Buyagift uses ‘Conversations’ to deliver dynamic customer service — and boost conversion rates by 171%

Summary

Company stimulates authentic conversations with customers, builds trust and better informs its product offering.

  • Buyagift stimulates authentic conversations with customers and users
  • Reviews build trust and better inform product offering
  • Reviews drive 10% leap in average order value

Established in 1999, Buyagift specialises in offering customers great life experiences, from skydiving to spa weekends to track days. First run from founder Dan Mountain’s spare bedroom, it has now grown to employ more than 70 people working at its London offices. Growing by around 20% a year, success has seen the company expand into Europe, with operations in France, Italy and Spain.

Challenge

Most people who purchase Buyagift’s products are not the ones who will actually use them — giving them instead to friends, family or work colleagues. This presented a problem: with no direct link between the company and its end users, customers were just the ‘middle-men’ and not in a position to comment on the experience. Customer conversations, however, are powerful ways of building customer trust and driving sales.

Facilitating reviews for holiday-based promotions, such as Christmas and St Valentine’s Day, presented challenges too. These gifts can only be experienced on the day, which makes providing helpful reviews prior to the event very difficult. Buyagift found that, without the opportunity to find out what others felt about a specific product, some customers were dissuaded from buying it.

As Buyagift’s Digital Content Manager, Max Sydenham, explained, “We had no way of knowing how reviews were affecting our business — whether they were helping or hindering our sales. And it really matters to us if our customers have a negative experience, so we can fix the problem — and, whenever possible, stop the same thing from happening to someone else.”

Solution

In 2010, Buyagift approached Bazaarvoice to implement a more sophisticated customer engagement programme — harnessing the experiences of users, as well as customers.

Like many great solutions, the answer was simple yet efficient. In order to be able to use their gift, customers have to register their voucher online and this engagement is used as an opportunity to capture email addresses. Around three weeks later, recipients are then invited to rate their experience. In one seamless process, it delivers a range of benefits:

  • enables a direct connection to the people who actually use products;
  • enhances reputation by delivering added value to users;
  • encourages follow on sales;
  • shows users that the company cares about what they think about their experiences; and
  • allows the company to stimulate authentic conversations on its website.

Bazaarvoice has also found a way to provide retrospective review of experiences that haven’t actually happened yet, such as St Valentine’s Day packages. Customers are offered the chance to win a preview and to review the experience through a promotion on Buyagift’s Facebook page. Now, these products are supported by a wealth of relevant ratings and reviews, so customers can buy with perfect confidence.

Results

From a point where the value of ratings and reviews was in doubt, with Conversations Buyagift now knows that its customers’ opinions are driving their business. During Christmas 2011, for example:

The company’s conversion rate for people who interacted with reviews was 171% higher than for people who didn’t; customers who interacted with reviews had a 10% higher average order value; they enjoyed 200% more page views per session; and spent 15% longer browsing the site.

Buyagift also harnesses reviews to describe their products in the ways, and focus on the features, that customers prefer. “We adopt the language that our customers use when they talk about our products, which makes the descriptions much more authentic and resonant,” said Sydenham. “That authentic customer voice tends to drive more clicks from visitors, which is what we want to see.”

Reviews inform all Buyagift’s marketing activities, incorporating them in print catalogues, email campaigns, website promotional banners and through Facebook and Twitter feeds. Incorporating word of mouth content into multiple communication touch-points ensures that consumers are reached where it is most convenient for them. In addition, Buyagift sponsors a ‘review of the month’ competition that generates even more, and more valuable, content.

Inspired by success in the UK, Buyagift is taking its review programme to France, Italy and Spain. “We’ll apply the lessons we’ve learned from our experiences in the UK to our international markets, and we look forward to having a positive effect on conversion, customer service, and overall marketing there, as well.”

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