Word of mouth has always been a great sales tool, and the model has made a smooth transition into the digital world. One example is the wealth of user reviews on product pages hosted by major retailers like Amazon, but that doesn’t necessarily extend their off-site marketing reach.
However, getting those reviews out on external sites can make a major difference in inbound traffic. Companies like Shoplet, an online office supply store, have adapted this trend and implemented their own successful product review program as part of its overall content marketing strategy.
We asked one of the Shoplet’s marketers, Diana Regal, to explain how and why this content marketing tactic works for the company.
Finding product reviewers
Shoplet uses Twitter to send a call out to anyone willing to review products. The company also surfs the net for active bloggers and reaches out to them via email. If a blogger agrees to review products, they’re added to a master list. To date, Shoplet has more than 300 people willing to review products.
Following the rules
Shoplet first sends its approved bloggers an email about the products that are available for review. Bloggers who express interest in the product receive it for free in exchange for a published product review on their own site. The bloggers are given “light” instructions about when to review the product in addition to a list of suggested Shoplet-related links that could be included in the post. They are also asked to share a link on social media using the hashtag #ShopletReviews.
Spread the word
Once the posts are live, Shoplet begins to distribute the content through social media. For instance, when blogger Alaina Bullock wrote a review about a desk organizer and a clipboard, Shoplet was sure to spread the social media love by retweeting it. Depending on the business and product, some social media platforms may be better suited than others; Pinterest, for example, plays well with the fashion, home goods, and DIY crowd.
Reap the benefits
Regal says there are three benefits to this program. For starters, it enhances the relationship between Shoplet and its suppliers.
“If there’s a product our supplier believes needs more attention, we’ll summon our army of top-notch reviewers to attract as many eyeballs to that product as possible,” she says. “Our review program stands as a testament to Shoplet’s desire to go that extra mile for our business relations.”
Second, the review program exposes people to the Shoplet brand.
“Being that we’re online-only, Shoplet relies on the viral support that the Internet offers,” Regal says. “Not to mention, because our reviewers are so generous about sharing their reviews across their social media platforms, the viral capacity of our review program drives a great deal of traction to the product pages, thereby increasing conversion rates considerably.”
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the product reviews boost sales. While Shoplet can’t divulge any specifics, sales of products that are reviewed tend to spike after the blogger reviews are published.
Trying other approaches
Shoplet’s product review approach isn’t the only way to get coverage of inventory items. Though Shoplet chooses to send its products to bloggers to get product reviews, some businesses have found alternative options. For example Argos, a home goods store based in the UK, launched a product review campaign on its website. Rather than searching for bloggers, the company sent emails to recent customers asking them to review the products they had recently bought.
Argos saw dramatic results and created a case study around its findings. The company collected 90,000 reviews on its site within two weeks. Upon further review, Argos found that products that were reviewed had a 10 percent greater conversion rate compared to those products without reviews.
The company then found another use for the customer feedback, adding various comments to a printed catalog that’s sent to 17 million customers each year. Both the Argos and Shoplet models have met with success, though the determining factor for which strategy to adopt likely depends on a company’s customer profile. Argos was able to find a low-cost content marketing strategy powered by existing customers, while Shoplet found it better to incentivize external reviewers.
Do you use product reviews? Share your experience in the comment section below.