Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Reviews: never too late to adopt the right strategy

This article recently appeared in a trade publication...


Wow! 2,000 reviews. But where? To Google, where they would all be seen by everyone?




No - as the headline makes clear - to Trustpilot...



The core point is 'why Trustpilot?' or, even more pertinently 'why not Google?' It's the $64,000 dollar question that all Trustpilot's 20,000 paying subscribers should be asking themselves: 'what are we trying to achieve with reviews'?

Here are the questions all businesses should be asking when looking for a reviews solution...

  • Will our reviews be visible to the most potential customers?
  • Will our reviews be credible - and therefore trusted?
  • Will our chosen reviews solution still be around in five/ten year's time?
  • Will our solution incorporate a mechanism to enable us to avoid, as far as is legally possible, reputational damage?
  • Will our solution, and its operation, be compliant with UK law?
  • Will we own our own reviews?
  • Will our solution be compliant with Google's terms of service?
  • What will we be paying for, over and above Google's - free - offering?

Regular readers will know that we have, for many years now, recommeded that our clients focus on Google reviews alongside hosting their own reviews on their own website, whilst incorporating HelpHound's moderation. Simply put, that enables them to 'tick all the boxes' listed above. 

So why do websites like Trustpilot and Feefo exist? 

Again, the simple answer: they were around before Google became a major player in the reviews sphere; we sometimes use the 'railways and canals' analogy: just because railways came along didn't mean some people didn't still continue to use canals, even though they were demonstrably less efficient.

There is another reason: Google haven't monetised their reviews; they don't market a reviews solution. That leaves the way clear for the review sites' considerable salesforces. 

So let's conduct a test against the 'ideal' criteria listed above:

  • Will our reviews be visible to the widest possible range of potential customers?
With Google? Yes. With any other solution - demostrably less so.
  • Will our reviews be credible - and therefore trusted?
Google? Reviewers have an identity known to Google, and all their reviews are written under that identity, so the likelihood of a 'fake' review or reviewer is far lower with Google than with aany other solution.
  • Will our chosen reviews solution still be around in five/ten year's time?
This question must be taken seriously. We have lost count of the review sites and aggregators that have come and gone from the UK - from the massive Yelp to tiny 'industry specific' sites such as RaterAgent. We reckon that Google reviews, being a core part of Google's current strategy, will pass the test of time.
  • Will our solution incorporate a mechanism to enable us to avoid, as far as is legally possible, reputational damage?
Moderation, while 'nice to have' if your business sells products, is essential for service and professional businesses. A single inaccurate or misleading review has the power to stop the phones ringing for those in the latter category. Here is a case history.
  • Will our solution, and its operation, be compliant with UK law?
Under UK law you have to demonstrate that you enable all of your customers to write a review. To be clear: 'cherry-picking' (as the regulators call the practise) happy customers to write reviews is illegal. This is the single most frequently quoted rason for not engaging with reviews.
  • Will we own our own reviews?
By inviting your customers to post reviews to your own website you will own their reviews. Not so with review sites: they will own the reviews and the associated - very valuable -data.
  • Will our solution be compliant with Google's terms of service?
Google specifically prohibit gating (the practice of filtering reviews via another review site or through a customer feedback mechanism). Businesses caught gating have all their reviews deleted.
  • What will we be paying for, over and above Google's - free - offering?
With HelpHound? Almost certainly less than £200 a month.

 

So what should Brightstar have done?



How much more powerful if those stars were gold (Google)?

They should have focussed their strategy on Google and their own website. Just imagine if they had nearly 2,000 reviews in those two locations?

What should Brightstar - and any business in a similar postion today - do now?

Refocus towards Google; they have nothing to lose - they will retain their 2,000 reviews on Trustpilot - and can immediately begin building on their Google reviews whilst owning their own reviews on their own website into the bargain.



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