Video testimonial startup Reel.Reviews is helping some of the countries’ fastest growing e-commerce startups boost their site traffic and conversions after just three months of operations.
Founded by Ainslie Williams and Steve Ford, who co-founded consumer insights startup Qualie, Reel.Reviews is also getting ready to close its first major funding round, having already previously secured investment from a number of high-profile backers, including Catapult executive chair Adir Shiffman.
Reel.Reviews integrates with Shopify and allows companies to source video testimonials and reviews from their users to use in marketing materials.
Companies receive a unique link to give to customers to record their reviews, which are then accessible via a dashboard. The videos can be edited however the brand wishes, or displayed via a website widget, and will, over time, be analysed by the software to determine their effectiveness.
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A beta version of the product was launched last spring, with four clients signing up to help test this initial product. A free version of Reel.Reviews has been in the market since July and the startup has around 50 businesses signed up, some of which pay for additional features.
One of those initial clients was Tim Doyle’s Eucalyptus group, itself a fast-growing startup in the health and wellness space.
Williams tells SmartCompany that since Eucalyptus has been using Reel.Reviews, its site traffic has increased significantly and its cost per acquisition (CPA) with the videos is 33% lower than with other Facebook ads.
Similarly, Group Together has seen a 46% decrease in CPA and its click-throughs on site have increased twofold, while Tyroola has seen a doubling of basket size and a 12% uptick in website conversions from using the Reel.Reviews widget. Another user, e-commerce retailer Glow Dreaming, has achieved a return on ad spend of 5.3 on a Facebook campaign.
Born in a pandemic
The pandemic e-commerce boom has no doubt helped Reel.Reviews unlock early traction, but Williams explains it also led her to the opportunity in the first place.
Reel.Reviews was born out of Williams’ other startup Qualie, which was working with government and large enterprises when COVID-19 hit and in her words, “everyone kind of freaked out and froze budgets”.
This gave the team “some thinking time” and led to a realisation that they already were well-versed in capturing how people feel about brands and products in videos at Qualie. This same process could easily be applied to an industry that was booming during the pandemic: e-commerce.
“It was a very small change in direction to reappropriate the product for the tech stack to actually collect, rather than customer insights, customer testimonials,” she explains.
“In [consumer] research, while we look for the consensus of all the opinions that we collect, in the e-commerce world, we’re looking for the most believable and authentic content, because that’s what drives conversions the strongest.”
At the same time, Williams says video — already “one of the strongest languages in our modern time” — is gaining more prominence in e-commerce marketing as some of the larger tech companies, like Amazon and Google, face questions about fake text reviews.
And consumer research is also showing younger shoppers, particularly millennials, are leading a “push globally away from content that is perfect”.
These same consumers want to “be able to see themselves in the creative or the stuff that brands push out”, says Williams, who believes the “tide is turning” on opaque influencer marketing.
“Because I’ve worked with real people for 20 plus years in research, I’ve got a really strong philosophy, that whether it’s in business or from a research point of view … the power of listening to a real person talk about their experiences, you can’t get beyond that,” she says.
Ready to scale
While much of Reel.Review’s development builds on what Williams and Ford have learnt from Qualie, a recent addition to the team has helped unlock further growth.
Ex-Google employee Gilad Cohen joined Reel.Reviews in April, bringing considerable experience in digital marketing, and Williams says he has helped the small team “put our foot down and get a free version out to try and get as many people signed on”.
Launching in this way has allowed them to “expedite that test and learn phase” as well as start to build more product market fit”.
The startup is “right in the thick” of raising capital and Williams is hoping to raise $3 million from a combination of existing investors she has worked with on Qualie, as well as a venture capital fund and potential institutional investors too.
If successful, the money will be used to build out the startup’s headcount, with Williams clear that the startup needs “staff to scale”. The startup currently has three full-timers, although some are still working on Qualie too.
As the team grows, Williams is aware there will be an “education piece” in showing brands the value of capturing video testimonials and therefore getting them to sign up.
But she is confident there is a sizable “end market” of consumers to reach, having uncovered large volumes of people searching for video reviews of brands online through the startup’s own research.
“Reviews are ubiquitous; text reviews are everywhere and there’s stats that say 93% of people consume that content before making a decision online,” she says.
“And we know that video is stickier because much more interpersonal communication is done through body language and tone, which you can’t get that easily through text.”
“There’s this huge voracious appetite from customers who want this content, because it will help them make better purchase decisions.”