What are your thoughts on the term “user-generated content”?
When the term “user-generated content” is mentioned, most people immediately think of social media. It’s a platform where content holds significant importance, whether it’s a blog post, a video, or even a comment on a post. Users constantly share content, hoping to make it go viral. Additionally, there is a cadre of influencers who are paid to influence consumers’ purchasing decisions because their opinions hold substantial weight. Users can literally make or break brands with their opinions.
However, there is another channel of user-generated content that often goes unnoticed, which is consumer reviews. Consider top e-tailers like Amazon, Walmart, or Sephora and their digital shelves. In the past, when selling was primarily done through physical stores, consumers would pick a product without the wisdom of the experienced masses to share their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. This is not the case with e-commerce. From star ratings to reviews, potential consumers are influenced by the hundreds or even thousands of opinions provided below the product description.
This article will explore the power of consumer reviews and how it can transform your brand.
As a marketing professional with extensive experience in social media, I am not minimizing the importance of the medium and the value of social media listening tools. Implicit in the name is that they help brands listen to what consumers are saying. But to what end? They allow us to gauge a brand’s popularity and understand the various discussions surrounding it.
Ultimately, social media marketers create strategic content plans based on a range of metrics to ensure brands and products remain top of mind. Consider popular social listening tools like Sprout Social or SEMRush that can help compare channels with competitors. However, most of the metrics used focus on post engagement and audience demographics. (True, Instagram is a bit of an anomaly since consumers can shop directly from the platform.) The tools measure the masses which ultimately equate to trends.
But at the end of the day, do these tools provide actionable information about the product or brand? I would argue that they do not since we the buyers aren’t verified and social media information isn’t granular. We don’t know if the online users actually made the purchase and where from. Post reactions and hashtags aren’t much help either. In the example below, I started inputting a hashtag for Lancome and Facebook auto-populated the top ones relating to their products.
While you can identify leading fragrance names like Tresor and Miracle bottle size or type isn’t included like parfum or eau du toilette. The other hashtags relate generally to their serum and toner. When it comes to serums, which ones? Is it eye serum or for another facial feature? What is the serum size? As you can see, the hashtags aren’t as specific as needed for brands to distill insights.
We have no way of distilling a consumer’s authentic voice relating to the product variations out there. So where can you find that information? How can brands better listen to consumers? The answer–consumer reviews.
Consumer listening using consumer reviews
Let’s take a closer look at consumer reviews and consumer listening which are in a league of their own. Consumer reviews are usually shared after a consumer completes a purchase and can for the most part be verified. We know if they made the purchase from Walmart or Macy’s. Whether consumers are ranting or raving, there’s a treasure trove of information that can be extracted from consumer reviews. There is some form of justification for their particular sentiment as opposed to social media. Consumer review data is about providing brands with quality as opposed to quantity and can be refined into granular insights. There are range of metrics that can be distilled from consumer reviews:
● The star rating: this ranks overall product satisfaction
● The consumer sentiment: how much the consumer loves or hates the product generated based on the consumer language in the review.
● Various topics that include: quality, performance, and other distinct product features/characteristics
Below is a screenshot of Amazon consumer reviews for Oneida Flatware. Front and center we see the average star rating of 4.7 and the number of reviews; in this case nearly 8,000 conveying overall satisfaction with the product. This immediately establishes credibility for the consumer. At the end of the day if so many people love the product why wouldn’t I?
As we delve deeper into the review section, we see that Amazon also asks consumers to rank their level of satisfaction around particular product features with star ratings. In this case durability, easy to hold and sturdiness. Once again the feature rating demonstrates that consumers were happy with the product.
Now let’s take a closer look at the review below to understand the information that is being conveyed by past consumers. Initially we see the star rating followed by basic information from the reviewer. What also stands out is that this is a verified purchase, meaning this is an organic review from a genuine consumer who didn’t receive any incentive to share his opinion about the product.
Now let’s dissect what this consumer is actually saying and what can be gleaned:
● We know this is a return : We got 12 of these for our wedding a decade ago,
● Positive consumer sentiment: “…and they have been incredible.” and “No exaggeration, this is possibly our best purchase of the year!”
● Size criteria: “The size is just right for almost every usage…”
● Finally, we see that three other potential consumers found the review helpful
How reviews can be transformed into consumer insights
The previous review put a spotlight on one for Oneida flatware on Amazon. Now think about all the reviews on Amazon and other e-tailers like Walmart, Target, and more. How can you create meaningful insights for your product and brand? That’s exactly what Revuze does. It scrapes the review data from hundreds of sources and creates an array of user-friendly dashboards empowering brands to make real-time decisions.
Sounds simple enough, right? But in reality, it’s not.
There are different types of reviews to contend with: organic, incentivized, and syndicated. When it comes to incentivized reviews, it’s possible it slants positive because the consumer received a promotion to write it. Syndicated reviews is when one review is used multiple times by different sites causing duplications., Variations in brand spellings is another hurdle that needs to be overcome like L’Oreal and LOreal. Plus every e-tailer uses a different classification system for products. Last but not least, there’s the issue of context when a feature set or characteristic of one product is positive but can be negative to another. When this all comes down to is a data integrity issue.
After the data is scraped, Revuze’s AI solution makes order out of the chaos. It automatically dedupes the syndicated reviews and tags organic and incentivized ones. Brand spelling variations are merged giving brands the broadest picture of their digital shelf. Brand and product taxonomy from the different sources are aligned one cohesive category. This ultimately allows sentiment to be assigned by product context.
Voila, the data is ready to give brands what they need: actionable, data-driven insights. The Revuze platform provides brands with the most comprehensive picture of their digital shelf from SWOT analysis, competitive insights, sentiment analysis, topics, and more.
Turn insights into action
The applications for using this data are endless. Marketers can use it to optimize their PPC campaigns and website content. Below is an example of Laura Mercier cosmetics integrating reviews on the home page of their website with their product carousel.
Sales managers are using the data to optimize their digital shelf and negotiate with popular e-tailers for a bigger piece of the pie. Imagine, justifying to Walmart that your products should be featured on their site because of the consumer sentiment. The SWOT analysis is being used to learn more about competitors and opportunities to overtake them.
As for the products themselves, many brands are identifying product defects and making improvements based on the performance and quality comments of reviews. They’re also innovating new products with the SWOT analysis. Brands identify the product opportunities and assess competitors’ products and go to production with a perfect market fit because of consumer reviews.
Consumer listening rather than social listening can be the tipping point for brands and products. Social listening promotes brandshare in the market and ensures products and brands are top of mind. Consumer listening with an AI digital shelf analytics platform can effectively transform your category, product, or brand. It provides any company to deftly adapt to the fast-paced and ever changing-marketplace.