Faced with an impossible number of choices and competing products, online and in-store shoppers have an endless stream of questions when considering purchases. And those questions need answering if you want your online browsers to turn into customers. That’s where a good question and answer platform comes in.
According to Pew, the ability to ask questions is a key deciding factor for consumers and is second only to price competitiveness. And in a study, the Harvard Business Review found that consumers value easy access to reliable information about products while shopping, with many reporting that FAQs and online question and answer platforms are valuable resources.
The simple truth is that unanswered questions can keep shoppers from buying your products and, even worse, cause potential customers to distrust your brand. If someone came into your physical store and asked you a question, you wouldn’t ignore them. So why ignore them online?
For good reason, question and answer platforms have become a staple in e-commerce. These tools allow brands and other consumers to directly answer product questions from in-market shoppers. That’s a big benefit to shoppers, but it’s an even bigger benefit for your brand.
Question and answer platform key benefits
Building a question and answer platform into your product pages enables you to have a one-to-one conversation with your shoppers. Whenever you’re able to have a direct channel to your audience, especially when they’re ready to make a purchase, your brand will benefit.
Here’s the the top reasons to include a question and answer platform on your e-commerce site.
1. Reach shoppers at key decision moments
Let’s start with the biggest benefit of question and answer platforms: When shoppers are asking questions, they’re engaged and already well into the decision stage. In short, they’re ready to buy something and just waiting for validation.
There’s two types of common consumer questions:
- With quantitative questions, shoppers are asking or looking for product-specific questions that center around features. “Does this dress come in black?”, “How many HDMI ports does this TV have?”, “Is this gluten-free?” These questions focus on the hard details of a product or service.
- On the other hand, qualitative questions tend to focus on more subjective product details and personal opinions: “Is this a good blender for green smoothies?”, “What do you think of the picture quality on this TV?” These types of questions see the shopper trying to either validate or discredit their own opinions. In short, they’re looking for a second opinion, preferably from someone who has already experienced the product.
When you can provide answers to these two kinds of questions, it makes for a powerful combination. Facts and figures quickly reduce uncertainty about your product, but decisions tend to be rooted in emotion. Quantitative questions give shoppers facts and figures, while qualitative questions tell a story about the product.
2. Organically build a list of FAQs to increase conversion
One type of question and answer platform is frequently asked questions (FAQs). Aka one of the most tried-and-true methods of improving consumer confidence. The same study as above by Harvard Business Review showed the value of making it easy for consumers to gather, understand, and weigh their options. Brands that did this well were:
- 86% more likely to be purchased by the consumers considering them
- 9% more likely to be repurchased
- 115% more likely to be recommended to others
The easier a brand makes the purchase-decision journey, the better, and an FAQ list can move shoppers quickly towards validation.
But making an FAQ can be tough. You have to do customer research to identify common questions and pain points, and then you have to answer them. And you have to do that across all of your products. This can be a project.
So what if you crowdsourced your FAQs? What if you could identify exactly which questions continue to crop up from interested consumers about your products?
With the right question and answer platform, you can do just that. By giving shoppers a platform to ask their questions, you build yourself a powerful repository of consumer insight into common questions you’re facing in the market. You can answer your potential customer’s questions before they’ve even had to ask it.
3. Build more social proof around your products
Social proof has been one of the buzzier concepts in e-commerce over the past few years and for good reason. It explains a psychological and social phenomenon where people look to their peers to figure out the right thing to do. It’s the “if everyone is doing it, then I should be” feeling.
In the context of commerce, it’s a powerful force. Simply put, people often turn to their peers when making purchasing decisions. That’s why user-generated content (UGC), like ratings and reviews, has proved so successful in e-commerce. At its most basic, it prove that other people are using something.
Question and answer platforms scratch a similar itch. In addition to allowing customers to ask questions and find answers, they also show shoppers that other people are interested in — and own — the product in question. But Q&A goes one step further than ratings, reviews, and other forms of UGC — it allows shoppers to ask why the crowd is moving in a certain direction.
We want to know that other people have shared our experience. More importantly, we want to know that the choice we are making is the choice that other people have made.Crazy Egg — web analytics tool
Research has shown that the more UGC and social likes, shares, and follows a product or brand has, the more likely it is to command respect. Sometimes all it takes to get a customer to click the buy button is to show them that other people have already hit that same button.
4. Boost SEO with key content to attract more shoppers
When you’re juggling a lot of products — and multiple product pages — it’s likely that you’re missing details somewhere. The more information you provide on product pages, the more customer questions you answer and the better your page performs in search.
Shoppers tend to ask questions when there’s a lack of information, which can help you identify content gaps on your site and then fill them with keyword-rich content.
As an added bonus, allowing customer questions on your site organically boosts your SEO. First, when your product pages are constantly being updated with new questions and answers, your pages have fresh content, which positively impacts your search ranking.
Second, people’s search queries often match the keywords in customer questions, so your pages rank higher and people are driven straight to your products. Let a question and answer platform do the heavy SEO lifting on your product pages for you.
The best question and answer platform on the market
From the original bazaar to the new connected marketplace, shopping has long been a social activity — consumers ask each other questions, talk to store assistants, and examine and compare products. While e-commerce has changed that, the tools that bring those in-store experiences online have helped fill the experiential gap.
Question and answer platforms do just that, offering up answers to shoppers when they’re on the cusp of making a decision, convincing them to buy. And they’re very convincing at it. For example, when brands and retailers use Bazaarvoice’s own question and answer platform, allowing them to answer questions at-scale within minutes, they see a 98% average conversion lift.
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