4/29/10

How sports gear retailer evo builds review content to power site search

Customer-generated product reviews are among the top drivers of sales in site search.

Paul Demery , Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

With customer-generated product reviews among the top drivers of sales in site search results, evo set out earlier this year to find the best way to persuade its customers to write about what they bought on evogear.com, director of e-commerce and customer service Nathan Decker says.

Evo has set up its Omniture site search feature to let shoppers sort results by several filters, and the three filters that produce the highest conversion rates are most reviewed products, highest rated products, and best savings. “Reviews are always at the top with highest rated and best savings,” Decker says.

But evo has found it challenging to drum up review content on many of its products because of its constantly changing, seasonal inventory. Alpine skis, for example, often come out in new models every year, and evo may stock only four to 10 SKUs for every product it sells. “So we may only have a maximum of 10 opportunities to get a review on something before it sells through,” Decker says.

So after brainstorming earlier this year on how to persuade customers to submit reviews, it launched a three-part e-mail marketing test.

It first identified 30,000 customers who had recently purchased a product that evo still had in stock and for which the customer had not submitted a review. Working with a list of 15,000 of those customers, it divided it into three groups of 5,000 names and sent each group one of three e-mail messages.

One message was simply a basic request for a review; a second message suggested that a review would help support the community of evo customers by providing good shopping advice; and a third message said that by submitting a review customers would enter a contest to win a prize valued at $1,000. The contest was administered by PowerReviews Inc., which provides eco’s product reviews system.

The test revealed the contest as the most persuasive method. 5.6% of customers who received the contest e-mail submitted reviews, compared to 2.4% for those who received the basic message and 2.1% who received the message suggesting that reviews support the community of evo customers. “We realized we need to use the contests, so now we’re doing one every quarter,” Decker says.

Evo has e-mailed a contest offer to the other 15,000 names in the original list of 30,000 customers, and upped the conversion rate even more, to about 7.8%, by sending the e-mail earlier in the week, Decker says.

Although evo is confident that review content boosts sales as shoppers search its site, Decker says the retailer is also devising tests to determine how review content compares to other forms of site content in converting shoppers to buyers.

Topics:

customer reviews, Evo, evogear.com, nathan decker, site search

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