REVIEWS.io’s Rich Ball talks about hot tubs, the benefits of video reviews, and how to handle negative and fake reviews.
What do hot tubs have to do with customer reviews? Quite a lot according to REVIEWS.io’s Rich Ball. Rich introduces himself as the brand’s marketing and brand manager, even though his email signature claims he’s a senior front-end developer. Turns out, he’s a man of many talents filling both roles.
Rich Ball — REVIEWS.io Marketing & Brand Manager
REVIEWS.io is a feature-rich, reviews collections tool for ecommerce stores. It includes video reviews options, SMS reviews, Google ads, social proof, email collection, and more.
Customer reviews are vital to online stores for creating trust in your brand. They allow potential buyers to gain insights on how products and services were received by existing customers. As Rich puts it: “If you’ve got no customer feedback, it’s going to be a long while before people can potentially trust what you’re selling. If you can start with even a few reviews behind you, it makes a massive difference.”
He also points out that customers who’ve read reviews have an average order value that’s 10% higher than customers who don’t.
Anyway, I digress. Back to hot tubs. When REVIEWS.io added video uploads to its impressive list of features in 2021, they didn’t quite know what type of content to expect. “We thought the content would be more verbal, of people telling us about a product. But it turned out to be an insight into customers’ lives,” says Rich.
REVIEWS.io user, wavespas.com, sells portable hot tubs. Until they started receiving videos from their customers, through REVIEWS.io, Waves Spa didn’t know who exactly was buying their products and how they were being used. The videos showed how customers placed their hot tubs in their gardens and other surroundings and enjoyed them with friends.
wavespas.com's excellent use of REVIEWS.io on their PDP (product detail page)
“It was priceless for the brand to gain that insight, which they wouldn’t have been able to achieve in any other way,” says Rich. “They’ve gained a clearer picture of who their audience is and that’s going to help with their marketing and ultimately, conversion as well.”
This is an example of how REVIEWS.io, which has grown exponentially since it was established in 2010, has become about so much more than just customer feedback, Rich says.
“Reviews are a touch point to understand more about your customers and your products. You get to understand the customer’s experience, and it’s an opportunity to gain retention and build a relationship.”
The advantage of video to customers is more obvious. Customers can’t physically see a product when buying online. Watching a video which shows how another buyer is using a product can give them a better understanding of how that product might work for them.
“When it was only brick and mortar stores, you would pay huge amounts for test shoppers to give a customer experience report on products. Now you’re getting that first-hand at no extra cost to the people who are buying the product, and you’re getting that feedback from people who actually want these goods.”
We’re not going to harp on about the virus that shall not be named, but the explosion of online shoppers due to the pandemic certainly led to innovation in the ecommerce sector. It was no different at REVIEWS.io, where many new features have been developed over the past two years.
The Reviewer Attributes feature was launched early in the pandemic. This allows brands to ask questions about products and buyers (for example, did the product fit as described? Tell me a bit about yourself) to help them learn more about their products, but also to help other customers realize how the product might work for them.
“We’re enriching the products with more information that helps potential customers make informed decisions,”
REVIEWS.io also launched the Influence feature which links merchants to Instagram influencers that have bought their products, left them a review online, or mentioned the brand in a post. Merchants can share these posts or collaborate with their influencer customers on marketing campaigns.
On top of this, the company is also developing a tool which will allow merchants to understand what contributes to sales being made on their site. For instance, are customers most drawn in by text reviews, photos, or even videos? Knowing this will allow merchants to spend more time investing in and gathering that type of content.
As Rich chats to me from Leicester in the UK’s Midlands, brightly lit letters exclaiming “IN REVIEWS WE TRUST” stand out on the wall behind him. He points out that all the tools developed by REVIEWS.io help merchants to create a strategy around reviews collection.
“It’s really important to start strategizing,” he says. “The cost per acquisition is so huge now. That means you have to wow your customers and give them the experience they deserve because you’ve paid so much to gain those customers.”
It probably isn’t surprising that the most searched for and highest landed articles on REVIEWS.io’s blog is how to remove reviews. For many, the instinct to immediately get rid of negative reviews, is strong. But Rich advises against this:
“My advice to brands receiving a negative review is firstly, breath. Secondly, respond in good time.”
“Would you trust a brand that only had 1,000 five-star reviews and no negatives?” adds Rich. “Everyone understands that bad experiences happen and that things go wrong all the time. You can’t control everything. But what you can control is the process of responding.”
Rich’s team has worked out that customers are five times more likely to filter one-star reviews than any other. “They’re going to be looking for one-star reviews, not necessarily to see what bad things are happening, but rather looking to see how you respond to them.”
Rich encourages brands to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your good customer service. “Show all your customers that you can respond promptly and effectively and that you will resolve the issue,” he says. Once you’ve resolved a customer’s problem, you can ask them to amend their review.
While we’re on the topic of negative reviews, it’s completely normal for merchants to be concerned about fake reviews and the impact that these can have on their business.
What’s particularly cool about REVIEWS.io is that it’s a Licensed Google Partner. This means two things. Firstly, they are obligated to look out for fake reviews. The support team will investigate flagged reviews to determine whether they are legitimate or not. In addition, AI is in place to recognize certain words (such as profanity) and remove those reviews automatically.
Secondly, REVIEWS.io must give an equal opportunity to all paying customers to give a review, no matter how much or little they spent, or whether they’ll be giving a positive or negative review.
These are some of the significant differences between REVIEWS.io and other reviews tools, such as Shopify’s native tool. Rich says: “When people do publish reviews through the REVIEWS.io widget on the site, they publish it with our logo to give a trust signal saying that this is an independent voice, and that it is a true indication of our rating.”
As we’ve previously pointed out, third-party add-ons let merchants send these reviews to other sites like Trustpilot, Amazon and Facebook – making it easier for you to manage your reputation across the web.
Headquartered in Leicester, United Kingdom, REVIEWS.io also has offices in Australia, Germany and the US. Unlike many other reviews tools, REVIEWS.io doesn’t tie its customers into a contract, but rather works on a month-to-month basis. Customers can scale their plans up or down or pause them.
This came in handy for several merchants whose businesses came to a standstill during the pandemic. “It’s in our interests for our customers to survive. So, we’re not going to tie them down or give them large overheads, because it would never benefit us,” says Rich.
He explains that REVIEWS.io can be used by emerging brands as well as established brands that already have thousands of existing reviews. These can be migrated to REVIEWS.io so that you can continue to benefit from the reviews gathered previously.
REVIEWS.io also integrates with several other platforms such as Gorgias, Klaviyo and ChatBot. “All of these tools work together, and it allows you to have this tech stack that runs smoothly and each tool benefits by integrating with each other,” says Rich.
He points out that the ability to create a robust tech stack is one of the things he has appreciated when doing work with ShopCreatify (yes, that’s us)! “The guys at ShopCreatify recognize those best of breed techs. They can set up a solution for a brand that is going to be vital for them because they’re going to start with a solid solution. I think it’s an amazing opportunity for merchants,” says Rich.
To wrap up our chat, Rich, an avid rugby player, gives some sage advice for ecommerce merchants.
“Fail fast and get your ideas or products to market. If something’s not working, then change it. You might go into business selling blue squares and the market demands red squares. You have to adjust quickly and the important part is that you'll only realise this once you're in business.”
Rich points out that in this scenario new businesses have an advantage because they can be agile and react quickly. “Big businesses often have systems in place that makes it very hard for them to change.”
Having the right tools with which to run your business makes it easier to adapt to fast-changing markets, Rich concludes.
Masthead Photo by Michael Walk
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