3 Ways to Use Brand Advocates in Your Review Strategy
Brand advocates are retailers’ best friends. They’re highly vocal, influential consumers, and their opinions carry weight. Loyalists are known to rave about the products they love (and love to hate) on social media pages and, most importantly, on brand and retailer websites via ratings, reviews and Q&A.
Reviews play an important role in the consumer shopping journey, but they don’t happen on their own. We’ve found the best way to generate reviews is through post-purchase emails. In fact, about 60 percent of reviews come from post-purchase emails. One way to boost that percentage is by actively engaging your loyalists. More than likely, you’ve already identified these brand advocates through your loyalty program. Generally these advocates are targeted with sales and other promotions, but loyalists are also highly likely to share their experiences and feedback in the form of reviews, photos and images. By cultivating relationships with loyalists, retailers can increase the number of reviews and images collected. This user-generated content will boost traffic and sales, and can also be mined for actionable insights to improve products and the shopping experience.
Here are a few best practices for brands and retailers to start to leverage brand advocates in their overall review collection strategy:
1. Reach loyalists post-purchase. Loyalists love your brand, and chances are they’re already talking about your products to others. Therefore, it’s important to capture their conversations and share this information with other shoppers who might not be as invested in your brand. One way to capture this feedback is by reaching out to loyalists post-purchase, asking them to write reviews for recent purchases.
The success of your post-purchase emails depends on many different factors, including the content, design and timing of initial outreach. To generate the most reviews, make sure the process of leaving a review is simple and that your call to action is clear and direct. And with more than half of all emails today being opened on a mobile device, it’s crucial that write-a-review forms are mobile optimized.
Also, consider providing the opportunity to review multiple products at once. We’ve found that more than 60 percent of orders coming through our network contain more than one item. Allowing shoppers to review all products from a single page is a small adjustment to your review collection strategy, but we’ve seen it help increase review collection by up to 400 percent.
2. Incentivize reviews through loyalty programs. While nearly all shoppers read reviews throughout the purchase journey, far fewer actually write them. Luckily for many brands, existing loyalty programs can be used to motivate loyal customers by offering additional incentives and rewards (e.g., points, coupons and promo codes) to write reviews and contribute photos and videos.
For example, if a customer in your loyalty program writes a review, award them 10 loyalty points to put towards a future purchase, save up for free shipping or exchange for a discount code. By offering some type of reward for leaving reviews, brands can motivate their customers to engage on a deeper level. Furthermore, customers feel more valued through special loyalty offers and are much more likely to become brand advocates under this type of engagement.
3. Consider product sampling. Ratings and reviews increase the likelihood that a product will be purchased, especially when that brand or product is relatively unknown or completely new. Brands should consider product sampling to generate reviews for new and seasonal items, or if they’re simply looking to boost coverage for a target product. And who better to go to than your already loyal customers? Familiar and dedicated to the brand, loyalists already have an affinity for your products and are more likely to provide feedback.
Sampling isn't just for low-priced products, either. In one sampling program with a major mattress brand, we saw a 100 percent completion rate — i.e., every customer that sampled a mattress provided feedback. Reach out to advocates who have significant purchase and review history with your brand. Reviews from brand advocates build confidence for future buyers, generating more sales when the product officially launches.
Brand advocates play an important role in the purchase journey. They’re invested in the brands they love and are willing to share product insight and feedback. And while it’s key to collect feedback from a variety of different customers, loyalists should be top-of-mind for brands looking to boost review generation.
Theresa O’Neil is the senior vice president of marketing at PowerReviews, a provider of customer review technology to more than 1,000 brands and retailers.
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