understand consumer response to their products. Our reports measure the average star ratings for products as well as the total review count. You can set portfolio targets against your goals and monitor your progress for both average rating and review volume. These insights help you understand how to prioritize resources against retailers, categories, and brands in order to drive sales.

In addition,  our Shopper Review Diagnostics allows you to read the full text of user-generated reviews. This qualitative information helps brands to identify “trigger words” that could be related to a promotion, reformulation, new product launches, and other types of shopper experiences.

To learn more about our Ratings and Reviews insights and the rest of our ecommerce intelligence solutions, connect with us today.