In its early days review management was often seen as something of an add-on by marketeers and management. Not any more.
Let us explain – and answer the obvious, and perhaps not-so-obvious – questions
The web evolves – and continues to evolve
The web – and how consumers use it – has come a long way since the early search engines provided lists driven by keywords. Not long ago it was viewed almost entirely on desktop – now most searches are made on mobile. Google has come to dominate everywhere except China. Search has become more and more local/map based and accurate and it is now moving into its intuitive phase – where the search engine knows more about what kind of business you are looking for than you do!
Businesses have struggled to keep up. Witness the number that still don’t have responsive websites – and, even more concerning, the number who have sites that have yet to be optimised for mobile search.
Consumer behaviour, on the other hand, soon adapts to changes in search. And consumers discriminate – often subconsciously – against businesses that don’t keep up.
The parallel evolution of review management
By definition, review management responds to rather than predicts search behaviour. How quickly your business’s review management responds becomes critical.
- Google reviews dominating in search:
began in 2013, but many businesses continue to remain committed to
independent review sites with secondary visibility at best. It’s time to
make the move to Google
- Google credibility:
everyone has heard of Google, most people know that you need a G+
identity to write a review, and perhaps most important of all, people
know that only great businesses look great on Google
- Google reviews growth: there was so much Google denial from businesses until this year. The numbers of Google reviews per business continues to grow exponentially. Soon there will be no business worth the name without Google reviews
- Closed review sites – those that don’t allow consumers to post a review unless invited – drive reviewers to ‘open’ platforms to comment
- Google is the dominant open platform – a business should not be driving dissatisfied consumers to comment there by denying them the right to write a review to their own website whenever they want
- Filtering –
however well-meant – is unacceptable. Any review management mechanism
that gives priority to businesses by allowing them to block negative
comment will damage the business’s image and brand. Here is what
happened to John Lewis recently
- The Google filter
– first introduced for some verticals in some areas in January of this
year – enables consumers to narrow their searches down to businesses
with Google scores of 4.0 plus and more than four Google reviews
- Google Top Rated:
introduced for some business searches in August 2016. Logic dictates
that this should eventually apply to every search (who doesn’t want to
be shown the top business for any given search?)
- The end of testimonials
– consumers now know there is a more credible alternative: verified
reviews. And great businesses now host these on their own sites
- The end of cherry-picking:
consumers – and your competitors – are wise to this now. If you only
invite ‘happy’ customers to post reviews – to your own site or to Google
– your review management will be called into question. You must have a
mechanism that allows anyone to write a review whenever they want
- Allow consumers to see your worst reviews at a click – Google do, so should you
- Understand which review sites besides Google are important:
Facebook is, Yelp is not (they’ve left the UK anyway). TripAdvisor,
Booking.com and some of the aggregators still are if you are in
hospitality. None of the small sites are worth committing effort or
investment to in 2016
So – some questions. Does your business…
- Score more than 4.5 out of 5 on Google – for each and every location?
- Have more than 50 reviews – per location – on Google?
- Allow your customers to write a review to your website at a click – at any time?
- Have a mechanism for showing independently verified reviews on your own site?
- Publish a customer’s review – even if you disagree with it?
- Have a mechanism for managing inaccurate or misleading reviews pre-publication?
- Have a ‘Reviews’ tab on Facebook?
- Feed reviews to Twitter and Facebook?
- Know how to appeal an unfair/incorrect or misleading Google review?
- Respond to reviews – on Google, on Facebook and wherever else they appear?
If the answer to all ten of these is ‘Yes’ you are almost certainly a HelpHound client. If you have answered ‘No’ to even one, we suggest a quick call to Fiona Christie or Karen Hutchings here at HelpHound.