Reviews, Q&A, and video create brand communities that sell

Author: Tara DeMarco

Guest post written by Tara DeMarco, Social strategist, Bazaarvoice

Shoppers have always looked to each other for product suggestions. Building brand communities online connects shoppers with your current customer base, letting them sing your praises in an authentic, trusted way. Create a space for your customers to share their feedback, ask questions, and give answers – and watch your sales climb.

Text and video reviews connect consumers with the people they trust – each other

Sparking conversations on social networks is an important goal for brands, but these conversations have a short shelf life. Gathering quantifiable sentiment on your site in the form of customer-written reviews creates a living community of opinions that consumers trust more than any form of brand created content. Reviews from real product owners are trusted by 70% of consumers, and they’re proven to increase sales – our data finds that shoppers who read reviews show 82% higher conversion and 7% average order value.

Shoppers are especially attracted to multimedia reviews with customer-taken photos and videos. On average, shoppers who watch product video are 23% more likely to convert. About 57% of consumers say product videos make them more confident in a purchase and less likely to return an item. Encouraging your customers to submit video reviews not only makes your brand community more vibrant, but also crowdsources your product video creation – letting you add this valuable content to your site without stretching limited marketing budgets.

Q&A fills information gaps that keep shoppers from buying

You can’t anticipate every question shoppers might have – and any unanswered question can keep them from buying. Over half (56%) of consumers will leave a site if they can’t find an answer to their product question. Smart companies now offer consumer Q&A, letting shoppers ask questions on product pages.

Often, shoppers are looking for subjective answers from other consumers like them – answers they wouldn’t trust a brand to provide. “Are these shoes comfortable?” “Which diaper brand is best for potty training my toddler?” Allow your customers to give their honest answers – and watch your sales climb. Our data finds that shoppers who read Q&A show 94% higher conversion, and 161% higher conversion when they read Q&A in combination with reviews.

Other times, consumers are looking for expert, objective answers. “Will this cord connect my computer to my TV?” Brands should answer this sort of question via official brand reps on retail sites, says Sten Hallock, Senior Manager, Online Marketing for Samsung: “We know our products better than anybody else… [Answering questions] really helps us to connect with that consumer, both as a brand and as a partner.”

Our data finds that shoppers vote these answers from brand reps 85% more helpful than those from other consumers. And brand answers live on the site to help future shoppers with the same queries.

Customer conversations like reviews and Q&A turn your brand site into a helpful community – aiding shoppers in their decisions and increasing your sales. When you build an excellent brand community, both your company and your customers stand to benefit.

About Tara

Tara DeMarco is a writer, futurist, and social strategist. She blogs on social and technology trends for the Bazaarvoice blog, an AdAge Power 150 blog. Bazaarvoice solutions help companies capture consumer input, and turn that earned word of mouth into insights for smarter marketing, better products, and higher sales. Connect with Tara on Twitter at @txTDM, and read the Bazaarvoice blog to learn more.

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