Most ecommerce merchants understand that showing 5-star reviews alongside their ads can boost ad performance. However, many misunderstand how the system works. We regularly talk with Magento merchants who don’t understand that there is a difference between product reviews and seller reviews. Let’s look at both of these and why you need them.
The key difference is that product reviews are ratings of a particular product. Each product can have a different review. And you typically own this data. Seller reviews are ratings of your entire business, not a particular product, and you typically don’t own the data. Seller reviews are collected by external companies and fed into Google on your behalf in order to make the ratings less prone to tampering.
Understanding Product Reviews
Product reviews are easy to understand. It’s when a user comes to your site and writes a review for a specific product. Perhaps you even send out emails after the sale asking users to write product reviews for the items they purchased after a week or two. There are numerous systems for getting product reviews. But this is actually a built-in feature of Magento that doesn’t require any additional software to implement, so they are often set up.
If you feed your product review data to Google through a review feed in Google Merchant Center, this data will be added to your shopping feed data and the star reviews can be shown under shopping ads when they display. This is an obvious win, since products showing high star counts are more likely to get clicks than competitor ads without reviews.
However, as of late 2019, there isn’t really any way to get product review data out of Magento using a default Magento installation. The Magento 2 API does not expose product reviews, so they can’t be pulled out via that method. Merchants typically either use a feed generation extension to export the data, or they use a third-party review system that also provides a direct integration with Google Merchant Center. But in reality, getting this data out of Magento is ridiculously easy with a simple SQL query run from a cron job. No software or external services are truly required.
When evaluating how to implement these in Magento, pay attention to who owns the data and decide if that is important to you. If you contract with an external service provider to collect these reviews, you’ll need to pass along data about customer orders, so they can email customers. There may be some privacy issues to resolve here, and some external providers of this service put it in their contracts that they own the data that you pay them to collect. This locks you in to their service forever, or you’ll lose all the data you ever collect on switching to another system down the road.
You can collect these directly in Magento, but that system is not as slick as some of the third-party services. The challenges getting the data out can be solved cheaply and easily. But you do need to consider how you will solicit ratings from customers for products they’ve purchased and work out your own system.
Since product reviews are tied to individual products in your shopping feed, they are only displayed in Google Shopping Ads. They do not appear in text Search Ads.
Understanding Seller Reviews
Seller Reviews are reviews of your business overall. There are many companies that collect reviews. And you can also collect them for free using Google Customer Reviews. However, you cannot collect them yourself on your own site. They need to funnel through a third party, to provide some assurance that they are objective ratings that have not been tampered with.
The main companies providing this service then pass the data to Google Ads, typically without you needing to do or set up anything. This is one area that’s just magic. It just works. When Google gets enough review data, these appear as an Automated Extension and star ratings will start showing. But since these are reviews for your company, and not individual products, they show on Search Ads, but not on Shopping Ads.
Since third parties are getting this data and posting it on their own sites, they all claim ownership of the ratings data for seller reviews. It’s not yours. When a customer submits a bad review, it’s going to stay up and you can’t edit it. But also, since the ratings are posted publicly, review providers tend to leave them up even if you switch service providers down the road. Older reviews will be weighted lower by Google and fall off the averages after some period of time. Unlike product data, where you might still sell the same model in a decade, seller reviews of your company from ten years ago simply aren’t worth anything to anyone, so owning them isn’t an issue.
When you implement seller reviews, you should also make sure you have someone who has the job of responding to them. Any time there is a negative review, solve the problem. Many reviewers will change their rating if you fix their issue promptly. This also gives you a really good feedback loop about what is wrong with your business operations. The same issues will come up over and over. Those are the challenges you need to solve to ramp up your business to the next level.
Why You Need Both
If you’re missing either of these two ratings systems, you need to solve that right now. And perhaps more importantly, if you haven’t implemented these ratings systems because you’re concerned that you’d get some low-quality reviews, you really need to solve whatever issues you have that would lead to poor reviews.
Having both systems implemented will ensure that star ratings show up on both Google Search Ads and Google Shopping Ads. The star ratings still won’t show up on every ad. But some percent of the time, they will be there, and that will help your CTR. Very importantly, if you are missing these star ratings, ads that your competitors show that have them are getting some clicks that you would otherwise be getting right now.
Both of these systems can be easily set up. There are some service providers that will handle both for you, along with some slick systems for contacting your customers after the sale to ask them to review products and give an overall review of the company. The bang for buck is obvious and immediate for anyone with a moderate amount of advertising spend in Google Ads.