This has been a busy week for Bazaarvoice Research. At 9:25pm EST on Thanksgiving Day, we witnessed a new traffic peak across our client base. As consumers read retailer circulars to prep for a busy "Black Friday", they also read reviews online. At that time (9:25pm EST), we peaked at 1,400 reviews read per second across our client base of over one hundred retailers. On Cyber Monday (November 26), we served 71 million reviews to holiday shoppers, up over 370% over last year's Cyber Monday figure. In the last 30 days, our systems have seen 7.4 billion hits and delivered 40 terabytes of traffic.
There have been many exciting research moments for our industry in the past two years:
- When we discovered the Ratings J-Curve, including how it looks for apparel (a category that many expected not to follow the J-Curve trend)
- When Jupiter and Forrester showed how many shoppers read reviews (77% and 70%, respectively)
- When MarketingSherpa showed how many consumers preferred sites with reviews (58%)
- When we showed how negative reviews have a bigger positive impact on conversion than positive reviews and how smart retailers think about negative reviews
- When we worked with the Keller Fay Group to find out why consumers write reviews (primarily, to help each other) and how many of them are buying offline and then reviewing their purchase online (66%)
- When comScore and The Kelsey Group showed how online reviews impact offline purchasing (released this week)
- When we discovered how Ask & Answer impacts conversion (up 22%), how many users participate in questions and answers even though it is such a new medium in eCommerce, and how clients like The Home Depot are leveraging this new offering to differentiate and benefit their customers
- When we saw how reviews impact customer acquisition and documented our extensive findings in a whitepaper
- When Nielsen announced that consumer recommendations are the most trusted form of advertising (78% trust versus 34% for search-engine ads)
- When Deloitte (one of my former employers) showed how many consumers are influenced by reviews (82% of those that read them)
And this new holiday tradition is another major finding. It shows just how much influence reviews online are having on offline shopping behavior. This especially hits home for me because when Brant and I started this company in May of 2005 only around 10 retailers in the U.S. (including online-only, like Amazon.com) had reviews. Now MarketingSherpa reported that 43% of retailers do (as of Feb-07). That is having a broad impact on consumer expectations – reviews are quickly become a must-have for retailers and a norm for online shopping.
Most of these are intuitive findings and could be easily dismissed as "obvious". But data informs strategy, as I learned so many times while working with clients as the founder of Coremetrics.
So, what do you do with this new data? Here are a few ideas:
- Promote reviews for the same products featured in your Thanksgiving circular on your home page the week of Thanksgiving – this will make it easy for the 70 to 77% that are seeking reviews (and the 82% that are influenced when they read them) to realize that you have them
- Send an email about reviews on Thanksgiving morning with a subject line like, "Read Thousands of Customers' Reviews Before You Go Shopping on Friday". In that email, feature the same products or categories of products that you have in your Thanksgiving circular
- Create distinct shopping paths linked for your home page such as "Our Best Friday Deals on Customer Top-Rated Holiday Gifts" and so on for all of your major categories featured in your in-store (and online) sale
- Push reviews again on Cyber Monday – both in email and on your home page – but with a distinct focus on online shopping
- Put top-rated circulars in your stores for greeters and category managers (like HD TV) to hand out to help in-store shoppers
- Feature reviews in your print circulars so that readers know that your site has reviews before they go online to research them
Want more? Watch the holiday webinar that our Community Management team recorded. And please don't forget to tell us your ideas as well!
And, finally, please support the Ray M. Greenly Scholarship Fund this holiday season by shopping at Shop.org's Cyber Monday portal. All proceeds go to honor a great man that I had the pleasure of working with. He helped grow Shop.org into the great organization that it is today. And you will be helping to fund the future visionaries of the eCommerce industry.