Product Reviews Never Review Products

$4.47 billion was made from the Harry Potter movies. An additional $6.3 billion was added because of Harry Potter merchandise.

I think we can agree that Harry Potter is a massive success.

However, even the Harry Potter story received one-star reviews:

But that doesn’t mean that the book was poorly written or published. These one-star reviews aren’t even about the product. They’re all about the people who left them.

They said: “It’s just not made for me, I’m not part of this tribe…”

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Here’s what marketing legend Seth Godin said about one-star reviews:

In fact, most product reviews are not about the product itself. Whether that’s a one-star, or five-star review. It’s always about the people who leave them. They’re telling a story. To you, others, and themselves.

In this post, you’ll learn about the actual intentions of why people leave reviews and how your brand can leverage them to grow your brand.

<span id="What-Product-Reviews-Are-Being-Recognized-For">What Product Reviews Are Being Recognized For (Wrongly)</span>

If American TV host Steve Harvey will ask 100 customers to name the number one reason why they left a five-star review, chances are high that “Product Quality” will be on top of the board.

And it’s true. But only to some extent.

The real reason is something that most customers aren’t even aware of. Something that’s deeper. And if you look close enough and listen carefully, you’ll discover it. It’s in the photo reviews they submit and in the texts they write.

Product quality alone can be proven by a company itself. If quality would be the most important factor, certificates would be enough to build a fantastic brand reputation. Nothing else would be required.

However, you might agree with us, that building a real brand requires a bit more than just a piece of paper. And that’s what we’re here for today. To reveal the hidden magic of AMAZING photo reviews. You know, the reviews that are more than just “nice quality, thank you”. The ones that will make you proud and will actually turn window shoppers into customers.

<span id="Amazing-Reviews-Are-About-Them-Not-You">Amazing Reviews Are About Them, Not You</span>

The best reviews you’ll ever get are achieving three things:

  1. Justify the purchase.
  2. Telling a story about the reviewer.
  3. Connect humans.

<span id="Reviews-Justify-The-Purchase">Reviews Justify The Purchase</span>

Look, no one likes to admit that they spent money on something that couldn’t meet their expectations. In fact, we’re all afraid that this will happen to us. So whenever we pay for something that actually meets (or exceeded) our expectations, we’re very happy. We tell ourselves the story that it was indeed a smart decision to get that product.

But we don’t stop there. We want other people to know about this. We want them to know that we are smart.

One way to do this is by leaving a review. We justify the purchase even more by doing that. Because a review is a direct extension of the story we already tell ourselves.

In practice, the justification through reviews can look very different.

One is more obvious than the other.

Let’s start with the obvious one. Here’s an example of BlendJet:

If you read the review text, you’ll see, without any doubt, that this customer justified the money she spent through this review. You can even see that she didn’t just justify the purchase through a review, but also went one step further and told all of her friends about it.

And then there’s this more emotional justification:

It’s the same product, same five-star rating, but two very different ways of justification. And that’s because humans are different. Reviews, especially visual ones, are a mirror of our customer’s worldviews.

We asked the Co-founder and CEO of BlendJet Ryan Pamplin to share his thoughts with us on this:

“The stories can be gripping, like how customers have used BlendJet every single day to change their eating habits for the better. Many people show off now they have transformed their health and had fun doing it. We dedicate our lives to BlendJet, so it’s incredibly fulfilling for us to see and hear these stories, and to feel the love and passion of the BlendJet community.”
Ryan Pamplin
CEO, BlendJet

BlendJet built a tribe. (And you can, too).

<span id="Reviews-Are-Telling-a-Story-About-The-Reviewer">Reviews Are Telling a Story About The Reviewer</span>

The way we see the world and what stories we tell ourselves have a direct influence on what we buy.

If you don’t see much value in the craftsmanship of high-fashion brands, you won’t pay $2,000+ for a Louis Vuitton bag. But if you do see value in it, and accept the fact that you have to pay an extra premium price to get treated very special at an LV store, you probably won’t get any satisfaction from spending endless hours of coupon-hunting just so you can save a few hundred dollars every year on your groceries.

No matter under which category your customers fall, they love to express their passion. Visual reviews help with that.

If you look closely at the following review example from Shopify Plus merchant City Bonfires you’ll notice that this customer is really into giving away amazing gifts. 

No one asked her about what she does for her friends and families. But she went head-first into it and wrote about it. Because she loves to create amazing gifts. It’s her passion. And she knows that other people, who also love to create and give amazing gifts, can relate to this.

So when fellow customers, who share the same passion, see this review, they’re inspired:

City Bonfires Head of Marketing, Tiffany Anzalone MxCasland even said:

“Visual reviews help greatly to show how our product is used, the many ways it can be used, and the many places you can use it. It is vital to our business. The best reviews are those that show how it made them feel.”
Tiffany Anzalone MxCasland
Head of Marketing, City Bonfires

In both examples above, the customers tell a story about them. Not about the product.

And that’s amazing news for you!

The story that your customers tell is directly connected to your business. In our example above, it means that your business will be recognized as a business that cares. (Because your customers care about friends and neighbors).

With every review you get, your story will be spread a little more. One review at a time. And even better: they will tell it from an angle you, as the business owner, can’t. They add their personal touch to it, which eventually turns into social proof.

<span id="Reviews-Connect-Humans">Reviews Connect Humans</span>

Statistics show that two-thirds of all Americans trust online reviews from strangers more than a recommendation from their ex-partners. This, once again, shows the power of reviews. In fact, it shows that the connection between two strangers, in this particular moment, is stronger than the connection between people who used to love each other. Isn’t this crazy?

Reviews don’t connect people in a way that they start messaging each other. That’s not their purpose. They connect on a surface that doesn’t require to. And if this connection leads to a purchase, it’s a very valuable connection.

If you want to measure the actual value of the connections that your reviews have built, you can see them in your Loox dashboard (Loox-Driven Sales):

<span id="Brands-That-Mastered-Humanizing-Their-Brand">Brands That Mastered Humanizing Their Brand</span>

At Loox, we’re proud to work with amazing brands:

It’s their ever-growing passion to serve the customers that brought them to where they are. And they continue to grow.

Here are six brands that use Loox to master humanized storytelling through reviews.

Jungalow: Kitten Approved

Home decor and art brand Jungalow sells a wide range of unique products to very passionate customers. From pillows to shower curtains.

It’s definitely not made for everyone. They attract a very specific type of customers. And they love it!

This review says so much about the customer. It reveals that she doesn’t want to paint the walls, shows the style of the customer, and also that she’s a cat lady.

Jungalow is aware of the love for cats among their customers. Because they love cats as well. And so they even continue to tell their customer’s stories on Instagram:

Jungalow really mastered their humanized storytelling.

The Oodie: You're Never Too Old to Spend Time With Mommy

The Oodie is one of those rare brands that created hype but managed to stay relevant. They achieved this by shipping a product that people can’t help but share with friends and family.

Their product is an oversized wearable blanket. But that’s not what they sell. They sell an experience:

^ In this particular case, they sold quality time for a mother and daughter. And they allowed the daughter to share her story with the world. Through a photo review.

It’s a beautiful and authentic way of engaging with customers.

Happy Way: Instagrammable Reviews

On the surface, Happy Way sells protein powder and supplements. But that’s only half of the story.

Look at this review:

If you look closely at all the reviews from Happy Way, you’ll notice that their customers love that they can take these powders while breastfeeding. (Unlike competitor’s products).

What does this say? It means that these young mothers care more about their newborns than they care about their own nutrition. But it also means that they don’t use their new-mom-status as an excuse to not take care of their nutrition.

They want it all, and they get it all.

LAIKA: Adults With Dolls?

It’s hard to beat Five-time Oscars® nominee LAIKA Studios in storytelling. They’re masters of their craft:

And because of that, they have die-hard fans who collect anything. From home decor to collectible toys.

This review speaks passion in one of the purest forms. 

The customer is someone who’s very proud of his collection and wants the world to know about it. In fact, he has more than 6,000 people following him on Instagram where he shares his passion with people from the same tribe:

But he doesn’t stop there.

He even recorded a video of himself unboxing and speaking about the LAIKA product:

This one customer uses every possible way to express his love for LAIKA:

  • Stunning visual review.
  • Instagram posts.
  • YouTube videos.

Every brand can be proud to have someone like him.

BlendJet: Make Parents Proud

BlendJet's mission is to build the most convenient blender with the strongest community. And clearly, they've succeeded.

With more than 60,000 amazing Loox reviews, you can feel the strong bond between the brand and the customers.

One of many great examples:

This review doesn’t speak about the blender’s blades, battery life, or the easy way of cleaning it. No. It’s not even a product review. It’s a story. A story about a father who’s very proud of his daughter for studying engineering. He raised a strong and independent woman who is not afraid of jumping into a job that used to be male-only.

This review is so much more than just feedback on product quality:

“Text reviews as a whole are now untrusted by default. The authenticity shines through photo and video reviews in a way that text just doesn’t. Humans are visual creatures, and a photo is worth a thousand words.”
Ryan Pamplin
CEO, BlendJet

If you believe it’s a good idea to tell stories through humanized visual reviews, you might want to <email-form-alt-link>download our free UGC Campaign Checklist here.<email-form-alt-link>

<span id="Actionable-Takeaways-Real-Reviews">Actionable Takeaways</span>

Now, with all that inspiration from these amazing brands, we want to leave you with actionable takeaways for your business.

Here are three things you can do to make sure you humanize your brand and leverage social proof:

<span id="Create-The-Review-Standard-You-Desire">Create The Review Standard You Desire</span>

You probably already have an idea about how you want your reviews to look and feel. Your customers, however, are not yet aware of it. So you have to set the standard. Make it easy to understand how your customers usually leave reviews.

Most and foremost, use clear language in your review request messages.

Tell them what you’re looking for in a review. This increases the chance of stunning photo reviews.

If you want, you can also use slang that only your customers understand. This proves that you are one of them and understand their needs.

To learn more about how to write a compelling review request email, we have this article for you.

<span id="Display-Beautiful-Reviews-on-Key-Pages">Display Beautiful Reviews on Key Pages</span>

If you already have some amazing reviews and know that this is the direction you want to go for, it’s a good idea to highlight them on your most visited sites.

More often than not, these pages are:

  • Your homepage.
  • Your collection pages.
  • Your product pages.

If you cover these, you’re good to go.

To do this, we built our carousel widgets exactly for that purpose:

No coding is required. Simply add them through your Shopify theme editor.

Now, hand-pick your favorite reviews and show them off. With style.

<span id="Automate-The-Review-Generation-Process">Automate The Review Generation Process</span>

There’s nothing wrong with manually collecting reviews for your brand. In fact, we encourage very small businesses to do it.

Once you cross the line and consider automated growth, an automated review collection system is inevitable. It allows you to collect reviews while working on other priorities (or while you sleep).

Now You Try It

If storytelling-driven marketing is something your brand needs more from, you might want to give visual reviews a try. Loox is free for 14 days