According to Bazaarvoice, adding just one review to a product page results in a 10% lift in orders and 100 reviews equates to a 37% lift in orders. This is because consumers trust word of mouth recommendations over and above branded content.
The success of retail giant Amazon, for example, can be linked to its transparent use of reviews. Notably in the development of its own label Elements brand, Amazon made a very clear pledge: that it will use consumer feedback to shape its product offering, signalling that UGC is becoming an even more crucial tool for marketers.
"Our consumers trust our peers more than they trust us... They want to hear from each other."
At the Bazaarvoice 2015 Summit last week, a number of leading global brands came together to share how they are harnessing consumer generated content to drive sales and improve brand perception and also how they use it as 'fertilie information' to improve brand offering.
Adidas - Jacqualine Smith-Dubendorfer, VP of .com at Adidas Group
"Our internal mantra is to be consumer obsessed and in order to be consumer obsessed we need to understand who they are, where they are and what they're saying. That's critical of where we are and how we operate today. We recently announced we were committed to open source; so that's inviting the consumer in and enabling them to participate with the brand and have a dialogue with us, and asking them to be creators with us.
It's also forcing us to think. They are speaking and we're listening and we have a responsibility to act on what they say whether it's [for example] that the fit isn't right. Whilst it's a type of content creation, it also addresses where we have content gaps... They're giving us feedback and we're responding to it.
Our consumers trust our peers more than they trust us... They want to hear from each other. And whilst we might curate the head to toe look, at the end of the day they'll go out and mix it up whatever way they want. We can't dictate and manufacture how things should end up, they're in charge and embracing that only gives more food for thought on [things] that perhaps hadn't been considered in the initial product design."
Jaguar - Ray Warren, digital and social media marketing manager, Jaguar USA
"It's really important to us. We started last year for the XE, which doesn't launch [in the USA] until next year. We wanted to make sure that word of mouth for the Jaguar's quality and how great the cars are permeate now online, in preparation for the XE.
"We decided to let our customers to talk for us. If your neighbour bought a car you'd ask: is it good?"
We started using consumer generated content last year; previously we hadn't. We we went to our customers and asked them what they liked about their car - from styling, design, etc. We collated all these together and launched in November with 200 reviews on Jaguar USA in a section called 'why Jaguar?'; in each model section of the site we have a review section.
We decided to let our customers to talk for us. If your neighbour bought a car you'd ask: is it good? Now with the power of social media we can collate all that, put it online and let people read it for themselves.
We will start using this in online banners, CRM and handout brochures in the next couple of months and pilot this in some retailers.
[There are some challenges], you will get negative comments but you feed that back into your product team so that in the next iteration of the model they address those challenges. What is key is having that communication stream."
GHD - Caroline Rolfe, global director of digital at ghd
"Our product is one that generates advocacy and interest from consumers anyway, people are very passionate about our brand so user generated content and reviews is a way for us to leverage that to create that amplification to new consumers.
Our products are available in many places but we want to create GHD.com as the flagship of our brand because it's the true expression of who we are, what our products stand for and what they do. That's where we're taking the website.
"It's a super-powerful conversion tool but it's not just that for us...We have to maintain a conversation with our customers through the whole life of their product"
At the moment it's a highly functional, incredibly successful, e–commerce site and we're pushing that to get the perfect blend between content and commerce because we want to extend that connection with our consumer and user-generated content is the best way to do that.
It's a super-powerful conversion tool but it's not just that for us. Because the lifecycle of our products is so high, we have to maintain a conversation with our customers through the whole life of their product, not just before their purchase. We want to give them reasons to create new looks and get back into their styling.
We're at the start of our journey from the marketing side, but from the tech side we're ready and raring to go. We want to do it in all channels, and we're looking at how we can integrate our reviews into social and in offline to help customers make a purchase.
When we're planning on launching a new product, it's key for us to have reviews right up front. We know consumers will be hearing about us through the marketing we do and coming on to the site. The first thing they're going to look at it is the reviews around it; and because there is a price consideration we can prove the worth [of the product] through the reviews."
(This article first appeared on www.brandrepublic.com)