This post is the latest in our “Word of Mouth” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of February, including topics like reputation management, and reviews optimization. See the rest of the series here.
Online reviews are influencing offline shopping behaviors, and retail brands are taking notice.
Two-thirds of consumers now say they look at reviews before making purchases, with a growing number of shoppers skimming through online product ratings while they shop inside brick-and-mortar stores. The practice is creating a sense of urgency among brand retailers, as online and offline strategies are increasingly being seen as one.
Determined not to fall even further behind their online-only competitors, retailers are investing more heavily in a new breed of review platform. These next-generation solutions integrate written reviews with pictures and videos to create more cohesive omni-channel shopping experiences.
Here are six next-gen review platforms that brands are using right now.
The new generation of review platforms places a huge emphasis on trust and authenticity, since these are important factors for today’s shoppers. Bazaarvoice collects many different types of consumer-generated content for its clients, not just product ratings and reviews. Brands can use the platform to facilitate shopper Q&As, generate social content, and establish sampling programs as a way to drive review volume and reward brand loyalists. Targeting consumers when they are in-market, brands are using Bazaarvoice to push the most relevant product recommendations and advertising messages at the right times. Bazaarvoice’s Brand Edge product even collects and distributes reviews as a way to give shoppers more confidence when making purchases in-store. Bazaarvoice offers an Enterprise plan with custom pricing.
A next-generation customer content platform, TurnTo utilizes a combination of ratings and reviews, community Q&As, visual reviews, and checkout comments. By providing customers with a way to leave micro-reviews at the point-of-sale, TurnTo says it’s able to generate 3-to-5x more content than traditional reviews. In addition to written reviews, TurnTo lets customers share their opinions via pictures and videos. The way TurnTo’s reviews are formatted encourages sharing on social media and gives customers the confidence they need to research products on a store’s website while they’re shopping in person. TurnTo offers custom pricing for brands and retailers.
ModernComment is another next-generation marketing platform that focuses on trust and authenticity. Retailers use ModernComment to send emails requesting feedback from their customers through brief online surveys. If customers complete their surveys, they’re entered to win a prize. If they share surveys with their friends on social media, they earn even more chances to win. Feedback can be automatically published by retailers and customer opinions and sentiment can be tracked through the ModernComment platform. For retailers with multiple locations, ModernComment has a number of features that are particularly useful, like the option to send unique survey links for each store location and aggregate product feedback across multiple store locations. ModernComment charges an annual fee of $599 per location.
Trustpilot is all about growing brand trust. Brands using Trustpilot can invite their customers to review their products and services by sending them simple review forms. Because Trustpilot’s review templates are optimized, they’re more likely to be completed. Those completed reviews can then be published and syndicated online with the push of a button. What makes Trustpilot really interesting is its emphasis on collection analytics. Brands can track collection rates, sources, and changes in their “TrustScore” to quickly assess when in-store issues are impacting their reputation online. Trustpilot offers an Enterprise plan for large brands, with custom pricing options.
Curalate’s social commerce platform helps brands sell more effectively using customer feedback and reviews. The company has found a way to create AI-powered experiences out of visual content, like product images. The platform blends content and algorithms to help people “stumble” across products on social media. Brand retailers can also use Curalate to leverage user-generated content and integrate images and videos that are posted by customers and partners on social media into their own websites. In addition to showing off more products, the strategy promoted by Curalate gives brands a way to increase loyalty by celebrating their biggest fans in a public way.
Most review platforms focus on the retail side of the equation, but RankPeek is taking a unique approach. RankPeek gives brands a way to track their product reviews across hundreds of ecommerce websites. So, for example, a brand like Fitbit could track what people are saying about its smartwatches on Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy’s websites. RankPeek also searches top social channels, like Facebook and Twitter, for product reviews that might otherwise go unnoticed by brands. The company then uses sentiment analysis to convert product ratings and reviews into granular reporting, and it gives brands a way to connect customer support agents with reviewers who seem dissatisfied with their purchases. Brands can contact RankPeek for specific pricing information.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.