For all of time 'personal recommendation' has been the gold standard - the most effective business driver of all. This chart shows just how much reviews have caught up, as they have proliferated and as consumers have learned to trust them. The most significant number is the massive percentage drop - from 33% to 13% - in those who would not trust reviews. Alongside this the importance of authenticity has risen: reviews are now seen as good by themselves but verified reviews are what consumers want most.
And the world of reviews is no exception - ten years ago they hardly existed, now there's barely a business on the planet that hasn't been reviewed somewhere on the web. Here we bring you right up-to-date with what is happening and what strategies your business will need to adopt to stay abreast of all matters review related for the foreseeable future.
Review websites - yesterday's solution
Mostly founded in the last ten years, these sites are already becoming last years' news. From Yelp to Feefo, from TripAdvisor to AllAgents, changes in the way your customers consume information on the web have changed to leave these sites wallowing - mostly - in Google's wake.
It's all about mobile...
Just stop reading this for a moment and search for your own business on your phone. That's how 70% of your customers are finding you. So how you look - and what appears there when you search - are critical.
The choice is yours: to look like the business on the left or the one on the right - and, indeed, the ones in the 'People also search for' boxes to the right of our client's under the Houghton Estates search. Note the prominence Google are giving to reviews in search now, with reviews taking second billing to the business name along with the score and the rich snippets (the three quotes taken from the business's reviews in the Greene & Co example).
And it's there that you should be looking great. In every way you can. And that means reviews:
- reviews on your site
- reviews on Google - in the Google box and in natural listings
Ratings in natural listings, Facebook score showing and rating and rich snippets in the Google box - it does not (and cannot) happen by accident. It is the result of professional review management - by the business and by HelpHound.
There's no point in looking great on a website that does not appear in these two searches:
- A search on your business name [XYZ estate agents]
- A local search on your business type [estate agents in 'location']
But what's the point - when all that shows are Google reviews - and Google ratings?
Once your business looks great on Google, you should turn your attention to Facebook - simply because people trust recommendations from friends. Do the numbers: if all 208 Facebook members have 500 friends each: that's over 100,000 people who have been told this business is great by a personal friend.
So it's our own website and Google - and Facebook once we have cracked Google - that matter?
The consumer journey is so simple now:
- Google the business - or type of business - and read reviews
- Be impressed by those reviews enough to go on to visit the business's own website
- See more great reviews - make contact
Review management in its simplest form enables you to:
- display independently verified reviews on your website
It is critical that whatever mechanism you use is demonstrably independent of your own business - and enables consumers to read and post reviews whenever they like. It is important that you understand that these reviews should belong to you, to display as - and importantly where - you wish. You should not be using a service that invites your customers to follow a link away to reviews held on any other site but your own. You should certainly avoid any service that provides easy access to reviews of your competitors.
Without independent verification your reviews revert to the status of testimonials - and lose that crucial credibility in the eyes of consumers.
A professional review management system should allow you the opportunity of addressing potentially inaccurate or misleading reviews before they are published.
It should incorporate a mechanism to make it easy for your customers to go on to copy their review across to any third-party website (currently Google, of course*).
*Google is the third-party site of choice for the overwhelming majority of our clients - simply because Google reviews currently have higher visibility than any others. In some instances - hospitality is a good example in the case of TripAdvisor - there are high profile sites where clients should have exposure; we work with other clients to get reviews to Facebook.
Professional review managers should provide advice, training and assistance in:
- drafting responses to negative reviews - on your own site and anywhere else - Google or TripAdvisor, for instance
- drafting responses to positive reviews - essential if you are to impress potential customers
- managing your G+ page(s) and account(s)
- managing accounts with other review mechanisms - TripAdvisor, Facebook or Yelp for example
- appealing negative reviews on Google - including having a thorough knowledge of Google T&Cs and communication channels. Drafting the appeal and managing it through to conclusion
- appealing negative reviews on other platforms, such as TripAdvisor and Facebook
- monitoring external review sites for future relevance
- monitoring Google for changes in their algorithm*
*Did you spot the introduction of the Google review filter - enabling users to filter businesses with fewer than 5 reviews or with scores of less than 4.0 out of search altogether? We did, on the day it was introduced.
HelpHound incorporates all the above - and more. HelpHound are the Review Management professionals: if it relates to reviews and how to use them in generating business HelpHound is here to help and advise.