Friday, August 10, 2007

Use reviews to increase views

posted by Andy Leff
Want to push your business ahead of the pack? Then draw on the strength of your customers' opinions.

That's according to e-consultancy and Bazaarvoice's Social Commerce Report 2007, which demonstrates the positive effect of customer product reviews on conversion rates, site traffic, and average order values at e-commerce sites. Other benefits include improved retention and loyalty, and improved search engine optimization.

In addition, more than half of the 800 America and European online sellers surveyed consider user-generated content either extremely important or very important to company strategy over the next year.

So you'd think these companies would be falling over themselves to create channels for effective, efficient customer feedback, right? Wrong. Only 28 percent of these forward-thinking respondents actually use customer ratings and reviews.

Why the disconnect? One adoption barrier is companies' fear of negative reviews, a concern one-third of respondents hold. (This is the same fear, incidentally, that prompts many corporate blogs to monitor or block comments.)

Another potential barrier might be the company's actual product. The report says online reviews have the most impact for complex and high-ticket items, such as cars and electronics, that require significant buyer research and investment.

So, if the product is low-risk or low-investment, such as apparel or groceries, sellers might not consider structured customer reviews a viable part of their marketing mix.

That said, I still support inviting customer feedback and ratings. It increases an organization's transparency, and demonstrates levels of customer satisfaction and service. And in the end, this open, evident commitment to quality is what really grows the bottom line.

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