The rise of the online review culture has opened up a new avenue for showing the usefulness and efficacy of products without relying on approved health claims and this is particularly pertinent in the health claim sparse world of probiotics.
Lumina’s digital marketing manager Zoe Coleman has written a full report explaining why reviews matter and how to boost them. She even argues that the right customer reviews could prove even more profitable than official health claims.
“While it is important for the industry to continue to invest in the science, encouraging consumers to communicate their experiences and level of satisfaction with probiotic products, and to systematically mine the wealth of information they so freely provide, may prove to be a much more fruitful strategy,” Coleman asserts.
“As well as influencing consumer decision making and increasing visibility of your products, review data can provide valuable insight to aid new product development and competitive analysis.”
Coleman points out the number of reviews is also a helpful indicator of what ingredients, health benefits, product categories etc are on the rise.
And another, possibly underestimated, benefit of online consumer reviews is the impact these have on the product’s visibility and click-through in Google and Amazon’s search engines.
Coleman explains that ensuring your product page is set up so Google can ‘crawl’ reviews boosts your chances of ranking for keywords that your target audience are actually using. This is particularly helpful for those in the nutraceuticals market where consumers are likely to be searching based on multiple attributes such as flavour, health benefit, ingredients, format etc.
“Although technical SEO is best undertaken by someone experienced in optimising for eCommerce pages, this can also provide a great return. One example of this is structured data, which informs Google of the nature of your webpage (e.g. product, recipe, app etc). Using “product” structured data adds extra information to your products’ entries in Google search results, including average star rating, number of reviews and whether the product is in stock. This can help your page achieve better rankings and could improve click-through to your site.”
Increase your reviews
With 80% of reviews originating from follow-up emails urging shoppers to review purchases (Power Reviews 2017), Coleman argues that brands should put an automated system in place to contact all customer thanking them for their purchase and requesting they leave a review.
The power of Amazon
When it comes to eCommerce, several consumer surveys have shown that Amazon is starting to seriously rival Google when it comes to search. One survey found that 46.7% of product searches start on Amazon, followed by Google with 34.6% (Adeptmind, 2018).
However it’s not as simple as just having a product page on Amazon – in 2019 Clavis Insights found that the minimum number of reviews needed for a product to be competitive on Amazon is 21, with an average rating of 4 stars or higher.
What’s more, Coleman points out that Amazon rolled out its “Amazon’s Choice” badge in 2018, which is applied to a product for particular search terms and is clearly visible in the search results.
According to Geekwire the choice is largely based on customer reviews, alongside low return rates, popularity in Amazon search, and eligibility for Amazon Prime delivery.
This increased visibility is even more pronounced when you consider voice search as Amazon’s voice controlled assistant ‘Alexa’ will usually suggest Amazon’s Choice products.
This may not have a massive influences on sales now but with Alexa assistants surpassing 100 million sales in January 2019 and predictions that 55% of Americans will own a smart speaker by 2022 (OC&C Strategy Consultants, 2018), Coleman argues it is likely to have a big influence in the future.
All the right words
If you want customers to find and leave reviews on your own-company product page you must ensure that your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is in order.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be an SEO whizz to find out what words your potential customers are typing into their search engines. Coleman explains: “Some valuable insights can be obtained simply from the Google search bar – which will provide ‘predictions’ based on popular searches when you begin typing. Google’s related searches (visible at the bottom of the search results page) can also help companies work out particular niches in language to aid writing product descriptions.
“Google’s related searches can also throw up some surprises in terms of consumer language that may not align with terminology used within the industry.
“For example, ‘women’s ph balance’ appears to be a paraphrasing of the slightly more jarring term ‘vaginal health’, rather than referring to ph in the stomach… Therefore any business creating a product page for a probiotic addressing this health concern should use the term ‘ph balance’ at least a couple of times to maximise the chance of their product appearing in these searches.”
Lumina Intelligence collects review data for the best-selling products in Sports Nutrition and Probiotics from the leading nine online retailers in 20 countries, as well as formulation and labelling data for those products.