Defining Ratings & Reviews
Ratings & Reviews (R&Rs) can steer the future direction of a brand’s product development and sales strategy. What are they exactly and how can they exert that influence?
A rating is a means of scoring the overall product performance out of five, whilst in the review section, the customer can explain the reasoning behind their score. Other shoppers can see how many reviews have been left overall and how customers rate the product based on its quality and their level of satisfaction with it.
Because neither brands nor retailers have any influence over the outcome of genuine ratings or reviews, 92% of shoppers trust peer reviews over any amount of traditional advertising. Typically, brands should aim for a minimum of 21 reviews and an average rating of 4+ stars against a product. A mix of positive and negative reviews is also a good thing because it delivers a healthy balance that lends credibility to the process.
How can brands act on insights and increase conversion?
All this market feedback is like gold dust to brands because it is a true reflection of what customers like and dislike most about the products.
Brands ignore Ratings & Reviews at their peril.
It’s not just the product functionality and quality that can affect the rating. Brands should consider packaging, delivery times, warranty and whether instructions for use are concise and clear. All of these count towards the overall impression of whether the purchase offered value for money.
There are three key areas to consider for Ratings & Reviews:
- Actively requesting new reviews. Keeping them refreshed and up to date
- Host product sampling campaigns and ask participants for their feedback in return for a free sample
- Conduct customer engagement programmes by sending out post purchase mobile surveys asking for feedback
- Syndicating reviews
- Collect and collate all customer reviews from numerous platforms and channels, and publish them across owned retail channels
- Gain insights from the reviews by leveraging a Voice of the Customer analysis platform such as Wonderflow
The third of these is the key to being creative. It is all this wonderful and honest customer feedback that enables brands to understand the key drivers behind the purchase and also what needs were left unmet.
The future direction of product development can be influenced by understanding what the market wants in terms of functionality and associated benefits. Understanding helps to address pain points, direct innovations, and ensure product content and messaging is aligned with the real wants and needs of customers.
All of which will drive conversion, not only from new customers, but repeat business from existing customers too.
How to display Ratings & Reviews
Brands should display the latest Ratings & Reviews as valuable insights for other customers, forming part of the connected shopper experience. Check the capabilities of your eRetailer first as some may not allow the inclusion of R&Rs.
To portray a review effectively, brands should include the use of an image carousel above-the-fold to showcase existing examples of Ratings & Reviews from the local market. Some best-in-class guidelines are:
- Place the product range name at the top
- Show the average overall star rating
- Select one meaningful review and don’t forget to secure usage rights from the author
- By meaningful we mean, choose a review that has some detail as to why it scores highly rather than one that just says ‘a brilliant product’
- Include the date and source
Handling complaints and poor reviews
Someone once said that it’s more important to converse with customers when things go wrong than it is when everything is going well. How true.
How a company responds to a complaint or problem raised affects the overall impression gained by the wider customer base as well as the original source. 89% of consumers read business responses to negative reviews.
Firstly, don’t ever ignore a negative review. Respond and engage in dialogue. Be professional, positive and respectful and try to sympathise with the issues that drove someone to leave a poor review.
Be timely in the response. Same day is ideal, within two days is considered a fast response. Be personal in the tone adopted and address the customer by name, keeping the response simple and relevant. If a faulty product is involved, offer to replace it free of charge and refund any postage. By adding a couple of free samples as well, you may see a customer spending more with you in the future rather than being disgruntled and never shopping with you again.
Further insights from laundry care into the use of Ratings & Reviews
eBusiness Institute is delighted to be working in partnership with Wonderflow, a company that specialises in capturing Voice of the Customer insights in order to analyse their true meaning and use them to develop winning business strategies.
Wonderflow uses bespoke cleansing and deduplication software to reduce errors when capturing and comparing customer feedback from a wide market base. Then, predictive AI enabled tools help to analyse the customer feedback such that brands can gain in-depth insights into their customers’ thoughts. The accuracy gained from such a high level of granularity allows brands to position themselves so that their products can gain competitive advantage, and also measure and reinforce their brand reputation. All of this is based on market intelligence from a customer’s viewpoint. And because the process is so efficient, it delivers real cost savings when compared to other methods.
Ratings & Reviews are the bread and butter of Wonderflow’s business, and we used their findings to learn more about how R&Rs can drive conversion within the laundry care sector.
The scope of the project was to look at liquids and pods within laundry care detergent products for four key brands – Tide, Gain, Woolite and Persil – across five online channels in the US marketplace.
They found that after years of flat average ratings, US customers finally started rating the products higher from 2019, and early in 2020 the ratings broke the 4.5 star barrier for the first time. Why?
Well, it could be that the products themselves were improved as a result of the one main factor driving satisfaction – the laundry smell, which was deemed more important to customers than cleaning power. The smell received the highest level of comments overall and was rated far, far higher than price, brand loyalty or even softness.
It was also the most commented on review for dissatisfied customers, and this time price was in second place followed by residue, driving unhappy customers to comment.
When faced with the question of which is more popular, pods or liquid detergent, pods were the clear winner as was laundry smell again, along with performance and usability. When these attributes are applied to the brands under review, Gain was best at delivering the freshest laundry smell.
Persil also featured as the most popular overall brand along with Gain, whilst at the other end of the scale, Woolite failed to impress in almost every department and had the least number of reviews and the lowest ratings.
Other areas of research compared the brands across the sales channels and looked at the customer feedback around specifics such as ingredients, sustainability, usage and instructions. Wonderflow’s findings expand on the specifics and drill down into the detail of exactly what is being said about each topic. For example, when consumers talk about ingredients they are mainly concerned with allergies and the impact ingredients have on the environment. How much needs to be used and how clean and natural are they? These concerns are clearly top of mind issues that can be captured and reacted to.
So, rather than being left to guess what works with their customers, brands can know exactly what is and what isn’t working based on the Ratings & Reviews once they have been expertly analysed.
How eBusiness Institute helps brands achieve eCommerce success
As part of the eBusiness Institute Laundry Care Digital Shelf Assessment White Paper, we reviewed the overall content performance of 13 laundry care brands. These were our findings in relation to Ratings & Reviews:
- Six scored highly for the use of their Ratings & Reviews
- There were concerns for five brands who could have used Ratings & Reviews much more effectively
- And two brands didn’t feature any Ratings & Reviews at all
In the ongoing battle to win the hearts and minds of consumers, these insights can be used in several ways, not only in isolation, but as part of a range of services offered by eBusiness Institute in positioning brands to deliver a true connected customer shopping experience every time. Whilst Ratings & Reviews are considered the most important of the building blocks to eCommerce success, there are many other aspects of content that also have to be developed correctly. And this is where the expertise of eBusiness Institute and our key partners, such as Wonderflow, can help brands formulate strategies that really make a difference.
Ratings & Reviews are trusted by the majority of shoppers for their independence and honest appraisal of a brand’s products or services.
Brands should aim at a minimum of 21 reviews and a star rating of 4+. Most of our reviewed laundry care brands achieved at least average or above average ratings, but a couple fell woefully short.
Developing a comprehensive strategy to capture, syndicate and analyse Ratings & Reviews means none of this valuable market intelligence is lost and it can be used to direct future sales growth strategies through increased conversions.
Your next steps towards successWhilst Ratings & Reviews are vitally important, they are still only one aspect of what brands must do to achieve success. Without delivering compelling content with impactful images and everything else required for shoppers to make an informed online purchasing decision, there won’t be anything to generate reviews in the first place. And this is where eBusiness Institute can help brands plan and structure for success with two closely intertwined services. Firstly, a Digital Shelf Assessment to analyse the efficiency of overall content, followed by the development of a content strategy, focusing on Ratings & Reviews. To find out more about how laundry care brands fared across the whole sales spectrum, download the eBusiness Institute Laundry Care Digital Shelf Assessment White Paper: Download the White Paper »