If you want more product reviews (and need them right now), an online brand community is an excellent way to activate targeted voices eager to recommend your brand to others.
Two out of three shoppers read between one and ten reviews before purchasing, and 44% say they want reviews from the last month. This means having an ongoing source of fresh, authentic product reviews on your ecommerce channels is imperative.
If you have too few reviews or they are out-of-date, you can quickly lose potential sales and rankings among shoppers.
In our recent Big Online Brand Community Study of more than 4,900 consumers, we found that being a part of an online brand community can persuade consumers to praise others about your brand.
- 74% are more likely to write product reviews
- 59% are more likely to take photos/videos with the brand
- 73% are more likely to recommend the brand to others
It’s clear consumers who engage with your online brand community are primed and ready to drive new conversions and boost the velocity of online sales. So how do you activate your online brand community to drive more product reviews right now? Let’s talk about it.
What is an Online Brand Community?
An online brand community is an online destination for consumers to further connect with your brand and like-minded consumers. At Vesta, we believe every brand has a community of consumers. It’s just about cultivating those relationships and engaging with your community meaningfully.
If you’re wondering whether you’re ready for a brand community, there are a couple of tools that can help you determine. The brands we find that benefit most from a community strategy are those that have a strong purpose and an emotional connection to consumer lifestyles.
With an online community platform like Vesta, you can engage with your consumers through targeted activations, including personalized brand activities, customized surveys & polls, a robust discussion board, and much more.
Online brand communities have immediate benefits as well as long-term business results. Activating your online brand community in the short term can help with the following:
- Generating ratings & reviews
- Driving trial and sampling
- Sparking and scaling user-generated content (UGC)
- Growing ecommerce and retail velocity
- Propelling promotional conversions
In the long term, online brand communities can also help with:
- Increased retention
- Improved retail partnerships
- Reduced support costs
- Faster innovation
How to Use an Online Brand Community to Get More Product Reviews
Online brand communities are great at getting consumers to take action. Here are three ways to drive product reviews today.
1. Personalized Digital Product Sampling
When executed properly, personalized sampling can be a win-win for both the brand and the consumer, creating a mutually beneficial relationship that can drive sales and build brand awareness.
Digital product sampling relies heavily on data to fuel outreach efforts, especially prized information like zero party data. This data allows you to activate consumers beyond basic demographics and target based on lifestyle, shopping preferences, or even emotional leanings.
Marketers can reach people who match the ideal consumer, considerably boosting the potential purchase rate and the authenticity of their recommendation.
With a platform like Vesta, personalized sampling has never been easier. The specific goal is to drive the community members to post their experience online and persuade the purchase decisions of like-minded consumers on retail sites.
Recommendations are still considered the most effective form of advertising, and a product sampling program to a community of brand advocates is a surefire way to generate advocacy.
Take a look at Hero Cosmetics, a brand that generated more than 400 product reviews in just 100 days after launching sampling programs through its Hero Skin Squad community.
Additionally, the definition of “product sampling” is expanding and can include interactive digital experiences like Walmart’s Wonder Lab. Some brands, like MAC Cosmetics, have utilized augmented reality and artificial intelligence to help determine the right shade for consumers to sample their products.
2. Evergreen Post-Purchase Reviews
Review recency is an integral part of your ecommerce product page and can play a big role in determining whether your potential buyers go with you or your competitor.
Many brands resort to sending post-purchase emails to ask consumers to write reviews. While this strategy can be effective, your online brand community is another positive source for “always-on” reviews.
To generate evergreen product reviews through an online brand community, creating a space where your consumers feel comfortable sharing their opinions is essential. This can be achieved by providing engaging content and reminding consumers how much you value them. You can do this by soliciting and accepting product feedback, sending enticing offers, and fostering lively discussion that encourages engagement and creates a sense of community.
ARM & HAMMER’s Cat Litter brand started its Kitty Krew online brand community as a brand-owned “home base” for passionate consumers. Here the brand invites consumers to write reviews on particular retail websites throughout the year based on where they shop. The brand has generated over 5,300+ high-quality evergreen reviews from its community.
By creating a vibrant online brand community, companies can leverage the power of user-generated content to generate evergreen product reviews that continue to provide value long after they are posted.
3. Identify Top Content Creators and Prompt Them to Write Reviews
Another huge advantage to having a dedicated online community destination is having direct relationships with your consumers without going through a third-party gatekeeper. This means you get full transparency into how consumers engage with your brand, and you also get the ability to create a two-way dialogue.
Members of your online brand community will be naturally more savvy and vocal, and among them will be many high-quality content creators sitting in plain sight. With a platform like Vesta, you can identify and “tag” high-quality content creators so you can develop an ongoing relationship with them.
When you’ve identified high-quality content creators, you can mobilize and activate them to share on specific platforms and retail websites. This can include asking them to write a review or featuring existing content they’ve already made on your ecommerce product page. A study from Stakala found UGC to be 6.6X more impactful than brand-created content and 8.7X more than even influencer-created content.
Immune supplement brand, Sambucol started their Sambucrew community as a missing piece to a complete online presence and to bring their brand values to life through real customer experiences. The brand often features content from the library of 19,000+ pieces of UGC it has amassed.
In conclusion, leveraging an online brand community to drive product reviews can be a powerful strategy for businesses looking to build trust, improve brand loyalty, and drive sales. By engaging with community members, responding to their feedback, and incentivizing them to leave reviews, businesses can tap into the authentic and influential voice of their customers.
Interested in more?
Check out our article on 7 Things You’re Doing Wrong in Your Product Review Strategy.