Knowledge |

Interview: Marina Cheal, CMO at Reevoo, talks reviews, customers and conversions

This week on the blog, 3WhiteHats welcomes Marina Cheal, chief marketing officer at UGC collection platform, Reevoo. Experts in connecting brands with their customers, Reevoo understands the make-or-break value of harnessing real ratings and reviews online. Their philosophy is simple: ‘honesty is the only policy’. We caught up with Marina to dig deeper into how businesses can build brand trust through user generated content (and to bust a few myths too).

Let’s get started…

Are reviews more beneficial for SMEs or larger-scale businesses?

Reviews are beneficial to everyone – they help inform consumers about all the nooks and crannies of a product/service from actual users, they reassure consumers that you’re the right place to buy it from (a trustworthy brand) and then inspire people to click ‘buy’.

People are often reluctant to purchase online from unheard of brands, so in those cases, perhaps customer experience reviews (reviews of the buying experience/service rather than the product) help those businesses to reassure consumers that they’re a trusted brand. They’re also helpful in industries like banking or utilities where trust tends to be low.

How can businesses protect themselves against fake reviews?

Fake reviews are so abundant on sites like TripAdvisor that they’ve been banned from claiming that their reviews are trustworthy by the British Advertising Standard Authority. An Italian magazine even got a fake restaurant to #1 in the restaurant ratings with fake reviews.

Our recent research found that 75% of people are concerned by fake reviews and it affects their purchase decisions; it’s a real problem. But the solution is very simple: a closed review platform. On sites like Trustpilot, TripAdvisor and Amazon anyone can leave a review, from business owners to trolls – all they have to do is click the ‘write a review’ button.

Here at Reevoo we don’t have that option – we proactively email every customer (based on our clients’ purchase data) and encourage them to leave a review. This means that all reviews (positive or negative) are truthful and authentic.

Is there an optimal review length for achieving high conversions?

Good question! It’s not something we’ve empirically looked at before so I can’t give you an exact stat or figure. We get quite a large range of review lengths from people simply reviewing a product as “good” to essays about all kinds of stuff (pens and toilet paper, surprisingly, can inspire essays from people!). The optimal review is probably somewhere in between – consumers want concise nuggets of information.

What’s really important is that the information is well-structured. For example, we split our reviews into ‘good points’ and ‘bad points’. That way the brands can delve into that data a little easier than just trying to get meaning from an open text box.

Do old reviews hold more value than new reviews in influencing customer decisions?

Another good question. Anecdotally, old reviews are less effective than new ones (think of when you’re trying to choose a restaurant – new reviews aren’t suspicious). Where new and fresh content is measurably effective though is on the search results page. Google loves fresh content, embedded in the right way. A vibrant stream of reviews feeding onto a webpage is exactly that.

Are brand or product reviews more valuable for boosting ROI?

It’s completely dependent on the size of the company and the industry. For instance, let’s look at some of our larger clients who are car or appliance manufacturers. It doesn’t make as much sense for them to have customer experience reviews as consumers aren’t buying their product directly from them – they’re buying them from dealerships or retailers. Those kinds of companies get their ROI from product reviews. Otherwise, it’s more of a case by case thing; some of our clients see CX reviews as more valuable than product reviews and some vice versa.

Why is a third-party platform better than collating reviews yourself?

A few reasons, but of course, it depends on the platform. Some third-party platforms still allow fake reviews through; others don’t tag the content properly… they basically just provide some software and let you get on with it. And in some cases, that’s fine. But if you want to do it properly and get the conversion/SEO benefits from it, it’s worth investigating the different platforms out there.

Let’s imagine we’re talking about a closed platform like Reevoo – we’ve got a pretty detailed blog on it.

Are bad reviews always bad? How can businesses flip potentially negative exposure into a positive result?

Companies, understandably, can be scared of getting bad reviews, but they’re actually good for business. I’ll prove it to you with a couple of stats from our own research:

– 70% of people are suspicious when they only see positive reviews and 83% of over 55s (2017, Flyresearch).
– 68% of people trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores (2013, Insight Research).
– 95% of people suspect censorship when they don’t see bad scores (2013, Insight Research).

No company or product is perfect. Consumers want complete information so they can make a rational decision. If they only see positive reviews they suspect censorship and aren’t able to make a balanced decision.

Consumers who seek out negative reviews (compared to the average uninformed consumer) have an 85% higher conversion rate, so a bad review is actually one of the most effective tools in a marketer’s arsenal. It’s also good for a company to get a few bad reviews so they can see where they’re going wrong, then make improvements to their product or service.

What’s the value of using rich snippets / structured data in reviews?

When consumers are searching online they’re inherently attracted by good star ratings; page results that have rich snippets have an increased click through rate (CTR) of 30%. So, companies that structured their reviews correctly to get Google Snippets will have a massive benefit over their competitors in search results.

In your opinion, what’s the future of rich snippets / structured data (voice search, Google Home etc)?

However we end up accessing data – whether it’s smartphone, voice search, connected home or a chip injected into our brain by aliens – the data has to be well structured. We see shades of the future now with Google’s development of the ‘quick answers’ box at the top of certain search queries. Businesses that aren’t smart about how they structure their digital content will soon become invisible.

What are the benefits of user generated content versus site generated content?

69% of people trust UGC over brand-created images. People prefer to see authentic images of holidays and products rather than stock images or brand created images. There’s a bit more on the effect of UGC across the whole purchase journey here.

Do reviews really impact conversion rate?

Yep! For retailers, the average rate of uplift in revenue is 18%. And as you’ll see in this blog, conversion rates keep increasing as the volume of reviews increases with no real plateau.

How can businesses encourage customers to leave reviews?

You’ve got to be proactive in requesting customers to leave a review, but that’s got to be done right. Send your emails at the right time, make sure your purchaser data is correct so you email everyone – and you’ve got to make sure there’s a clear call to action… Or better yet, just read our guide to collecting a ton of reviews.