Bazaarvoice Stories: Drafting UGC To Boost Site Traffic, Sales

philosophy websiteBazaarvoice has launched Bazaarvoice Stories, its latest product aimed at helping advertisers boost Web site traffic and drive sales through user-generated content (UGC). Brands including Philosophy, David's Bridal and jeweler James Avery tested the platform, which invites users to search for, share and sometimes even win prizes for their brand-related stories.

Bazaarvoice Stories exists as an extension of a brand's Web site, much like Ratings & Reviews and Ask & Answer, the Austin, Texas-based company's other UGC-focused products--although advertisers can also choose to develop a Stories microsite. The API-based platform can be customized to match a site's overall look and feel, and can be changed to reflect seasonal promotions.

Users can upload photos and video along with their stories and vote for the best experiences, as well as share them via email and social networks, including Facebook. Human moderators ensure that the content is appropriate (as predetermined by the brand) and tagged for analytics, and the keyword-rich pages also serve to increase organic search traffic.

In Philosophy's case, the cosmetics company developed a Mother's Day promotion dubbed "What's Your Mom's Philosophy?" that let users share their moms' outlook on life as bolstered by a story, and enter her for a chance to win a $1,200 shopping spree. Users' moms would also receive an email on Mother's Day directing them to their tribute page.

Philosophy promoted the Stories microsite through email and paid search in April, and coverage from bloggers like celebrity makeup artist Agostina Lombardo also generated awareness. Users submitted over 1,000 stories, and in May, almost 40% of all traffic to the philosophy.com home page stemmed from the Stories page.

Stories visitors also proved to be highly valuable, as they spent more time on the site (81% higher page views), spent more per order (20% higher order value) and bought more items (19% more items per order) on average than visitors who came through other Web channels in the same time period. And that direct, positive sales impact is what separates Bazaarvoice Stories from other UGC-based products, according to Sam Decker, Bazaarvoice's CMO.

"Stories are interesting forms of brand-related UGC, because they show how consumers have been involved with a brand on a deeper level," Decker said. "Of course, they'll drive affinity and awareness, but ultimately a product needs to drive sales, particularly in tough economic times. If a company says 'we want to do something in social media' one of the first questions that need to be answered is: what's the ROI going to be. And with Stories, as well as our other products, that value is clear."

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