In Margaret Atwood’s 1968 novel The Edible Woman, the main character Marian McAlphin is a market researcher. She works in the “people” department at Seymour Surveys, and it’s her job to gather information about customers by going door-to-door and manually conducting surveys and administering lengthy questionnaires.
In today’s world of digital media, Marian wouldn’t have a job. Or at least, if she did have a job, it would be at a company like TunTo, and, I can assure you, she wouldn’t be going door-to-door for anything.
These days, market research is conducted online. This makes sense, since most of the market is online. The Marian McAlphins of today work at TurnTo, a leading company in the field of social commerce. But rather than simply trying to gather information, the people at TurnTo are invested in stimulating conversation between online users, customers, and merchants.
This is a story about the recent collaboration of GoJane, a fashion website for tweens, and Turn To. But more than that, it’s a story about the new and innovative ways that marketers are tapping into online worlds to gather information about their consumer—in this case, tweens.
Before the collaboration of GoJane and Turn To, we knew little about the tween demographic and their online purchasing habits. We knew that tweens, those not-quite-children and not-quite teenagers, are between the ages of nine and twelve, have disposable income, and love Justin Beaber. But it’s typically difficult for children without credit cards to shop online, and GoJane, a website that sells affordable tween clothing, wanted to know more about their audience.
Enter TurnTo Networks. TurnTo offered their Social Commerce Suite Service to GoJane, including a recently launched “Ask Owners” application that allows tween shoppers to provide product information right on the GoJane website.
The results were impressive. In March alone, TurnTo brought over 1,700 past customers back to GoJane.com. The conversion rate of visitors interacting with TurnTo as over 700%, and over 20% of new orders came from shoppers who interacted with TurnTo. The system produced market retention marketing benefits, with an 11% answer rate on questionnaire emails.
Here’s how it works: TurnTo posts questionnaires on the GoJane site receives an average of 5.6 answers per question in less than 45 minutes—an unexpectedly high volume of results for a medium-size tween fashion website. This means that merchants such as GoJane can discover more about their consumers without relying on snail mail questionnaires or door-to-door product inquiry. Since the answers come directly and instantly from the users who’ve actually purchased the product, TurnTo is confident that the quality of their answers and the credibility of their source is very high.
Go Jane customers were also asked to provide comments at check-out time. “Why did you choose this?” the website prompts the purchaser. The TurnTo system taps into the merchant’s entire customer base to get accurate customer feedback. In turn, the merchant uses purchase behavior as a way to infer product knowledge.
TurnTo, which is based out of New York, provides social commerce applications for online merchants and allow authentic dialogue between shoppers, customers and the service provider directly on the merchant’s site. This generates fresh content for Search Engine Optimization, drives traffic from Facebook and Twitter, and brings previous customers back to the site. According to TurnTo, their SaaS product can be integrated in just a few hours to help convert users into buyers.
“We are especially excited about Ask Owners, because of the direct connection created between shoppers and past customers,” said Tony Pang, CEO of GoJane.com. “This authentic, fast dialog is what customers expect today, especially from a fashion forward, youth brand like ours.”
Pang explains, “The speed with which the TurnTo system produces answers and check-out comments means that fresh user-generated content is available for many new items soon after they are added to our catalog. With over a hundred new styles every week and a short shelf life for each, a slower approach just wouldn’t work.”
So while Marian McAlphain’s job may have been replaced by faster, more effective market research techniques, there’s still room for her in the social commerce digital world. For more information on TurnTo, visit their website here.