Today we announced the first Bazaarvoice CGC Index, a comprehensive analysis of how our best-in-class brand and retailer clients won with consumer-generated content in 2015.

To develop the Index, we worked with our data analytics rock stars, business strategy consultants, and client success organization to take a deep dive into our data and find the most interesting benchmarks and trends from 2015 to share with the industry. We also asked our clients about how CGC shaped their marketing strategy and delivered business value, as well as their plans for the future. When we looked at all of this information, an exciting story emerged. The result? A comprehensive picture of the growing influence of consumer-generated content as it continues to gain momentum with brands and retailers – and what the best companies do to get the most from it.

A quick spin through the report offers a glimpse into our best-in-class benchmarks on conversion, average order value, ROBO (Research Online, Buy Offline), SEO, and so much more. We’ll dive into these in future posts, but we wanted to start with a look at what sets those best-in-class companies apart. When we looked at our best-performing clients, we found they shared five common traits:

  1. They focus on the fundamentals. Great CGC marketing isn’t a matter of standing up a visual social content or reviews widget on your site and forgetting it. Like any other aspect of the marketing mix, a CGC program needs care and feeding to thrive. The best of the best watch their program performance closely and take steps to tune it to maximize content volume, coverage, and freshness.
  1. They play the CGC long game. Conversion is just the beginning. Our best-in-class clients look beyond and find ways to unlock CGC’s power to drive long-term brand loyalty and customer value, recognizing that a great CGC program is a conversation with their customers. They answer questions in the content, thank customers for their feedback, and let customers know their feedback matters.
  1. They really listen to customer voices. Consumer-generated content is the world’s most powerful focus groups. CGC super stars use insights from their content to improve the shopping experience, make their products better, and deliver customer service experiences that keep people coming back. More than half of our clients surveyed reported they used CGC to improve products or improve customer service in 2015.
  1. Their customers tell the story. They leverage CGC across their marketing mix, bringing authentic voices to touchpoints across the shopper journey – both online and offline. Our clients tell us that in 2015, social media campaigns, advertising, and in-store collateral like shelf tags were key points for CGC amplification.
  1. The whole company has a stake. No longer just an eCommerce program, CGC is being recognized as a corporate imperative with enduring bottom-line impacts for marketing, product, customer service, distribution, and even manufacturing. Many Bazaarvoice clients have discovered valuable opportunities to improve products or even develop new ones after data-mining their CGC. On the cost side of the equation, CGC can serve as sort of a canary in the coal mine for product flaws or shipping issues, saving the company significant costs in recovery, product returns, and reputation repair.

As we look to 2016 and beyond, the strategic importance of CGC continues to rise. Our clients continue to inspire us with new ideas for how to get more from CGC. When we asked clients in our survey about their plans, 91% of our brand clients and half our retailer clients said they plan to increase the use of CGC across the customer journey this year – and none of them said they planned to cut back. At Bazaarvoice, we’re pleased to be a part of their ongoing journey and excited to see what is yet to come.

Ready to see how you stack up? Download the report at www.bazaarvoice.com/CGCIndex