Will relying on discounts and shipping offers during the holidays be enough to deliver success? Products have been discounted so much that costs have become relatively equalized between competitors. Most retailers have worked out shipping offers that, while maybe not on par with Amazon, are relatively close to free and fast.
With so many elements of the shopping process being equal across competitors, how can retailers distinguish themselves from the competition and identify what will help shoppers to buy with confidence?
As the stalwarts of discounts and free shipping offers lose some luster, you may be surprised to find that your bright-and-shiny, sales-saving strategy may not be totally in your control. Success may depend mostly on your shoppers and customers.
User-generated content (UGC) can offer a consumer-friendly counterbalance to the marketing messages of discounts and shipping offers. If you’re like most retailers, you probably have some form of UGC on your site, but this content may be overlooked and undervalued.
These long summer days are a perfect time to dust off your UGC strategy so it can shine for the holidays. UGC may just be the major missing piece to your holiday success.
Consider the 81% of US consumers surveyed in TurnTo’s “Hearing the Voice of the Consumer” study who say they would pay more for, and wait longer to receive, products that had UGC such as ratings, reviews, Q&A and photos taken by customers.
Here are three ways you can boost your UGC efforts to help your holiday shoppers find the information they need to buy with confidence and encourage your customers to submit content after they have made a purchase.
Find Your UGC Baseline
An “if we build it, they will come” UGC strategy isn’t going to magically increase engagement and boost sales. Start by examining where you currently have UGC placed throughout your site. You may find that you are only using reviews and they are buried on the lower part of your product pages.
Identify certain products, product categories and price points that get the most UGC traction. Perhaps your luxury items are the most reviewed or your budget-focused products get the most questions. This data will help you to make informed decisions in the following steps.
Dominate the Decision Points
UGC elements should dot-and-dominate the customer journey. Consider star ratings in search results, feature the number of reviews next to product names, include links to Q&A near price points. Reinforce shopper confidence by including ratings and review information in the shopping cart and throughout the checkout process. Expand the reach of your UGC by including review commentary and customer photos in retargeting ads and on social channels. As the data shows, this UGC boost could be the deciding factor for the shopper when costs and shipping are equal.
Prioritize Post-Purchase UGC Interactions
The quest to capture UGC begins the moment an order is submitted. Ask a shopper “Why did you buy this?” on the order confirmation page to gain a valuable, short-format piece of UGC that can be used to complement longer-form reviews. Include product review requests in your post-purchase email series. Test optimal timing for products and product categories that may take longer for the customer to use, consume, assemble, etc. Optimize collection for mobile devices by employing technologies such as friction-free forms within email messages and mobile optimized site experiences for UGC submissions.
As you plan for the holiday rush and start to focus on your goals for 2018, don’t overlook the importance of UGC. Consumers are seeking interactions and information from fellow shoppers. Use these three steps as a guide to build a strong and stable foundation for your UGC success.
Jim Davidson is Director of Research for TurnTo Networks