May 2, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
TurnTo Networks has announced the release of its new SpeedFlex™ widget architecture, supporting its full Customer-Generated Content suite of Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews™, and Checkout Comments™. SpeedFlex™ combines the lightest, fastest-loading widget components with a server-side customization model that gives full control over layout and functionality as well as look and feel.
With SpeedFlex™, eCommerce sites no longer face a trade-off between a slow-loading but easy widget implementation, or a fast-loading but time consuming API project. Now, brands and retailers can have the best of both approaches: customer experiences that are uniquely tailored to their brand and product categories, a quick implementation with minimal effort, and fast page loads that improve conversion rates and deliver meaningful search engine optimization (SEO).
An architecture designed for speed
Page load speed is an important factor for conversion rates and for SEO. Making web pages load faster can reduce abandonment rates by 20%. And with its recent “Speed Update,” Google’s search ranking algorithm now privileges fast loading pages, especially on mobile.
Since product reviews, Q&A, and customer-generated photos are some of the heaviest components on eCommerce sites, the speed improvements provided by SpeedFlex™ can make a significant difference to overall site performance.
Unique customer experiences without API work
SpeedFlex™ enables online stores to easily tailor not only look-and-feel but also layout and even functionality without resorting to time-consuming API work. With TurnTo’s unique new architecture, configurations of all aspects of design and information architecture are composed server-side and dynamically loaded to the production environment. Configurable breakpoints ensure optimized display on all device types from a single theme definition. With this approach:
- Changes made to the configuration appear immediately on the site without the need to edit code on the page itself
- A single page type can support multiple design theme variants for A/B testing
- The functions and experience provided to the shopper can vary depending on the category of the product
Bliss sees dramatic performance improvements
When skincare brand Bliss switched to TurnTo and implemented SpeedFlex™ on www.blissworld.com, the file size and load time of their product reviews components decreased to less than half of what they were before.
“We’ve been highly satisfied with our switch to TurnTo,” said Karilyn Anderson, VP of Digital at Bliss. “With TurnTo’s SpeedFlex™ architecture, we were able to easily achieve a highly customized layout and look exactly tailored for our brand, while at the same time significantly improving our site performance.”
“SpeedFlex™ is not only the highest-performance widget platform for enterprise-scale eCommerce sites today, it’s the foundation for our vision of bespoke customer experiences, going forward,” said George Eberstadt, TurnTo’s Founder and CEO, said. “In today’s competitive world, one-size-fits-all is not a winning strategy; brands and stores have to differentiate and deliver unique, compelling experiences. SpeedFlex™ enables the rapid innovation that leads to real business advantage for our customers.”
Want to find out more about how TurnTo can help your business?
April 11, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Tired of reading clickbait about Millennials’ love of avocado toast? Here’s some good news: GenZ is the next new generation, and over the next few years, people are going to be working hard to figure out this vibrant and dynamic group—the first truly digital native generation.
The boundaries of the US’s youngest generation are still somewhat fuzzy, but the Pew Research Center defines Gen Z as those born in 1997 or later.1
What sets Gen Z apart from its predecessors? For starters, it’s the most racially and ethnically diverse generation the US has ever seen—a group with even greater diversity than Millennials, according to Pew.
Gen Z Has Truly Digital-First Media Habits
It also consumes media in a fundamentally different way than any of its forebears. The oldest Gen Zers were only 10 years old when Apple released the first iPhone; smartphones are likely their default method for heading online.
The Center for Generational Kinetics reports that 95% of Gen Zers had a smartphone in 2018. Their survey also revealed that 61% of Gen Zers spent at least five hours on their smartphone per day, and that more than one-quarter spent a daily average of 10 hours or more with the devices.2
With so much of their time spent on smartphones, legacy media channels like TV hold significantly less sway over them than older generations. That means marketers can have a tough time reaching them at scale through more traditional advertising methods.
Teens and the Power of Recommendations and Reviews
Those media habits could make Gen Z a tough nut for online merchants to crack. But some new research from Social Media Link found that there are still some things that do exert a lot of influence over their purchase decisions: recommendations and reviews.3
According to the company’s survey, nearly all Gen Zers (96%) said they often read recommendations or reviews for products they were thinking about buying.
These young shoppers also relied heavily on their personal networks for guidance on purchase decisions. 80% of teens looked to friends and family for recommendations about new products and brands, making it their No. 1 source for those types of endorsements.
But online reviews were almost as popular with Gen Zers, with nearly eight in 10 accessing them for insights on potential purchases and brands. In fact, reviews were a bigger influence on their purchase decisions than social media, influencers, and even ads.
Social Media Link also found that these young shoppers aren’t just likely to read product reviews. They’re also highly predisposed to writing them as well. More than 90% of Gen Zers wrote product reviews at least some of the time, and more than a quarter wrote one for every product or service they used.
To sum up the research:
- 96% of Gen Zers often read ratings and reviews about things they’re thinking about buying.
- Members of the generation tend to look first to friends and family for product recommendations, but online reviews are a close second.
- Gen Zers are not just reading reviews; more than 9 in 10 also write them for at least some purchases
- Gen Z spends substantially more time on smartphones than with older media platforms like TV
To Reach Gen Z, Think Mobile-First
Just like our entire product suite, Ratings & Reviews is mobile-first and uses responsive design principles to make reviews submitted on a smartphone frictionless. To be clear, we’re not just making things look pretty on mobile devices. We’re changing the way content is collected based on smartphone users’ behavior.
It’s an approach that makes things as easy as possible for Gen Zers on smartphones—who, remember, are already primed to write reviews—to submit more content about their purchases to eCommerce sites.
TurnTo’s Visual Reviews™ takes this mobile-first approach a step further. Its visual-first collection flow lets shoppers send photos and videos to eCommerce sites with just a few taps. As a result, eCommerce sites get to bank even more content on their product pages, and customers don’t even have to type anything out.
Want to learn more about how TurnTo’s innovative products can help you connect with Gen Z?
1 Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Generation Z Begins; Pew Research Center, January 2019
2 How Obsessed is Gen Z with Mobile Technology?; The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2018
3 Infographic: 27% of Gen Zers Say They Always Write a Product Review After Making a Purchase; Adweek, April 2018
September 8, 2015 by John Swords
… And we mean LOOK different.
- 90% of reviews come in response to emails
- >60% of emails are opened on phones
- Phones are bad for long text (like reviews)
- Phones are great for photos!
The implications are clear:
- Your strategy for collecting customer reviews needs to work on phones
- On phones, the strategy should be “visual first.”
So what is a visual review? It’s a photo (or video) submitted by a customer in response to a request for a review – the proverbial picture that is worth a thousand words. Instead of text stating, “With my new cookware, I was finally able to perfectly brown the crust of my famous chicken-pot-pie,” it is a photo of that perfect chicken-pot-pie.
Instead of text stating, “The shirt fit perfectly, with no extra blousing around my waist,” it is a selfie of the customer looking great in her new shirt.
Instead of text stating, “The fabric on the sofa was gorgeous, but the cushions were way too saggy,” it is a photo of the sofa with its gorgeous fabric and saggy cushions.
Far from being yet another “gotta-keep-up-with-changing-platforms chore,” the shift to visual content that the rise of smart phones demands creates a huge opportunity. Simply put, visual content converts better. Few shoppers have the patience to read the full body of customer reviews, and those that read any rarely go past the first couple of entries. So while having lots of reviews is valuable for signaling that an item is popular, most of the text you are collecting has little impact on conversion. On the other hand, shoppers can scan an image gallery in a blink and come away with a powerful, visceral sense of the appeal of a product.
This is not to say that you should abandon collecting text reviews; there is plenty of information in text reviews that images can’t convey. If a customer is on a desktop when they get your request to write a review, you should lead with the request for a standard text review (with an option to attach an image). But when the customer is on a mobile device, don’t try to force a round peg into a square hole by asking for text. Instead, ask the customer to do what comes more naturally on these devices and submit an image.
The applications are broad and go way beyond selfies. Image subjects can vary such as:
- Things made with the product (cooking, crafts, do-it-yourself projects)
- The product in use (home furnishings, hobby items)
- Unboxing and explainers (electronics, fashion)
- Travel (Hotel rooms, attractions)
- And yes, selfies (fashion, beauty, sporting goods)
Visual reviews are a great complement to imagery you can gather from social media sites, if you’ve taken that approach. But visual reviews also have some important advantages over social media harvesting and may be all the visual content collection you need:
- Images are automatically connected to the relevant SKU (saving a lot of work)
- Usage rights are automatically acquired
- You can collect a lot more images, since there is a big portion of your customer base that is happy to write a review but isn’t going to post your product to their Instagram page.
- The image collection is continuous; there’s no need for special hashtag campaigns
So as we said, the next generation of product reviews is going to look very different.
December 3, 2014 by John Swords
To provide some more context, I sat down with our CEO to discuss how this new product came about.
Heather: TurnTo is well known for providing the top-performing community-powered Q&A solution for eCommerce. Why branch out to Ratings & Reviews?
George: Well, we resisted for a long time! One reason we’ve been able to build up such a lead on the Q&A side is focus. But 4 things changed our minds. I’ll go through them:
- First, some businesses wanted to adopt our Q&A without increasing their vendor count. Our Q&A has always been targeted at businesses that take a best-of-breed approach to vendors; but with integrated Ratings & Reviews we can meet the needs of those who prefer suite providers, too.
- Second, we identified some very exciting ways to integrate the two products to deliver more value than either can alone.
- Third, we realized that all of the enterprise-grade infrastructure we built for Q&A could be leveraged by our Ratings & Reviews product, enabling us to rapidly build out the application and launch with a full enterprise-ready feature set.
- And finally, our customer research revealed some pretty wide-spread dissatisfaction with the existing choices and a strong demand for a better option.
Heather: What was the overall philosophy behind the design of TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews product?
George: We spent a lot of time talking with both current customers and prospects to understand what they wanted in a Ratings & Reviews product, and the feedback was very consistent: all the important functions that have been proven to work, beautifully executed, on an enterprise-grade platform, at an affordable price. We also heard consistent requests to stay away from bells and whistles that don’t add value and clutter up the user experience or make the system management difficult just to appear different. The architect Mies van der Rohe was famous for saying “God is in the details”, by which he meant creativity doesn’t necessarily require wild gestures – there’s plenty of opportunity for innovation in just honing an idea until it’s really right. I’d say that was the philosophy guiding us here.
Heather: OK, so there’s nothing radically different about TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews product, but are there still some innovations you’d like to point out?
George: At the application level, one nice touch is that the “purchaser credential” (like the Verified Buyer badge) provides an approximate date of purchase. That increases the credibility of the review and also enables the shopper to see how much experience the reviewer has had with the product. We also offer state-of-the-art mobile capabilities – responsive design right out of the box and phone-optimized UX for review collection. Plus, as I mentioned, we’ve found some very valuable new ways to integrate Ratings & Reviews with Q&A. For example, when a shopper enters a question, our Instant Answers feature now searches the Ratings & Reviews for relevant information (as well as the existing Q&A dialog and the store’s knowledge base). Also, the please-review-your-purchase email can now include an offer for customers to get help with their recent purchase from others who already own the item. That turns Q&A into a post-purchase support tool; and by coupling it to the review solicitation, stores can head off potential negative reviews and turn them into positive ones.
Heather: How has the market received TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews so far?
George: The reception has been great. Many of our existing Q&A customers have already or are in the process of switching their reviews over to us, too. Many of our new customers are signing up for both reviews and Q&A together. And we’ve even got a some new customers who are starting with our Ratings & Reviews and planning to add Q&A later. And that’s all before we’ve really started to market this new product.
Heather: Does this mean TurnTo is no longer a “Q&A first” company?
George: No, we’re still Q&A-first. We expect that online business who are satisfied with the current reviews providers will still come to us for best-of-breed community-powered Q&A. It’s already the industry leader, and we have many big enhancements coming in 2015. But when you look the whole package of our Ratings & Reviews offering – the product itself, TurnTo’s outstanding support, affordability, integration with our industry-leading Q&A, and our extraordinary roadmap – it compares very favorably to the existing alternatives.
April 23, 2009 by George Eberstadt
There are lots of reasons why advice from friends is so much more influential than advice from strangers. Trust is a big one. The Wall Street Journal today has a piece about the growing sway marketers have over product recommendations online. “Paid to Pitch: Product Reviews by Bloggers Draw Scrutiny.” I was particularly struck by the marketer who requires bloggers he hires to use a seal that says “Sponsored Post. 100% Real Opinion.” It’s so murky. Even if the overwhelming majority of amateur reviewers have no commercial interest (or hope of one in the future), the fact that some do undermines trust in the rest. There is always something comforting about knowing that the person you’re getting advice from is putting you first.
February 3, 2009 by George Eberstadt
Here’s the TurnTo presentation from the OnMedia conference today. This talk focuses on the whole idea of “Trusted References”. The TurnTo part goes from roughly minute 1 to minute 10. (I’m hoping the conference will provide a version of this without the side-bar. I’ll upgrade if we get one…)
January 23, 2009 by George Eberstadt
I just got back from the Social Networking Conference in Miami. Here’s the presentation I gave, titled “Ecommerce Meets Social Networks: A Different Approach to Driving Online Referrals”. The usual caveats about slides-without-accompanying-commentary apply.
January 22, 2009 by George Eberstadt
We just rolled out Rave. If you’ve had a particularly good experience with a product from a TurnTo network site – the sort of experience you’d normally tell your friends about – rave it. Your TurnTo friends will see your rave in their TurnTo news feed, and you can also push it out to your Facebook friends. (Coming soon: you’ll be able to push your raves out to other networks, Twitter, and the like…) Other people can see your raves, too, but we don’t push it to them, and they don’t see your name as the author.
How come only “rave” and not “pan”? The main idea behind rave is to make it easy for you to bring something to the attention of your friends that they might find valuable. Getting warned off of a bad product is useful mainly if you were already considering it. There’s no need to tell me not to get something I didn’t want anyway. But getting alerted to something really special can spark a brand new idea. Plus, we wanted to focus on the positive. And a lot of our partner sites already have tools for collecting ratings and reviews, so we felt it was more important to focus on the communicating-with-friends aspect than on collecting scores and feedback.
We’d love to hear what you think. Please drop us line.