Wednesday 28 June 2023

Reviews in 2023 - the key indicators

Consumer reviews is a fast-moving marketplace - in every sense. In this article we will take a very useful post  - by US company Reviewtrackers - and examine (and comment upon) every point.  If you only read one article about reviews this year we recommend it be this one.

HelpHound comment: Given that Yelp is mostly used to find eateries (and overwhelmingly in the US at that - having withdrawn from the UK and EU) and Tripadvisor those plus travel, accommodation and leisure activities, then it is Google's presence in the review space that we are concerned with on behalf of our own marketplace of the professions and service-oriented businesses. 

If that's taken as a given then we can safely assume that Google's dominance rises to at least 90%. It's also worth bearing in mind that Google's share of the search market now extends to 85% of searches worldwide and a full 96% in the UK. So it's not just where reviews are written that is of concern for businesses; it's where they are most likely to be read. The answer to both, thankfully, is Google.

HelpHound comment:
the same as for 'Google is the review site of choice' above. Businesses should clearly concentrate on Google reviews above all others (in fact, except in special circumstances: to the exclusion of all others) - simply because that's what their potential customers are doing - both reading and writing. On top of that, Google reviews are free and are far more credible than reviews from other sources.

HelpHound comment: it's early days but we think the answer is twofold: first, the dramatic rise in working from home. Consumers are using some of their reclaimed 'commuting time' to better research purchasing decisions. Secondly, the steep rise in inflation and mortgage interest rates has made consumers much more careful in their choices - especially where critical (health, legal, financial) and big-ticket (purchases in the £000s, such as property) items are concerned.

HelpHound comment: this is certainly the case where businesses either a) don't invite reviews at all or b) don't request reviews in the correct manner (by text is a prime example - text requests for reviews tend to elicit text-type reviews). If reviews are asked for in the correct manner they will actually be longer than average - and therefore much more helpful (and convincing) for potential customers and the business under review.

HelpHound comment: We always recommend that all reviews should be treated in the same way as any communication from a valued customer. What business would ignore such a  communication via email or a phone call for days? Or not respond at all? Aside from the etiquette aspect, the ability to respond to a review, on the business's own website or on Google, brings an excellent opportunity to highlight positives and explain negatives that should never be missed. 

There is one very important statistic here '94% of consumers say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business.' Well-written negative reviews are very dangerous indeed, so dangerous that we christened them 'killer reviews' years ago. They can literally stop the phones ringing - here are two examples, one for a small business in Cornwall, a case that made the national media, where we were able to successfully appeal the review to Google and have it removed and another for a business - not a client of ours - that made the fundamental error of suing a reviewer in open court; the collateral damage caused by a single review (interestingly the court agreed and awarded damages to the business) was vastly outweighed by the attendant publicity generated by the media coverage of the case, which caused far more damage in the longer term.

HelpHound comment: it's self-evident - industry leaders look like industry leaders online. This rarely happens by accident, it involves developing a concerted and continuing strategy that runs from top to bottom through senior management to every single member of staff in any way involved with the business's CRM. What rarely occurs is a regulatory audit*: this involves ensuring that such a strategy does not contravene the CMA regulations - such contravention provides competitors with an easy answer to a business's glowing Google score. 

*HelpHound provides this service.

HelpHound comment: this is a very broad-range finding. Our experience - of managing reviews for the professional and service sector for over ten years - definitely shows that the closer a business can get to the 'Perfect 5.0' the more calls and clicks it will achieve through Google. We have never - ever - had a call from a client business suggesting that their review score has become so good that they are losing credibility in the marketplace. On the contrary, we take on many businesses that already score over 4 out of 5 but understand the need to minimise factually inaccurate or potentially misleading reviews in order to improve their scores.

HelpHound comment: as we only work on behalf of pure service or service-oriented businesses (such as the professions, medical, legal, financial services or estate agency, for instance) we have always known that reviewers focus heavily on the customer service aspect of any transaction.

HelpHound comment: show us a business with over 50 Google reviews* that scores 5.0 and we'll show you a business that's in breach of the CMA regulations. Put plainly: that business will be breaking the law. Our very best clients - and all of our clients are dedicated to the highest levels of customer service, that's why they employ Helphound - score 4.9. There's always going to be one!

*that is not a client of ours!

HelpHound comment: There's absolutely no doubt about this one: consumer scepticism about Google reviews evaporates at about the fifty mark. Comments such as 'I bet they just asked staff and friends to post reviews' fall away at that point. All our client businesses are able to assess the success of our involvement by tracking the number of calls and clicks they receive every month. 

It's very simple: get more reviews with a higher average score and your business will win more leads and customers. To do this a business needs to stop taking three paces forward - getting ten 5* reviews - and one step back - a factually inaccurate or plain 'unfair' 1* review. Only a moderated review system can achieve this with any degree of certainty - see point 2. below.

Three further key comments

Great - possibly - for online retail; disastrous for professions and service-oriented businesses

1.  Review sites other than Google should be avoided at all costs ('cost' being the operative word: not just the monthly cost of the review site in question - Google reviews are free - but the cost of the lost opportunity to shine in Google reviews). Below is a paragraph taken directly from a review site's annual report to its shareholders. Our loose translation is that they are saying that as they have lots of business customers in the UK already they are making hay by exploiting the natural instinct of businesses to emulate their competitors. Fair enough, but every business that follows on is missing one of the very best marketing opportunities there is: moderated Google reviews (again, see point 2.). 


This article deals expressly with the considerable - and invariable - damage done by directing reviews anywhere but to Google (unless the business concerned is only involved in online retail and any ones stars, on the website and associated marketing, will do, in which case carry on with [XYZ review site] and their blue/green/yellow/red stars).

2.  Reviewtrackers don't mention review moderation, simply because the only moderated review management system currently available is in the UK. And you’re on its blog currently!

Moderation protects businesses and consumers alike from factually inaccurate and potentially misleading reviews, not to mention just plain 'unfair' ones. The No.1 reason given by businesses that haven’t yet engaged with reviews is fear of such reviews. Moderation can’t provide a 100% guarantee against such reviews but to date we reckon our system resolves well over 95% of them before they’re published.

This article explains how moderation enables good businesses to shine - legitimately and in compliance with the law - in Google reviews.

Which of the businesses above benefits from moderation? Which leads consistently in Google local searches? Which receives more clicks and calls? Which saves most on Google Ads? Which is a HelpHound client?

3.  Proof. It's the first, last and - as the song goes - everything. But it is strangely lacking in most review sites' marketing to their business audience. Rareley, if ever, do they quote actual numbers for lead and business uplift.

A snapshot of a client's Google report - from the first full month after joining HelpHound. Yes - results can be that fast!

Not so here at HelpHound. Clicks up? We - and Google - will tell you by exactly how many. Calls through your Google listing - stats available month on month. Impact on the quality of your customers similarly improved? For this, and some independent numbers on the quality of business generated by Professional Review Management, read this article.

No comments:

Post a Comment

HelpHound is all about feedback, so please feel free to comment here...