Tuesday 16 October 2018

Understanding the value of professional review management

Professional review management should find itself placed firmly in the marketing column of any CFO's spreadsheet. And, just like any other marketing spend, it should be valued on the basis of ROI. 

But first we need to help potential clients understand the difference between the following...
  • feedback mechanisms
  • independent reviews sites
  • review aggregators
...and full-time professional review management.

Feedback mechanisms

These have a role to play in every business, be they point-of-sale or post sale (commonly initiated by email). They will be expressly designed to enable the business to refine its offering to its customers, with tailored questions, the answers to which can be analysed to enable the business in question to more accurately target future marketing.

As such, there may be no immediately quantifiable ROI. Nor need there be - it will be up to the business to use the information gained to drive that ROI through its marketing.

Independent reviews sites

Before the advent of Google reviews these were a very effective way of harnessing the power of tried-and-tested testimonial marketing. They still have their uses where product marketing is concerned (a toaster rated five stars on John Lewis's website will invariably outsell one rated four stars). 

John Lewis (and Dualit) know - for certain - that this ***** rating, and the accompanying reviews like the one below the listing, will sell more toasters. But just how many thousands of toasters did they sell to accumulate those hundred-and-one reviews? That is why service businesses need review management.

But for services Google reviews trump any other kind of review. Why? In a word: visibility. Google reviews win hands down in virtually every important search - specific (on the business's name)...

 ...and local (on the type of business)... 

Google also have the added advantage of credibility - everyone recognises Google (and most people now understand that Google reviews are pretty hard to game).

Review aggregators

A simple concept: scrape reviews from all over the web - Google, Facebook and the reviews sites - and then display them on the business's website, like this...

...now, we are not saying these reviews are unrepresentative of the business in question, but we are saying that incorporating moderation would ensure they were. 

It is vital for complex high-value transactional businesses like estate agency (and legal, financial and medical services) to have a moderation system in place that ensures that the image they present is fair and balanced - for the benefit of future customers who rely on reviews to make their judgement and the business itself.

Professional review management

If you are in online retail - selling toasters or by the thousand or computers by the hundred - it is easy to get to critical mass with reviews, but service-based businesses rarely have that kind of put-through. 

If you are selling houses, providing legal, medical or financial advice or running a recruitment business you are likely to count your customers in dozens a month at the most, often less. This poses a very different question: "How do we get sufficient reviews to make an impact?"

There's only one way a service business is going to look like this in search, and that's by employing first-class full-time professional review management.

This is where professional review management comes in. With training and support from HelpHound you should expect returns the like of which reviews sites - and feedback mechanisms - can only dream. Our top-performing clients regularly achieve the targets we jointly set at outset. Those targets? We call them 50/50. 
  • 50/50 means getting fifty per cent of your customers to write a review to your own website and then fifty per cent of those to copy their review to Google
The other target we set in conjunction with our clients is the score. Google have set their filter - the mechanism that enables users to filter out low-rated businesses at 4.5 out of 5 in most areas (in some rural areas the filter remains where it was pre-June 2018 at 4.0) - so we agree a target score, and that is always 4.5 or more. It may well be that, on joining, a business will have to address internal CRM issues in order to achieve that score, and it is part of a professional review manager's role to identify areas for improvement to enable a business to attain that vital score.

By now you will be beginning to understand that employing a review manager is about far more than combining a widget on your website with efficient CRM. It is about working together, just as you do with your other professional advisers (legal, accountancy etc.) on a day-to-day basis if need be, to ensure the right outcome.

And that outcome? More business flowing through your doors (and, in this context, 'doors' means whatever channel your customers take - website, phone, email, personal visit and so on).

So now we arrive at the crucial crux of the difference between 'feedback', 'reviews sites' and 'professional review management'. Quantifiable cash-flow - pure and simple.

How to judge the value of professional review management

We - and you - will have failed if only the following happens...
  • great numbers of reviews to your own website
  • a great aggregate score on your own website
  • great numbers of reviews to Google
  • a great aggregate score on Google
...but that won't be the case. Because if you achieve all four (and with our help and support you should) you will also...
  • generate more sales leads through all channels
  • support more sales through all channels
...which you should be able to measure, not least through your monthly Google My Business report. Here's one sent to us by a client (and, good as it is, it's certainly not the best we have ever seen)...

We know that any business will be able to put a monetary value on those results - because they will know their own conversion rates, and be able to apply £s per conversion.

*and considerably more for most businesses

Adding even more value

There are two other - very important - ways in which a professional review manager will add value. The first is compliance. To comply with the UK CMA regulations - which all UK businesses must do - businesses must, if they are proactively inviting reviews...
  • allow all their customers to write a review - not just pick those they would like to write a review
  • allow those customers to pick their own time to write their review - not just be invited when the business thinks they are most likely to write a favourable review
We know you won't be able to factor 'not being fined £X,000 by the CMA' (actually the CMA's last fine had five zeros) into your financial forecasts, but we are sure you will see the value in this, especially when combined with the next way in which we will add value: moderation.

Moderation means having an independent entity - HelpHound in this case - reading every review immediately it is written and then enabling a discussion between the reviewer and the reviewed business pre-publication under certain critical circumstances. And those circumstances? If the review, suppose it were published, were to contain any factual inaccuracies or statements that had the potential to mislead any consumer reading them. 

So: professional review management will earn your business hard cash. Put it to the test and you won't have to wait long to see the results (the GMB report shown above relates to the first quarter of the client's membership) and, like most other professional services, we won't tie you into any kind of contract either.

Further reading...

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