Episode 33 - Why I Recommend Judge.me for Shopify Reviews

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Hey, Scott Austin here.  In this episode, I'm going to cover my recommendation for which review app to use in your Shopify store.

But before I do that, I want to impart one unrelated nugget of information.  Last week there was a pretty big outage with the Shopify service.  Many store owners could not log into the Shopify admin.  And many stores were unavailable to consumers.  My clients instantly started calling me as they didn't know if the issue was something that was happening at the Shopify level or if it was something they did to their store.  So Shopify has a website that they keep up that tells you if their servers are operating normally or not.  It is ShopifyStatus.com.  It shows the status for a number of different parts of their service like the Shopify Admin, Checkout, POS and more.  And the update it pretty quickly when there is an issue.  When I experienced this recent issue, I went to the status site and it showed all green.  But within 2 or 3 minutes, it was showing which services were down.  So my advice is to bookmark ShopifyStatus.com and use it if you think there is a Shopify service outage.

So with that let's move into our podcast topic, which is why I recommend Judge.me for product reviews.

So let's first talk about why customer reviews are so important for your e-commerce store. Reviews are important social proof. Recent studies have shown that more than 80% of consumers read product reviews during their online shopping experiences. And one of the beautiful things about customer reviews is your customers will talk about your products in a different way than you do and they might be highlighting a feature or functionality that you haven't thought of before but it's important to them.  And that information is now provided to your customers in addition to your product marketing.  Next, because these comments are coming from people that are not employed by you and your store there's an authenticity behind them that people trust customer reviews and what those reviews say more than just the marketing copy on the product page. So customer reviews are important social proof

In addition to that there's an SEO benefit from reviews. Any of the good review apps out there today are going to have what's called structured data that Google will pick up and read as it crawls your site.  Google then uses that structured data to make the reviews rich-snippet that gets added to search results.  There's no guarantee from Google that structured data will give you the reviews rich snippet though.  They leave it as their discretion whether to use that data or not.

In summary, the two main reasons to have reviews are:

  1. Social proof.  This should improve your store's conversion rate.
  2. Review stars in search results.  This should increase visitors from SEO.

If you currently have a Shopify store and don't yet have a reviews app, adding Reviews would be near the top of my recommendations for store improvements.

There is no shortage of review app options for your Shopify store. I just searched for product reviews in the Shopify app store and there's well over a hundred different review apps. And many of them are good.  They have pretty similar feature sets, you know, a lot of them are viable options for you to use.  But in the end there's only one review app that I recommend and install on all the stores that I build for my clients, so I'm not going to spend time going over all the other review apps instead I'm going to focus on why I recommend Judge.me.

And that said let me be clear here.  My recommendation of Judge.me is purely based on their feature set and their business model. I don't have any affiliate relationship with them and they're not sponsoring this podcast episode or anything like that.  I actually use Judge.me in all the stores that I build for my clients.

Now in any review app there are a set of features that become important or that you should consider about that app.  So let's discuss desirable features of any review app.

  1. The ability to display reviews in your store and elsewhere.  You can show reviews on the product page and that can be a list of all the product reviews at the bottom of the page or wherever you want to place it.  And then at the top of the page, there's the review stars and number of reviews next to it.   And also a lot of the apps provide a home page section or what's usually called a carousel.  It's a rotating carousel of different reviews on the home page.  There's also an all reviews page which is a good best practice for Google SEO to have a page on your site that lists all of your reviews with the structured data for store-wide reviews.  You can also have other widgets like a reviews badge which I like to put in the footer of a of the site.  It says something like this store has 875 reviews with an average of a 4.9 rating.
  2. You need the ability to collect reviews so you can collect reviews from web forms on the page or on the site, you can also collect reviews through email and sometimes you can actually even check that the review star and rating stuff inside an email form instead of directing customers back to the store and doing it through a web form which is really nice and then also a review app really needs to be able to import reviews from other legacy platforms or if you're you know, bringing reviews from another channel that you have and putting them into your store.
  3. You also need the ability to solicit reviews and send those emails out after a product has been fulfilled and received by the customer so that you're not just expecting them to come back to your store on their own after they received their order.  The only way you're going to get a good volume of reviews from your customers is by sending emails requesting reviews.  Not every platform solicits reviews through email so that's something to make sure you check out.
  4. I already talked about one of the big benefits of reviews is the benefit it has on your Google SEO.  So you want to make sure that your review app provides good structured data for the Google to use with search results.
  5. Product groups.  This is the ability to combine are share reviews across a set of products.   Here's a common scenario.  Let's say you sell shoes.  And for one of the shoes that comes in different colors, for whatever reason you've decided that the different colors are going to be different products.  Product groups allow every review for anyone of the colors to shoe on all of the products in the group.  So product groups is really useful in providing deeper coverage of the number of reviews shown for a given product and wider coverage across your product catalog.
  6. A useful feature is to share reviews across Shopify stores.  A real example of this that I've done quite a few times in the past is that I'll make two separate Shopify stores for a client, one for their consumer business and another for their wholesale business.  And with wholesale, a lot of wholesale customers actually don't know the product as they don't interact with it because they're reselling it.  So they really can't submit reviews because they're not knowledgeable of the products.  In this case, I'll share reviews across the two stores.   All of the consumer reviews collected in the consumer store will also appear for the same product in the wholesale store.  That way, the wholesale customers get the benefit of seeing review commentary.
  7. Integrations.  Reviews data should not stand alone in the reviews app.  The app needs to integrate with other apps that you are using.  Especially email, social and Google. 
  8. Editorial control.  One of the big benefits of a review app in your Shopify store, and those of you that are selling on Amazon are really going to appreciate this one, is that you get editorial control over your reviews.  So you'll be able to decide which reviews should show in your store and which ones are inappropriate.  As you know, there are haters in the world.  And if one of those haters comes to your store and submits a really unfair or a very biased review against your store, you have the editorial control to not publish that onto your site.  With editorial control, you can also respond to a review.  So when someone makes a comment or asks a question, you can respond to them and share that response with other customers.
  9.  The last big feature of review apps is the different types of content that they allow customers to generate.  These types of user-generated content include:
    1. Product reviews where they're reviewing individual products in their order.
    2. Store reviews where they're reviewing your store, the quality of your service and the timeliness of your shipping. 
    3.  Q&A.  Customers can ask questions and then you can answer them.  This is a nice way to build out a FAQ type content.
    4. Customer media.  Photos or videos from the customers of their products or testimonials.

So now let's go specifically into Judge.me and why I recommend it.  The quick summary is that Judge.me is feature-rich and it provides the best business value for store owners.

On the feature side of things, it has all the features that I mentioned above that are important in a review app.  It also has a bunch of smaller features that I have not mentioned but which add value to the reviews experience.

And on the business model, Judge.me's free plan offers the most value out there and that is that it provides for free unlimited reviews with email solicitations. A lot of the other review apps cap their free level at a trial for a certain number of days or cap the number of email solicitations sent per month.  With Judge.me you get unlimited reviews and email solicitations for free. And then on the business model for the paid features what I really like about it is that there's no sliding scale. It's a flat fee of $15 per month for all of the premium features. And that $15 per month is cheaper than most other apps lowest paid level if they have a sliding scale.  The paid level unlocks many features and controls in the app.

Now, there are three big reasons that I use with my clients as reasons that they should use the paid version of Judge.me.

  1. The first one is that in the paid version you can send more than one email per order to solicit reviews.  So you can remind customers one, two, or three times to submit a review and they only get reminders if they haven't submitted a review yet.
  2. The second reason is that product groups is a paid feature.  And product groups is really important to get wide and deep coverage of reviews across your product catalog.
  3. And the third reason is that you get more control over the experience. There are a ton of settings that you can adjust in Judge.me.  And a vast majority of those settings are only available in the paid plan.

Now, I want to move on to best practices for review apps. Some of these best practices apply to specifics about Judge.me and others are general best practices regardless of which review app you're using.

  1. If you are setting up a new reviews app, you should import any old reviews you have.  Because review coverage is so important, you are going to want those historical reviews from whatever platform you had reviews in before. And those old reviews also show that your store has been around longer. Customers will see reviews from going back in time which shows the longevity of your store.  Judge.me allows you to import reviews in a number of different formats making the process easier.
  2. Kind of similar to number 1 is that you should solicit reviews from past customers when you set up your review app for the first time. So if you didn't have a previous review system that can migrate reviews from, go through your history of orders and solicit reviews from past customers.  And when you do that be sure that you are sending them an email that clearly communicates that you just set up a new product review system and want their review of their past purchase.  You need to be clear on this so customers don't get confused and think that your store processed an order for them recently.  In Judge.me, you'll need to be on the paid plan to send a customized review solicitation email.
  3.  You should solicit a review for every sale.  Now in Judge.me, you get unlimited review solicitations in the free and paid levels.  So this best practice is more for those other review apps out there that cap the reviews at a certain number per month for different paid levels. For example, if you store typically has a thousand orders per month, don't be a plan that only sends out 50 or a hundred solicitations per month.   solicitation and what happens is they run out of their quota of apps on the first of every month. If you've got a thousand order a month going through your store, you should be soliciting 1000 reviews per month. The reason for this is that number, 1000 per month, is really powerful.  A store with a small total number of reviews, looks new or small.  While a store with a ton of reviews looks more legit.
  4. Solicit reviews multiple times for ever order.  In the free version of Judge.me, you can only send one solicitation email per order.  But in the paid level, you can send multiple emails per order. I recommend that you solicit at least three emails.  Now if the customer submits a review on the first email, they won't get the second and third one.  Sending multiple emails keeps reminding customers in case they are busy or it the wrong and time and place when they get the first email. So give them a reminder to submit a review and that will help you get more reviews into your store. On average a store is going to see about five or ten percent of their orders will submit reviews. So that's a good guide for you. If you're only getting one or two percent of your orders submitting reviews, you may want to  nudge up some of the reminders that you're sending out.
  5. Only solicit one type of review, store-level or product-level in your store. You can solicit both kinds of reviews in most of the review apps out there.  The store reviews usually happen right after a customer places an order in your store.  And product reviews solicitations ussually go out 14 days after the order is placed in order to ensure the customer has had enough time to receive the product.  While the review apps are very clear and do a good job of explaining what the difference is between a store review and a product review, your customers are probably going to find the experience confusing.   You've probably seen it in a store where a lot of the store reviews comment on the fact that they haven't received the product yet.  So customers can get confused by store reviews because they're expecting product reviews. So, most businesses should just stick with Product Reviews and not bother with store reviews. Now, there are times that the opposite is true where you should only do store reviews and not do product reviews.  Some examples are if your products are one of a kind like you are selling original paintings or custom jewelry.  Or maybe your product isn't actually a product but it's a service. In those situations, you only want to do store reviews.
  6. Ensure that that structured data from your product reviews is working properly on your product pages.  Google has Structured Data Testing Tool that I'll link to in the show notes that you can use for testing.
  7. Do not be too heavy-handed with your editorial control. Remember you'll have the ability to say what reviews show up on your site and it's very easy to decide to only show five star reviews.  But if you do that, most people are going to be able to detect that there's an authenticity problem here.  Why is everything so positive? So make sure that when a customer has a valid concern and they submit that concern in a review that you allow that review to go through. And then answer that concern or question, as you have the ability to provide answers or feedback on reviews.  That way, reviews will look more authenticate and customers will get to see how you handle issues.
  8. Connect Judge.me to Klaviyo or whichever email app you use.  That Klaviyo will know that customers have submitted a review and whether that review was positive or negative.  Then you can use that information inside a Klaviyo when creating flows and segments. 
  9. Create a Klaviyo flow for positive reviews.  The goal here is to turn your biggest fans into promoters and leverage them to grow your audience.  The way you do this by sending a Klaviyo email to anyone that leaves a positive review.  Thank them for that positive review offer them an opportunity to share their knowledge with their friends.  Give them a coupon code that they can share with their friends.  If the customer wants to keep that coupon code for themselves, they of course can.  But suggest to them they give it to one of their friends that would also like your products.  To make that suggestion even more pervasive, give them three coupon codes for three friends.

So those are my best practices for product reviews.

Now to summarize this episode.  You should use a product review app unless there's a very good business reason not to.  My recommendation is that you use the Judge.me product review app.  There are many good choices out there. I like Judge.me because it's got all of the important review app features and it's got the best business model of all of them.

Now the world of Shopify apps is very competitive.  So, if I ever change my recommendation for a review app, I'll let you know in a future podcast episode.

Thanks for listening.



Jade Puma is a certified Shopify Expert. If you need any help with your Shopify store, we can help.


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