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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : February 17, 2010

Tips for increased recommendation engagement

When it comes to recommendations, logic states that any recommendation is enough. That is actually a fallacy. Bad recommendation content, irrelevant recommendations or recommendations from unreliable sources can actually hurt not only conversions but the brand itself. Here are some tips for bettering the recommendations on your website.

by Kristina Knight

"Some retailers have been exploring different types of recommendations, but have been burned on the quality," said Lori Trahan, Vice President of Marketing & Communication with ChoiceStream. "If you have the quality of the recommendations pegged, then [you] can put more recommendations up on-site. But, if you're still struggling with obtaining quality recommendations stick with fewer recommendations which are good quality."

A recent ChoiceStream survey found that nearly two-thirds of consumers are unhappy with the recommendations offered to them. Consumers report that recommendations are not relevant or that they include bad information. So, what makes a good recommendation?

"You want to include a product image, a product description, an average product rating and sale information on markdowns or clearance items," said Ms. Trahan. "You want to show as much as possible in the recommendation."

And, placement does matter. According to Ms. Trahan the money pages are the best option. "Money pages, or pages with lots of traffic and a healthy conversion rate should get the bulk of recommendations," said Ms. Trahan. "These pages are usually the shopping cart pages, product detail pages and even brand-specific pages. Most recommendations can be tailored to a specific category or, better yet, a brand."

And recommendations should also include cross-sell or up-sell items. For example, a consumer who is looking at new laptop computers should also be shown recommendations for printers, laptop cases or even cooling products to be used in conjunction with the computer.

One other point that Ms. Trahan makes is that ratings do help consumers make purchase decisions.

"We've seen instances where putting the average customer rating helps the quality of the recommendation," said Ms. Trahan. "There is no question in my mind that customer reviews and ratings influence purchases. As long as consumers are shopping with a trusted brand, a brand where they've not been steered wrong in the past, they will be influenced by ratings and reviews."

Read Part I of BizReport's Recommendation Tips series here.

Tags: ChoiceStream, ecommerce, online recommendations, online shopping, product recommendation, product reviews, recommendations

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