Owner Stories: Julia McLaughlin, Co-Founder, Review Robin
We met Julia through some online networking. Soon after, she invited us to participate in her Digital Agency Abundance Series, and she agreed to return the favour with our Owner Stories series. Julia is a long-time entrepreneur and the co-founder of Review Robin, a tool designed to help agencies help small business clients get more online reviews. As you may know, that’s a topic near and dear to our hearts here at 10|20 Marketing. Over the last months, our two teams have been working to get to know each other and, after demoing Review Robin, we should have an announcement about offering the tool to our clients in the New Year. So stay tuned!
Our interview with Julia is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series.
10|20 Marketing: Hi, Julia! Thank you so much for agreeing to do this. Why don’t you take me through a little bit of your professional history and explain how that led to Review Robin’s creation.
Julia McLaughlin, Review Robin: I started my first business at 21 when I was still in college, which I ran for eight years. The company focused on serving small businesses’ marketing needs. I offered branding, website design and development, and social media management. I remember designing flyers for a hot tub company, my first client, from my dorm room!
Fast forward to today, and I’m now a partner in Review Robin – an Online Review Management software built specifically for digital marketing agencies. Our goal is to help marketing agencies offer valuable services to their clients that don’t take up much time. And Review Robin allows marketing agencies to quickly and easily get their clients more positive reviews across the web in places such as Google and Facebook. Our tool also helps effectively manage unhappy customers to prevent negative reviews from being posted publicly.
10|20 Marketing: That’s amazing! So tell me how Review Robin launched and why you decided to build the platform.
Julia McLaughlin, Review Robin: We began building Review Robin in March of 2020. When everyone went into lockdown, we began making the software. Review Robin was very much a COVID baby! It took us eight months to build the MVP, our first platform, that we began selling! However, we quickly found a product-market fit once we brought on beta testers and got feedback from marketing agencies using our software.
We wanted to build software to help marketing agencies offer a valuable and profitable service. Of course, ensuring this platform was easy to use, so it didn’t take up too much of the user’s time, was very important to us.
10|20 Marketing: So Review Robin is a tool designed to help marketing agencies, like 10|20 Marketing, help their clients generate more positive online reviews for their customers. Can you run readers through a case study or two? What kind of results can a proactive business owner expect when trusting their online review marketing strategy to an agency selling your tool?
Julia McLaughlin, Review Robin: The results that businesses are going to see vary based on a few factors! First, some industries are more “reviewable” than others. People are highly likely to talk about their experience at a restaurant and maybe not so likely to rate their pest control provider, for example. Another factor is the customer service you are providing. If you give your customers a great experience, they are more likely to leave feedback when you send them a review request.
Another factor is customer volume. Reviews are a numbers game, and it’s essential to send review requests to all of your customers. So naturally, businesses that have a higher volume of traffic they are serving will get more reviews and have more success using a review management service.
When businesses first sign up, we recommend doing a “review blast,” which will request a review from all customers served in the last 2-4 months. As a result, those users can expect to see a higher volume of reviews come in to start. After that, the number of reviews will decrease; however, receiving new reviews will go up.
10|20 Marketing: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to launch an online brand?
Julia McLaughlin, Review Robin: I think that I have two main pieces of advice for entrepreneurs looking to launch an online brand. First, don’t underestimate how difficult it is to drive traffic to your brand. After the initial “friends and family” buzz dies down, things get real.
Building a social media presence is complex, and even if you have a large following, that does not translate to website traffic and sales. Think through how you will drive sustainable traffic to your website and the economics of doing so.
For example, consider your product costs before devoting a budget to paid advertising. Why? Because you need to make sure that you are not losing money to acquire a customer. And if you are, you need to make sure that you have a business where you can upsell that customer again through email marketing).
10|20 Marketing: What’s better for Google, for example, a sudden burst of reviews or a slow trickle? We always coach our clients to take the drip approach so Google doesn’t become suspicious about the business offering incentives for reviews or just spam. Any thoughts?
Julia McLaughlin, Review Robin: Yes, I agree with you! To ensure businesses receive a steady number of reviews, users can upload a list of contacts and then create a drip campaign of requests. By doing so, they’ll have requests automatically dripped out over a few days to prevent any suspicious activity.
10|20 Marketing: So let’s change gears here a bit, Julia. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to create something that will impact small business owners? And how did the pandemic help or hurt your business?
Julia McLaughlin, Review Robin: My advice would be to create something that is high value, cost-effective, and fills a need in the market. Then put your spin on it to make your offering unique and better than the competition.
We know that other software providers offer review management software to small businesses. However, we sell our software to marketing agencies who can manage this for their clients, along with their client’s other marketing services. Because we service agencies and not the small businesses directly, we can save time and keep costs down. In turn, agencies can pass those savings onto their small business clients.
Did the pandemic help or hurt our business? We were pretty lucky because small businesses were becoming extremely conscious of their online presence during this time. Small business owners started to understand the importance of digital marketing more deeply during the pandemic. In turn, the digital marketing agencies serving these businesses were scaling like crazy. Because the marketing agencies we serve were thriving in the pandemic, it worked in our favour as well.
10|20 Marketing: Well, that’s amazing to hear, Julia! We appreciate you taking the time with us and sharing your story!
Julia McLaughlin, Review Robin: Thanks for inviting us to participate! It was my pleasure!
This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.