Last week we wrote about social review site Yotpo, which specializes in helping companies generate real product reviews. While Yotpo is focused on individual items or services, new startup TrustPilot wants to be the authority on the retailers themselves. Today, they received $25M in Series C financing to help expand those efforts, according to VentureBeat.
TrustPilot’s website allows customers to search for online retailers and read customer reviews, or write their own (sort of like Yelp, but for websites). In 2012, the company reported having over seven million reviews, for around 100,000 sites. While the service is entirely free to users, TrustPilot does charge brands for extra features or promotion. Companies that opt to pay, including sites like Travelocity and LastMinute.com, receive extra promotion on the site, and can require that user’s enter a valid Order ID# before submitting a review.
While there are a few other sites offering similar service, such as ResellerRatings or TrustedCompany, TrustPilot is by far the most popular. The company was started in Denmark in 2007, and is now the most used website in the country, according to Alexa.com. One of the main reasons for their popularity is likely their licensing agreement with Google, which lets them display their ratings on Google’s paid search results. According to Google, ads with such seller ratings next to them have a 17% higher CTR than ones without them.
One of the most difficult aspects of maintaining an online review site is weeding out fake or malicious users. To combat this, TrustPilot relies primarily on companies’ actual customers. When a company signs up with TrustPilot, they provide them with the email addresses of anyone who makes a purchase on their site. TrustPilot then uses these lists to solicit reviews, hopefully ensuring that at least a large portion of the site’s content comes from verified shoppers. In order to otherwise post a review, a user has to confirm their identity through Facebook or email.
Given the sales benefits, and SEO advantages of online reviews, the market for such content should only keep growing. Whether or not TrustPilot will be able to hold on to their early lead remains to be seen.