Getting people who don't write reviews to write reviews
To the casual observer it may appear that the whole world is writing reviews - except, possibly, you!
Wherever you look on the web - reviews - and in their millions. And we're all influenced by them. Most businesses have, by now, been reviewed somewhere, and because Google loves reviews, most customers of those businesses are seeing those reviews...
So, first, let's look at who is writing those reviews. And the simple answer, even for massive sites like TripAdvisor, is 'a tiny minority'. How tiny? We have a hotel client which checks out, on average, 200 guests a day - that's 73,000 a year; in the last 12 months they have received 350 reviews on TripAdvisor - that's one in 210 guests (or less than half of one per cent). It's the same for estate agents - a large national chain that transacts in the multiple thousands every year - has received less than 30 reviews on AllAgents (almost all of them 1*!), less than one review for every five of their branches.
Why are they being written?
For two reasons: first, those that write are part of the even smaller minority of 'helpful citizens', people who genuinely want to help their fellow consumer (this category write genuine opinions, they can usually be identified by the number of reviews they have written and the fact that their reviews cover the full range from 'great' to 'awful'). The second is the dissatisfied customer: they only write the very occasional review - and they're invariably one or two star; they are using the review site to communicate their displeasure with the service they received - their expectations weren't met and they want to tell the business - the fact that their 'review' will be read by potential customers of that business rarely comes into it. And here's the crucial point - a dissatisfied customer is over 15 times more likely to write a review than a satisfied one.
What impression is this creating?
Visitors to these sites don't do the sums referred to above - they read half-a-dozen reviews and form an opinion, they look at rankings and scores, and they are very easily influenced away from a business - it's simple human nature.
That's why our headline is so important - 'Getting people who don't write reviews to write reviews' - businesses, if they are to enable their potential customers to get a fair impression of just how good they are must be proactive - they must get the silent majority to voice their opinions - and the obvious place is on their own website. Not only will this divert negatives to them to manage in private, but it will enhance their reputation right across the web - one of our hotel clients is now achieving a response rate of over 12% - and scoring brilliantly on Booking.com and TripAdvisor - but most important of all showing the world just how great they are on their own website (and getting direct bookings as a result).
By building reviews into the core of your presentation to your client - it should be mentioned all along the journey, from first meeting '...we ask all our clients to write a review, and we publish them all...' to telling them, preferably face-to-face, that '...we will be writing to ask you for your own opinion, and it's important for us that you do let us have it...' - we have clients who do this very effectively and their efforts are rewarded, not just with a steady flow of great reviews, but with business.