Episode 55 – Customers Reviews are Mandatory

Jun 7, 2017

This Episode

Mark Stephenson, Marc Vila and Mike Herz from Shopper Approved

You Will Learn

  • How getting customer reviews can beat your competition.

Resources & Links

Episode 55 – Customers Reviews are Mandatory

Show Notes

When was the last time you bought something for the first time and didn’t look at reviews?
It’s not that customer reviews would be nice, or that they’re a good idea or something that you might do one day. You simply MUST have customer reviews to get attention online, to win the trust of potential customers and to beat your competition!

Mike Herz from Shopper Approved, is our guest today and he’ll be talking about the impact that reviews can have on your business.

Once you’ve listened to the podcast and been convinced you need reviews – do research! Then you can chat with Mike and find out if his company is right for you.

Mike Herz: mike@shopperapproved.com, (407) 636-7285.


Welcome to the Custom Apparel Startups podcast, your best source for information, news, tips and tricks to get you off the ground running, and earn success with your custom apparel decorating business. So, get ready to soak up some knowledge!

Now, here are your hosts, Mark and Marc!

Mark S: Hey, everyone! Welcome to episode 55 of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast! I’m always surprised at the number. I know what we did last week, and yet number 55 still seems like a lot. 

Marc V: It’s almost older than you!

Mark S: Damn! Okay, so my name is Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.

Marc V: And this is Marc Vila, from Colman and Company. Today, we’re here to talk about why you must have ratings and reviews. It’s no longer an option.

We’re here with Mike Herz, from Shopper Approved, who is an expert on reviews, to talk about this.

Mark S: Yeah. Hey, Mike. How are you doing?

Mike H: Good morning, guys. Good. How are you?

Mark S: Good.

Marc V: Very good. So, I had met Mike when we were discussing the ratings and reviews with Colman and Company. He taught me a lot of different things. In addition to that, he sent me on a spiral of research that I had kind of been starting a little bit earlier.

I have a book in front of me, by Jay Baer. It’s called Hug Your Haters.

Mark S: Oh, yeah. I love that book!

Marc V: “How to embrace complaints, and keep your customers.” I was looking at this beforehand, and he has this little chart in here that I always like. He calls it the “hatrix.”

Mark S: Oh, yeah. That’s right.

Marc V: He talks about how the average customer will complain about something three and a half times a year, and how it’s important to address that, and things of that nature. We’ve been trying to develop that more and more, over the past year or so, at Colman and Company and ColDesi.

Mark S: Right. I just want to give a plug to Jay Baer – that’s spelled B-A-E-R. He also wrote a book called Utility, which got us really invested into YouTube advertising. We’ve seen him at Social Fresh conferences a couple of times. He’s worth following. He really is. He’s got some good stuff to say.

Marc V: He’s a really interesting guy, and you’ll learn something. This book was part of what got me on the path to meeting Mike. We realized that positive reviews are really important. Finding the unhappy people and helping to make them happy is also really just as important. Seeing the five-star reviews is amazing, but finding a two-star review that you didn’t know existed, and turning it into a five-star experience, is just as important.

Mark S: Yeah. I will tell you, and I don’t know if this is the right time to talk about this, but it’s been vital to ColDesi. We actually use a positive review system where – you’ve probably gotten it, if you are already an owner – we send out emails, requesting reviews, every time we complete a support call, and when you purchase a product from us.

We’re looking for that one to five stars, a classic kind of review. Honestly, we get literally, I think 97% of our reviews are four or five stars. So, we’re very proud of that. But for that other one to three percent, there’s a swat team of action that takes place, when we get a review that’s less than stellar.

It’s been important for the quality of our company.

Marc V: And when we look at another influence on us wanting to improve our reviews, is something that I hear on the radio and TV tons of times. I love Geico’s advertising. I think they do a great job. People know Geico commercials. They know various Geico characters.

Mark S: You like lizards, though.

Marc V: I like cavemen, too! They boast about their 98% customer satisfaction rating, I think. And they’ve found out, way before I or we did, how important the customer satisfaction is.

So, I guess I’d like to lead into just asking Mike the simple, or maybe long answer type of a question. How important are reviews, based on the knowledge that you have and the experience you have in the review industry?

Mike H: In the last few years, I mean everything has changed with social media, the internet. You have to have reviews. It used to be an option. But now, reviews have become a standard resource for consumers making purchase decisions, and they’re no longer an option. It’s more of an expectation.

You’re going to have a brand reputation, whether you’re collecting reviews proactively or not. If you’re out there doing business on the internet now, and you’re not collecting reviews, eventually every retailer, no matter how great they are, is going to have an unsatisfied customer, occasionally. And those unsatisfied customers will go out on any number of websites on the internet, and seek them out, to leave a reactive low review.

So, if you’re not collecting proactive, positive reviews from your happy customers, all it takes is one or two people to get frustrated and go leave a bad review. Suddenly, you do a search, and you come up with a 1.3 out of five, and your brand reputation is trashed.

Mark S: Honestly, that’s one of the things that motivated us to start getting reviews, as well, is so few happy people will take the time to go onto a review site and leave a five-star review, unless you ask them to. So, all you end up with is the haters.

Mike H: Yeah. And that’s actually the business model of a number of our competitors, to where they have this passive open forum web page, where anybody can leave any business a review. They don’t even have to prove they’ve ever done business with them.

They do this so that somebody will get upset, search it out, leave a bad review, and then you as a business have to then pay them to manage your reviews. My company doesn’t do it that way. We don’t have any open forum web page. You have to actually be a verified buyer, to leave a review, because we don’t believe in that business model. But I won’t get into all of that.

Mark S: I just want to say that that’s also something that happens even without unethical services inspiring bad reviews, is that if you have somebody that had a bad experience with your company, they may be vindictive enough to recruit their friends and neighbors to leave bad reviews, as well.

Mike H: I’ve seen a lot, since I’ve been at this company; disgruntled ex-employees can do a lot of damage in a short time.

Mark S: There you go.

Marc V: And that’s something, as a small business owner, that I know some people listening right now have had some bad employees. And if you have not hired somebody yet, you’ll soon find out that not everybody that you hire is going to be an awesome person. If you have to let somebody go, there’s going to be people who are going to be vindictive, and they’ll leave bad reviews.

I remember, I’ve mentioned before, when I was younger, I worked at Best Buy, as a young man. I remember we had a little company powwow meeting, and they had talked about a bad review that was left in the store. Because at that point in time, the big online reviews weren’t a big thing. But there was a review sent to the regional manager about how customer service was so bad, all of this stuff. They ended up figuring out that it was a guy who just got fired, because he came in late every day.

So, these were all good points. What I like that Mike was mentioning was how a service like Shopper Approved, which obviously Mike loves, is they specifically are looking for people who have used your services, who have purchased shirts from you before, who have bought from your business experience, to actually leave a review on how that experience was.

Mike H: Yeah. You have to be a verified buyer. It just makes things much more honest.

Mark S: Tell us how Shopper Approved works, and how it solves that problem.

Mike H: Okay. I’m going to do the nutshell version, or we’ll be on here forever. Shopper Approved, basically we have merchant and product reviews, and I can get into the difference between the two, at some point. But we collect reviews from your customers, as they check out on your website.

Those reviews are then displayed on a certificate that potential customers can view. They can be displayed in widgets on your website, that scroll through the reviews, to show potential customers your reviews. And you get an overall aggregate rating.

Then, those are syndicated to Google, Bing, Yahoo and Google Shopping, giving you stars in your ads. So, not only are you managing your reputation, you’re going to get a flag if you get a low review, so you can deal with it right away. You’re going to take care of your reputation.

But as an added benefit, you get stars in your ads, which will increase your click-thru and traffic to your website.

Marc V: That leads me to probably about three or four different questions, okay? One of them is – many of our customers and the folks listening here, many of them do have some sort of ecommerce checkout. But many of them don’t. So, if you don’t have a specific ecommerce style of checkout, how does a company like that leverage the power of reviews?

Mike H: We have a number of ways of serving our survey. The ecommerce way, if they’re checking out on your site, is we have a popup initial survey that comes on the Thank You or confirmation page. It can be as little as one question, “How would you rate your overall experience so far?”

That same survey can be served, and this probably works in your industry a lot, because everything is custom and the deals close on the phone, we have a link to where a salesperson or operator for your company can take the review on the phone. Then, the customer or client will get an email that says “Did you leave this review, yes or no?” They click Yes to confirm it, and that validates the review.

The second level is our full survey, which comes out via email, after the purchase is completed. And that survey has additional questions. It’s customizable. That’s information for another time, but you can customize that, and it goes out after the purchase.

If you’re using product reviews, it includes your product reviews in the follow-up full survey, which goes out via email.

Marc V: Okay. So essentially, if the customer, if they have an ecommerce store, a way that they would integrate reviews is they would have your software on their website. When a customer checks out, it provides an option to give an initial review, basically “How was your shopping experience checking out, using the store?”

Then, after they receive their product, they would receive an email saying “Can you please review the product?” Right?

Mike H: Yes. The initial survey has three questions. “How would you rate your overall experience? Are you likely to recommend our site? Are you likely to buy from us again?” The only one that’s required is the overall experience.

Then, the full survey asks about product services, overall price, delivery time. Those questions are customizable, and that would constitute your merchant or seller review, that puts stars in your AdWords.

If you’re using product, the full survey would say “Okay, here’s the t-shirts you bought. What do you think of them?” They rate the product itself, and then as soon as they complete the product review, it goes into the merchant portion of the survey. So, it is integrated into one email.

Mark S: I love this, and I assume this is something you’re going to be able to experience firsthand on the Colman and Company website, the next time you check out.

Marc V: Yeah. Maybe not the next time, if it’s today. But we’re in the integration process right now. For the folks listening to this now, depending on when you’re listening to this episode, you’re either going to check out and see it today, if today is sometime in the future. If you haven’t seen it yet, and we’re doing a whole bunch of cool things on the Colman and Company website, to improve it, including reviews and getting better found on Google, and things like that. It’s all a process.

Mark S: Just to make sure that you don’t miss this experience, and you get plenty of exposure to it, you should go to ColmanandCompany.com and buy something every day.

Marc V: Until it happens.

Mark S: Until it happens. Then, maybe three or four times afterwards, every day, just to make sure that you understand it.

Marc V: That you really get it. I had experienced using this type of service before, so a couple of things come to mind.

For one, if a customer now, if they don’t have an ecommerce site, one of the ways they can get reviews is if they have, a merchant type of review, is they can actually do a survey on the phone with their customers, or probably I imagine maybe even in person; at a store, or in person face to face. “Can we do a review thing?”

Ask the people some questions, and then say “Hey, you’re going to get an email to verify that you did indeed say this stuff to me.” Then, they can click that they approve this review, and then that review would be available online for other people to see, and verified through Shopper Approved, that it was real.

Mike H: Exactly. We have an in-store, as well.

Mark S: That’s awesome.

Marc V: Okay. An in-store one for retail shops.

Mike H: Right. You can just hand somebody a device right there at the cash register, and they can do a review.

Mark S: You know what I don’t think we’ve done enough of so far in this podcast is like everybody sees reviews, and we’ve told them that it’s very important. But we really haven’t said why. I just want to ask a question that you guys can answer in your heads out there. That is, when you have researched anything to buy in the past, or recently, online, what is the second thing that you do, after you Google your product name? You look at the results, according to the reviews that you get.

If you’re buying from Amazon, if you are looking into Google Shopping, like scroll when you search for something, the first thing that I do is I look, “Oh. What are their reviews? How many five-star reviews do they have? What’s their average review? How many reviews do they have?”

If I’ve got one review, and it’s five stars, that doesn’t really have an impact on me. If I’ve got 25 reviews, and the average is four and a half stars, I’m going to pay attention to that ad, and I’m going to give that vendor a chance, because they have that rating.

Marc V: Yeah. When I shop on Amazon, I usually do it through the app on my phone. And the first thing I do is I hit Filter, and then I filter by Amazon Prime Only, and four stars and above only. Then, I don’t start shopping, until I’ve done those two things.

Mark S: And your customers are all doing the same thing out there. They want to know who you’ve sold to, and if you’ve got a good reputation. This is how you do it.

Marc V: Yep. On our website, one of the big things – I think there was a moment – we’ve done reviews for years. There’s hundreds and hundreds of reviews on our website now. However, we weren’t taking a sophisticated approach to making sure we were getting as many reviews as we could get.

So, we were getting probably 10% of the reviews we could have been getting, potentially, because we were using just simple systems, and not trying to be too overwhelming to our customers, and mixing marketing emails with information, newsletter-style emails with review emails. It was a lot to manage.

But I had a customer come online, and they had just asked. They were like “Where are the reviews on this product?” And I was like “Where are the reviews on this product?” Because I know we have 100 customers that love this product. I’m like “Where are the reviews?”

You have these moments in life, you know, where whatever it might be – your Doctor tells you something, and all of a sudden you quit smoking. Or you go to put on those pants, and all of a sudden you’re like “Wait a minute. I’ve got to lose weight, starting today.”

And that was a moment for me, where I was like “We need to make reviews better, now.”

Mark S: And lose weight.

Marc V: “And lose a pound.”

Mike H: I went out yesterday and collected up some numbers from studies, so I have a bunch of interesting numbers for you guys on what you were saying.

More than 57% of online shoppers will specifically seek out websites that have product reviews. 70% of those mobile shoppers reported being more likely to purchase a product, if the site has reviews.

Those are pretty big numbers. People look for this, now. They expect it. And if you’re the guy who doesn’t have reviews, and you’ve got ten competitors, and they do, you’re losing a huge chunk of business.

Marc V: Basically, more than half of the people who could potentially buy from you may turn around, and this is just straight up message to our customers right here, you go online and you go to our Facebook group, and you email us and you call us on the phone, and you ask all of the time, “What are some ways I can beat the competition?”

Mark S: Yeah. We get that all of the time.

Marc V: Mike and I were just talking yesterday. I was looking at some podcast stats. You Versus the Competition, one of our episodes, is our most listened to episode. People are consistently talking about “How do I best my competition? How do I deal with them, when they’re trying to beat me on price? How do I deal with them, when they have a different selection, different turn times?”, whatever it might be.

One of the ways that you could be losing business, and you realistically are, based on just simple statistics, is that your competition down the road might have easily searchable and found reviews from their customers, saying that they had a good experience.

Mark S: I think that’s a great point that you just made, that one of the fundamental things you should do, in addition to everything else that we talked about in that podcast, one of the fundamental things you should do is to gather these reviews. However you do it, gather these reviews, and I guarantee that if you look at your local competition, you’ll be the only one doing it.

So, you will win, because you’re going to get reviews one way or the another. So, be ahead of the game. Actively take care of it.

Mike H: If you’re the first one in a particular space in your area or your search, the numbers are staggering. I mean, if I go and search a product, and I see this every day. Some verticals, everybody’s got merchant reviews, and nobody’s got product reviews. Some verticals, they all have both.

But if you happen to be in a vertical or a space where your competitors aren’t collecting reviews, and you’re the first one, it can be a life-changing thing, the amount of additional business you’ll get, being the first one with stars.

Marc V: Yeah. I can imagine, if you’re an embroidery shop, and even if you’re just a single-head small embroidery shop, and you’ve taken the power of leveraging reviews, meaning that you’re asking people to review you on Google, you’re asking them to Facebook review you, you are using maybe software like Shopper Approved, where you’re automating your reviews and verifying them, and all of these things.

Imagine if you’re a local small embroidery shop or a t-shirt shop, you have a DTG printer, or whatever it is, and somebody Google searches your city “embroidery shop” or “t-shirt store” or “custom t-shirts in Dallas Texas,” whatever it is. And your company comes up, and there’s 34 reviews, average 4.5 stars. And nobody else has anything.

What impact is that going to have on the amount of people that pick up the phone and call you?

Mike H: It’s huge.

Mark S: Let me ask you, Mike. You guys push your reviews to Google, correct?

Mike H: Yes.

Mark S: Okay. So, I just Googled, and I encourage you to do this in your area. I just Googled “Tampa custom t-shirts.” We are in beautiful and sunny Tampa, Florida. I’m looking at the first three listings. There are a lot more, but these are the three that come up with reviews in what used to be Google Places.

There’s one company that’s got four 5-star reviews. The next company has 46 reviews, and an average of 4.6 stars. And there’s 53 five-star reviews there. Now, which one of those companies are you, and which one do you think I’m going to click on next?

Mike H: You’re going to click on the 4.6.

Mark S: Yeah, I am. I’m actually going to click on the five-star, because they’ve got 53 reviews.

Mike H: Right. Well, it’s interesting. The most effective rating is a 4.5 to a 4.8.

Mark S: Because people believe it’s true.

Mike H: Because people believe it’s true, and they see enough reviews to validate it. It’s a good rating, but it’s not perfect.

Mark S: Okay. I like that.

Mike H: There’s actually a study. You can search it online. I was reading it yesterday, again. I’ve read it a number of times. But your strongest number to have is a 4.7-something.

Marc V: I have a question relating to this now, because we’ve mentioned that reviews are really important. And we’ve said ways you can get – people will review on Facebook. That’s obvious, and that’s something that everyone listening should just start doing right now. You don’t have to talk with anybody or set anything up, or worry about anything.

If you’ve got a Facebook page, and you have customers that like you, ask them to just do it. It’s very simple to do. Facebook makes it easy to find. The same thing you can do on Google.

Mike H: That’s great in custom apparel. I just want to throw this out there. I have a client, his demographic is 13 to 19-year-old kids. He considered us a godsend for him, because on his Facebook fan page, these kids were leaving random, like people that weren’t even his customers leaving these ridiculous jokey reviews. He couldn’t manage his Facebook reviews at all, because there’s no management tools.

So, when he came to Shopper Approved, we have a syndication where you can syndicate your five-star reviews directly to Facebook. But you’ve already managed your reviews. You’ve already gotten them. They’re already from verified buyers, and nobody on Facebook can just click on it, and leave you these random reviews.

Mark S: That’s great.

Marc V: That’s really cool, especially the ability to further share that these are verified reviews.

Mike H: And people trust third party review companies. Shopper Approved, I’m not going to say we’re a household name, but on the internet, people recognize us.

If you have a review solution that’s built into your platform, that collects reviews just for display on your site, keep in mind that a lot of customers or potential customers don’t trust those review collection processes, because you have the opportunity to just erase any bad ones.

With third party Google partners, they look at those as trusted, verified, straight up real reviews.

Mark S: That’s great.

Marc V: The next question that I had, and this goes back to the few that I had, in your experience, what’s the best way to handle a bad review? Because what’s going to happen is the scary part about putting reviews on your website, which people say is “Not everyone is going to give me a good review, and now I have bad reviews. Are those bad reviews worse for me, than not having any at all?”

So, the question is how do you handle a bad review, especially when you legitimately made a mistake?

Mike H: We have a number of options in our system. The most obvious one is if you click on Contact the Customer, that will suspend the review, so it doesn’t show up for 30 days, to give you time to make the customer happy.

And most business owners know that if you get a ticked-off customer, the UPS truck ran over the box, whatever it is, you can make them happy. There’s something you can do to bring that customer around. Then, they get a chance to re-rate and update their review.

There’s other options. I don’t want to get into all of them, but we do have a number of ways to manage a low review. You do have the chance to get a reprieve from it.

Then, if you’re a good company and you get an occasional low review, embrace it. Embrace your low reviews. It makes it real. If I go on a website and they’ve got 500 four-point-whatever star reviews, and a two-star and a one-star, it’s like “They did pretty good, man! They’ve got 498 happy customers, and two guys that they screwed up on.” But it makes it real for me.

A lot of people, especially millennials, go out and actually seek the low reviews. They’ll change the order of sort and whatnot, so they can read the low reviews, and see how the business handled the low reviews, before doing business with them.

Marc V: I’ll tell you, that’s 100% true for me, especially in my Amazon experience I mentioned before. I look at the overall reviews, and I say “Okay, it’s got to be in the fours.” Then, I want to see what the ones were. I do this with restaurants, too.

I was actually just talking with a friend of mine, and we were talking about restaurants, and how I look at it. I say “I don’t mind if a restaurant has some one-star reviews, if it’s because of a bad situation.” Well, what was it? I see they posted their review on a Friday night, and they said the service was slow. Okay, well, they were really busy on a Friday night, and they were maybe understaffed. That’s actually a good thing.

I think also, when I look for bad reviews, are what was the cause of the bad review? Did they receive their product late, and the customer was upset? That’s a different scenario than the product being faulty. Was the product faulty, and the customer gave a bad review? But then, there was a response from the seller, saying “We’re so sorry you got a bad one. We’re sending you a new replacement right away.”

Mark S: That’s a great point. One of our companies just got a poor review. When you read it – it was a long review – he says “The salesperson was great. I really love the product. You guys were all wonderful, and we loved dealing with you. But I have to wait three weeks for my machine, so I gave you a two-star review.”

Mike H: That’s what I mean. Those are perfect. You want to keep that review, no matter what, because when somebody looks and they find that two-star, and they go “This isn’t a bad review.”

Mark S: Yeah. That’s a good point. Our response, by the way, was “Well, we sold out. These things are very popular. We’re sorry for the delay in delivery. We’ll get it to you as soon as we can. More and more people like you are buying this, so we’re working on keeping up.” That kind of thing.

Mike H: Just a little sidebar thing, as far as product reviews; once you’re collecting product reviews, it helps you to weed out a bad product.

Mark S: Absolutely.

Marc V: Oh, that’s interesting. That’s a good way of thinking about it.

Mike H: Because if you start getting a bunch of two- and three-star reviews on a particular product, you’re going to stop carrying it.

Mark S: That’s true.

Marc V: I find that interesting in the apparel world, because the one thing that’s a mistake to say, and especially in the apparel world, is “Well, nobody has complained about it before.”

Mark S: Yeah.

Marc V: Just because somebody doesn’t complain about it, doesn’t mean that they’re satisfied. And if there’s not an easy way for them to review it, then they’re not going to do it. You mentioned before, if somebody is over the top happy, and they are just a giving person, they will seek out and give you the review, no matter what.

But that’s not going to be very common. If somebody is really, really upset, really, really bothered by you, they will go out and seek to negative review you. But that’s not going to be very common, as well.

Mike H: They’ll get five sites. If you get somebody angry enough, they’re going to go leave you reviews on five different sites.

Marc V: Yeah, they’ll do it in five places, exactly. However, the folks that didn’t really love the t-shirt quality you gave them, maybe just they didn’t like the brand, or it shrunk. They didn’t love it, they didn’t really hate it, and they have no way to really easily tell you, you’re consistently selling people maybe that one brand of garment that you think is great, and you get to save a quarter on it, every time you buy. And nobody has ever complained about it.

Mark S: But they’re not coming back for repeat orders.

Marc V: But they’re not coming back for repeat orders, and they weren’t really that happy. A friend of mine who was doing custom direct-to-garment printed shirts, this was probably four or five years ago, that’s essentially what happened to him. He had a customer who emailed him and said “I really loved your design. The shirt was great, the first time I wore it. The second time I wore it, though, it shrunk, and I really wasn’t too happy.”

So, he had kind of responded. He was like “Nobody has ever told me that before,” etc., etc. So, he went and he took this new shirt that he had been selling now for about three or four months. He made a few for himself, because obviously, he didn’t need to make a lot of new shirts for himself. He had a ton of t-shirts already, by then.

So, he made a few, he washed them, and he saw that they shrunk. Then, he went and he looked back. He had a reasonably busy store. He was selling maybe 250 shirts a month, through this ecommerce store, so he was doing pretty good for a one guy little shop, outside of his custom work. This was just ecommerce only.

He went back and looked at his orders over the past few months. And typically, what he was doing was he getting a customer that would buy about once to twice a month. As soon as he switched shirts, he noticed all of those new customers, he had a significantly less amount of repeats. He said “But nobody complained,” until he got this one email.

It kind of just compiles to this, where if he would have had a good review option back then, where a customer had gotten a push, where a customer would have gotten an email that said “Hey, tell me about this, please!” He could have maybe nipped that in the bud earlier. He was lucky that he just had somebody who happened to email him, and he decided to take some action.

A little bit about what we’ve been talking about here is embrace those bad reviews, like Jay Baer’s book, Hug Your Haters. Take a look at those reviews that are negative, and see if it means you need to make a product change. It’s going to make your business better.

Mike H: You’re going to be getting constant feedback about your business, your products, your people, all of it. And you know exactly where you need help. As soon as you start collecting reviews, you’re going to know exactly what you need to focus on, to make your business better.

Mark S: You’ve mentioned a little bit, and if you could speak briefly about it, what is the difference between merchant and product reviews?

Mike H: Merchant reviews, they’re reviewing the company, the business, the website, the seller. Those reviews syndicate to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and they show up in Google Shopping, as well. That’s where the stars go. You would place widgets on your home page and on your checkout page, that speak to your reputation as a seller.

Product reviews are reviewing your individual products. Those syndicate to Google Shopping product listing ads. So, you know, when you search something in Google, and you get the little five box or six or eight box of ads, that’s where product reviews show up.

Google says you can expect a 15% increase in click-thru from those ads, by having those stars. But if you’re the first one in your space, it’s way higher.

Those stars also show up in Google Shopping. And if you place product review widgets on your individual product pages – so, if I’m looking for this particular t-shirt, and I go to that product page, and there’s a widget that’s displaying reviews, Google will also crawl those pages, and you’ll get stars in your organic search, on those pages.

Mark S: Okay, nice.

Marc V: So, if you are selling custom-t-shirts online, and you’re trying to boost your sales a bit, you’re trying to figure out “What can I do differently, to sell more shirts? I feel that this is a good idea. My customers tell me this shirt’s funny, or it’s a good shirt, or it looks cool,” whatever it is. What can you do to boost your sales?

It’s proven through studies, not just done by Shopper Approved, but by Google and plenty of other places out there, that if a customer gets on that page and they take a look at the shirt, and they say “Oh, this cheer spangle bling shirt design is really cool,” and if there are a handful of reviews underneath it that say “The rhinestones didn’t wash off,” because that’s what people are going to ask.

“It didn’t shrink, it felt good, the sizing was accurate,” or that you had a question about sizing and you emailed customer service on the website, and they answered it, and you got the right size shirt, and everything was great. If you’re seeing those positive reviews, that’s going to be a way for you to convert more customers.

Because there are people who go to your site, and they are unsure if they want to buy the apparel online. Even though people are buying more and more apparel online, there’s still a little bit of a discomfort level, on not knowing. “I can’t feel the shirt. I can’t see it. I can’t try it on.”

This is going to give you the opportunity to say “Hey, here’s ten, 20, whatever amount of people who have bought this shirt, who liked it. You’re going to like it, too.”

Mark S: Yeah. That doesn’t just apply to ecommerce. Like I mentioned with the search, I’m only looking at those first few results that have believable reviews that are good.

Mike H: 90% of consumers read less than ten reviews, before forming an opinion about a business. But 78% of every single purchase that takes place on the internet is preceded by someone looking at either a merchant or product review, or both. 78%.

Marc V: Yeah. It’s really interesting. I thought of another thing, specifically for our customers, that if I work for, say I work for Colman and Company.

Mark S: You work for Colman and Company?

Marc V: Yeah, just potentially. And I was in charge of ordering shirts for the entire business, a few shirts for everybody, for an event that was going to be coming up. So here, I need to order whatever hundred amount of shirts. I’m putting it on the company credit card.

The owner of the company is going to have one, my boss is going to have one, my co-workers are going to have them. Now I need to find an apparel company to order them from. I need to make sure that they look good.

Mark S: They’re not going to mess it up.

Marc V: I don’t want to mess it up. I’m using company money. The owner is going to have it. If the shirts don’t look good, if the logos are sloppy or it’s crooked, or the color is bad, or they’re uncomfortable, it’s going to make me look bad. So naturally, part of that decision-making process, when I’m looking around, is I want to see were other people like me satisfied?

If you’re a custom t-shirt provider, and you’ve got reviews that say things like “I’m a buyer for this organization. I’m a general manager. I’m a sales manager,” or whatever it is. “I own a dance studio, and I decided to use this company. The t-shirts that they wore for the end of the recital looked amazing on stage. Here’s a picture of the kids.”

These are all things that you can do with reviews. What is going to happen with the next owner of a dance studio, or the next sales manager that has to order t-shirts, or a buyer for a company that needs to order polos for the sales crew, whatever it might be, what’s going to happen?

When they go online and they find your company, and they find people similar to them, giving you four to five-star reviews that your embroidery looked amazing, you had great quality t-shirts, the hats looked great, you delivered them on time. They’re going to feel good and comfortable that they can make a decision to go with you, because other people have.

They can see the proof online, and you’re going to get business out of that. This is one of those situations, just like every podcast. We talk about this, Mark, all of the time. We give you little things to do, and guaranteed you’re going to get a customer within a reasonable amount of time, because of the change you made, whether it’s sales or marketing or reviews or whatever it is.

You are going to get another customer this year, this summer. You’re going to get another customer this summer, because of reviews, if you start doing them now.

Mark S: I agree, unless you’re listening to this in December. Then, it will be faster than that, I promise.

Mike H: If you’re using our widgets and trust seals on your site, your conversions – I don’t want to promise numbers that are crazy, but I have heard 40% to 65% increase in conversions on your website.

Let’s say it’s only 5%. That’s a chunk of money, for most people, just by displaying reviews on your site.

Mark S: So, Mike, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty a little bit, because I know a lot of our customers are small businesses. Maybe they’re working from their house, things like that. And their marketing budget is basically whatever they have left over in their pockets at the end of the day. They’re not really thinking about that. 

Mike H: Been there, done that. I was self-employed for three decades, so I get it.

Mark S: So, tell me. Are we talking – is this going to cost me $10,000 to set up?

Mike H: Google requires that you have 150 written reviews, before your stars will show up in your ads. So, for a small business, that can be a little bit of a hill to climb. So, we recommend emailing your past customers, whatever, to get to that 150. But then, you need to keep 150, over a 12-month rolling period.

We’re pretty much the only review company that can service smaller businesses, because our reviews complete at a much, much higher rate than our competitors’.

Mark S: You’re saying that you get more reviews, from the same number of people.

Mike H: Yes. A lot more. Anybody that wants to see this can contact me, and we’ll do a demo, and I’ll show them why. I mean, up to 40%, in some cases. Most of my competitors convert at 2% to 3%. So, if you hit up 100 of your customers, you’re going to get two or three reviews, with most of my competitors. You’re going to get 25 to 40 with me, with our company.

We have really, really affordable small business packages. But we’ll work with you and look at your situation, customize a plan that works for your business, your website, and help you set it up. We don’t install it for you, but we have a great support staff, and we have all kinds of video documentation and stuff, to help people, walk them through getting it all set up.

If you’re doing 50 orders or more per month, I can help you. The honest truth is if you’re doing less than 50 orders a month, unless you have a huge database of past customers, you may not hit that 150 mark, to get stars in Google. Although it’s still worthwhile to have it, just for the widgets and seals on your site.

Marc V: Another thought is, because you had mentioned about the in-person, in-store and over the phone reviews. I gather that if a customer is particularly small, that they can actively pursue reviews by directly asking people in person and on the phone, to help get to that 150 number.

Mike H: Yeah. For certain businesses, that works fantastic. You’re going to get 90% to 100% conversion on those, because who’s going to say no to a couple of questions, to somebody that just helped them out? You know what I mean? Those do convert much, much higher.

But as a small business, you’ve got to make sure your salespeople or whoever is dealing with the customers, are diligent about getting them.

Marc V: I think this is something our customers can really do well, because many of our customers, either the owner or somebody really close with the owner, is delivering the product, is taking the order, is collecting the check, taking the credit card.

So, if you’re a small business owner, and maybe you’re just doing 50 or less a month, but you’re directly interacting with 45 out of those 50 people, if you can convert at 80%-90%, you’re saying that you can be getting 30-plus reviews a month, by interacting direct, and just asking “Could you please review me?” after your orders. That’s a lot!

In addition to that, even if you’re doing less than that, if you’re interacting with people directly, and you’re building good rapport, all you need to do is get them to put that online somehow. Do it! Do it! It will help you.

Mark S: Mike, how much would it cost? Give me an idea of what an entry level small business plan would cost.

Mike H: Okay. I can throw this out there, but I don’t want your listeners to all think that this is the rate they’re going to get, because it’s based on the business, and it’s customized, based on how many reviews you collect and whatnot.

Mark S: [inaudible 48:25]

Mike H: Right now, on June 6th, 2017, it’s as little as $800 a year, for merchant reviews.

Mark S: Okay.

Mike H: I just have to throw that out there.

Mark S: We’re talking about less than $100 a month.

Mike H: Yes.

Marc V: And that can vary, based on how busy your business is, what type of reviews and interactivity you want to have. If you want to have individual product reviews, and have Shopper Approved email all of your customers after they buy online, that’s going to be different pricing. There’s options for that.

Mike H: We have merchant reviews, product reviews and local reviews. If anybody wants to see a demo and see the difference, have them contact me. Each one is a separate service, and each one is as little as around $100 a month.

Mark S: Think about the numbers that we’ve been talking about, and the percentages of increase in sales and repeat business that we’ve been talking about throughout the podcast. Really evaluate this for your business.

ColDesi uses a review system. Colman and Company uses a review system. We do that because it’s good for our business in a lot of different ways.

Mike H: The return on investment is amazing. We don’t have contracts, and we still have a 94% retention rate.

Mark S: Let’s say if you’re making $10 a shirt, how many shirts to do you have to sell, to get good professional-quality reviews, and be that company in your vertical market, or in your geographic area, that shows up on Google like that? That has that power of positive reviews behind it? 10 shirts? 20 shirts a month? One order?

Marc V: Yeah. If you’re doing custom orders, and even if you’re really small, if your average order size is just a few hundred bucks, I’m just doing numbers on small, because when it works this small, imagine it when you scale it up to big.

But if your average order is a few hundred bucks a month, and your margin, you’re making 50% on that, if you’re gaining 5% more orders, meaning if you’re doing 20 orders a month, and you’re getting just a couple more customers, you’re paying for it really fast, and it’s aggregately growing.

You’re getting more and more reviews. You’re getting more people that are looking at you. When they’re looking at you online, there’s a higher percent chance of them clicking your ad. If you’re advertising, there’s a higher percent chance of them clicking and buying on your website. There is a higher percent chance of them picking up the phone and calling you.

You also are getting the opportunity to learn about products and services you are offering, that are not good. And frankly, if you start doing reviews, and you are getting threes all of the time, then you’ve learned a big lesson about yourself.

Mark S: Yeah. You need to fix something. I’m going to ask Mike to give his contact information at the end here, but I just want to say we’re talking a lot about small companies doing small business, which a lot of your guys are. But we’ve got some mid-sized and big companies, and fast-growing companies, and you guys need to be doing this.

Marc V: Yeah.

Mark S: There’s not a big question about it. It’s not that expensive, and it’s something that your customers are looking for, and you should be looking for, too. ColDesi does it. Colman and Company does it. You can’t go to a real online reseller that doesn’t do it. You should check it out.

Marc V: Your competition is doing it. And I’ll tell you, the next person who is getting ready to start a business like yours – if you’re a big business online, which there are some of you that listen to this, that are great online resellers and retailers online, and you’re not doing this, the next person who is going after your business, which you know online, someone is going after your business every day, somebody is going to come up and start doing this.

You need to get a head start on this, as Mark mentioned. If you’re a larger business, the cost is not that much. The ROI is huge, even if you’re talking low numbers; you know, 5% return and things like that. It still far outweighs.

Plus, you are going to learn a lot about your business; what you’re doing, what products sell good, what products people love. And you can replicate those. If you find a shirt or a brand or a style that people are leaving five stars on all of the time, you know you’ve got a winning product there.

You’re going to be able to get data, more than just sales data, but actually customer experience data. There’s a ton of stuff. So, the big guys, you have to do it. And the smaller guys, you should do something. You’ve got to evaluate which is the right choice for you.

Mark S: Hey, Mike from Shopper Approved, would you let our customers know how they can get in touch with you?

Mike H: It’s real simple. My email is Mike@ShopperApproved.com. My direct phone number is 407-636-7285. If you definitely want to schedule a demo, you’ve heard enough and you think it’s worth looking at, you can go to my calendar page, which is MichaelHerz.YouCanBook.me.

Mark S: Okay, cool! I love all of that. Thank you very much, Mike, for being here.

I want to just mention something off-topic, before we sign off. We had a bunch of folks on the Custom Apparel Startups group mention that they listen to all of our podcasts. So, I just want to especially say thank you to the people that have taken the time to listen to what is now 54 hours’ worth, roughly, of effort that Marc Vila and I put into making sure that you guys are successful and stay in business, and grow your business, and achieve your entrepreneurial dreams.

Thanks for coming along on the ride with us!

Marc V: Yeah. I’m really glad that you brought that up, because it was initially what we set out to do with this. I had mentioned this to Mike yesterday, because we were talking about when the podcast was birthed. Mark and I were sitting and just having a marketing meeting, and we were talking about how we need to deliver more content and good information to our customers, things that can really help them grow.

Learning about reviews is an important thing. Learning about marketing and sales and new equipment that’s coming out, pricing, how to deal with competition, these are all really important things. We appreciate you listening. If you like the content, please share it with others, even folks that aren’t necessarily in the industry, but small business owners.

And if you want to hear or learn about something that we haven’t talked about yet, definitely contact us. Reach out to us on Facebook, email us through the CASPodcasts.com. Let us know what you want to hear about, what we should talk about.

Mark S: Yeah. I like that, too. Okay, thanks very much once again, Mike from Shopper Approved. You can probably hit the rewind button about four times, and get all of his contact information. I highly encourage you to do that. We will put them in the description of the podcast, as well, so you can contact him that way.

This has been Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.

Marc V: And Marc Vila, from Colman and Company.

Mark S: I hope you guys have a great business!

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