More than half of consumers now use online reviews to inform their purchasing decisions, and the practice has become especially common among millennial shoppers. In a bid to help retailers take advantage of this trend, the product discovery and reviews platform Influenster recently launched its own service to continuously supply organic, non-incentivized reviews to brand and retail websites like Walgreens, Target, and Bloomingdales.
With the launch of ReviewSource, Influenster hopes to better support its brand partners as they realize the full potential of user-generated content.
“Influenster has been partnering with brands for content generation on new product launches through sampling programs. Most of the time, brands’ budget allocations only support the sampling of a small selection of new products and a lot of time and resources from marketing teams is spent coordinating these campaigns. All the while, the core products that drive the brand’s business go unsupported with no recent reviews generated on those products,” says Emre Yenilmis, chief product officer at Influenster. “We are solving that problem by introducing an always-on review support for a brand’s entire product portfolio to complement our existing offerings.”
Founded in 2010, Influenster helps brands connect with a community of more than four million connected consumers online. One of the company’s most popular offerings is VoxBox, a product package that Influencer fills with products from brand partners and sends to targeted groups of consumers who’ve been dubbed “influencers” based on factors such as social media presence, demographics, and attitudinal data. Members of Influenster’s community then review, promote, and share the contents of their boxes through their own social channels, providing brands with a source of authentic conversations and word-of-mouth marketing.
ReviewSource takes that existing strategy a step further by providing brands with a constant stream of fresh, organic reviews. Reviews submitted by Influenster members on Influenster.com are sent to brands using ReviewSource automatically, or through connected review software accounts, and are then posted on brands’ own websites or other online properties. Influenster is offering seamless integration with review software providers like PowerReviews and Bazaarvoice.
“Since Influenster has access to over four million Influenster members, [those members] generate the reviews, and we send these reviews to software providers that choose to either syndicate or display these reviews,” Yenilmis says. “This way, brands can tackle the problem of stale reviews by getting fresh, new monthly reviews on Influenster directly added to their product pages on brand and retailer sites.”
As more consumers rely on user-generated content like reviews, YouTube videos, and social media posts to make their purchasing decisions before heading into physical stores, Yenilmis sees a widening hole in the retail marketing space—one that Influenster is looking to fill.
“What we’ve noticed is that while most websites experience peak mobile traffic on weekdays, Influenster actually experiences a peak in traffic coming from mobile search on the weekends. This could be attributed to consumers searching up products while shopping in stores on the weekends and ending up on Influenster product pages to research reviews—or what we call researching-online-while-in-store,” Yenilmis says. “This type of consumer behavior is going to perpetuate [itself], so it’s important for brands to offer valuable reviews and [user-generated content] over an intuitive mobile experience to win over the shopper who is cruising the aisles.”
Yenilmis says the size and influence of the Influenster community is what makes ReviewSource different from competing platforms. According to Yenilmis, Influenster has the highest number of online reviews written by consumers who have purchased products in-store or online, outside of Amazon, and the site has more beauty reviews than Ulta or Sephora.
The launch of ReviewSource is another step forward as the company looks to solidify its position as the digital destination where brands can target and connect with highly engaged consumers. Yenilmis says Influenster has plans to expand globally, and it’s growing its presence in new verticals, like fashion, automotive, and travel.
“Influenster is the only review website that has a substantial number of reviews that is willing to share its reviews with brands; retailers, for example, rarely send reviews to brands for use on their own e-commerce sites,” Yenilmis says. “With ReviewSource, brand marketers are able to leverage the thousands of organic reviews their brands’ products are already receiving on a regular basis on Influenster.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.