Interview – Callum McKeefery of on user generated content

by Martin Harrison

I was lucky enough to interview Callum McKeefery of to discuss user generated content, how to obtain it and most importantly, how to leverage it for SEO and conversion success.

  • So-called SEO/PPC experts fail to grasp the full potential of reviews.
  • Brands missing out on valuable user generated content.
  • Don’t be scared of negative reviews.
  • Messages from company spokesperson outperform discounts or incentives in gathering reviews.
Callum McKeefery

With all of the hype that is surrounding content marketing at the moment, I can’t help but feel that many brands are missing a trick when it comes to user generated content.

I talked UGC expert Callum McKeefery of recently. We discussed how to obtain customer reviews and how to leverage them for SEO and conversion success.

Q) Hi Callum, could you start by telling us a little bit about your company
A) is a review collection service provider that helps its clients collect both merchant and product reviews.

We basically help online retailers collect and leverage merchant & product reviews as well as questions & answers from their customers. It has been proven time and time again that customer reviews increase sales and build brand loyalty.

Q) Where did the idea come from, was there a eureka moment?
A) I wouldn’t say that there was one eureka moment that comes to mind, rather years of cultivating a business model that works and that offers a unique spin on what other Review Collection Companies are already offering.

Q) In your experience, what are the best ways to encourage customers to leave a review of your product or service?
A) We have tried many methods to increase our review collection conversion, but the method that always outperforms everything else is a message from the managing director or spokesperson of the company asking for feedback. The personal message outdoes any incentive method such as discount codes or competitions.

Q) In terms of incentives to review what is most attractive to consumers?
A) If you are going to incentivise I would recommend a discount code, we actually have a new area in our client dashboard that makes it really easy to integrate discount codes into your review collection solution. I must state though that the code must be given to all consumers not just the customers who write positive reviews.

Q) Is it fair to say that certain verticals are easier to gather reviews on?
A) Travel reviews are very easy to collect, we tend not to focus on travel because that sector is awash with so many fake reviews. Our main area of focus is ecommerce reviews of both merchants and products.

Veet for men

Q) Lets talk about gamification – does it work for reviews and if so, do you have any particular tips for our readers?
A) We use subtle gamification to get customers to write more in-depth useful reviews. We are really careful about how and what we ask our reviewers. conversion rate for collection is as high as 17% thanks to all the A/B testing we have done over the past year. Funnily enough we have seen our conversion move up and down depending on the weather. Last week when it was raining non-stop we actually hit a 34% collection rate which is astounding.

Q) Would I be right in thinking that in certain cases, negative reviews can actually have a positive impact on conversion rate?
A) Negative reviews can also show a potential customer that your reviews are real. Yes, I think companies need to stop being so scared of negative reviews and embrace them. Every company at some point is going to get a negative review. What companies should be doing is replying to these reviews pointing out what actions they have taken to fix the problem. This way potential customers see that you are proactive company that will work hard to try and fix a problem if something goes wrong. Plus I think it’s a trust thing, if you have only 5 star reviews, customers will assume they are fake. Our platform encourages our clients to respond to any negative reviews, we never remove genuine negative reviews even when asked by our clients.

Q) Would you ever advocate a using fake reviews on a site?
A) Never, fake reviews only ever do you more damage. There should never be any need for a company to write fake reviews. If a company feels the need to write fake reviews, I urge them to contact us. I truly believe that can help any company get back on track collecting honest reviews while improving brand reputation.

Q) Would you ever recommend funny reviews like Amazon’s Veet for Men as a link bait tactic? If so, any tips on how to go about this?
A) I personally wouldn’t recommend as it could backfire big time, especially for a smaller brand, but I think we will see more of these types of fake/funny reviews popping over the next few months. It’s a great way to get some viral marketing going.

On we have had literally hundreds of weird and wonderful reviews over the past year, but unfortunately none come close to the Amazon Veet review!

Appliances Online Facebook

Q) Which brands do you think are doing UGC particularly well?
A) I like what Appliances Online in the UK and Nordstrom in the US have been doing. They both get it! They both put the customer at the heart of everything they do. They invite their customers to interact with them on multiple platforms and Appliances Online use Facebook better than any company I have come across.

Q) Can you name and shame any that you think have missed the boat?
A) I don’t think anybody has missed the boat yet, but its slowly drifting away. One of the strangest things I have noticed in our industry is that so called SEO/PPC experts have failed to grasp the full potential of product and merchant reviews.

Q) Who are the thought leaders in UGC that we should look out for?
A) I have a lot of respect for Brant Barton & Brett Hurt from BazaarVoice as well as Richard Anson from Reevoo. Although these guys are the competition I have the utmost respect for them.

Martin Harrison

Works at Copify