Profitero Blog
Digital Outperformance: Why Product Content and Ratings & Reviews Matter

Part 2 of Keith Anderson’s presentation at the Spring 2016 Virtual LEAD Marketing Conference in which he discusses the importance of product content and ratings & reviews. In Part 1, Keith covered the importance of search ranking and discoverability. Click to view the on-demand webinar.

In our previous post, we addressed the importance of search ranking and discoverability – maximizing the number of products you’ve got on the first page of results and how your position on those top five positions above the fold is essential to success in the online channel. However, your product content plays a critical role in the way your products show up in results.

At Profitero, we analyze factors like the density of a search keyword in the product title or the description, then other demand signals like a product’s best seller rank on Amazon. This enables you to identify where you’re not as well placed or well positioned as you should be, and you can then identify some of the potential enhancements you should make to your content that will improve your position for those terms.

It leads to this incredibly powerful flywheel effect, because if you’re well positioned in search, more shoppers see your product, and assuming you’ve got a relevant product for that term, you’ll sell more.

The more relevant your content, the better you rank. The better you rank, the more you sell. The more you sell, the better you rank. It becomes really challenging for competitors to unseat the best-selling brands and the products that hold some of those positions above the fold on the first page of results.

The virtuous cycle of product content development

Product content is incredibly important, not only to your discoverability, but ultimately, to your brand’s equity and your presence at the digital shelf. Product content refers to your images, your title, your description. The two things to focus on for discoverability are your product title and your description. Your primary image is the thumbnail that’s presented on search result pages or category pages.

 

While there’s a hundred things you could do to improve performance in the channel, if you can only focus on two things, I would tell you to focus on your discoverability in search results and focus on your product content, because they’re so closely connected. These two factors alone will impact your discoverability and your conversion rates more than almost anything else.

Leverage ratings & reviews for shopper insights

There’s another form of content that we think is largely under-tapped for shopper and consumer insight, and that is ratings and reviews. Certainly, products with no reviews are viewed skeptically by shoppers, and so, there can be an impact on your conversion rate if there isn’t enough ‘social proof’ for a product.

However negative ratings, while they are inherently negative, aren’t all bad. A blend of positive and negative ratings has been shown to reinforce the authenticity and the integrity of reviews. Shoppers actually are likelier to purchase a product that has a mix, as long as the average star rating is generally positive. Those negative ratings can also create an opportunity to showcase customer service responsiveness, because some retailers, including Amazon, allow brands to respond directly on a product page.

 

One of the really interesting and as I say, under-tapped sources of insight is the actual text of those reviews. We definitely encourage brands to identify the products that have no reviews or too few reviews, and to pay attention to the velocity with which new reviews are coming in (and to respond to those negative reviews) but more importantly, to look at what shoppers are saying. We increasingly find that there’s a disconnect between what shoppers are using to describe products, their vocabulary, and the marketing vocabulary that brands themselves are using when they write product titles and descriptions.

Some shopper or consumer vocabulary is too informal or not precise enough to consider using it, but we definitely have customers who have drilled into the text of reviews and use some of the shopper’s vocabulary from verified purchases to enhance their product title or their product description, to be more relevant to what people actually think about or are saying about the product.

Winning at the Digital Shelf

To summarize, I think anybody who’s embarking on this journey to managing your performance in the online channel needs to plan to spend about half of your time building internal alignment and support. As you do that, I would tell you that translating the familiar that is brick-and-mortar to the unfamiliar is a great way to explain some of what you plan to do.

If you’re trying to explain why product content matters, you might use the analogy that your product content is packaging at the digital shelf. If you’re trying to explain why search is so important, you might explain that just how layout and adjacencies and eye level placement at a physical shelf is important in brick-and-mortar, search is key to discoverability and visibility online.

Above all else, large businesses are fact-based and data-driven, so if you don’t have the facts or the analytics to justify the investment that you’re making and you don’t have a way to measure what you intend to manage, it’s very challenging to get the kind of support that you’re going to need.

Want insights on how to optimize your product page content? Take this short survey  from Profitero and content26.