6 Methods of Building User-Generated Content
2. Have continual campaigns or an in-place feedback process. Decker says Bazaarvoice first asks for reviews, then gives customers an "ask and answer" opportunity as well as a chance to tell their stories. In other words, customers who've written reviews receive "thank-you" messages that provide more questions. "We know that they own the product, and so it's very easy for them to answer these questions," he says.
3. Provide customers with feedback links and buttons throughout the Web site and in e-mails. "It needs to be easy for a customer to know how to do a review," Creighton says. "We do that through buttons. We do it through e-mails. Whether it's e-mail marketing or direct solicitations, we have testimonial pages that we build for businesses. But you need to do a variety of different things."
4. Provide incentives. A sweepstakes can jump-start user-generated review volume, which then can self-perpetuate, Decker says. San Diego-based PETCO was getting 10 to 20 reviews a day before the company launched a sweepstakes for a $50 gift certificate back in 2006. "They were going to give one $50 gift certificate away over an eight-week period. ... They [sent] an e-mail campaign out to their users, they promoted it on the Web site, [and] they had an 800 percent increase in review volume for not only that period of eight weeks, but even after the sweepstakes ended ... People start to see the reviews, and then when they buy the products, they know that they can go back and write reviews."
5. Pursue a multichannel approach. Decker's clients are putting requests for online reviews on customer receipts, shipping boxes and shopping bags. Loblaw, a Canadian grocer, had thousands of employees wear T-shirts announcing, "Come write reviews on our Web site."
6. Allow negative feedback. That's why this content is valued, Decker says. "[Customers] can feel like they've fully vetted the product right there without having to go to nine other Web sites."