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The Value of Conversation

User-generated content can uncover insights that drive business goals
  • May 14 2012

Ask brands about the value of their digital presence and they’ll quickly say that online marketing lets them get closer to their customers. And while one side of this is tracking and analyzing how consumers click through a site, there’s another source to tap into: the reams of consumer conversations that concern brands and products.

By contributing product reviews, asking questions and sharing experiences online, consumers generate a ton of information that is specific to products, services and brands. Analyzing this user-generated content (UGC) allows brands to uncover insights that can be used specifically to drive business goals.

“To succeed, companies must get to ground truth about how products are perceived by different customer segments,” says Brett Hurt, CEO of Bazaarvoice, whose technology helps brands host and analyze UGC. “Now they finally can. For the first time in history, word of mouth is a structured, digitally archived medium that can be sliced, diced, integrated and analyzed to deliver actionable insights that were never possible before.”

Those consumers who engage in product ratings and reviews are often more valuable than those who simply shop. U.S. women’s specialty retailer Chico’s FAS has seen dramatic results in converting site visits to orders since implementing Bazaarvoice Conversations in April 2011 across three brand websites: Chico’s, White House | Black Market and Soma Intimates. All three brands have enjoyed tremendous success with the Bazaarvoice platform for onsite customer content. The greatest boost has been for White House | Black Market, which has experienced over a 200 percent increase in order conversion among site visitors who engage with ratings, reviews, questions or answers.

In addition, all three Chico’s brands have increased their revenue per visitor and average order value since implementing ratings, reviews, questions and answers.

Brands are also using UGC to infuse the consumer voice into their existing ads. Rubbermaid, for instance, found that free-standing coupon inserts that included text from an online product review had a 10 percent higher redemption rate than the similar offer that ran exactly one year prior.

Outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Cabela’s has been integrating customer feedback from its Bazaarvoice solution into its search engine advertising as a way to drive visits and sales. It found, for instance, that product pages with embedded reviews were crawled twice as frequently by search engines, and they generated 200 percent more organic traffic to Cabelas.com. Moreover, they found that pages that had embedded reviews had a 250 percent broader keyword search (the quantity of referring search phrases to each page).

Finally, brands are able to innovate more effectively based on the needs consumers express in their content and reviews. These are not reactions to one-shot comments, but rather based on analysis of trends from the structured word of mouth.

For the team of buyers that’s responsible for Urban Outfitters’ Decorative Home business online, customer feedback affects every decision, from the way products are designed to how they’re described on web pages to the manner in which they’re displayed in photographs. Buyers receive detailed weekly reports from the company’s product marketing team with the latest customer feedback from online ratings and reviews.

“We have to be sure that we’re providing the customer with the right product and with the right product information to make a satisfying purchase,” explains Christine Doobinin, senior buyer for the company’s Decorative Home business. “They rely on us for that—and we rely on them for feedback, so we can be sure they get exactly what they’re looking for.”