Let Your Customers Do the Talking

Hat tip to Paige Kusmierz for sharing this.

Expedia is in the business of maximizing profits (you should be too). And the highest margin item one can sell is insurance. So Expedia pushes hard for it. But instead of just pushing it they show a real customer story to drive home their point:


Shoppers care way more about the opinion of Mary C from Gloucester than Expedia’s marketing machine. And Expedia knows this.

And the best part is Expedia can A/B/C/n test many travel insurance customer stories to discover the customer review that’s most persuasive.

Comment Back

If customers leave an unfair review diffuse the situation by responding to their comment (pointed by red arrow in screenshot below)—


Why does this matter?  Because reviews live on forever.  If your site has 100s of products with 1000s of reviews I suggest starting with your top selling items and working backwards.

This might seem like a labor intensive project but if you break it down based on most important products and create a system around it you will quickly be able to work through the list.

Easy of Use Is Use

Amazon.com product pages have a question and answer section—


Clicking it reveals—


Where you can see a whole list of questions that were answered by people who purchased this product. If your question hasn’t already been answered just type it in and post it. When it’s answered by the community you’ll be notified via email—


Beyond Reviews

There’s no doubt that customer reviews generate conversions.  http://www.kitchenwaredirect.com.au/Current-Specials/Top-Sellers-On-Sale/Scanpan-Classic-Covered-Chef-Pan-32cm is a product page with 75 reviews.  But kitchenwaredirect.com.au understands that sometimes a potential buyer might have a question that isn’t answered in a review, or is too time consuming to locate.  And this is why they have a feature called ASK a Question on the product page–

On click–

For this particular product customers have asked 16 questions, received 82 answers, and generated 164 comments.  Here’s why I love ASK a Question feature–

1: The standard format is that a visitor enters a site, seeks to answer their questions and leaves if their questions remain unanswered.  Now, they can post their unique question and receive a quick reply.

2: In order to be notified with a reply the question poster must leave their contact info.  What would have been an abandon is now a warm lead.

3: Questions are answered by customer community + site staff.  Every time a new question is posted the community is notified, which prompts them to visit kitchenwaredirect.com.au (generating brand recall.)

4: In the traditional format customers with questions call customer service who end up answering the same question 50 times.  Now, once a question is posted and answered the next customer doesn’t have to call your customer service team.

5: Most product pages remain static and become stale over time.  Now, your product page can improve in richness as more questions and answers are published.

An interface like this is especially useful for products with technical features.

Real-Time Activity

While ecommerce is growing rapidly the fact of the matter is most of your site visitors have never bought from you.  Building confidence in these visitors is key.  Linda Bustos from the excellent GetElastic blog shares a great example.  Backcountry, an online retailer, has a unique feature called “Bubblelicious”.  If, while you are on their category page, someone adds an item to cart or writes a review backcountry.com displays that activity-

Does this magically convert 100s of visitors?  No.  Does it clearly and powerfully demonstrate real-time purchase activity?  You bet.

I’m going to do some inferential analysis here- backcountry.com is renowned for their focus on analytics and measurement.  If this feature remains ‘live’ it would be because they have metric level proof it increases conversions in a meaningful way.  Mark 6-1-11 on your calendar.  Call the event “backcountry.com bubblelicious test”.  If on 6-1-11 the feature is still live we will know for sure the strategy increases conversions.  Later, based on your budget develop an adaptation of this idea that works for your site.  For example, instead of showing individual item purchase activity you might just want to show overall purchase activity.  Or try this idea.

Update: It’s been 6 months and the feature is still live, which means it must have had a positive business impact.