Relying on the consumer to drive business growth through their own content and feedback is sometimes an overlooked marketing strategy, with businesses often opting to throw money at expensive campaigns instead. For some, like UK retailer Argos, marketing doesn’t always have to be expensive.
Argos is one of the UK’s leading digital retailers with a range of more than 60,000 products across its website, mobile channels, over 850 stores, and over the phone. It boasts the UK’s third most visited website, achieving around 1bn hits each year, and sees more than half of its sales originate online.
With an eye on how popular its online portals are, Argos decided that it would be a good idea to see what keeps consumers coming back, and show this off to potential customers. So, back in 2008, it began its partnership with Bazaarvoice, a ratings and reviews solutions company, to develop its consumer-generated content (CGC) programme.
The pair decided to implement a CGC strategy that would include ratings & reviews, questions & answers (Q&As), and sampling.
The retailer implemented ratings & reviews in 2008, while Q&As were in 2009. These were put in place to help increase and maintain brand participation 365 days a year, and have since been use by Argos to improve product information. In addition, increasingly more brands are interacting with their customers through the Q&A feature, with the volume of answers from brands increasing by 31 per cent year-on-year for the period between March and May 2017. It also saves time for the brand because it doesn’t have to deal with multiple customers with the same query.
“We use social data from our CGC platform for customer insight to improve products and services,” said Rob Jones, product review manager at Argos. “Questions and answers let your consumers, staff, and product experts fill in those missing details and unanticipated individual use cases. This way you can become a one-stop resource for your customers.
“As the community host, you become the preferred source for real answers, setting your site apart from competitors, boosting natural search traffic. Search engines elevate sites with fresh content. And the questions and answers on your site use the same natural language people use in searches.”
Argos also works with Bazaarvoice to offer a branded product-sampling programme, where its community of customers are invited to test and review products.
Customers are selected based on how much they spend with Argos and the number of reviews they’ve previously written to ensure they are advocates of the retailer. Argos then learns about the customer and provides them with products relevant to them, while offering guidance on what aspects of the product to focus on in the review. This approach has been seen to accelerate content collection, drive consumer engagement, and increase sales.
“As we don’t display products in store, it can be a challenge to achieve high volumes of CGC on some of our larger ticket items as we do on others,” said Joanna Steele, senior reviews & CGC manager at Argos. “In order to get those reviews, we are considering other ways to collect that content including inviting customers to events to touch, test and trial products and give their feedback.”
Argos has also put the syndication of content from brand sites to good use, with eight per cent of its total volume of ratings & reviews coming via syndication. Although, some brands have between 50 and 60 per cent of their total content coming through syndication.
By syndicating content, Argos has been able allow brands to capitalise on the reviews on its site and, in turn, extend the reach of a piece of content. Through this strategy, the retailer has collected more than 4m reviews, with 1m coming in the last year alone. This has seen a 20 per cent YoY growth in syndicated review volume and an increase of 108 per cent in the questions submitted by customers versus 2016.
Overall, Argos’ CGC approach – with the help of Bazaarvoice – has been a great success, and it only seems to be growing in strength each year, due to the trust and connection felt on the part of the consumer.
“We collect and leverage ratings and reviews, questions and answers, from our customers,” said Jones. “It’s proven to increase sales and build brand loyalty. And it’s the heart of the Bazaarvoice platform.”