Review of TrustPilot and AdWords Seller Ratings

We implemented the TrustPilot review system this year. When evaluating review systems, there were a lot of claims of how great they were. But it was difficult to really know what the impact would be, and costs varied wildly. Our primary aim was to increase clicks on our Google AdWords ads, but clearly there was no way to know the outcome in advance. Would it be worth it?

Background on Seller Ratings

My bottom line reason for implementing a review system was simply to get more AdWords clicks by implementing Seller Ratings.

Google's AdWords blog reported that the average lift for an ad with stars was 17% back in 2011. But that's when the feature was new. At the beginning of 2015, we'd be pretty late to this game. On some keywords, many of our competitors were showing seller ratings. On other keywords, nobody showed seller ratings.

Thinking it through, it seemed to me that if most of our competitors were showing them, perhaps adding them wouldn't give us any big advantage. But since we weren't currently showing them, we were currently being penalized by users who preferred ratings. So even though we wouldn't gain a real advantage, at least we'd stop being penalized, and have a marginal improvement in our clicks. On the keywords with no competitors showing seller ratings, we'd likely get a competitive advantage. Either way, it made sense.

Google lists a lot of companies they'll pull seller ratings from, and it's certainly possible to use Google Trusted Stores to get them set up for free.

My criteria were that I wanted it to be:

  • cost-effective
  • easy to integrate into our business processes
  • easy to integrate with Magento
  • certain to improve AdWords results

We're juggling dozens of projects. If it's not an easy integration, it's going to get put on the back burner.

Reviewing the Reviewers: TrustPilot

Without going into the entire decision making process, I'll say that we eventually settled on TrustPilot. TrustPilot is not the cheapest. But for us, it appeared to be a good balance between the factors that mattered. It was easy to integrate into our existing processes, and now we're soliciting reviews from customers who order on our site, and replying to those reviews on a daily basis.

TrustPilot attempts to differentiate themselves from other review systems by focusing on some value added things, like their "trust boxes" which display real-time review feeds on pages in your site, via a bit of Javascript you plug in to pull them. So they touted how amazing it would be for customers to see highly-rated reviews, in context on various pages like checkout, with previous customers basically selling us to potential customers. The sales person didn't make firm claims, but said that many of their customers saw 10, 20, or 30% increases in conversion rate by displaying trust boxes on key pages on their site.

We've done a few tests with TrustPilot's trust box system on our site, so far with very poor results. No real measurable increases in conversion have occurred for any test we've done so far. So this key differentiator for them is valueless in my current opinion. But that could change when we run a few more A/B tests and refine what we're doing.

TrustPilot has a nice looking site that's easy to use. It's clean and professional. The interface for our employees and our customers is very easy.

Magento / TrustPilot Integration

The basic system of feeding customer order information into TrustPilot was a breeze. Integration was almost effortless for our Magento store by just BCCing order confirmation emails over to a special email address at TrustPilot that would pull out customer email and order information.

We initially set it up to send reviews to people about 3 days after their order confirmation email went out. Since we don't ship over the weekend, however, we had some situations where a late-in-the-day Friday order would get a review request on a Monday before they'd received confirmation their order had shipped. This irritated some people. We increased it to 5 or 7 days, figuring by they everyone would have their orders and we'd get fewer reviews saying "I haven't received my order yet".

What we didn't think about was that sometimes orders get changed, or canceled. Those people were still getting review requests. In one case, there was a problem processing a customer's payment, so we didn't ship their order, after calling them several times. The customer gave us a horrible 1-star review for not shipping her product. Apparently we're a "bad company" for not shipping products to people who don't pay for them.

After that incident we modified our Magento settings to send copies of the shipment confirmation emails over to TrustPilot. So if an order changes and doesn't get shipped, or the customer doesn't pay and their order is canceled, they are not asked to leave us a review. We're still inviting all customers to review us. But if a transaction is not completed, for any reason, they're not actually our customer, are they? I think this makes more sense. We only ask actual purchasers to review us. And we delay the review request until a few days after shipping, when we're reasonably sure they've received the order, so they can review us on the entire experience, and the products they received.

AdWords Clickthrough Rate Increases

While it's impossible to control things precisely to know what the actual increase in AdWords clicks was, I can say that we are fairly certain that it was between 10% and 15%. Our conversion rate wasn't affected by this, so actual conversions also increased by 10% to 15% across our AdWords account. This is probably a bit lower than the 17% average reported by Google, but in line with our ballpark expectations, and very beneficial to us.

It's important to point out that those clicks aren't free. Implementing a review system and getting stars on our ads did bump our results, but also our costs. But we're advertising profitably, so that's money we're happy to spend.

The bottom line here is that implementing TrustPilot was a quick and easy way for us to increase our AdWords results in just a few weeks. The increase in profitability to our business from that lift in AdWords is greater than what we're paying for the review system, so it was a good choice.

Other Results

TrustPilot told us that on average, they see about 3% of people respond to review requests, and that's exactly what we've seen. People who have a problem are probably slightly more inclined to write a review, so we've made sure to stay on top of these and get back to people promptly. Many of the negative reviews are from people who may not have otherwise contacted us, so we have been able to uncover a lot more problems and proactively solve them. It's not possible to quantify the result on the business from this, but there is definitely some value in this as well.

It's really easy to go along thinking that your business is the best and turn a blind eye to your weaknesses. Perhaps the greates value to a review system like this is getting objective responses back about the areas where you aren't as good as you think you are. I've been surprised several times with feedback from customers. There are areas our business is really strong that I didn't realize were so important to customers, as well as areas we need to improve that I hadn't paid attention to previously. That kind of feedback has been invaluable.

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