importance of transparency in e-commerce

The Importance Of Transparency In e-Commerce (Fireside Chat)

Sam Carr

Sam Carr

January 14th, 2021

Sam obsesses over three things in life: Animals, Films and Marketing. We may have over exaggerated his love for marketing.

ppc protect marketing salary survey

Recently we held a fireside chat with some special guests from Mabo Media and Reviews.io discussing the importance of transparency in e-Commerce and how important online reviews are for customers.

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Table Of Contents

Amar: [00:00:00] Welcome to the first of many fireside chats that we will be running throughout 2021 here at PPC Protect.

Today we’re going to start off and discuss the importance of transparency in e-commerce. And I’ve got some top guests with me to offer their expertise in this matter.

So we’ve got Neil Andrew. He’s my CEO and CEO of PPC Protect who protects over a hundred million dollars worth of e-commerce ad spend for fashion brands, such as Nike, Hugo Boss, and Diesel to name a few. And then we’ve also got Callum McKeefery here, and he is the CEO of Reviews.io.

And Reviews.io are a review and social proof platform to hundreds of e-commerce stores, such as, you know, brands like, Euro car parts. And then we’ve also got Lee Mableson. He is the MD of Mabo digital agency and e-com PPC specialist agency. And they help over 400 active clients achieve some huge ROIs for people you might have heard of such as Boomf and New Era.

So we’re going to keep this to about 30 minutes. And over that next half an hour, we’re going to touch on a number of questions related to our main topic, which I’ll come to in a minute. And these were kind of questions that were, sent in and asked for by some of the people and some of our clients that we work with.

So I just want you to all kind of relax, grab a brew and enjoy the session. So the importance of transparency in e-commerce. The first question we got asked is: how important is transparency in today’s world?

So Callum, do you want to start this one off?

How Important Is Transparency In Today’s World?

transparency

Callum: [00:02:09] Yeah, I think. I massively, I mean, transparency’s that got to be your number one thing. Now that consumers expect transparency around delivery returns, payment options, and then the social proof building into that transparency from what your past customers have experienced and having genuine reviews there. But also that those other elements as well, you know your delivery, your returns, your payment options.

They are your big things now, you’ve got to have them. And if you’ve not got those transparent elements towards your business, you really not going to be able to compete because the big, big players like ASOS, Amazon, Misguided and Boohoo are transparent about their returns.

They are transparent about their payment options and really upfront, you know, you’ve got to have it.

Lee: [00:03:10] I think, you know, in terms of businesses in general, people seek information it’s part of their checkout processes, and they’ll go through all of the steps and mental checks for themselves to try and find information. If they can’t find it, if it’s a stumbling block for them that sort of puts them off. Or, you know, that they would have to get in touch to ask a specific question, about returns or about whatever that might be, then it puts people off it. The worst thing you can do in commerce and business is trying to distract someone from taking the action that we actually want them to take. The ultimate goal is for them to check out and these steps in information to do that, then, don’t keep it from. It just doesn’t make sense to, especially when it would be, it would be typical answers, I suppose.

So why keep that to yourself? But it’s really important, and it is really key having that sort of being as open as people wanting to be is key to success. I think, especially in econ, people don’t want to talk to you. They don’t want to pick up the phone anymore. They don’t want to have that conversation; they don’t have to send an email. Just give them all the information that they need to fulfill the action that you want them to. And then, hopefully, they will, or, certainly a high percentage of them.

Neil: [00:04:26] Yeah, I would a hundred percent agree with that. I think you touched on a really key point there, about having that information immediately accessible as well. We live in, I guess the social media age, if you want to call it that, everyone’s hitting Twitter with a five second attention span and you don’t hit them in that time, then you’re going to lose them.

So I think having all of that immediately available, whether it’s e-com or whether it’s other areas of business as well. I think transparency is more and more important. I mean, you go back 30, 40 years and you have your business dealings done. Smokey boardrooms with the blinds drawn in it’s all a little bit underworld and a bit mysterious.

It’s just not like that anymore. You guys obviously see it in e-com, we see with the commerce sites, we see it in the SaaS space. So it’s all about being upfront of who you are, what you do, who you work with, what the outcomes are. Just basically get people that information and you’re, you’ll be much more successful.

Amar: [00:05:17] Yeah. So saying that guys, do you think, transparency, obviously in business, it affects sales a lot? Have you guys experienced when it’s not, or if you’ve not been as transparent or if you know of, maybe competition or anything like that, and how it might affect sales as well?

Does Transparency Affect Sales?

transparency affect sales

Lee: [00:05:37] Yeah, we do a lot of work with, with Google, 90% of the management services we offer is done through Google ads. But they are on top of it. Now they’re trying to police things, you know, if advertisers don’t have returns policies on websites then we can’t put them forward for Google shopping and things. So they’re trying to sort of encourage that.

If people don’t know of how safe they are in terms of return policy, how much time they’ve got to do that, what the process is, whether they are there for that return or not. It’s all things that will stop people from getting to that end goal. I always try and think of my own personal circumstances when I’m shopping. Cause a lot of it’s just common sense, we’re buyers as well.

We shop online, we use e-commerce to get loads of Amazon packages delivered and stuff, it’s that type of environment. You have to put yourself in those shoes.  If you didn’t have certain information that you would need, it would put you off from checking out.

So yeah, I think sales numbers would be absolutely be impacted by that information. And as I said, we’re in an age of people that just don’t want to talk anymore. They want everything in front of them, and that’s key.

Callum: [00:06:55] The best thing an e-commerce company can do. Is ring up their past 10 customers and ask them, what was the hesitations before they purchased?

What were the things that they looked at? Ring up their past customers and go right before you purchase, where there’s, what was the process? What was the thing that you hesitated about? And then try and answer that on your site. And that’s what you really should be doing is removing these hesitation points.

And having these transparent and trust factors on your page removes these hesitation points. But if you don’t know what they are, just ask your past customers, get close to your past customers. So then you know what those hesitation points are because every business is different. Talking about SaaS and talking about insurance and talking about e-commerce.

No, all of those are different, and they’re all gonna have different pain points that need to be addressed. With e-commerce massively, you need your returns, your delivery, your reviews and your payment options. With insurance, it’s different elements, but if you don’t know what they are, the best thing you can do is speak to your past customers and try and learn from them.

That’s what we’re doing for our own solution for reviews.io. We speak to our past customers and go, right, you’re a client now, but what were your hesitation points? We do that with clients, but also people that don’t sign up with us and maybe sign up with another platform.

And then we’ll surface those, points higher on our pages so that we try and answer them. So we’re removing those hesitation points and pushing people down the funnel faster. I think that’s what transparency does. It gets people through your buying journey, much, much quicker, which ultimately leads to more effective advertising and more sales.

Neil: [00:09:06] I really like that take on speaking to your past ten customers. I think a lot of SaaS companies are probably fairly similar. We do that, we go out to our previous customers. The ones we win, the ones we don’t win. And we said to them: why didn’t you convert? Or why did you convert?

What convinced you and so on? But I think in e-commerce, it’s something that isn’t really done, there’s not much thought in it. It’s just an order comes in, package out, send it out, that’s it, it’s done, but actually you do need that client communication. You need to be able to speak with them and get that feedback because you’re not going to get it any other way.

We saw a study that our own data backs up in the SaaS space, but I’m sure it’s just as applicable in e-commerce and it’s for SaaS companies. One out of every 20 customers who encounter a bug, we’ll tell you about that bug. So you have 19 people that are encountering that bugs that are not interacting with you in any way and are not telling you.

Now, if you translate that into e-commerce, you’re going to have maybe one out of every 10 visitors, for example, to your site that actually bought something and nine out of 10, it didn’t for some reason, and you’re not going to figure out what that reason is unless you actually get out there and ask those people.

And I think being creative about that as well. There’s nothing wrong with picking up the phone, ringing a customer, and saying oh you placed an order from us. I just love to hear about your experience. If I was the customer on that end, that would make me an advocate of that brand for life.

It shows they value my opinion, I’m going to go back and buy from them again. And I think so many e-commerce companies are just trying to set it and forget it.

Callum: [00:10:32] Its basically throwing boxes out the door and I think that’ll change. I think this, box shippers with the market will change on them and because they aren’t close enough to the customer, that’s really what we’re talking about. To be successful in the current market.

I don’t care whether it’s e-commerce insurance or, or SaaS technology or even services like, yours Lee. The closer you can get to the customer is who’s going to win. And if you can get a better understanding of your customer, whether that’s you’re selling socks online or whether you’re a review company, like us, if you can understand what their hesitation points are, I think you’re going to always win.

And you can do this via live chat. So if you’ve got your live chats set up when that person comes back onto site, you, you can see that they ordered in the past and you can go, right, hold on. I’m going to interact and ask questions that way. As well as doing the traditional, picking up the phone, you can actually do it, via prompts and so forth.

 I think you can set up an Intercom where it actually prompts a chat. I’m sure you can do the same in other live chats as well.

Lee: [00:11:54] I’m gonna jump on that you don’t have to speak to anybody bandwagon, which obviously we were trying to go against here. But there’s a user explorer report in Google analytics. Obviously, I’m not trying to take anything away from speaking to people and picking up the phone.

And doing that is absolutely the best thing to do as it’s very personal. But yea there’s user explorer, reports and analytics. You can also see individual pages so if you can see that people are reviewing a returns purchase or privacy policy, or, you know, whatever it might be and then exit the site, there’s obviously an issue of that.

Callum: [00:12:24] Yeah. Massively. Yeah. I mean, I’m a big advocate of the analytics stuff we use analytics daily. Well, everyone should do because you can monitor your leakage.  If your leakage goes up, if your bounce rate goes up and then they’re not finding the information they need on your site then that’s what you need to be doing is closing that gap.

Neil: [00:12:47] Yeah, we had one of our e-commerce customers share some stats with us, which I thought was pretty interesting. 42% of visitors to their site check their returns policy before completing the purchase. And what they found was that their returns policy, so many returns policies that I see they’re written in “legalees” I guess is what you could call them rather than plain English.

It’s so difficult to understand what they actually mean. And if you’re 42% of your shoppers are, this was a massive multinational brand. So they’ve already got a pretty good brand authority behind him, but you think people are going to trust them.

Yet 40% of their users are still checking out that returns policy before they buy anything. If you’re a much smaller, more nichey e-commerce business that perhaps competing against these types of brands, and you don’t have a returns policy that’s super clear and plain English makes it very, very obvious what the is going to get.

You don’t have a chance really do you?.

Callum: [00:13:40] See, for me, that’s a mega number, like that’s huge. I would imagine maybe 2% or 3%. So to say, I’m looking at what, what we see, because obviously we’ve got widgets on pages and we can see where people go almost like an analytics tool within reviews.io.

And that’s a massive, massive number. So whoever that is, there is something out there whether they know about it, like it, or there’s something out there, maybe a forum or a review platform is talking about them having a bad returns policy or something. For that many people to be checking that returns policy so that company should be resolving that.

Simplifying the returns policy and surfacing that returns policy to build trust right at the top of their site, almost the second thing on their site or third thing after the hero image is their returns policy because that’s their leakage. If getting 42% on that is going to be huge.

Neil: [00:14:46] Yeah. And their returns policy is trash by the way. That’s why I’m not naming them.

Callum: [00:14:52] But I’d be worried about that. I’d be saying there is something out there that on a forum, review sites or something talking about returns being a problem.

Amar: [00:15:10] Just going to move on slightly. So this question came up quite a lot from people that wrote in and asked us to talk about stuff.

And I’ve got feeling you guys are going to have, a lot to say about this one. Are fake reviews becoming a problem in e-commerce? I think it’s a, quite a touchy subject for most, but quite important.

Are Fake Reviews Becoming A Problem In E-Commerce?

fake reviews

Neil: [00:15:46] Callum is itching to answer this one!

Amar: [00:15:46] I can see him. He’s ready to go there, he’s suddenly wound up!

Callum: [00:15:50] I think that’s a massive problem for society in general, but massive e-commerce companies like Amazon and my competitor Trustpilot. I’m mentioning them because Amazon and Trustpilot, because if you go on Twitter or you go on Facebook or, whatever you go on. You can just search on Google, and there’s all these places where you can go and buy fake reviews, and it’s a massive problem.

And it’s one that as a review platform and CEO of a review platform, we take super seriously and we have to try and combat that. I don’t think at the minute, the technology to combat fake reviews is as good as the people doing the fake reviews. In general, there is a couple of companies like ourselves, which are doing a really good job of spotting fakes and removing them.

Fake reviews are easier to spot when the reviewer adds user generated content. So what I mean by that is the videos and images that add a much stronger trust signal to the actual review itself. Some other the ways people try and fake reviews is getting good. For starters, they’re changing IP address.

We do cookie drops. So we track device, screen size, browser and IP. Obviously, every little bit that we can get from those headers we’ll use to try and identify a fake review. Now, even that then becomes hard. So what we’ve now done is done natural language processing.

So we’ll then look at the review itself and how it was written and the word used. And then I had a crazy idea. I was on the phone to the bank one day, and they said your voice is your password. They let me in because what they were doing there was using fluctuations in my voice as my password.

That made me think about people’s typing. Every single person, listening to this, watching this online right now, types differently. Every single person, they hold down certain characters longer than other characters and the space in between those characters is different. We now monitor that.

We catch people who one minute, call themselves John on one IP, one device, one browser, switch over and call themselves Alison. And they’re using the same device, same keyboard. I can tell if it’s still a fake review by the typing pattern. That’s how far it’s gone. That’s how far fake finding fake reviews has got, but the market as a whole, hasn’t caught up to that.

They’re not doing that yet. You know, it’s going to take Amazon really to, to fix the mistrust and fake reviews. If you’re an e-commerce provider listening, don’t buy fake reviews, please, because you will get found out, you will get caught. And the damage that that does, for your brand. You don’t recover from, it’s not something you can bounce back from.

Generally the consumers are very good at spotting fakes. So people reading them are good, and they’ll come in, and then they’ll go, that’s fake reviews on that account. Then they’ll go and put it on a forum, then they’ll go and put it on Facebook. And then that gets around that you’ve now got fake reviews on your site and it can just be so damaging.

So don’t do, if you’re an e-commerce provider, don’t do fake reviews. You will get caught out eventually.

Lee: [00:20:36] It’s the best way to describe it, it’s just cheating. It’s a massive, trust signal for people to check out and to spend money with an appetizer, to cheat that. It’s wrong, ethically.

Callum: [00:20:55] We’ve seen some crazy things about companies actually doing astroturfing, which is where you talk bad about your competitor. What we’re seeing also is you reviewing your competitors in a negative light. And we’ve seen that a lot on Amazon.

Last year, Amazon had a huge problem with that. They have fixed part of it now, by using the login IPS to track the review IPS. But they had a big problem with competitive sellers, negatively reviewing each other’s products on Amazon. Then basically they’d have this massive spike just before Christmas, because there’s like a three month ban.

If you get so many negative reviews, you get banned. You get put in the sin bin and literally you’d get put in the sin bin over Christmas. So in the last year, that happened to a major electrical retailer who, who was selling components, but actually got banned from selling those components on Amazon over Christmas period due to fake negatives.

Neil: [00:22:14] The big problem with Amazon as well is it’s not really their incentive to stop fake reviews. To make it look like they’re perhaps just about doing enough, but the more user generated content they have, the more reviews they have.

Callum: [00:22:27] That’s what I was going to say. It’s user generated content.

It increases their sales, right? The reason why people fake reviews is because they’re powerful. If they held no power, there’s no point in faking them. People fake them because they increase their conversion.

But don’t do it because it’s damaging, you don’t need to. Concentrate on your customer. Do good delivery, offer exactly what you’re selling and you’ll get great reviews. You don’t need to do fakes. It’s so easy to collect good reviews. But yeah I think it’s a worry for the whole e-commerce ecosystem.

Neil: [00:23:12] I agree with that. I mean, for Amazon specifically, there are things like fakespot.com which are quite useful, you can stick a product and they’ll tell you if it’s legit or not. But then the argument there is for a small start, I think it’s run by two people. So if small two-person startup can do that, why can’t one of the world’s biggest companies? Like you say, it’s not in their interest, is it?

Callum: [00:23:33] When I actually pitched some of the tech that we’ve been working on to Amazon, the keyboard tracking, and no interest.

Neil: [00:23:50] We see similar in the ad space as well. The ones that are selling the ads aren’t necessarily interested in verifying if they’re legitimate or not, it’s the same on Amazon’s side, isn’t it is. They’re not necessarily interested in verifying if those reviews are legitimate or not. I do think as well is a problem that goes beyond e-commerce as well.

I know in our space, not going to name any names. But in our industry, there are people that are known for huge amounts of obviously fake reviews and huge amounts of fake reviews that have been removed. And then they’ve done it again on the same platform, and you think the cheek of it, you know, can you get away with that?

But what a lot of these companies don’t realize is they sit down, they go on Google and type buy Google reviews or buy whatever reviews and they think, oh, I’ll just buy a few nobody will know. It’s easy to find out if you look at the review history of the profile as well, but that’s kind of where they leave it.

And what a lot of people don’t realize is this isn’t just unethical. It’s highly illegal, you can actually be criminally prosecuted in the US for doing this. And a lot of people don’t see that.

Callum: [00:24:59] No, I agree. I’ve had problems with fake reviews, being written about reviews.io.

By our biggest competitor, doesn’t take a genius to work out who our biggest competitor is. I’ve called them out multiple times. Now, if I was wrong, they would sue me. They would own my house. They’ve never even tried to sue me. I provided all the evidence to them, and they were like… oh. They didn’t even offer an apology.

But it was somebody in the US who had written several fake reviews and one of them was on ourselves. And pretending to be a client of reviews.io and writing reviews.io is rubbish, does many things, but not good at any of them. And I just responded. I think you’re, maybe this certain competitor.

Neil: [00:26:02] I wonder if that’s the sound bite we should take for advertising this?

Amar: [00:26:07] I mean, in a way, I suppose it’s quite flattering, isn’t it? That competitors like that who is of that scale that are going out their way to try and rubbish your company, because they’re clearly worried about what you do.

Callum: It’s hilarious. Probably at that time, I was 15 people. Stuck in an office in Leicester. If they were worried, then they want to be really be well right now.

Amar: [00:26:43] I suppose it stresses the importance of what you do as well Callum at reviews.io. Because obviously harder to fake unless you’re going to go out and really find some good actors out there.

Callum: [00:27:06] Even then you can’t do it. You know the difference between someone, a mom who’s just got some bedding for a kid or like an actor. There’s the passion which comes through on video.

Knowledge comes through on video. I’ve collected now tens and probably nearly a hundred thousand video reviews. None are fake, because it is hard to do. You can’t do it at scale. You can’t go on, a site and buy 50 video reviews. You just can’t do it.

The video reviews will be the future of the industry without a doubt. But it’s how quick that happens, because video is authentic. It builds a bond between the person making a potential purchase and the past customer. And literally, you know, the company doesn’t have to sell the product. The past customers are selling the product.

We get some absolutely amazing ones where you go, how much would you pay for that? This company sells goggles called magic five and they had this guy do a video review of him swimming in the goggles. Then he comes out, and he’s got to be in California, and he’s this 60 year old bloke.

And he’s super good looking, super tanned. And he does his review on the side of the pool, it was amazing! When it came in, I was like, oh my gosh, this company is gonna earn. And they’ve hammered that. They’ve put it on Instagram probably 50 times now. They’ve got it everywhere because it just sells. And if they had an actor do that, I guarantee you that wouldn’t sell as much.

Amar: [00:29:02] Yeah. It’s just not as genuine is it. Lee, you obviously use reviews. So I suppose you could probably give us an insight into the impact those kinds of reviews have made compared to written ones.

Lee: [00:29:15] Yeah. I mean, I’d agree with Callum video, I dare say will be the future of reviews. What would it take to make a fake review?

You’re talking about two to five minutes just to jump on a site. Look at the user that’s left one review before, we’ve been attacked by competitors and it’s just sad. They don’t last, you report them. And sometimes they’ll be taken down sometimes they wont. But we’ve been strong armed over people paying invoices, saying I’ve got 30 people at my company, I’m going to get them to leave bad reviews and stuff.

And it’s like they are powerful. The weight that the reviews carry, they are powerful. From a Google perspective, their reviews are not policed.

Callum: [00:30:14] Yea Google local’s hard!

Lee: [00:30:16] Yeah, and that can be very damaging, especially when these sad people are out to lie about that type of thing is really sad. You wonder what type of people they are in life in general.

Callum: [00:30:34] What I think is understated is that people don’t look on one particular site to see your reviews anymore.

They don’t look on Trustpilot or just reviews.io or just Google local or just Facebook. They look on all of them, there’s not one place. So what we get is a lot of clients come to us and go off well I’m with reviews.io, and I’ve got a great score or send all my customers there to leave a review, but I’ve got this terrible score on Trustpilot.

Or I’ve got a terrible score on Google local. So what you’ve got to do if you’re an e-commerce company is almost monitor all of those platforms and collect reviews, even if it’s just ones just to keep topping or to keep a score there. You need to have this holistic approach. You can’t just have reviews on Trustpilot anymore and ignore everybody else.

You can’t literally just have reviews on Google locally and ignore everybody else. Although you’re ignoring everybody else, your clients aren’t, your customers aren’t. You need a score everywhere. The same score, almost because if you don’t, it creates hesitation.

So what I want to say about reviews is if you’re collecting and your business is basing itself off reviews, make sure you’re using some kind of software. Hopefully, our software to do this, but some software that manages all the reviews from all the different platforms.

What we do is bring them all into one timeline so that all your staff can see them in one go. So you can see if you’ve got a negative review on Google, a negative review on Facebook. Now you know, I’m going to push more of my customers to leave on Facebook, more of my customers to leave them on Google.

And by doing that, you can create this positive score, and positive sentiment everywhere. And that’s a big thing and it comes back to that transparency thing. I think if you’ve got five star here and one star here, I think you can end up in a real mess.

Lee: [00:33:00] A lot of people that they have a preferred sort of user journey don’t they?

And just how people go about that business. Now they shop online, you know, they might bump into Google reviews and it might be on reviews.io.

Callum: [00:33:10] Yeah, exactly.

Lee: [00:33:12] But having like a broad approach to that review process. We’ve got quite a lot of clients, we’ve tried to push reviews.io on clients before that just haven’t collected them before they always seem to be scared of putting themselves out there.

It’s just, it’s crazy to think that the reason scared is because of the negative ones. Not because they’re not a good business.

And they seem to not want to create a profile just in case it will be manipulated and they can’t do anything about it.

It comes back to that power. It’s absolutely a powerful tool, but a couple of businesses I’ve got on the top of my mind. They, taken the jump and they’re up there now, they’re rocking five-star reviews.

Callum: [00:33:57] I think that’s the old way of looking at it. I don’t care if you use my platform or use another platform. But if you’re just going right, we’re a smaller company. I’m just going to get Alison to send out a few review collection requests emails, just doing that is better than nothing.

Yeah. Do that, and then highlight them. But doing nothing is, is bad because what then happens is when you do have that hiccup, and you do have that bad bit of service. Then that gets you negative reviews, and then you’re sitting on a one-star on multiple platforms and you’re just going to be getting no sales.

Lee: [00:34:53] Well, what’s your take on replying to reviews Callum? Is it something that should be done?

Callum: [00:35:00] A hundred percent reply to negatives. If you get a negative stand up and go, right, this is how I’ve acted after show, show your potential customers.

Look, when this goes wrong. These people are there for me, they’ll put it right. And show your customer how you put that right. How you dealt with that, whether you changed your policy, whether you changed your delivery firm, whether you apologize to the customer and offer some kind of credit or a discount card or something like that, but show your customer that you actually care about that potential customer.

That you actually care about that feedback and show that customer that left that negative review, that you care about that feedback. And you’re trying to put it right. Whether you’re trying to put up right by monetary thing or, or you’re trying to put it right by the procedural thing, it doesn’t matter but show you’re trying to get it fixed.

You acknowledge that you under performed and you explain how that won’t happen again. I don’t think you’ll lose that customer, but also you’ll win thousands of other customers.

Lee: [00:36:07] I’ll be honest, just thinking of my own shopping experience, I tend to look through reviews, and it’s the five-star ones I tend to skip.

Callum: [00:36:18] They don’t give you as much as the negatives, to be honest.

Lee: [00:36:20] The five-star ones it’s like, great I trust the company but that should be a given anyway. So whilst you see 1800 five-star reviews, great, right? I feel like I can trust these, you always try and find the bad stuff. You’ll always try and go the end of the scale.

Businesses leave about five stars or one star reviews. There’s always that person that’s just trying to strong arm you into doing something. Some people are pathetic, aren’t they?

Callum: [00:36:45] The one stars, some give you insights, but some of them are just comical.

People reading the reviews are savvy and they know clearly like that person you couldn’t have made them happy. They were going to leave a negative review no matter what happened, because they got out on the wrong side of the bed that morning. But sometimes, they’ve got genuine gripes, and you’ve got to address those with a reply.

And I think if you craft a good reply, and that is a skill in itself, crafting a good reply to a negative. I think it can be spun into it to a positive. We’ve got companies who reply to every single positive review. I don’t recommend that because I think that looks like you’re trying too hard and almost what the hell are you doing?

Amar: [00:37:44] A lot of time on your hands. Yeah.

Callum: [00:37:46] If you’re replying to 50 positive reviews every day, and they’re all saying thank you, Alison, for your review. If you’re replying to every positive review you’re going to get, you’re really not going to get much work done.

So I wouldn’t. I don’t think that that looks great. Do the odd one where it’s exceptional, whether they maybe left of a photo or a video, but definitely every negative. Cause you’ve got to show your potential customers, you’re addressing these concerns and you’re concerned about them.

And if you do that, it’s not a negative for my eyes. If you get a good reply, it’s not a negative.

Are Disputed Customer Reviews A Problem?

disputed customer reviews

Neil: [00:38:35] What would be your take Callum on e-commerce companies who dispute reviews? This is one that we have experienced of it with your largest competitor who I am not giving them the courtesy of naming them.

Um, but we had an issue where we had some fake reviews on there, and we disputed them. There was no invoice records for that customer or anything, and they actually mark that as the advertisers or business has disputed this review and then hide it. Now what’s your take on it?

Do you think that that looks worse to an end user because it looks like the business is trying to hide something? Or do you think there is some value in disputing those reviews that you don’t agree with? Or you don’t agree with the story? The person’s put across?

Callum: [00:39:22] If in your case where you don’t think it’s not a genuine customer, dispute, the review 100%. Should that disputed review actually show? They’re sort of giving you a bit of a negative there, as that’s got a negative impact that you’ve disputed those reviews. As a platform, if it’s a disputed review and, and we agree that’s not a legitimate customer.

And we find out we, we email that customer and say, hi, can you send me that invoice? Can, can we get that receipt? Can we get proof? If they don’t give proof, we remove it. We don’t then say you have disputed that review. Now, if you come on dispute every single negative review you get we have had to put a warning on there.

But if you’re disputing one review legitimately or a couple of reviews legitimately that are not customers. Non-customers should not be leaving reviews and that shouldn’t damage you in any way.

And we’re passionate about that. And we’re pretty good at it identifying if it’s not a customer. If it is a customer and they’ve took the time to leave a review, they will take the time to send you the receipt or the invoice or a screenshot. And if they can’t, then that review should be removed because it’s not, it’s showing that they’re not a genuine customer.

You’ve got the issue, as well as libelous or defamation reviews. Where do you draw the line there? We’re not aiming to be a legal team but we’re caught in this crossfire between the companies saying remove this review and the review are going no, my review is legitimate.

We handle them on a case by case basis and just try and be human. And we don’t allow profanities or naming of staff because we think the naming of staff is wrong because it can turn into bullying and can give them mental health issues and so forth. It’s not fair.

But the liable and defamation is the tricky area where we have to call it and we do. And a lot of times we’ve gone back to that reviewer go look can you re-write this review? And if they say, no, we can’t publish that because it, it falls under what we consider to be libelous.

There’s a lot of other platforms out there that, you can post that. We’re not the only one. But you can’t do that here. It’s really tricky area, but if it’s not a genuine customer, reviews should only go left by genuine customers. It’s similar to what Lee was saying about the negatives on Google.

They do that out of spite and they’re probably not even customers. We’ve had it.

Lee: [00:42:59] You get a review and it’s one star and there’s no comment on it.

Callum: [00:43:02] I don’t understand that it offers no value.

Neil: [00:43:07] I’m going back to my local SEO agency days, but, the more reviews you leave, the more points you get and the higher level local guide you become. And if you reach certain levels of local guides, you get certain things. So for example, if you hit level five this year, you got a pair of socks with a Google logo on it, little things like that.

And so you see people that will just go on every business in the local area, and they’ll go three stars on everything. And Google will not give you as many points for star only review as they would have full text review, but they’ll still give you points for it. And there’s absolutely no checking in place.

And if you’re legitimate, there’s no checking for how many reviews you’re or anything like that. So you go through, you spam, click them all, and you’re a level 10 guide before you know it and you get your socks and t-shirt for the year. That’s why people do it. It’s dumb, but it’s the way it is.

Callum: [00:43:51] I don’t see the value. I don’t know why Google are publishing that review if it’s just a one-star and no text that that offers no value.

Google say they’re all about all the user experience, that offers no value. What is that one start doing? What is that? It’s a rating and that offers very little value.

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