With the cost of living at an all time high it’s impossible to predict how consumers will approach this coming sales season, but if we had to take an educated guess, we’d say ‘with caution’. Instead of splashing the cash on impulse buys and opportunistic deals, BFCM purchases are likely to be more considered.
Yes, shoppers will be looking to save money, but they’ll also want to be sure the money they do part with secures them the best quality products from merchants they can trust.
If you earn that trust, you can increase conversion rates without sacrificing so much on your profit margin. You can also leverage it beyond BFCM weekend (and any other discount period for that matter) to build long lasting and profitable customer relationships.
This is what we call ‘getting your house in order’ - cleaning up all the component parts of your online reputation. There are two aspects to this. Company reviews and product reviews.
There are multiple ratings and review sites on the web where consumers can voice their opinion on your company - whether you’ve asked for it or not. These same sites are available to new customers in the research stages of a purchase and if they’re not all telling the same story it brings your reputation into question.
You might have a 4.5 company score on REVIEWS.io, but how do you rate on Trustpilot or Facebook for example? Have you clocked up any unsolicited, negative reviews here that are sending low trust signals?
If there are inconsistencies, switch up your company review collection to fix it. You can use our Reputation Management feature for this, directing a percentage or all of your review requests to the third party sites you need to attend to.
Next you want to quality check the onsite experience and the content you’re offering customers to build trust at the point of purchase. Start with your top performing product pages and work your way through this manual checklist:
Text reviews: are these high quality? Reviews without or short on detail will not resonate with the customer, so make sure the most insightful and persuasive content is published front and center.
UGC: whichever review provider you use, photo and video reviews are usually manually approved so again, check your best UGC is published. Use onsite galleries that keep shoppers engaged with your product pages, rather than Instagram galleries that divert them away from their purchase.
Widgets: make sure you’ve installed the latest widgets available from your review provider. These will be optimized for design and functionality to make your review content really shine.
They should also be quick to load so as not to cause friction. BFCM is competitive enough without losing custom due to poor loading times. Run your site through an online speed checker to highlight any issues here.
Ideally you want to run these quality checks every six months, but they’re particularly important before any major event. With your housekeeping done, you can move on to some background research for your BFCM marketing strategy.
Review mining is a technique we’ve had great success with ourselves and are recommending to all our customers. It’s a relatively new concept so we’ll give you a quick definition.
Essentially it’s a way of understanding your audience - their likes, dislikes and pain points - by analyzing online reviews, both your own and those of your competitors.
You can mine reviews manually or use one of several Google Chrome extensions that will scrape reviews for you. If you’re going for the manual approach you can download the review mining spreadsheet we use ourselves for inspiration. The aim is to identify key sentiment, struggles and delights that crop up again and again.
The qualitative data you draw from review mining gives you a competitive edge. It tells you what customers value most, what’s missing from their experience, and what would convince them to choose you over another brand. You can then use this to design marketing campaigns that really hit the mark.
OK. So you know your online reputation is solid, and you have a good understanding of what your customers are looking for. Now it’s time to design your BFCM marketing strategy.
To build that all important trust, this should include social proof at each and every customer touchpoint. Let’s look at this in terms of the marketing funnel.
Social media is a primary source of brand and product discovery for today’s consumer, and a great channel for building trust at the awareness stage.
If you’re investing in paid social ads be sure to incorporate review data - whether that be a snippet of written review content, a product star rating or an authentic piece of visual UGC.
Consumers will see A LOT of advertisements in the run up to and over BFCM. Adding these trust signals will make yours stand out over those promoting nothing more than just another discount.
And you’ll have the click through rates to prove it - we ran substantial social media ads with review data that converted at a much higher rate than those without.
Whilst some shoppers do buy straight from social ads, most will go on to find out more about you. This consideration stage happens primarily on Google.
There are three trust boxes you want to tick here:
Rich Snippets: this is review data next to organic search results. This data - gold stars, average rating and review count - increases buyer confidence and displays naturally with no cost involved.
Google Seller Ratings: these are gold stars next to paid ads. You’ll need to meet certain criteria to earn a Seller Rating but once you do you’ll benefit not just from increased trust, but greater ROI on ad spend.
That’s because they prompt higher click through rates, boost your quality score and subsequently lower CPC. We’ve seen REVIEWS.io customers reduce costs by 15% - 20% through Seller Ratings, so if you plan on running Google Ads this sales season they’re an absolute must.
Google Product Reviews: here we’re talking stars next to PLAs. Just like Seller Ratings, these increase CTR whilst lowering costs. Make sure your product reviews are synced and star ratings are visible so you make a strong impression at the consideration point of contact.
If you’re a large retailer selling through multiple sites and marketplaces there’s another tool for boosting trust at the consideration stage, and that’s review syndication. This distributes product reviews to your retail partner sites for a consistent reputation on all your sales channels.
At this stage the shopper is on your site and one step closer to becoming a customer. To close the deal you need to reaffirm that trust, so publish review data on every relevant page.
Homepage: not every customer will land on a product page. Some, particularly those returning to your store, will come in via the homepage - so use this as an opportunity to share company review data.
Category pages: these are often overlooked but they’re a great way to reinforce trust in your products as customers browse, simply by publishing average star ratings and review count.
Product pages: this is of course the most important place to publish review content, and the stats back it up. Brands that display product reviews see an 18% higher conversion rate and an 11% higher AOV.
We’ve got a couple of tips to improve these stats even more this sales season and beyond.
The first is to start collecting attributes with your reviews. These can relate to the customer, the product or the company and bring added depth and context to feedback. For example, a reviewer can rate the fit of a product based on their height and body type, allowing a potential customer to make a more informed decision.
The second is our Review Nuggets feature. This lets you take the most powerful part of a review and publish it as a snippet right next to the buy button, generating more sales through highly persuasive trust signals.
Essentially this is what we’ve been talking about all along - review content is customer advocacy. But there’s one more important place to share it, and that’s in your email marketing.
Just as they’ll see a lot of ads, customers will get a lot of emails from brands they’ve connected with in the past, attempting to lure them back with attractive BFCM deals.
When you add advocacy to those emails through review content and UGC, you offer so much more. You share a brand experience and give consumers yet another reason to trust you more than your competitors.
For really effective email marketing this BFCM, you can use our UGC publishing tool and Klaviyo integration to add dynamic shoppable galleries to your campaigns.
BFCM doesn’t have to be about deep discounts that eat into your profits. With the right tools and strategies in place you can attract sales season shoppers through trust rather than cheap prices. And with trust in place you can grow a loyal customer base, earning yourself more brand advocates in the process.
It’s a profitable cycle that we refer to as the Feedback Flywheel: leverage the power of reviews on all channels to drive more customers - the faster you spin the wheel the faster you will see an effect
If you’ve got any questions about incorporating reviews into your BFCM strategy contact our support team. And if you’re not yet a REVIEWS.io customer, try us out with a 14 day free trial.