1. SEJ
  2.  ⋅ 
  3. SEJ Show

Sara Spivey on the Power of Online Reviews & How They Drive ROI [PODCAST]

Visit our Marketing Nerds archive to listen to other Marketing Nerds podcasts!

In this Marketing Nerds episode, Sara Spivey, Chief Marketing Officer at Bazaarvoice, joined SEJ Features Editor Danielle Antosz to discuss the power of online reviews and how to use them to drive ROI.

Online reviews - internet concepts word cloud illustration. Word collage.

What are the main benefits of having online reviews?

The first one that’s most notable is purchase conversion. Statistics have shown that consumers trust other consumers when it comes to researching and getting input on different products they might buy. It swings from a low of 5-10% up to 35-40%, depending on the category.

The other area where we really see ROI most notably is in search. When we look at that for our clients, we know that good, fresh content is what drives Google. Obviously, there’s a big cost differential between driving organic search versus paid search. We know that review content drives organic search anywhere between 10-20% depending on how dense that content is and how many relevant keywords happen to end up in those search algorithms. But it has a big impact on where people end up in search algorithm ranking.

Where is the best place to host these reviews? A lot of businesses, especially small brick-and-mortar businesses, struggle with Yelp. Is it better to use those types of sites and embed those reviews on your site?

You can use all of those things. We generally advise our clients to put content directly on their product pages and directly on their site, since it drives search. The second thing, particularly if they’re working with Bazaarvoice, is that we moderate those reviews and we also do digital authenticity checks so we know the content coming through is authentic and hasn’t been generated by a bot. We also work with every brand and retailer in terms of moderation guidelines for their sites.

We can’t make those same claims with Yelp or other third-party review sites. Having said that, more content is better than none, right? If you don’t have the option to do your own content generation, certainly using some of the Yelp content is better than nothing.

What are best practices for responding to negative reviews?

Positive feedback and negative feedback

It’s been our experience that your brand is judged more by the way you respond to negative feedback than the fact that there is negative feedback. There’s going to be negative feedback on every product and service; that’s the nature of the beast given the diversity in people who purchase products and the diversity of use cases.

How do you respond to it? First, apologize and let them know you’re sorry they had that experience. I think people just want to be recognized that they had a bad experience. For brands and retailers, we would counsel them to respond and take action. A lot of customers that work with us have a very visible make-right policy in terms of people who had a bad experience.

We always strongly encourage that our customers embrace negative reviews, respond to it, and react to it. In a perfect scenario, they’re actively baking that into the next revision of product development. We would hope that in the research and development cycle, they are actively saying, “We got to fix this. We’ve got way too many people who have had a bad experience with it.” We think the positive far outweighs the negative.

What are some of your tips for brands looking to get more reviews out of their clients?

We find the most effective way for on-site is to send somebody a post-interaction email: “You purchase this product, give us your thoughts.” We find the response rates to those are actually pretty good and we also find that the response rate is equally good when sending a second email.

After two it tends to fall off, but we would advise people to send out the post-interaction email. People put those on different clocks depending on what the product is. It could be two or three days on something that is a quick-use item. It could be we wait 30 days before we send the post-interaction email.

The second is we’ve seen a lot of clients that are quite successful with a sort of sweepstakes thing like, “Send us a review and qualify for a $50 shopping spree at X retailer.” That is pretty successful.

The third thing we talk about is product sampling. When you’re launching a new product, send samples out to communities that are interested in sampling your products. Collect review content prior to launching so that when you launch the product, you already have consumer experience to share.

Switching to visual content, people are successful in running hashtag campaigns. Our curation product, through our digital rights management platform, asks for permission to use a photo. Someone puts it in a hashtag campaign then we scrape Twitter, Instagram, and other places for that content and put it directly onto the brand site once they’ve given permission.

There are a lot of ways to interact with consumers as they’re already generating content to add to your product pages and other places in your site. But don’t think of this just as a website phenomenon. It’s active in offline shopping behavior as well.

What final takeaway would you give brands or retailers who haven’t done much with reviews or are considering getting more involved in reviews?

I think above and beyond all, it’s how you engage with consumers. Figure out the best way you can create a dialogue with them. Whatever works for you in terms of opening dialogue with clients that is a two-way street is going to make you successful as a brand or retailer. Find out how to engage with your clients for the long-term.

To listen to this Marketing Nerds Podcast with Danielle Antosz and Sara Spivey:

Think you have what it takes to be a Marketing Nerd? If so, message Danielle Antosz on Twitter, or email her at danielle [at]

Visit our Marketing Nerds archive to listen to other Marketing Nerds podcasts!

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita

In-post Image #1: tupungato/DepositPhotos
In-post Image #2: AnSim/DepositPhotos

Rina Caballar Editorial Assistant at Search Engine Journal

Rina is the Editorial Assistant for Search Engine Journal. She assists the SEJ team with the editorial process and also ...

Sara Spivey on the Power of Online Reviews & How They Drive ROI [PODCAST]

Subscribe To Our Newsletter.

Conquer your day with daily search marketing news.