The written review is dead: why visual reviews are the next big thing

August 10, 2017

Do you read a lot of reviews? Chances are high you just answered ‘yes’. Written reviews are commonly used, because we simply want to know what to expect. However, validating written reviews is difficult, and that is where pictures and videos can make the difference. Gideon Nagtegaal Cofounder of Seeviews, explains how visual reviews create more value for companies, as well as reviewers, and how every company can benefit from having their product or service reviewed visually.


So Gideon, why are reviews in general important in marketing?


“As a consumer, we automatically search for our peer’s opinions. The reason is that we want to confirm our thoughts and expectations about a product or service.  Preferably, we read reviews of people we can identify with. If I am looking for a hotel, a review of a forty-year-old man with children is much more relevant to me than knowing how a student enjoyed his party life. This also goes for products: video editors need different specifications and automatically look for reviews from their peers in the video industry. Funny enough, men tend to be impulsive, while women tend to read a lot of reviews before making a purchase. And most importantly, consumers find visual reviews more helpful than written reviews.”


What makes visual reviews better than written ones?


“Written reviews are often quite subjective. When someone says a hotel room is dirty, how can that be verified? A video review is more objective, as the recipients can see for themselves if it is dirty or not. Visual reviews are more extensive, and with Seeviews, consumers can search reviews from a specific target group or subject. For hotel owners, this means that there are less reviews required and they are more trustworthy.”


Are there any other benefits?


“Videos and photos are good for conversion, SEO and reducing return rates. A one-minute video makes visitors stay at your website longer and find the information they are looking for more easily. Thereby, customers will make a better decision when buying a product and will be more satisfied with their purchase. As returns are expensive for companies and consumers can easily find your website online, it will save companies a lot of money. It is good to stay ahead of trends as a business. The consumer of today is much more visually oriented than before, so you have to keep up in your marketing.”


Consumers are more visually oriented these days?


“In the last few years, visual content has become more and more popular in our society –think about social media like Snapchat and Instagram. Visual reviews are the logical next to more effective marketing. When two retailers are selling the same car, but one shows pictures and the other doesn’t, you will probably be more interested in going to the retailer who already shows pictures online.


Besides that, today’s consumers value written marketing content less, as written reviews can easily be fake. Many written reviews are written by companies themselves and can’t be checked for credibility, consumers know that. Remaining at the example of the hotel, a video review is made during someone’s stay and on the premise, and in the eyes of the consumer, is more trustworthy. You want to experience a vacation with your own eyes and not blindly trust someone else’s opinion about it. With visual reviews, you can literally see for yourself.”


How does Seeviews make a difference in this market?


“At Seeviews, we offer companies the platform to use visual reviews in their marketing strategy. It works with an app. The business – let’s say a hotel in Spain – offers her guests a login code to upload a review during their stay. When the guest logs in, they are offered a handful of questions – made by the hotel itself – which they can answer with a video or photo. They can also fill in the ‘Happy Slider’, which is a spectrum on which you can show your state of satisfaction about the hotel experience.


The hotel itself can decide if a review is posted on the website or not. We got some criticism about this at first, but we believe that hotels, or other businesses, are very aware that a review platform must consist of at least three negative reviews for every seven positive ones, to stay credible. Some companies wish to pay us per review, other companies prefer a subscription. We are still experimenting with the revenue model.”


And how will hotels know if the reviews work?


“Besides the uploaded visual review, we also offer companies the data behind the app. In the enterprise version of our app, we even link the booking data to the app, so the company can ask personalized questions to their guests, about specific features of their stay. Guests can also earn a reward for uploading a visual review – for example free drinks at the hotel bar – but that’s up to the company to decide.”


In your opinion, what does a good visual review include?


“It has to be honest and real. When we started 1.5 years ago, and began testing with visual reviews from people’s mobile phones, we got material that was blurry, shaky and noisy. First, we thought this would be a problem, but after experimenting with these videos, we noticed that people found them more credible, as they were obviously made by amateurs. If the video was too perfect, it was perceived as professional and thus unbelievable. The video shows an objective image, and as an extra, customers can ‘grade’ their experience with the ‘Happy slider’.”


But still, the hotel only gets the feedback afterwards, too late to fix it then right?


Actually, video reviews are the perfect way to get instant feedback during the stay of your guests. Hotels – or other businesses – ask their guests to upload a visual review while staying in the hotel, and can instantly solve any problems that come along. Is a guest complaining about a broken shower? The hotel can instantly message this guest to tell them it will be fixed during their day out at the beach, or offer them a free dinner for example.”


Let’s get practical: what are the options for implementation?


“We made a marketing tool to use visual reviews on websites and social media. We focus on the travel market ourselves, but it can be used in a variety of functions and markets, for example as a research tool to improve products and services. We are working with Dutch Fiets for instance, who sells recycled bikes and uses our tool to get feedback from customers. As customers use their bikes all over the country, they can clarify the problem with photos and videos, and Dutch Fiets can fix it without having to travel around.”


Do you have any other projects running?


“We were also contacted by television broadcasters to use visual reviews around new shows or movies on television. A big company also wanted to implement the Seeviews tool in their hiring process, as they can ask their applicants some questions before an interview. Retail is also a big market for us, but in travel, it turns out to be more of a revolution than in the retail business. The hotel market is a traditional market which is not used to visual content, the opportunity we tap into.”


How are you going to win #AIA17 this year?


“There is no other company who is focusing on visual reviews and sentiment analysis like we do. Seeviews is a product that is scalable, both to different industries as to other geographic markets. As a bonus, but not unimportant, our product is very customer-friendly in its interface. I think that these three factors will convince the jury that Seeviews is unique in its appearance. In the upcoming weeks, we will also activate our social network to aim for first place in one of the Social Voting terms.”



Gideon Nagtegaal

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