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In episode 26 of the Customers Who Click podcast I had the pleasure of chatting with Callum McKeefery, the founder of REVIEWS.io all about social proof, reviews, and how businesses can leverage these properly.
These days trust is more important than ever. Customers almost always check reviews before making a purchase, and they want to be sure that these reviews are genuine and trustworthy so using a 3rd party platform is almost non-negotiable now.
But it’s not just collecting reviews and putting them on display on your product pages, there’s so much more value to be gained from them. They can be used across social media, in your emails and blog, in your advertising and even just as feedback to help your company develop and grow. A lot of companies are missing out on huge value here by simply collecting reviews and not doing anything with them.
Callum Mckeefery is the founder and CEO of REVIEWS.io He bootstrapped the company to a $10m plus turnover. The company employs 73 people across the UK, Germany, USA & Australia.
03:47 - 14:18 - Callum introduces us to social proof & reviews - Trust has been key for online businesses since the start really, Amazon & Ebay in particular have always had that review element to them, whether its the classic 1-5 star rating, or ebays Recommend or not feedback. Even with something like Uber, where your rider rating doesn’t matter to anyone outside of Uber, people are still proud to show off a high rating. But most importantly, reviews need to be trustworthy, and verified. Review fraud is a massive problem and can be incredibly destructive to a brands reputation if they’re caught.
14:35 - 17:16 - Myths & Misconceptions about Reviews - The main one is simply that negative reviews are bad for your business. Not only can it be really good feedback for your business and help you grow, but it gives you chance to reach out publicly and address the issue. If you can resolve it, you can get your review changed, and it also means that other potential customers see you making a real effort with your customers and being proactive to resolve any issues. The other main misconception is that incentivising reviews will generate you more, positive reviews. It actually lowers trust in your brand as the perception is that your reviews are bought not earnt, and only gets you reviews from people doing it for the incentive.
17:18 - 21:19 - Gatewaying - Interestingly it was I that brought this topic up as something I’ve done, but actually gatewaying, the process of funnelling happy customers to reviews, and unhappy customers away from those platforms, is actually frowned upon by platforms, and Google and Yelp don’t allow this process. So while it can seem like a great way to generate positive reviews, and handle complaints more discreetly, it actually might not be a good idea.
21:20 - 27:03 - How to Get Started With Reviews - Focus on company reviews first, get your first 100 on your company as a whole, get them listed on Trustpilot, Reviews.io, Google etc, and once you’ve built that early base of trust, then start getting the product specific reviews. They’re so important for conversion, but start with the company first to build trust in your brand. The other big piece of really honest advice, was to avoid long term contracts with review platforms. Finally regarding collecting reviews, be really focused with your messaging, really focus on the review and don’t ask for a social media follow, or cross sell.
27:15 - 33:50 - Biggest Mistakes Brand Make - Apart from gatewaying and incentivising, the other big mistake is getting timing wrong. You can’t go back to really old customers and ask for reviews as they won’t remember their experience, and may not even remember your brand so you’ll get nonsense reviews, and negative reviews saying this unknown company is spamming them for reviews. Not managing your reviews is the other one, so not replying to them and dealing with negative issues, but also not making use of your reviews and putting them to use in your marketing. Too many brands leave it as a passive tool, let reviews build up but assume that people will actively go to the platform to check them.
34:10 - 39:48 - What are the Big Trends Coming Up - Video is going to be massive, its growing on every platform really, and reviews will really benefit from this. It’s the most genuine, powerful type of testimonial you can get, so definitely worth pushing for. Then using reviews to improve internal processes, by understanding exactly what the feedback relates to, and identifying the department or person responsible for either the positive or negative response, and using that to improve.
40:21 - 43:45 - Callums Pet Peeves - Evergreen sales. Those discounts which never end, or never really began in the first place because it’s actually the price they’ve always sold at. It’s not really marketing, it’s a focus on discounting instead of value. The other pet peeve is CEOs and founders who don’t put themselves out there, don’t build their personal brand and be the face of the business. It’s another thing which is becoming more and more important, people want to engage with a brand they trust, and if they recognise and like the founder or CEO, that will contribute to that.
43:56 - 47:35 - What does Callum think the most Underrated Aspect of Marketing Is? - Sites like Reddit are quite underutilised by brands, and to be fair its a difficult platform to get traction on, they really hate marketing and sales on there so you’ve got to be genuine and offer help and good content. The other aspect is integrations with big platforms as you can basically let them do the marketing for you. If you get an app on Shopify, then people find you via the Shopify app market, rather than googling for your service. So big, strategic integrations can work really well, just make sure it’s one that will actually benefit you in the long run.
If you’d like to hear more from Callum add him on LinkedIn, he posts some great content around reviews and is really honest and upfront with his opinions. You can also head to REVIEWS.io to find out more about the business.