The world of reviews is in its infancy, and there's a long way to go. More, millions more, are being written every day; Google loves them and gives them massive prominence in search, lighting them up with star ratings (once they have 5, that is).
|Hotels, accountants, zoos - Google treats all businesses the same|
Individual review sites have prospered: Yelp has moved from 20 million reviews four years ago to 71 million by the end of Q4 2014. That's at least a quarter of a million reviews being added every week. TripAdvisor claims four times as many (that's nearly 150,000 reviews a day). But to get to any of those sites your customers have to search on Google, which is hosting its own reviews of your business.
Some businesses (often just the kind where consumers would really benefit from helpful reviews) still have none.
So: reviews 5 years hence...
Those numbers will only carry on growing. Just about every business on the planet will have been reviewed by at least one customer (take note all those in 'review denial') and most by many.
So what will the reviews landscape look like in five years' time?
First, let's look at current coverage; hotels are front-and-centre (TripAdvisor, Google and dozens of other sites) the smallest bed & breakfast has fifty reviews. Restaurants follow hard on their heels. But there are many areas as yet only touched on, and these areas are arguably those where the consumers need is greatest:
- Financial services: A lump sum to invest or advice needed on a pension provider?
- Legal services: Picking the right lawyer can be crucial
- Estate agency: Buying or selling a house, as we are constantly told, is the biggest financial transaction most of us will make in our entire lives. How are we to choose the right agent/mortgage broker/surveyor/architect?
- Medical services: Choosing an oncologist? How valuable would accurate reviews be?
- Insurance: currently insurance companies are able to compete on price alone; that's because (with one or two notable exceptions) there is little information on their claims records. In the future the key information will be available through reviews: 'Will they pay out when I claim?'
So businesses must build reviews into the core of their day-today strategies.*
Now for a glimpse into the future: we have taken today's search for 'insurance brokers' in 'Brighton':
...and put it into our Tardis and taken it five years down the track to 2020. Here's what the same search may look like then**...
- Great businesses - that have actively engaged (Preston and Reason, in this example) - will look great
- Great businesses - that have not engaged (Medical Insurance, perhaps?) - will punch well below their weight, and even look shoddy (because most of their reviews will be written by their unhappy customers)
- Bad businesses will look terrible - and they will have no hiding place
- Small businesses will need to work especially hard - if they are not to look insignificant (like R T Williams)
The bottom line...
Businesses that actively engage with reviews (and review management) today will see that strategy pay increasing dividends in years to come - and we are prepared to guarantee that, by offering you a no contact trial and a money back guarantee.
Part 1 of this article is here.
* Building reviews into your business's core strategy: means telling your customers that reviews are part-and-parcel of the way you operate your business; that they will be invited to write a review and you should stress just how much value you place on that review.
** For those that may be sceptical about the numbers (of reviews) shown here; we would remind them that the 583 reviews shown next to Brighton Insurance represent less than two reviews a week over the period in question. More than that - the star ratings and numbers are taken from real business's Google listings - today!