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Competing with the big players is hard when you’re a start-up. To get yourself noticed you need something that levels the playing field. Something that creates equal opportunity for success regardless of size or resources. For sustainable living brand Faerly, publishing customer reviews on Google is that equalizer, and REVIEWS.io the driving engine.

The Challenge

Irish eCommerce merchant Faerly was founded in 2020 by James Byrne and Eoin Houlihan - a married couple wholeheartedly following a simple and sustainable way of life. They set up the business to help others do the same, stocking a range of carefully considered everyday items from small Irish makers and eco-conscious brands. 

But just like every start-up, they had a big hurdle in their way - how to set themselves apart from the competition and convince potential customers to make Faerly their merchant of choice.

Exceptional customer service was (and is) a big point of difference. James chose to display this by collecting Google reviews, helping Faerly compete in terms of both online visibility and reputation. It worked to a certain extent, but James found Google’s solution limiting.

For one he could only collect merchant reviews, and for two it didn’t support a smart review collection strategy. 

He needed a platform with way more functionality, but that still offered all the benefits of reviews tied to his Google Merchant account. 

The Solution

Knowing just how important review data is for Google Ads activity, signing up with a Google Licensed Review Partner was the only way forward for James. But the new solution also had to fill the gaps left by Google’s own review service - like the ability to collect product reviews, push branded email requests, and set conditional sending rules. 

It also needed to be cost effective, with great customer service and technical support. 

The team explored all the options here before opting for a partnership with REVIEWS.io. And they’ve since found having both company and product reviews that are recognized by Google to be a big help.

“It's improved our quality score and so improves our costs and visibility - and importantly, it's greatly improved our ad click throughs. Reviews are a great leveller and allow us to effectively compete against much larger brands because we can show right in Google Ads that we offer a better customer experience.” James Byrne, Founder, Faerly

The Strategy

So what exactly has Faerly achieved since partnering with REVIEWS.io, and which of our features are helping James and the team achieve growth? 

It all started with product reviews. As James explained to us, they were kind of playing catch-up here, as they’d had a couple of years worth of sales before launching a product review strategy. Instead of this being a lost opportunity, James was able to use our Review Booster - a feature that allows you to kick-start review collection by backdating your requests.

Thanks to this capability, it wasn’t long before those all important product reviews started rolling in. And they’ve kept up a brilliant conversion rate on both product and company review requests ever since. 

“Our reviews collection rate shot up as soon as we signed up and the reviews booster invites allowed us to invite customers from the previous six months. We get five times more reviews now than we did when we were using Google Reviews.”

In fact when it comes to its company rating, Faerly holds an impressive 5 stars - a testament to the excellent customer service it prides itself on as a merchant. It’s also something James sees as contributing to the team’s success at the 2022 Irish eCommerce Awards, where they picked up a host of accolades including Irish eCommerce Website of the Year. 

With a stream of product reviews now incoming, the team also makes use of customer feedback to improve its marketing - in particular, using the insight gained to write more effective product descriptions.

It’s something we’re seeing a lot more of as the practice of review mining and its benefits become more widely recognized. Essentially, brands and merchants like Faerly are realizing that the best way to pitch a product is to talk about it from the customer perspective, and the best way to gain that perspective is to analyze qualitative review data. 

“We've got really insightful tidbits from customers that we wouldn't have necessarily known ourselves. So maybe an alternative use for a product, how they're using a product or why they like a product. And we've changed product descriptions to feed in some of that information.” 

Sticking with new trends, it’s worth mentioning AI here, and the great example Faerly gives us for how to use ChatGPT for better review management.

 We recently rolled out an integration with OpenAI, enabling our customers to use ChatGPT  for automated review replies. James uses this tool exactly as we’d intended - not as a direct replacement for the human touch, but as a compliment that offers inspiration and saves valuable time. 

Faerly’s Future with REVIEWS.io

Moving forward, James has big plans for Faerly’s review strategy. Here’s a look at some of the features and functionality he intends to make good use of:

UGC - they’re already collecting photo and video reviews, and are letting their content library build up before exploring how to use UGC to increase sales.

Klaviyo integration - James is currently transitioning over to Klaviyo from his current ESP. Our advanced integration and Elite Klaviyo Partnership means he can use review data to supercharge Faerly’s marketing comms - from better audience segmentation to dynamic UGC galleries in campaigns.    

Review Nuggets - this tool lets you publish the best bits of review content as snippets, right next to the buy now button. Through our own A/B tests we’ve found these have a really positive impact on product page conversion rates.

“We want to start putting Review Nuggets on selected product pages because of how people describe the products better than we could ever describe them. It's more real, more authentic. It maybe gives a different perspective on things.”

Choosing the Right Google Licensed Review Partner 

At the start of his review journey, James’ primary objective was to find a feature rich platform with Google Licensed Partner status. We weren’t his only option. He also considered other platforms, including Trustpilot, Yotpo and Feefo. 

There were a number of factors that swung things in our favor though - factors we encourage everyone to consider when choosing a review provider:

Price - a major consideration of course. What attracted James to REVIEWS.io was the fact he can tier his subscription, stepping things up or down as needed.

SEO benefits - this was a question of balance for James. Whilst he found Trustpilot to have a slight SEO advantage because of its domain authority, it in no way justified the much higher cost.

No self-moderation - review collection is all about building trust. If you can self-moderate customer reviews, that trust disappears.

Data control - a major difference between us and our main competitors is that we do not own your review data - you do. As James rightly points out, who knows where the review space will be in the future. If he does end up leaving us, he wants to know he can take his reviews with him. 

Support - this one’s a big one for us. Just a Faerly prides itself on customer service, so do we. So we’re thrilled to know James did a little test before he signed up and found our support team to be super responsive.

“We engaged with the team - crucially with the tech support team - and we just found them to be very easy to work with. Friendly, fast and helpful which is music to a small business owner's ears! I love being with REVIEWS.io, I have to say. I only regret that I didn't do it earlier.”

Why not share Faerly’s enthusiasm for independent Irish makers this St. Patrick’s Day and check out its range of eco-friendly lifestyle products. 

And if you’re an eCommerce brand or merchant looking to start your review collection journey, why not follow in James’ footsteps and sign up with REVIEWS.io - the friendly review platform, we even have a free trial!

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