Q&A: How User-Generated Content Helps Jewelry Retailer James Avery Craftsman
Most online retailers understand the importance of adding user-generated content to their sites. Content, such as reviews or recommendations about products and services, created by consumers and added to Web sites can engage customers and prospects, and keep them coming back for more.
eM+C recently discussed why user-generated content is important with John McCullough, director of marketing for James Avery Craftsman, a Kerrville, Texas-based maker and online seller of sterling silver, gold and gemstone jewelry.
In March, James Avery Craftsman began working with Bazaarvoice, a hosted social commerce application provider, to add product reviews and recommendations to its site. James Avery Craftsman also uses a Bazaarvoice product called Stories, which allows it to create an online destination where visitors can share their real-life experiences related to a product, service or brand.
eM+C: Why was it important to incorporate UGC on your site?
John McCullough: For us, there are two primary reasons we feel it's important. First, we don't use a lot of conventional selling copy online or in our catalogs — it's not the voice of our brand. However, we were comfortable using our customers' comments and stories. We believed content coming from them would resonate more with other customers. We let their content become the copy for our product.
Second, for decades we've received great stories about how our products have symbolized key events in people's lives. We wanted to share these stories with others and felt our space online was the ideal way to do this.
eM+C: Has it helped increase ROI, generate leads or increase sales?
JM: It's early and we don't have much quantitative data yet due to our analytics application, but we have seen the percentage of new shoppers hitting the Stories page is higher than other pages. We've also seen that items featured in e-mails where we use some of the user-generated content have outperformed our expectations.
eM+C: Can you offer any tips in terms of adding UGC to a Web site?
JM: Have a plan of action of what you want to do to aggressively build the content when you go live. Bazaarvoice was instrumental in helping us figure out how to build our online content quickly.
Also, if you choose to let people submit photos or videos to your site as part of their reviews, you'll need to think through what guidelines you want to set for a submission to be considered acceptable. Sometimes people may submit photos that have nothing to do with the item they are reviewing or the story they are submitting. You'll need to know how to react in this situation.
Finally, you may get some negative reviews. I believe that if it's objectively shared but negative, you should include this content on the site anyway. It adds authenticity to the medium. If people only see positive reviews, they may not value the content. If you're going to invest in adding this capability to the site, people should value the content.