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This article was published on May 12, 2016

Forget Yelp reviews: 5 industries going beyond traditional testimonials

Forget Yelp reviews: 5 industries going beyond traditional testimonials
Aimee Millwood

When people think about industries that use reviews, their minds tend to two places first:

  • Restaurants that ask for Yelp endorsements to attract more traffic
  • E-commerce stores that display customer testimonials to improve on-site conversion

But tons of growing industries have started using reviews in innovative, industry-specific ways to attract customers, gain traction, and boost sales.

Online businesses in these fast growing markets need to attract customers quickly or risk being left behind.

Here’s a spotlight on how savvy brands in five emerging industries use reviews to attract new customers to power growth.

Drone brands use reviews to stay ahead of the competition

Drones are all the rage in 2016, and they’re not showing signs of slowing down: according to a report by Grand View Research Inc., the drone industry is expected to rise to $2.07 billion by 2022.

The majority of the growth in this industry will be happening in the commercial – not military – sector.

And commercially, drones are expected to impact nearly every major vertical.


A Business Insider report says, “The global commercial drone market will take shape around applications in a handful of industries: agriculture, energy, utilities, mining, construction, real estate, news media, and film production. “

In such a highly competitive space with tons of new players entering, customer feedback is vital for helping companies stand out to get new customers. Reviews give drone companies the social proof they need to attract traffic and convince shoppers to choose their products over the competition.

Jonathan Baird, founder of Drones Etc., explains how customer reviews have helped him get an edge on the competition:

“Each happy customer is an extremely valuable ambassador that helps grow the brand. Since adding reviews, we’ve seen around a 10 percent increase in traffic and revenue across the board.”

With more expensive items like drones, product reviews are especially important. The data shows the pricier the product, the more reviews it gets.

rising online industries

And for expensive items, it’s crucial to have tons of reviews to instill trust in new shoppers nervous about making a big purchase.

“Drones are a popular, high-growth retail category, with broad choices for quality, features, price, as well as hobbyist and professional applications. Authentic customer reviews are a critical tool for helping consumers narrow their choices and drive to a purchasing decision, and a great review can push a sale over the line,” Rick McInnes from Drone Nerds explains.

Additionally, because drones are such a new and quickly evolving technology, drone brands need to be on their top game in understanding customer complaints and working to improve the product as quickly as possible.

“Customer reviews have been vital for receiving feedback on our sales and delivery process in real time.  If we get a bad or not stellar review we can immediately huddle as a team and figure out what we did wrong and how to fix it so it doesn’t happen again,” Baird says.

Financial services stay relevant with customer reviews

Financial services is another growing industry that struggles to get customers because of a lack of trust and engagement.

People approach financial services with stress and uncertainty, and these companies need to transmit reassurance and show they are trustworthy and honest in order to attract customers.

They need reviews to establish credibility in an industry where most people are skeptical.

Many companies in the financial industry offer similar suites of services. Therefore, customer satisfaction is a huge differentiator for them.

Probably the biggest challenge financial services face today is attracting millennial customers.

Millennials are characterised by their lack of trust in institutions, specifically financial ones which they do not trust (they have lived through enough crashes and crises to not trust banks).


However, millennial customers have just now reached the age where they must begin to interact with the financial industry – they are getting married, buying homes, having children, consolidating student loans. Therefore, financial services need to change the way they offer services.

Millennials do not trust them, but they do trust each other. This is why personal experience and word of mouth is crucial for attracting quality traffic and customers who already come in the door with a trusting mind.

Also, when it comes to financial interactions, the tendency of customers is to pick one company and stick with them for life, so it is crucial for the company to be there at the decision making time.

People do write reviews about financial services on third-party websites, and these reviews are usually negative.

A lot of the time the people writing these negative reviews did not actually complete a transaction with the company because they were, for example, refused a loan and they are upset.

So they go on third-party websites like Yelp to rant. Financial service companies are having trouble getting reviews from customers that actually completed a transaction.

But financial service companies that are taking control of their reviews are seeing huge positive benefits.

LendKey allows consumers to refinance their student loans online, through credit unions and community banks. Here is what David Barak, Director of Acquisition Marketing and Analytics at LendKey had to say:

“People are extremely sensitive about sharing financial information online – and due to some bad practices in the early days of the industry, people are also very skeptical of online lending. I knew that social proof was going to be important, but we needed to do it in a way that was genuine and transparent.

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Reviews allow financial institutions to increase engagement and trust among visitors.

“Since LendKey started publishing reviews on its product pages, we’ve had an uptick in the time visitors spend on our site, the number of pages they see, and the degree to which they convert,” Barak says.

Lingerie brands solve fit fears with online reviews

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the rise of lingerie eCommerce brands. There’s no doubt that the lingerie industry is growing, however, lingerie presents a unique issue in an industry that is largely dominated by established brands like Victoria’s Secret.

The biggest reason people aren’t buying lingerie online is because of fears about fit and comfort. Lingerie brands can often attract customers, but getting them to convert is another challenge.

As any lingerie customer knows, fits change from store to store and style to style. Getting the perfect fit is something that Victoria’s Secret has tackled in store with live bra fittings, but now eCommerce stores are trying to re-create this digitally with apps that try to size you up.

Other brands, like ThirdLove and Adore Me, use reviews and other forms of user-generated content like customer photos to show shoppers how their intimates fit on real customers.

Asking for reviews that specifically target fit helps other customers see if the products are true to size or run large or small.

adore me yotpo reviews

Food, health, and nutrition companies cut through the hype

In the growing health and nutritional supplement industry, customers risk falling prey to false claims. Because of a lack of international governmental standards on herbal products and remedies and other health products, customers often aren’t sure what they’re getting.

Scott Henning of SFH explains, “In the supplement world there is a lot of marketing hype. It makes it hard for customers to differentiate between the noise and what is real, effective nutrition. Reviews are key in assisting the customer in their decision. Existing customer opinions help supplement brands convert interested leads into trusting customers.”

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Additionally, customers can clarify the questions they have about the product before they order.

When it comes to health and food products, customers often have unique needs, such as wanting products that are vegetarian, gluten-free, or organic.

Offline businesses build online trust with customer reviews

Many brick-and-mortar businesses or service professionals are also seeing the benefit of using reviews in marketing.

KH Pet Products, a brick-and-mortar store that’s been around for 20 years, recently went built an eCommerce site to take control of their online reputation management.

Another example are offline businesses who have to adjust to new trust-building methods.

For international SaaS companies, it’s sometimes hard to directly interact with customers, so reviews can provide the platform to engage with and understand customer needs.

Viktorija Poderskienė, CMO of Host1Plus, explains, “Word of mouth and personal experience are as important as ever, and they remain one of the primary trust-building factors in the web-hosting industry.”

“In the digital world, building trust is not easy or quick. Because we provide digital services on a global scale, we rarely have the opportunity to meet our clients in person. Collecting reviews helps us improve our services and build trust with potential clients.”

For a shopper assessing different hosting platforms, a star rating doesn’t give them enough information as to why the customer was satisfied or unsatisfied. By adding reviews as well as the ability to respond to reviews, shoppers can see what made the difference between a three and five-star review.

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Additionally, the company can learn from their customers’ complaints and adjust their business to adapt to these needs.

Host1Plus represents one example of the changing tides as offline businesses move online for reputation management.

“We are proud to be one of the first web hosting companies that went the extra mile to improve the relationship with our worldwide customer audience. It’s been two months since we started using reviews, but we’ve already seen a boost in sales, as diverse opinions and experiences help potential customers make the right decision.”