Monday 20 July 2020

Reviews: a survival checklist for the 'New Normal'

More and more - especially now that so many have so much more time on their hands and have become so much more careful with their money (and are spending far more of it online -or, at the very least, conducting much more pre-purchase research there) - consumers are checking a business's reviews before taking the first critical step: picking up the phone or clicking through to the business's website.

Research proves time and again that following these simple - and inexpensive - steps boosts incoming calls and clicks significantly. Here's just one typical 'before and after':

This is from a client's Google My Business report - something Google sends every business on the planet every month - from the first full month after adopting HelpHound. 

So here is a checklist for every business...

  1. Have at least 50 Google reviews
  2. Have at least 100 reviews on your own website
  3. Ensure your reviews are current
  4. Make sure those reviews are independently verified
  5. Make sure those reviews are moderated
  6. Make sure that all your review processes are legally compliant
  7. Motivate your staff 
  8. Respond to all your reviews
  9. Mobilise your reviews in your marketing
  10. Keep checking your review management strategy against this checklist!

1.  50 Google reviews

It's straightforward: research has shown that this is the level at which consumer scepticism evaporates and 'I bet they're all written by friends and family' is replaced by 'this is an impressive array of positive comments'.

2.  100 reviews on your own website

As for the above. Plus a crucial element (see 'Moderated' - Point 5 below). Why double the number? Simply because we have found from long experience that it is possible to get about half of those customers who write a review to the business's website to go on and copy it to Google.

3.  Current

How many times do we see a business that worked really hard to get reviews a year ago and then let it slip? Too often. It is so obvious to consumers too. Keep the reviews coming.

4.  Independently verified

Independent verification turns a testimonial into a review. It also enables moderation (again, point 5. below).

5.  Moderated

Without moderation, every business is bound, sooner or later, to fall victim to a factually inaccurate or damagingly misleading review - often both. Many businesses have a'so what? attitude to these - until they fall victim. With moderation the likelihood is massively reduced, if not wholly eliminated. More here.

6.  Legal

So many businesses are breaking the law - mostly by hand-picking customers to write reviews -  that complacency has become widespread. But if, by adopting a professional review management strategy, a business can become fully compliant, why risk being the first in your area to be fined and sanctioned? More here.

7.  Motivate staff

Many business's first reaction is to offer rewards to customers for writing reviews. This is against Google's terms of service and risks all the business's reviews being unilaterally deleted. Reward staff instead. More here.

8.  Respond

It's so easy, but still many businesses fail to do so. More here.

9.  Mobilise

Looking great on Google and on your own website is a great first step, and you will certainly notice the increase in inbound enquiries, but it is such a waste to leave it there. Use reviews in all your marketing - online and offline and in social media.

10.  Check - and check again

Just as you do with any repetitive discipline in business: keep a running check on your reviews.

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