Consumer reviews and buying guides platform ConsumerAffairs announced it expects to bring in over $50 million in revenue this year.
The site publishes over 1.5 million user-generated reviews and editorial buyers guides on everything from dog food to online colleges and gives advice on making big purchases, such as a mortgage and life insurance.
“If you are a business, the customer experience is the best marketing you have,” CEO Zac Carman told Publishers Daily. “When you are able to leverage reviews — experiences your customer had with your products and services — it drives higher conversion, better customers and longer lifetime customers.”
More than 4 million users visit ConsumerAffairs.com monthly. The platform gets a commission when a user makes a purchase after reading reviews or guides on the site. Its software tracks conversions.
Carman purchased ConsumerAffairs from former Associated Press journalist Jim Hood in 2010, when the site had a few 100,000 reviews and was driving about $1 million in revenue. He has since moved the company to his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Carman is a member of the Kaw Nation).
ConsumerAffairs made around $30 million to $35 million in revenue last year, according to Carman. The platform has a compounded annual growth rate of 52% and is profitable.
Digital advertising “used to be 100% of the business and is now less than 1%,” he noted.
ConsumerAffairs’ growth comes from monetizing consumer reviews. The platform took three years to build, with a team of 15 engineers, who developed software that enables brands to collect, monitor, analyze and respond to reviews, allowing them to build relationships with customers and improve reputations, Carman noted.
ConsumerAffairs’ SaaS platform can be integrated with brands’ own systems through APIs.
Brands can use insights from the site for product innovation as well, Carman said. For example, a large diet food company can see that a number of people over 60 are complaining in reviews about the high level of sodium in the company’s products; it can then offer a low sodium option.
These insights also inform editorial. It helps ConsumerAffairs’ content team decide what buying guides and purchase categories consumers want to read.
“Helping people buy things is a pretty big business,” Carman said.
ConsumerAffairs’ now has over 1,000 brands using its platform, and covers about 300 categories. Going forward, the goal for the platform is to add more coverage areas, clients and user reviews.
“We aspire to cover 1,500 different purchase categories,” Carman said.