Friday 30 October 2020

Respond to reviews - there's so much to gain for so little effort

Is yours one of the 92% of businesses that do not currently respond to online reviews? Read on...

In few areas of review management are so many benefits achieved for so little effort. And some of those benefits are not immediately obvious. Here we show you just what we mean, but first, let's look at how your potential customers consume reviews in the first place.

Consumers read reviews - a lot!

And the more serious the nature of the transaction or purchase, the more certain they are to read those reviews. That means that reviews of professional services: legal, financial, medical, and big-ticket: the likes of estate agency, for instance, where the consumer knows the wrong choice may cost them thousands, if not tens of thousands are far more likely to be read than reviews of everyday purchases.

Consumers trust reviews

It still comes as a surprise to some, but every survey ever conducted reinforces the contention that a good Google score - 4.5 upwards - and great quality reviews - not just the 'Great business' soundbite ones - drive business because they are trusted by a significant proportion of consumers.

Consumers read GOOGLE reviews

Google serves its own reviews in every search. We would go so far as to say that if Google reviews had existed when the likes of Yelp and Trustpilot began they would have given up and found something else to do.

Google reviews are also a major ingredient in local search SEO: your Google reviews count towards your search ranking. Google reviews should be the first priority in every business's review management strategy.

Checking the 'worst' first

This little tab is clicked by everyone who reads reviews on Google

It's basic human nature. You know you do it, and so does everyone looking at your business. So let's look at two real-world examples - both taken from Google - one for a client business one from one that's not. The non-client first:

Then our client:

And not just the negative reviews (another HelpHound client): 

And now: the lessons...
  1. The simple act of responding to the review will impress anyone reading it; people naturally gravitate towards businesses that communicate
  2. The responses have been written with the certain knowledge that many more people than just the writer of the review will be reading it firmly in mind
  3. The Google review box is a fixed height - as shown in these screenshots - in the first example three - nearly four - one-star reviews show. In the second, only one, thanks in part to the space taken up by the business's response
  4. The simple act of responding to the review sends out a very powerful message to subsequent reviewers: that their review will be responded to. This keeps future reviewers genuine and will give those tempted to 'have a rant' serious pause for thought
  5. By being a HelpHound member the business has the moral high ground; not only can it say [words to the effect that] 'Why didn't you contact us before posting this review?' but also 'You were invited to write a review directly to us but declined our invitation.'
All of the above add up to a message that will seriously impress a prospective customer. Think of it from their point-of-view, do they want to use a business that ignores reviews, or one that:
  • invites reviews - from all their customers?
  • publishes them on their own website and gets them to Google?
  • engages with their reviewers if they raise any issues?
  • responds to those reviews?
By now we expect we are all on the same page. Responding to reviews should not be seen as a chore any more than responding to a client email - it should be part-and-parcel of any modern business's standard operating practices.

Note: If you would like a copy of our memo 'How to respond to a Google review' which deals with the mechanics, please just call us.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

How seriously do some businesses take their reputations? And what solutions do they employ?

This article was prompted by this photo taken through a business's shop window by one of our staffers on their way home from work one night last week...

It raised a whole load of questions, as you can probably imagine, but the one we are mostly interested in here is the one in the headline. 

So what does this business look like online?

First Google...


And against their competitors?

Then the first review site they are paying to belong to...

Then the next...

So, the above begs the question: why not concentrate on the obvious solution? The most effective and the least expensive as well? Certsainly the one most seen by their prospective customers. Not only that but the one that will see them safely through the medium and long term?

Let's just run through the number of solutions that have been available for businesses over the last ten years;

    • Yelp: the big daddy of all review sites, launched in the UK to huge fanfare - and had their London HQ opened by the Duke of York! - gone from these shores in 2016.
    • RaterAgent:  a niche website adopted by many estate agents - did a reasonable job until its demise in 2018. 
    • AllAgents: another estate agent-specific review site with an intriguing business model. Try contacting their office if you consider your business has been the victim of an unfair review.
    • Feefo: A review site specialising in online retail. Great where shirts and socks - online retail - are concerned. Moved into the service/professional business market in mid-decade, possibly because it was faced with the enormous financial clout of Trustpilot in its existing marketplace. But sites that allow the business to dictate who is allowed to post reviews are illegal in the UK. It's the same regarding timing.

    • Trustpilot: why would a business display - and pay for - Trustpilot's green stars when they can display Google's gold ones for free? 
    • And the aggregators, such as Again - great for products, but far too high risk for professional service businesses where a single misconceived review can stop the phone ringing

So, to answer the question posed: at HelpHound we focus our clients' efforts on Google. Why?

  • Because it has more visibility than any other solution - every single consumer sees a business's Google reviews, every time they search
  • Because it has more credibility than any other solution - everyone knows Google
  • Because it will dominate for the foreseeable future
  • Because its reviews are trusted by consumers more than any other solution
  • Because it's free!

And we at HelpHound add three vital ingredients to this winning mix:
  • Reviews on the business's own site: not reviews from a third-party reviews site who will take them away the minute the business stops paying - the business's own reviews
  • Moderation: nice to have for businesses selling products (who wants to publish - or read - misinformation?) but critical for service businesses where a single misinformed or factually inaccurate review can do really significant harm to business flows
  • Advice: ongoing, unbiased professional advice. A solution is right for a client of ours? We'll recommend it. Google change their review algorithm? The law changes? Our clients will be amongst the first to know. If you have any doubt about the latter contention feel free to interrogate this blog!

And for those whose web designers are up to scratch: stars in competitive search as well:

No prizes for guessing which of these is our client.

Further reading...