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The DTC space remains fast-paced and highly competitive. That being said, now is the time to revisit and refresh your marketing strategy—and in 2022, the smartest brands will leverage social proof.
We’re not just talking about collecting reviews and placing them on your product description pages (although to compete with Amazon, this is the bare minimum of what you should be doing with reviews). Rather, we’re talking about other ways you can leverage your reviews across the entire customer journey.
In this article, we’ll explore six different ways reviews can drive sales and boost your conversion rate.
Want to skip ahead? Here's what we're covering:
- Collect zero-party data
- Customer segmentation
- Nurturing a community
- UGC for other campaigns
- Feedback for your support team
- Reviews and your carbon footprint
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Customer reviews are a valuable source of zero party data
Zero-party data is about to become a top priority for brands.
Because third-party cookies will soon be a thing of the past—and consumers want more control and clarity when it comes to their personal information—zero-party data presents an opportunity to gather deep insights from customers in a consensual way.
For example, if you’re a fashion brand, you could create a style quiz for shoppers to fill out. You learn about your customers’ preferences and what they’re interested in purchasing, and consumers receive personal recommendations according to their answers.
One of the most effective ways to collect zero-party data is through product reviews. When submitting one, customers can include personal attributes, which help apply context to their experiences with a product. Not only does this additional insight (i.e. height, age, product experience levels, hair color, etc.) help other shoppers contextualize their own purchase decisions, it also tells you much more about your individual customers.
A potential use case for this insight is steering product development based on consumers’ feedback. Perhaps it’s time for a new product iteration with a popular color, or maybe there are product elements customers aren’t so keen on that it’s time to scale back. You don’t have to guess based on your sales history anymore—customers will tell you precisely what they do and don’t love about specific products.
You can sync zero-party data with your other marketing channels as well, and we all know how deeper personalization tactics lead to nurturing relationships with happy customers.
For example, some review tools are integrated with Klaviyo, so you can use the attributes that a customer shares in a review to build out profiles and segment those shoppers in specific flows, which leads us to our next point.
Review data helps with extra accurate segmentation
To expand upon our first point, the zero-party data collected from reviews provides the perfect fuel for more accurate and effective audience segmentation.
Online retailers can leverage attribute-based demographic data through marketing messaging, whether this comes in the form of email, SMS, or direct mail.
The information gathered through reviews might be
- Personal (a pet food brand asking about the age of their customer’s dog)
- Behavioral (an activewear brand inquiring about what sports a customer plays)
- Lifestyle-related (a skincare brand asking about a customer’s goals for their hair, such as growth or increased strength).
Using these attributes, brands can deliver razor-sharp personalized messaging, including the content included in direct marketing, curated product recommendations, specially selected bundle deals, and perfectly judged promotional offers that are genuinely relevant to individual customers.
Reviews help nurture your existing customer community
Community is a core component of DTC success, so brands need to embrace the opportunity to build and enhance their online followers.
Following the pandemic, where we saw so many innovative brands raise their game, there’s a growing need and expectation for merchants to curate online communities.
But every good DTC marketer knows that building a community is an ongoing task. You can’t start one and expect it to run on its own—they require consistent nurturing.
Reviews can play a helpful role here, offering the perfect platform for fans to share their experiences and confirm the hype that builds around a product, line, or new launch. As DTC brands typically target a very well-defined audience, the impact from social proof can be significant.
You can take it one step further by rewarding these customers as well, offering them perks like bonus loyalty points or discounts for leaving a review. This is an opportunity your community will definitely seize. Check out how LSKD distributes rewards to its customers:
Younger brands especially can seek to build confidence in new products by demonstrating an engaged, satisfied, and familiar community through prominently displaying reviews across their website, social media, and wider marketing efforts.
You can leverage reviews for authentic UGC campaigns
To acquire new customers, ecommerce brands have a pressing need to reflect existing customers’ experience and engagement back to curious shoppers who are looking to identify with an unfamiliar brand. This is the basis of how referrals work.
User-generated content—from video clips to Instagram posts—provides a rich source of relatable and trustworthy media that helps achieve this goal.
Social media has traditionally been the most common and productive source of UGC, but increasingly, reviews represent another fantastic opportunity to gather this kind of deeply authentic content.
When structured to incentivize potential customers to submit videos and images alongside reviews (i.e. a loyalty program that awards points or future discounts for enhanced reviews), the process can provide a dependable pipeline for well-considered customer content. Workout apparel brand Born Primitive, for example, generated as much as 74.29% more UGC after using Okendo.
As always with UGC, compliance regarding its use is of the utmost importance. Make sure you’re using a tool for reviews and UGC that you can trust—preferably one that integrates with another great tool like Foursixy to be sure you have the right permissions to share and leverage the UGC you collect throughout your marketing efforts.
Customer feedback helps your support team
Another key benefit of reviews is the “self-service” access to additional product information they provide to browsing customers.
By populating product pages with informative, attribute-rich reviews, shoppers can find instant answers to questions they might have about a product’s suitability, characteristics, and features. According to Qualtrics, 93% of shoppers note that reviews have influenced their purchasing decisions because they view testimonials as a source of honest feedback.
Sharing review information upfront reduces the burden on your support team because they’ll get fewer questions about the product they’re looking at. Instead, other customers can show them.
This feature streamlines the customer journey—no need for shoppers to navigate through a support process or search for information elsewhere. And everyone knows that when it’s easier for first time customers to find the info they need, they’re more likely to buy.
Plus, shoppers remain right on your product page instead of searching endlessly through other pages or other business review sites, increasing the chance of a conversion.
The information customers see from organic online reviews is more trustworthy. As a result, customers see it as less biased and more authentic, building confidence and inspiring more informed purchase decisions.
(Not to mention, both positive reviews and negative reviews help your business learn what customers like about your brand and where you can improve your products.)
Reviews can lower your carbon footprint
Informed purchasing decisions do more than improve your customer satisfaction—they can also have a positive impact on your brand’s sustainability efforts.
Better product selection, aided by informative reviews, means fewer returns. Fewer returns lead to better carbon savings and reduced product and packaging wastage.
For many brands, especially those within the DTC arena, sustainability is becoming a key differentiating factor in 2022 and beyond. It’s essential to get your whole tech stack working hard to support you and help you communicate this benefit to your customers.
By showing the attention to detail you pay in all aspects of your business’ impact, you can demonstrate leadership, lower the cost to business of returns, and incentivize the submission of future reviews. All of this is key for small businesses.
Online customer reviews: Your Marketing Team’s Secret Weapon
2022 will be a competitive year for the DTC space, but there are many opportunities available to brands that are ready to innovate and optimize their marketing strategies—all of which will improve your online reputation.
When working with a dependable partner to streamline review collection and maximize UGC, your insight, zero-party data, and campaigns run more effectively.
Getting that 5-star rating means working with a 5-star company! If you’re ready, find a tech partner you can trust to help you start collecting a higher number of reviews and using them to give your marketing a powerful edge in 2022.
This article was written by Lindsay Kolinsky, Partner Marketing Manager at Okendo. Okendo is a customer review platform for fast growing Shopify brands. An Official Google Reviews partner and trusted by 5,000+ high-growth consumer brands such Netflix, SKIMS and Bite, Okendo has all the tools brands need to capture and showcase high-impact social proof through the online buying journey.