Sam Decker of Bazaarvoice Talks About UGC & SyndicateVoice, Ecommerce



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Bazaarvoice develops outsourced technology, services, analytics, and expertise to encourage and harness word of mouth marketing and bring it closer to a company’s brand and customer experience. Clients include sites like QVC, Home Depot, Dell, Overstock, Macy’s. Sears, Petco and roughly 100 other top online retailers. Partners include companies related to shopping portals, site searching, navigation, email marketing, a/b split testing, Web analytics, eCommerce platforms and more including companies like Smarter, ShopWiki, Google, MSN, IBM, Mercado, Core Metrics and Channel Intelligence.

Visit the Bazaarblog for more information on Bazaarvoice and other Bazaar products. You can also gain valuable insight and knowledge from the Bazaarvoice bloggers surrounding the consumer product review and user generated content spaces.
Bazaarvoice Company Culture:

  • Passion fuels us. It drives us to recruit and train the best members for our team, to relentlessly innovate for consumers and our customers, to execute with the highest expectations of ourselves, and to celebrate our achievements.
  • Execution is our mantra. We are strong competitors; we take action quickly; and we meet our deadlines and beat our goals. We constantly reach with our vision.
  • Excellence is our bar. We settle for nothing but the best for our clients and involve them in our decisions. We strive for excellence in our interactions with each other, partners, prospects, and investors.
  • Teamwork is of the utmost importance. We trust each other and treat each other with integrity and respect as people. We focus on the success of the team to achieve our goals because we believe that the team can accomplish much more than the individual. We involve our family as our extended team.
  • Openness is our standard. No matter how large we grow, we communicate openly and honestly with each other. All managers have an open-door policy and strive to never be blindsided by any issue. We give feedback frequently and forthrightly.

Bazaarvoice Products & Services:

SyndicateVoice Logo

SyndicateVoice

  • Drive Qualified Leads
  • Amplify Review Effectiveness
  • Expand Search Footprint

Ask & Answer Logo

Ask & Answer

  • Fill Gaps in Product Copy
  • Inline on Product Page
  • Moderated, Focused Discussion

Ratings & Reviews Logo

Ratings & Reviews

  • Hosted and Easy to Deploy
  • Integrated with Your Look and Feel
  • Dedicated Account Management

Sam Decker Talks About UGC & Product Reviews Specifically:

eTailers have been using product reviews and user-generated content for quite some time. What, in your opinion, are some of the factors that have led up to the recent comeback and appeal of UGC on eCommerce sites?

The marketplace has us inundated with non-relevant and intrusive marketing messages. There is more choice than ever, and more difficult to filter that choice through marketing. So, customers turn to each other. Combine that with the 25% YOY growth in ecommerce and mainstream web adoption (ex: Walmart.com passing Amazon in traffic). Customers are looking for this advice online now, as they shop…according to Jupiter and Forrester, over 75% of online shoppers. One study showed 50% of shoppers would not even buy without reading reviews. Now, with solutions like ours, we make it easier and less expensive for online retailers and other businesses to enable user generated content, and further, to leverage the content in multiple ways for measurable impact. Bottom line, it works for customers and works for business…hence the comeback.

What eTail sites do you think get the most benefit out of using UGC and social reviews? Do you have any data on this from your industry research and experience?

Today we serve over 110 clients, large and small, in 12 different industries. Retail is a sweet spot, in fact it has become a must-have feature for retailers. But we also serve serve services, travel, apparel, manufacturers and B2B. The client needs to have some customer contact in order to solicit reviews and leverage them in multiple marketing channels. But we help them with that strategy.

How large do you recommend a customer base be before implementing things like product rating and reviews? Does it matter?

There’s no hard rule here. Passion of that customer base is a factor. You could have 10 incredibly loyal customers write a review on every product you have. However, we have seen more reviews drives higher conversion. We have community managers dedicated to clients to help them drive review volume, analyze impact, analyze the review data, and drive best practices in marketing so that whether the client has a handful of products or 100,000 skus, they will get benefit from this strategy.

 What are your thoughts on fake or spammy customer ratings and content that is not actually written by a consumer, but rather a merchant, either opposing or in agreement?

First, the marketplace (and threat of bad press) limits this risk. It’s a short-lived career for the executive that gets caught endorsing schilling on behalf of their brand. Second, the community ferrets these out with our ‘review feedback’ feature…or the ‘community wins’ by writing enough reviews that the true sentiment gets across. Third, we integrate with client’s login system, so they have to be authenticated to write a review. Fourth, we read every review that comes through our system and have a series of proofing, QA, process and technologies that can sniff out reviews that are too positive or negative. We allow our clients to evaluate those before posting, and they can take action with potential violators. Bazaarvoice continues to invest in capabilities and technologies so that our clients have the most authentic reviews system possible…more to come.

Product reviews and content generated by users has come a long way over the years. Where do you see UGC and social reviews heading in the future?

Where it’s heading in the future is really in the use of reviews. Through our community managers we are pulling our clients into the future with marketing best practices, integration with key partners, multi-channel integration, natural search optimization and more. Most online businesses think of reviews too simplistically or too tactically. After about an hour, once we take them through our capabilities, case studies and roadmap, they realize that the customer’s voice will evolve their marketing strategy. We’ve added Ask & Answer as a new way, and the logical next step from reviews, to engage customers to interact in a way that helps shoppers make purchase decisions. With review content and Ask & Answer content leveraged across multiple marketing channels, there is a lot of opportunity to impact the business…and moreover, change the culture!

Sam Talks About SyndicateVoice Specifically:

 What makes SyndicateVoice unique and different from other similar product rating and review platforms?

There’s nothing on the market like SyndicateVoice, as it is the only program that distributes reviews to top shopping portals and attracts natural search traffic without duplicating content. You might ask what makes our Ratings & Reviews solution unique. There’s a lot to go into there: customization, flexibility, service level, moderation process, partnership integration, analytics, alerts, roadmap, data flexibility / ownership, hosted/non-hosted integration options…etc. If someone has the question of what makes us difference, they should call us. Ultimately, we are the right solution for online businesses that believe UGC should be part of their overall marketing strategy and what higher overall ROI, not just looking a site feature or widget. That’s when these differentiators make the biggest difference!

How does SyndicateVoice help eTailers retain users and increase conversions?

We recently launched a whitepaper on Boosting Natural Search using User Generated Content. It explains the SEO strategy and results of how SyndicateVoice pulls in highly-considered purchasers through ‘long tail’ terms. For example, someone searching “Xbox 360 Platinum Reviews” in Google will see CompUSA come up as #1 out of over a million results. That searcher will find a landing page that we host, and that searcher (based on the term they searched for) is considering buying an Xbox. SEO is an important part of the reviews solution. We’ve hired a Fortune 500 search expert to manage SyndicateVoice strategy, and most clients get their money’s worth out of Bazaarvoice just from search revenue from our SearchVoice landing pages and SyndicateVoice program.

 Do you personally shop Online? Which sites? Do you rate and review products you personally buy?

Yes, I shop all our clients: http://www.bazaarvoice.com/clients.html

 What made you decide to pursue a career in eTail UGC and reviews in order to create Bazaar products like SyndicateVoice?

I’ve been in online since ’93 and ran Dell’s consumer web site for many years. Many years ago I started a blog. I saw marketing changing. Customers are in more control, they have more information, they believe marketing less. So how do marketers have to change? How can companies become more customer centric. I think UGC is a hub of this change. It is the raw, authentic, relevant and credible voice of the customer that not only can power more effective marketing, but change a company culture. I’m interested in both, and figured I’d learn more and invent more of this new strategy working with many of the Fortune 500 brands rather than just being inside of one.

Conclusion & Final Thoughts:

To Sam: I really appreciate you taking a moment to talk to me about user generated content and a few of the benefits to using consumer product rating and reviews as a way to increase rank, conversions, awareness and brand credibility. Thanks for shedding more light on SyndicateVoice, a product I have personally been interested in learning more about and information about Bazaar products our readers can use.

Feel free to use us in the future as a reporting tool for any new product or feature releases. Thanks again for the great insights.

About Sam Decker: Sam is a recognized expert in eCommerce, word of mouth, and direct marketing. A frequent speaker at marketing and eCommerce events and author of an award-winning marketing blog (www.deckermarketing.com), Decker brings 14 years of marketing and online retailing experience to Bazaarvoice. As Chief Marketing Officer he is responsible for leading Bazaarvoice corporate marketing, PR and product strategy.

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