First-Party Reviews: Google's a Fan, So Maybe You Should Be, Too
Third-party validation is one of the best ways to build trust online -- and one of the most...
If you’re in business, you know the importance of online reviews. They can make or break your company - and that’s where Trustpilot comes in. This complete guide will tell you everything you need to know about one of the world’s top review sites.
Every month, people share over 3 million reviews on Trustpilot to help each other find great companies and make better buying decisions. So whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for years, Trustpilot can help improve your reputation and drive more sales.
In this complete guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about Trustpilot: what it is, how to use it, and more!
According to their website, “Trustpilot is a review platform that’s open to everyone”. For consumers: Trustpilot helps them find what they’re looking for in a product or service, and avoid what they’d rather not spend money on. For businesses: Trustpilot gives them the opportunity to turn their happy customers into marketers, and to find out how they can improve by listening to their not-as-happy customers.
That’s the simple part. But with millions of reviews being posted on the platform every month, Trustpilot is not just a review platform. It’s an important tool that you can and should be using.
The brief answer is: yes. A lot. And there is no shortage of data that proves that: more consumers are reading online reviews than ever before. In 2021, 77% of the consumers 'always' or 'regularly' read reviews when browsing for local businesses (up from 60% in 2020), and these reviews have a direct impact on the decisions consumers make.
This has a lot to do with the fact that the reviews which are published about a business are more likely to be trusted if they are published on an independent platform like Trustpilot than on the business’s own website. Since any business can curate and selectively display on its website only the reviews it wants consumers to see, consumers often give more importance to the reviews they find on neutral intermediary platforms whose whole job is to host reviews.
With that said, here’s a quick rundown of how we’ll thoroughly go over everything you need to know to start taking advantage of Trustpilot today:
Trustpilot CEO Peter Holten Mühlmann | Credits: Trustpilot, Source: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trustpilot-gives-itself-five-stars-despite-losses-lptmbgxpf
Knowing a bit about Trustpilot’s past and present can help you better appreciate why they've come about, why they’ve remained successful in a competitive field, and why they’ll probably continue to grow in the future – which is one of the reasons why you should be using Trustpilot.
Trustpilot was founded by Peter Holten Mühlmann, in Denmark in 2007. When Peter’s parents started shopping online, he noticed a need for something like Trustpilot. He believed in the idea so much that he left his university to focus on founding and running the company, and he continues to serve as its CEO to this day.
The company has grown substantially, especially in the last few years. The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2021, with the initial public offering raising around $640 million, making it the largest IPO for the exchange in nearly a decade. It currently employs more than 800 people and has offices all over the world.
Of course, global presence means global criticism and global obligations. Trustpilot has had to navigate through both: harsh scrutiny of its business and strict laws that regulate its industry. So far, they’ve been doing so successfully.
When they were accused of helping an online estate agent artificially inflate their “TrustScore” (we’ll explain the meaning of a TrustScore below), they addressed the problem directly by issuing an open letter clarifying its review policy. When a TV show publicly demonstrated some ways of manipulating reviews on the site, Trustpilot responded by publishing an online response about how much they valued the show’s experiment in highlighting fraud on the site, and promising to implement changes to tackle the problem better.
They’ve since started using advanced, automated fraud detection software to prevent businesses from misusing their platform. Also, in May of 2021, they started issuing the company’s yearly transparency report, in which they give fairly detailed insights into how they do business.
Trustpilot also applies this head-on approach of responding to problems and tackling them to new laws and regulations which they need to comply with. For example, when the European Union recently made new laws on reviews, Trustpilot quickly responded by taking measures to comply with the regulations and by informing the businesses that deal with them how they should also comply.
There are many other websites that host the reviews that customers write about businesses they’ve interacted with, but none of them are exactly like Trustpilot for 2 main reasons.
Trustpilot has firmly positioned itself as a primary hub where just about anyone can write about just about any sort of business. It receives more than 4 million new reviews every single month, which is difficult to compete with, especially because it has become quite recognizable.
However, Trustpilot mainly focuses on hosting reviews for B2C companies, as is the case with review sites like Amazon Customer Reviews, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. While some other companies like TrustRadius and GoodFirms host reviews for B2B companies, others don’t have such limitations.
Few competitors, if any, go to the same lengths that Trustpilot goes to when it comes to authenticity. Besides the fraud detection software and transparency reports we’ve discussed above, Trustpilot even has a dedicated Content Integrity Team of 70+ members. This team investigates reports from brands who claim that some reviews written about them are unauthentic. Adding to all of that, Trustpilot are official partners of Google Reviews. If Google recognizes Trustpilot as a trusted source of legitimate customer reviews, you probably should too.
Anyone. All you need to post a review on Trustpilot is a Trustpilot account, and you can sign up for free using a Facebook, Google, or email account.
Businesses can also send invitation links to their customers, so they write reviews about them. This is very convenient for the customers because they do not even need to have a Trustpilot account to leave a review. By simply clicking on the invitation link, a profile is automatically created with the personal information that the customer has already provided to that business.
Businesses can also sign up for free and start receiving Trustpilot reviews at no cost, but with limited features.
It’s worth noting that Trustpilot does not require customers to verify that they indeed have purchased something from a business they are writing a review about. Businesses though have the option of flagging reviews they find suspicious so that Trustpilot employees investigate them.
The short answer is “yes”. Trustpilot’s reviews are indeed legit, and you should care about them as a consumer and for your business. The more accurate answer is “mostly”.
We’ll start with the obvious: a platform as big as Trustpilot, which allows users to create profiles and leave reviews for free, is bound to attract malicious submissions.
These malicious submissions can take on many forms. Some of them can be organic, like those submitted by people who create plenty of Trustpilot accounts just to write good reviews about a business that pays them to do so or to write bad reviews about their competitors. And some of them can be totally illegitimate, like reviews generated by automated computer scripts.
And because Trustpilot welcomes all sorts of reviews, from “bad” to “excellent”, it can be difficult to figure out which reviews are honest and which are malicious simply based on the star rating of the review. Also, since malicious reviews can be written by people or even by very sophisticated AI, even the actual content of the review can’t always be relied on to judge whether a review is real or not.
However, Trustpilot is just as sophisticated with its fraud detection software, if not more. It uses an “extremely accurate” system to flag suspicious reviews, take them offline, and notify the people who wrote them of this – all before Trustpilot staff get directly involved. Their robust review management system also includes policies that allow for direct inspection by Trustpilot employees on a per-case basis.
This software proves to be effective, even more than employees, at doing its job. In the past year alone, they’ve used it to take down 2.7 million reviews that have been identified as illegitimate.
It’s also worth noting that the great number of reviews posted on the website can serve as additional reassurance. The vast majority of reviews, especially after passing through Trustpilot’s fraud detection software, are indeed honest. And even though most customers only write reviews when they’ve had very good or very bad experiences, the overall rating of a business remains reliable, especially if it has lots of reviews.
Trustpilot uses a freemium model to generate almost all of its revenue. They allow businesses to sign up to their platform and start receiving reviews for free.
These businesses can subscribe to one of Trustpilot's paid plans to gain access to a wide range of perks such as third-party integrations, unlimited verified customer reviews, and AI-generated insights and analytics which can help the business with their marketing efforts.
As Trustpilot themselves say: “Trustpilot is free for everyone”, and 90% of the 714,000+ websites on Trustpilot use the platform for free. The other 10% is where Trustpilot gets its revenue. Their standard plan for small businesses starts at $225 per domain per month, and they have custom enterprise plans for corporations that have a much higher price tag.
A rating on Trustpilot (which they call the “TrustScore”) is the overall measurement of reviewer satisfaction, based on all the reviews a business receives on Trustpilot.
Trustpilot is quite transparent about how they calculate Truscores. They do not simply average out all the reviews as business has ever gotten. Instead, they use a formula which takes the following 3 factors into account:
Read on to find out how you can use this information to benefit your business.
Since the Trustpilot system rewards businesses that consistently get new reviews by giving them better TrustScores, you should always try to keep the flow of reviews running. Here’s how.
First thing’s first: Trustpilot reviews can either be solicited or unsolicited. Solicited reviews are generated in response to invitations and requests sent by the business to the consumer. Unsolicited reviews are the ones that are written by customers who were not prompted by the business to do so.
This is an important distinction to make because, if you’re a business, you need to follow Trustpilot’s guidelines (which are strictly enforced) for soliciting reviews.
Solicited reviews can be:
Here’s the short version of the most important guidelines to follow when asking customers for reviews:
Remember, unsolicited reviews are reviews that weren't asked for by the business. Unsolicited reviews can be:
It’s best to use as many of these methods and as frequently as you can. That will not just help your TrustScore, but it will also give you a better chance to understand your customer’s concerns and improve accordingly. It can be tough to invite a customer to give your business a review when you know that they did not have an amazing experience, but the knowledge gained from that pays dividends in the long run.
Besides, many potential customers who are reading reviews about your business can get deterred if all they see are 5-star ratings. They might even consider a bad review reassuring and overall positive because it adds credibility to all your other great reviews.
Reviews are an invaluable resource. Just as how your business manages its resources diligently, it should manage its reviews. We’ll be discussing how to deal with good and bad reviews below, but we’ll start with a few general tips first.
If you’re getting good reviews, then congratulations! Here’s what you should do with good reviews, besides celebrate: you should market them. We’ll talk about this in depth below.
Another good tip would be to save time replying to good reviews and focus more on bad ones. Have a few generic replies saved, edit them according to the review you’re replying to, and post it online to show everyone that your customer’s happiness is your happiness as well.
You should first acknowledge the person writing the review and attend to their concerns. If you pick up on a common theme across multiple negative reviews, such as multiple customers complaining about packaging, then you should probably look into it. Of course, this necessitates being attentive. If a business simply refuses to acknowledge its bad reviews, they’ll only multiply.
Also, if you think a review is completely fake or malicious, you can flag it so that Trustpilot investigates it. Be careful though, it can be quite difficult to spot a fake review. Also, it’s fairly simple for people to find out how many reviews a business has flagged through its public “Company activity” section of its Trustpilot profile – so do not go overboard with flagging reviews. This is part of some recent transparency changes that Trustpilot has made.
Here’s an example:
This is what a company’s public profile looks like on Trustpilot:
And here’s the “Company activity” page where you can find information on the company’s “flagging” activities:
And this is the publicly available “flagging” report:
If people love your business so much that they’re taking time out of their day just to write about their positive experiences with you, it would be a shame to not let others know about it. Trustpilot offers many convenient ways for you to let your best customers become your marketers. These are accessible through your Trustpilot Business account under “Showcase”:
TrustBoxes are website widgets that enable you to directly display your customer’s feedback on your website or inside your marketing and landing pages.
They’re automated, customizable, and easy on the eye. That means they can save you the hassle of curating which reviews to show on your website, and they can be tailored to your brand.
Be careful where you place them, because that could make a big difference. This is something we’ve previously covered in detail.
This is one of the most important things you should be doing with your best reviews: sharing them on social media. If you’ve connected your social media accounts to your Trustpilot account, you can do this from within your Trustpilot admin page in just a few clicks.
It’s a great way to nurture people who are already interested in what you have to offer (because they’re already checking your socials and maybe even following you), and eliminate any doubts they may have about your business.
Trustpilot offers useful widgets which can be embedded into your emails. These widgets encourage feedback, and they can be used to automatically create Trustpilot accounts for your customers so they can conveniently leave a review if you send them a review request.
Trustpilot keeps creating new templates, badges, images, and many more creatives which you can – and should – use in your printed and digital media channels.
Be sure to make use of this valuable resource because it can save you considerable time and effort creating what’s already done for you.
It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of online reviews for your business in 2022. Whatever field you are in, reviews are valuable to your business, simply because they are a great way of generating and maintaining trust.
Although learning how to solicit, manage, and market reviews can be tricky, it is definitely worth it. But be very careful, not all reviews are created equal, and definitely not all reviews make people trust your business. For the sake of acquiring customers especially, reviews are mostly a means to an end – and that end is trust. This is why you should always remain cognizant of the factors that Make People Trust (or Distrust) Online Reviews, and use that to your advantage.
You also do not need to limit yourself to Trustpilot reviews, as great a resource as it may be. There are other great tools such as Repuso which you can use instead of or – even better – in conjunction with Trustpilot.
Nader is an attorney and a tech enthusiast. He loves writing and is interested in business and corporations, web 3.0, and finance. In his spare time, he enjoys performing magic and managing his temporary tattoo start-up.
Third-party validation is one of the best ways to build trust online -- and one of the most...
Note: Jennifer Bridges of Reputation Defender co-authored this piece.
Online reviews are a...