Syndication is a way for retailers to quickly increase the volume of product reviews they display. Brands, typically first to collect this valuable user generated content (UGC), are eager for retailers to feature these on their e-commerce sites. By sharing their reviews with their distribution partners, brands can help products stand out and sell better, as higher review volumes have been proven to increase sales.
John Swords, Chief Product Officer of TurnTo Networks, recently took time to speak with RetailITInsights.com about such syndication which, until now, was only possible through closed networks. Swords discusses, among other things, how through open review syndication any brand can now provide product reviews to retailers regardless of the collection and management platform they use.
Q: What is review syndication and how is it good for retailers?
Swords: Syndication is a powerful tool for retailers and brands that extends the reach of user-generated content by supplementing reviews collected by the retailer with content collected directly by past-purchasers from brand manufacturers.
By incorporating syndicated content, retailers increase both the number of reviews and the quantity of reviewed products. Research shows each doubling in review volume rate improves catalog coverage by at least 15 percent and improves average ratings by 1/10th of a star.
Q: How does syndication affect search engine optimization?
Swords: The review on the brand’s site will get the most SEO value, but the syndication partner still benefits by the syndicated review content. Reviews that are destined for syndication partners are held for a period of time to allow search engines to identify the originating source.
Q: How do companies need to rethink their products as they enter syndication networks?
Swords: Having a strong user generated content (UGC) foundation helps to compound the benefits of syndicated review content. Consider exploring opportunities with syndication partners to maximize the content volume and quality. Syndication doesn’t have to be limited to reviews. Identify other UGC opportunities, such as photos submitted by customers or short-format checkout comments which can help you increase the UGC participation rates.
Q: What is the benefit to a retailer of putting product reviews in front of shoppers?
Swords: Retailers strive to be a resource to shoppers in the purchase decision-making process. Presenting UGC submitted by past-purchasers is a key part of that strategy. Product ratings are an indicator of purchase velocity and customer satisfaction. These reviews provide valuable insights from owners of the product to help with the decision-making process during the buying cycle.
According to a consumer study we published, Hearing the Voice of the Consumer: UGC and the Commerce Experience, most shoppers (90 percent) report UGC influences their decisions to make a purchase, outranking all other forms of marketing, including search engines (87 percent) and promotional emails (79 percent). Notably, shoppers are also willing to pay more (81 percent) and wait longer (81 percent) for products paired with UGC.
Q: How important are images?
Swords: Images are very important to both UGC content collection and consumption. With the explosion of mobile commerce, visuals have become an influential and primary communication tool for shoppers, particularly of the millennial generation, whom are taking and sharing more images than ever before. It’s no surprise we see mobile users opting to submit Visual Reviews in growing numbers in place of long-form text reviews.
Q: How do reviews help foster consumer conversation?
Swords: Reviews that detail product usage (wearing, building, consuming) can spark questions or additional commentary from fellow shoppers. Ratings that oppose the shoppers view can spark them to write. For example, if a product I bought only has a 2-star rating, but I think it’s a 5-star product, I’m going to feel compelled to share my thoughts.
Q: How do reviews help retailers better understand their audience?
Swords : Reviews are often the primary customer feedback loop for retailers. Using reviews, retailers gain insights on emerging trends, issues with products that could be improved, what other shoppers may be interested in to complement existing products, how they use the products and who they bought the item for, etc. All of this feedback can be incorporated into product development, marketing insights/analytics to inform effective campaigns and the sales and customer experience process.