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Ratings & Reviews Benchmarks: Visual UGC


Despite Increasing Importance to Consumers, Average Media Coverage for Most Brands Hovers Around 37%

Key Findings:

  • Across verticals, products had 12.8 images and/or videos, on average.
  • The verticals with the most media coverage overall were Toys, Games & Video games; Travel; Financial Services*; and Baby.
  • The verticals with the most media per product included Financial Services*; Medical Components/Supplies; Consumer Appliances & Electronics; and Health & Beauty.

Methodology: Analysis of lifetime Ratings and Reviews submitted across 25.4MM+ online product pages on 3,600+ brand and retailer sites (Qualifier: Activity had to be recorded on the page in the previous 12 month period prior to March 7, 2022). Average rating recorded is the average rating at time of data extraction on March 7, 2022.

99% of consumers look for photos and videos submitted from other customers at least sometimes; 77% do so always or regularly. Visual UGC is especially important to younger consumers, with 91% of Gen Z’ers and 84% of Millennials always or regularly seeking it out. Given the high value consumers place on visual UGC, we analyzed media coverage (percentage of products with at least one user-submitted image or video displayed) and average volume of media per product in a given vertical.

The verticals with the most media coverage overall were Toys, Games & Videogames (68.7%), Travel (58.5%), Financial Services (58.2%), and Baby (52.8%). The verticals with the highest average media per product included Financial Services (58.1), Medical Components/Supplies (31.9), Consumer Appliances & Electronics (26.3), and Health & Beauty (23.3).

Across verticals, there is an average of 12.8 images and/or video per product. The average overall media coverage was 37.0%.

From Marketing Validation to Conversion Booster: The Rise of Visual UGC

User-generated visual content has become increasingly important to consumers. Today, 80% of consumers say photos from other customers are more valuable than those provided by brands or retailers. Five years ago, only 44% felt this way.

Visual UGC is not only important to consumers; it increases their likelihood of conversion. More than half of consumers say imagery provided by previous purchasers is a top factor influencing their purchase decision. When people interact with visual UGC, the conversion rate nearly doubles from 3.4% to 6.6% (an increase of 91.4%). For some verticals, such as Apparel and Home & Garden, the conversion lift is even higher — at 119.1% and 149.9%, respectively.

By the same token, a lack of visual UGC can deter purchases. A third of Gen Z shoppers and nearly a quarter (21%) of Millennials won’t purchase a product if there is no visual content from people who previously bought it. Visual media is so important to consumers that 65% of shoppers rate images as the most valuable part of any individual review, even above the review length, title, and aggregated pros and cons lists. 

Visual media has a powerful impact on conversions because it provides context beyond the typical ecommerce product photo carousel. Consumers can see how a shirt looks on the body of someone who isn’t a model, maybe even someone who has a body just like them. They can see how the color looks in different types of lighting. Visual UGC also invites shoppers to visualize using the product in real life. They can see other customers using your milk frother, styling your accessories, or building your desk furniture.

Five Snackable Data-Backed Visual UGC Collection Tips

  1. Incentivize shoppers to provide photo and video: A large swatch of consumers — as many as 85% — need to be incentivized to leave a review. Make it worth their while. Run a product sampling campaign, host a review sweepstakes, or make visual UGC a point-earning activity in your rewards program.
  2. Mine social media for visual UGC: There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If shoppers have already posted about your products on social media, repost their content to your site, too. Using this strategy, PowerReviews customer Shure Incorporated was able to quickly collect over 1,200 images.
  3. Syndicate images to retailer partners: This can not only help lift conversion rates on partner websites, but can also encourage those customers who you don’t have a direct line of contact with (e.g. email) to add media content to their review. When people see others doing something, they’ll often follow in their footsteps.
  4. Include filters so customers can easily find images and video: Over three-quarters (77%) of shoppers find filtering options useful when browsing review content. The number is even higher among younger consumers. In addition to filters for star rating or “helpful” votes, include one for whether the review includes visual content. 
  5. Make it easy to submit visual UGC: Be clear about what’s required for an upload to be accepted (file format, size, etc.). Ensure your review form and media upload form is mobile-friendly, so customers can upload it on the fly. Allow people to link to photos from Facebook or Instagram as well, increasing the social proof factor. 

*Financial services organizations tend to have an atypical use case for ratings and reviews (e.g. rating of credit card or call center interactions). Specifically, they tend to generate high volumes of reviews on a limited number of products, hence the high volumes of visual media evident here.

Special thanks to our friends at PowerReviews for their insights on this topic.
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