My wife was recently looking to buy flameless LED candles for our house. She knew the color, style, and brand she wanted. But a key question in her decision was whether the model came with a timer. The manufacturer site didn’t include information about whether the timers could be customized beyond their standard increments. She finally went to Google, found a blog that answered her question, and bought another brand.
This got me thinking: what are manufacturers missing? How do brands reach consumers with credible content and provide relevant and timely information? The first obvious place would be on brand websites. In 2007, Forrester reported that 58% of consumers started their product search on manufacturer websites.
In that same report, Forrester stated that “Manufacturer sites are critical research vehicles where consumers can learn about products and ultimately complete the transaction at other stores, either online or offline.” But the report also points out that many manufacturer brand sites fall short for consumers with:
- Buried or omitted product information. Sites were clear to showcase the breadth of their product assortment, but they provided little help in the form of guided navigation tools or comparison charts to assist customers in evaluating the offerings.
- Missed key selling opportunities. Few manufacturers incorporate up-sells directly into their product pages – missing opportunities to inform consumers about accessories.
What could manufacturers do to make consumer experiences like my wife’s more successful? She ultimately went a user blog to find the right product. Brands should take note, and incorporate user-generated content to fill the information gaps on their sites.
- Let customers contribute their opinions, knowledge, experiences, photos, videos, and other content to provide higher quantities of more trusted product information. More often than not, consumers will have similar questions and information needs, so why not let them provide content for each other?
- Empower users to cross-sell for you. Take TVs for example: if I just bought a new 3D TV, I want to make sure I have the right cables, speakers, wall mount, etc. Why not let customers who have bought the TV make recommendations on your site for your accessory products that worked best for them?
For manufacturers, adding user-generated content on sites increases sales by giving shoppers the trusted information they need to make purchase decisions. The more people connect and engage on your site, the more your site becomes the preferred source for authentic information about your products and brand.
You tell us: how has UGC impacted the effectiveness of your brand site?
CPGs have the reputation of being legacy marketers. But today some CPG brands are turning this age-old reputation on its head by proving getting “social” is crucial to their success.
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