by Rose Lugo
Consumer reviews sell, no question about it. As a result, marketers are ever more pressured to produce them, but face several challenges in doing so. Many agencies and platforms promise brand marketers reviews at scale, which only addresses part of the problem.
Brands need more reviews, better quality reviews, and reviews that come in way faster than the organic consumer pace. Moreover, marketers need to move sales this quarter while also building brand equity for the long run. Brands cannot afford to allocate budget dollars to a consumer review solution that only gathers slow-paced organic reviews, or that fails to deliver persuasive reviews. Never mind claims about volume because quantity will never make up for quality in this case.
Savvy marketers seek to activate engaged ambassadors who will provide convincing purchase recommendations—also in the form of consumer reviews—and who have a strong enough emotional connection with the brand to recommend now and in the future. This is how marketing teams can both address the need for consumer reviews to meet short-term sales goals, while also supporting brand equity. It does not have to be an either/or approach. Strategic marketers are delivering both.
Consumer Reviews: More, Better, Faster
A three-step approach is needed to fulfill the need for more, better, and faster reviews: the activation of highly targeted ambassadors at-scale, intensive one-on-one coaching to teach brand benefits, and nimbleness to deliver it all in just a couple of weeks.
Brands need to scale highly targeted consumers who fit the demographic and psychographic profiles to become engaged ambassadors. The quality of reviews is also paramount. Consumer reviews that only vaguely advocate for brands do not break purchase barriers, falling short from swaying shoppers. Lastly, time is of essence, especially when launching a brand. Successful brands earn in average 75% of their desired number of reviews within two weeks of their Insider activation.
This three-pillar approach will surely solve the quarterly sales goals, but marketers must also build brand equity, which is where a full ambassador program come into play.
Building Brand Equity
An ambassador program that promotes consumer empowerment via a strategic combination of education and engagement will deliver brand equity in the long-run in conjunction with the sought-after consumer reviews. Take the example of a baby formula brand in the UK.
The brand needed to increase consideration and seed consumer reviews. The approach was to deploy a full ambassador activation with The Insiders, which includes consumer stimulation to generate authentic reviews. The target was parents of toddlers and parents-to-be. Beyond hundreds of consumer reviews, and high volume of consumer-generated content, the activation yielded tangible results in sales uplift, loyalty, and advocacy at the time of the activation and up to one year later. The results are from an independent market research company that performed test/control assessments following the activation.
The report showed at 9 weeks a sales lift of 7.5%. The upward trend continued with sales lift above 5% at the 13-week and 26-week benchmarks, 5.1% and 5.8% respectively. This suggests that the impact of the ambassador activation lingered several months later.
Increased Purchase & Loyalty
Surveys of Insider parents—6 months and one-year post-campaign—showed increased purchase and continued loyalty. Six months following the activation, purchase increased 9%, and at the one-year mark, 12%. In addition, 49% of parents reported only using the client brand to the exclusion of all competing brands, the number was up from 37% a year earlier.
The Net Promoter Score, NPS, of the brand among Insiders, jumped 30% to 86, following activation. A year later, the brand earned another 16% jump in NPS, mainly caused by turning detractors into promoters.
Marketers who support their consumer review activations with a robust brand ambassador program are able to solve the need for reviews to grow market share right away, while also building lasting brand equity.
For more next generation marketing insights subscribe to The Insiders Newsletter.