How Check City gained a 22% increase in sales, a 34% increase in page rankings and the valuable business insights learned all by using Shopper Approved.
Check City is a cash advance lender with over 70 locations in four states, with headquarters in Utah since 1986. In addition to its retail store locations, Check City has a very robust online service, making it a true omnichannel financial services company.
The growth challenge that Check City faced was finding a low cost and effective way to improve their online search rankings to drive more traffic, improve their paid ad click-through rates and reduce the cost, and improve their credibility and conversion rate.
Shopper Approved helped Check City accomplish these goals.
Check City received its first customer review through Shopper Approved on February 2, 2016. Since then we have amassed over 46,000 reviews and learned a lot along the way. We’ve learned that there are endless opportunities and deep business and market insights with the content and information that Shopper Approved provides.
Below we’ll cover the six major lessons we’ve learned since getting started with Shopper Approved.
Lesson 1: Be Flexible – Google Isn’t the Only Search Engine
The main motivation to get started with Shopper Approved was to try to increase the click-through rates on our paid and organic search engine listings.
Since the payday loan market can be extremely competitive we knew that getting this star rating in our ads would potentially increase the click-through rates which would lower the cost per click and cost per acquisition. We used these projected cost savings to help justify the expense that would come with signing up with Shopper Approved.
However, after getting set up with Shopper Approved we hit some roadblocks.
The first roadblock came in May 2016 (just three months after signing up with Shopper Approved) when Google decided to ban all payday loan ads. This came as a major blow for Check City because we were just about to see the results of using the star ratings in our ads.
Luckily, Shopper Approved is not only set up to provide Seller Ratings to Google but Bing as well.
Bing has continued to serve payday loan advertisers like Check City and as you can see below, Bing shows Check City’s ratings at around 47k total reviews. Bing is always testing different snippets to include in the paid ads, like the number of reviews or the number of twitter followers a company has, so we haven’t been able to correlate an exact click-through rate improvement back to the star ratings. But it is worth mentioning that by combining the star rating with additional pay per click optimization techniques (adding negative keyword lists, optimizing ad delivery times, locations, etc.) we’ve been able to cut our cost per acquisition in half on Bing.
“…we’ve been able to cut our cost per acquisition in half on Bing.”
Lesson 2: Use Your Shopper Approved Milestone Awards 🏆
Don’t forget to take full advantage of the Milestone Awards you receive from Shopper Approved. In addition to getting the reviews to appear in our pay-per-click ads, we started using the Milestone Awards in all our social media and retargeting ads as well.
These awards reflect the number of 5-star reviews your business has received. We’ve integrated these awards into our Facebook page, native yahoo ads, and other display ads. Over the years we’ve tested hundreds of different creatives but these simple ads have continued to outperform them all.
In addition to outperforming any other creatives, we’ve experienced less “banner blindness” that we typically see with display ads. If we do see a dip in performance we can always easily update the ad to show the current star rating.
For example, you’ll see ads below that show 11,000 reviews, 16,000 reviews, and the most recent ad we’re testing has 38,000 reviews. That’s the great thing about the integration features with Shopper Approved. We are always collecting new reviews so we always have a built-in way to update our ads.
If you look closely at the ad artwork below, you might notice that some of the stars look different from ad to ad. That’s because of something else we’ve been able to test thanks to Shopper Approved. We make the stars on the award pop out a little differently in each ad to test and see how small changes and adjustments perform.
Lesson 3: Use Video Reviews
Another area we didn’t even take into consideration when we started with Shopper Approved was the SEO and conversion value of the video content provided by the customer reviews.
When you set up the review follow-up process in Shopper Approved one of the options is to request a video review from customers. We figured customers might feel shy about submitting video reviews. Thankfully, Shopper Approved also offers a feature that offers customer rewards in return for their video reviews. These rewards can be customized to whatever your company wants to offer. We opted to offer a Prepaid Visa gift card.
The higher quality video testimonials can then be posted on the Check City YouTube channel. This can even be done easily and automatically thanks to a YouTube integration that Shopper Approved provides.
Since posting these video testimonials to our YouTube channel they’ve received thousands of views. We’ve even seen these reviews pop up in search engine results for phrases like “Check City Review.” Appearing in our brand review search terms is crucial because typically people who are searching for those phrases are 90% sure they want to use us, but just need that extra confirmation that other people have been satisfied using Check City.
User-generated video testimonials have a very genuine look and feel to them that people can easily relate to. In the heavy social media era we currently live in, these authentic video reviews are what customers and shoppers are looking for in a review. These reviews are often recorded in the same way people are familiar with seeing their favorite YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, or Instagram influencers film their videos so they tend to be extremely relatable and do very well online.
We also tested these videos in video ads. Below you can see an example of a Snapchat ad we tested. For this creative, we downloaded the video from Shopper Approved and then added some text and emojis similar to what you’d see on a typical Snapchat video.
Once you’re getting content submitted regularly, whether it’s written testimonials or video testimonials, the only limitation you’ll have is your creativity on how to utilize it all.
Lesson 4: Set Up Your Review Page ASAP
We can’t remember why it took us so long to install the Shopper Approved review feed on our review page, but we regret taking so long. Don’t make the same mistake. Set up the Shopper Approved Review Page immediately.
People who are shopping for short-term loans like to search for phrases like “Check City reviews” before completing their loan application with us. With that understanding in mind, our marketing team made a goal to fill up the first page of those search results as much as possible.
Our efforts started by getting our Check City Review Page to rank better. We tried to get our Check City Review Page to rank better ourselves by manually adding new content. But this was time-consuming and not effective.
So we finally decided to embed the Shopper Approved widget that automatically populated the page with the most recent reviews. Since doing this our website is regularly the number one result on Google when people search for “Check City Reviews” which has resulted in hundreds of visits to that page.
If you’re a company just getting started with Shopper Approved we highly recommend that you build your Review Page with Shopper Approved and include the review feed widget on your page.
Install the Shopper Approved Seals and Widgets Immediately
By helping customers leave ratings and reviews, companies like Check City build more trusting relationships with their customers.
With Shopper Approved, customers can easily leave reviews, and Check City can display those reviews on their website. That way, customers can hear not just from Check City, but from other Check City customers.
Shopper Approved also helps companies build customer trust through their Seals and Widgets. We might have waited too long to install our Shopper Approved Review Page, but we didn’t wait to install the Shopper Approved Seals and Widgets.
Installing these credibility icons is paramount to building customer trust. Since Check City is in the financial industry, building customer trust is priority #1.
Our customers trust us with a lot of their private, personal, and financial information. We always want to do as much as possible to build and gain their trust. That’s why we decided to embed the Shopper Approved seals right on our application page.
There are several fields that loan applicants need to fill out on their application. As they fill out more and more of the application it can be easy to second guess if they can or should trust the company they’re applying with. For this reason, we’ve always had the standard Mcafee Secure and BBB icons right on the application page where they can see them and feel assured we will keep their information safe and secure.
When we originally installed the seal we decided to place it next to the other seals we had on our application page. We didn’t place it here with the intent to split test the seals against each other but after looking at some recent heatmap data we were pleasantly surprised to see that the Shopper Approved seal gets more clicks than the Mcafee Secure seal and the BBB seal COMBINED and the button to “Click Here For More Reviews” gets even more clicks than the seal!
There aren’t a huge number of clicks, but we prefer that because we don’t want these seals to distract from the application. But there are enough clicks to show us that anyone with questions or who need a little extra assurance before they finish the application are utilizing Shopper Approved and their reviews to help them make an educated decision.
👂 Listen to Your Users
Another aspect of Shopper Approved that we never considered when we got set up was the ability it would give us to be in tune with our customers’ user experience.
While many reviews are very generic like, “Great” or “Was Fine,” there are several reviews each day that give great insight into the failures and successes our customers are facing.
One of the biggest issues we face as a company is adhering to ever-changing rules and regulations in the finance industry. As a state-licensed lender, there is a constant flow of State and Federal regulations that we need to implement into our site to stay compliant. Sometimes making compliance updates in one part of the application process can affect the code in other parts of the application process. We’ve learned to keep an eye on the reviews that come through after we roll out website changes to keep us posted on any problems that need fixing.
By reading one, two, or three-star reviews we can gain huge insights into our customers’ experiences and any changes we might need to make.
Shopper Approved also provides the Order Number (in our case the Application ID) so we can find the exact loans that are having issues. This saves Check City countless hours of manual labor having to chase down information so the developers have what they need to fix the issues.
By reading four and five-star reviews we can gain huge positive insights about our customers’ experiences at Check City as well. The Shopper Approved reviews section is a great way to see which of our customer service representatives are doing a great job. Customers will often mention the Check City representative that helped them by name and we try to use these reviews to applaud those employees for their great work.
Shopper Approved Increases Customer Reviews
Check City installed Shopper Approved in 2016 in an effort to increase trust and transparency with their customers. That very same year they saw a 21.9% increase in loan applications.
Shopper Approved proved to be a successful new addition to Check City’s brand strategy. This 21.9% increase shows that by implementing a customer review system that works, customers respond positively.
Customers shopping for the financial services that Check City offers can more quickly realize they’ve found what they are looking for when Shopper Approved helps them see the positive feedback of other happy online loan shoppers.
In 2019, Check City updated its Check City Payday Loans Page content and added the reviews from Shopper Approved. Within just 30 days that page’s ranking rose by 34%!
Customers aren’t the only ones who see the value in Shopper Approved reviews. Search Engines like Google also see these reviews and see that Check City is a trustworthy and customer-approved brand.
Shopper Approved also helps increase Search Engine Optimization. By adding Shopper Approved to Check City pages, customers increase the time they spend on each page and are more likely to use Check City services. All of this boosts page rankings helping even more online loan shoppers to find Check City and benefit from their services.
As you can see from some of the roadblocks Check City has faced, it’s important to be flexible and get creative with customer reviews. When Check City first started using Shopper Approved, we thought we would use one or two of their services. Now their tools and features have become deeply integrated into the Check City brand and almost all of our digital marketing efforts.
We’re constantly finding new ways to utilize the data and content we get from Shopper Approved. For that reason, we’ll be using their services for years to come.