Lessons From the Bazaarvoice Conference

Last week my colleague Shane Atchison and I attended the Bazaarvoice user conference in Austin, Texas. Bazaarvoice started as a company offering ratings and reviews technology for Web sites, but it now has other offerings and helps clients evolve in other key uses of social media to connect to customers and prospects.

Bazaarvoice was founded by Brett Hurt (a founder from Web analytics tool Coremetrics) and quickly added industry expert Sam Decker (formerly with Dell). Both men understand what it takes to successfully maximize an online e-commerce site.

People shared some interesting stories about leveraging ratings and reviews from customers to maximize their conversion, online and offline. The key to each application is its potential to increase conversion rates and better communicate with customers and prospects. While not all applications are for every company, there are potential lessons in each.

A review’s natural impact (and it’s significant) is that having one next to a product online will help prospects make a selection they will be happy with. Some of the other applications people shared last week deliver a significant, measureable impact to their businesses. Here are some of those applications:

  • Reviews in marketing campaigns. Many companies use reviews in different marketing campaigns, everything from e-mail featuring “five-star products” to shipping inserts with reviews that go into every box shipped to print campaigns with reviews. There were several compelling conversion success stories.
  • Reviews in brick-and-mortar stores/points of sale. Sephora saw success by including reviews for some of its products next to the products in physical stores. The power of third-party validation and people saying why they liked the product was helpful to other browsers and purchasers.
  • Sephora mobile application. Sephora also tested a campaign featuring promotions in store locations for people to access product reviews on its mobile site. Shoppers could talk to a sales associate or hop online on their phones right in the brick-and-mortar store to see what other people thought of the product they were considering.
  • Tests of reviews on landing pages from media. Many companies feature product reviews on landing pages for online media and search, as well as on the home page. When tested, some of these had considerable impact and others didn’t seem to increase or decrease conversion or satisfaction. The key is to test and see when and where this might make sense for your business and audience.
  • Reviews to support training initiatives. Several companies reported are training their staff (call center and sales associates) more about products and offerings based on reviews the products received.
  • Impact of review content on SEO (define) listings. Nearly everyone who talked about ratings and reviews saw huge impacts on their organic search listings. The content in reviews often helps companies with searchable content, doubling or tripling the helpful content that search engines see. You’ve probably started to see this more with the searches you do online in terms of landing on product review pages.
  • Impact on business/product decisions. Companies getting feedback on what consumers like and don’t like can be helpful in shaping future products or services or changing existing products or services for the better. A review pointing out something they don’t like about a product can encourage a company to change the product so more people will be satisfied with it down the road.
  • Increased loyalty of reviewers. There were a few case studies shown and references made to the increased loyalty and engagement of those who posted reviews. When people post reviews, their satisfaction and loyalty increases.

As you can see, there’s much more to reviews on your site than simply getting other online visitors to convert online. Sure, a lot of social media initiatives can be considered failures. But when you step back and define goals and identify a strategy based on impact to you and your customers and prospects, the rewards can be significant and often have benefits that are far greater and more expansive than what you may initially consider.

Don’t get caught up in every new technology or fad, but dig into what will really help your customers and prospects based on your business goals. Then determine the best way to tackle that opportunity: set targets, goals, and a strategy to accomplish!

Join us for a one-day Online Marketing Summit in a city near you from May 5, 2009, to July 1, 2009. Choose from one of 11 one-day events designed to help interactive marketers do their jobs more effectively. All sessions are new this year and cover such topics as social media, e-mail marketing, search, and integrated marketing. Register 30 days in advance and get a $40 discount!

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