You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t see the value in ratings, reviews, and testimonials. When you’re looking to book a holiday or a restaurant I imagine TripAdvisor is always one of the Google results you end on and you can bet your life that the owner is all over it as a source of marketing.
So the jump to products, services, and all businesses seems an obvious one and hopefully, you’ll already be using a third-party rating and reviews services such as Trustpilot, Reviews.co.uk, and Feefo as again hopefully you’ll see the benefits of an ‘impartial’ forum for the reviews.
According to Brightlocals 2019 research:
- 90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 33% looking every day
- 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews
- The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business
- Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars
- The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision
- Among consumers that read reviews, 97% read businesses’ responses to reviews
- 67% of consumers have now been asked to leave a review for a local business – with 24% of these being offered a discount, gift, or cash in return
With each of the listed partners and many more charging a monthly fee for the honour, as well as the time it would have taken you and your team to set up in the first place you’ll want to make sure that you’re utilising it in the best way possible to bring you a strong return on investment.
1) Identify the goals of what you expect to achieve from the service.
You can’t measure the success of anything unless you know what success is and the same is true with a third-party rating/reviews service. This will reflect directly on how you end up using it.
For example: For an eCommerce website that happens to sell electrical goods you’re likely to want to collect reviews for both your service and individually for your products so you’re likely to display a ‘Star rating’ in your header for people to see and another star rating along with previous customer comments on each of the products. You’ll be rating success based on client interaction, add to basket events as well as the conversion to sale.
Another example is simply customer happiness – You’ll learn very quickly with an impartial review service that if you have an unhappy customer then they’ll be quick to vent a problem. Don’t throw these opportunities away with ego and pride – If you keep getting them then there’s a weakness in your operation – Learn from it and fix it. The happier your customers are, the more likely they are to return to you again and recommend you to friends. Often enough you’ll never get the opportunity to know why customers don’t return to you so don’t waste this opportunity – Place your goal on a star rating, a level of customer happiness, you should be able to see a correlation between your third party star rating and your return customer.
Remember whatever your internal goal that ‘confidence’ and ‘reassurance’ is always the external goal for your customers. Your visitors /customers will take your reviews/ratings and use it to confirm or assist a decision or gut-feeling they have on if they should spend money with you, or recommend you to a friend.
2) Make sure you pick the right provider.
You’ve got plenty of choices and it’s important to pick the right partner for you. Here are some of the current big names in rating and review third-parties. Each has its pros and cons, be it feature, cost, or brand familiarity (after all you want your customers to recognise the authority of the reviews and score you work hard to get!)
|Industry Focus||B2B / B2C||B2B / B2C||B2B||B2B / B2C|
|Part of the Google Seller Ratings Program (Reviews/Stars appear on Google Search and product results with an SEO Benefit)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Allows non verified reviews (Anyone can review not just those invited by you)||Yes (Although Verified reviews are highlighted)||Yes||Yes||Yes (Although does have a verified reviews program which is highlighted)|
|Asking for reviews|
|Allows Personalised/Branded Email invites||Yes||Yes||Yes||No – Review request and invite are handled by Google|
|Marketing / Onsite display|
|Google Rich Snippet||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Import existing reviews / Transfer from a different provider||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Analytics / Conversion rate tracking||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|API Access||Enterprise plan and above||Business Packaging and above||Yes||Yes|
Each provider limits its service both by the number of reviews you can request from your customer base each month and from additional features (like API access, branding, etc)
There are lots of things to consider when picking a review partner, the two most important are going to be brand recognition e.g. How much weight does a 5-star rating from Trustpilot have if no one has heard of Trustpilot and doesn’t trust its authenticity, and secondly, the cost, If you can get the same level of functionality and brand recognition is there a need to pay over the odds.
If you can afford it then certainly Trustpilot is considered the accepted Goal standard in features and recognition, but each year it puts its prices up and there is a chance you’ll feel locked in. Instead, it might be worth working with one of the smaller providers like Reviews.co.uk who as the underdog keep their pricing and features far more competitive – and if you’re just starting then making use of Google’s reviews platform is probably the best choice.
3) The right level of Automation
So you know your goals, you know which provider you’re going to use. Now it’s all about collecting your reviews in a more time-efficient way.
Each of the providers above all allows for automated review collection. That is when someone purchases from your website you can, through plugins and simple integrations, let the provider know, and then set how long after that purchase that you’d like them to reach out to your customer and ask for a review. You can also set how often you’d like to chase them for a review – but it’s worth remembering that if you’re harassing someone to give you the feedback you’ll either get bad feedback or no feedback.
You’ll want your review partner to send an email only after your service is complete, or after your product has been safely delivered – so it’s often best to set it a few days after you expect everything to be completed. After all, if you ask for a review only a few hours after a transaction a lot of your reviews will be about not getting the item yet, and the rest will be lost to time as people just delete your reminder.
Make sure if you can that you brand any email that your provider sends to be from you, that it includes information about their purchase, and most importantly (next to actually asking for a review) is to give them a signpost and instructions on what to do if they’re not happy with your service, or if there was a problem with delivery. If you can intercept a bad review before it’s made its a lot easier to resolve. Make sure to have an array of options, make the process of getting help as easy as possible – Live chat, email, or telephone even social media if your business/clients are so inclined.
If a customer makes multiple purchases from you in as many days then you should consider only sending them one review request instead of many. Most of the partners listed above will if a customer leaves many reviews/ratings only ever use the most recent (as this is the indicator on what your service is likely to be like) and so by chasing for many reviews from one customer all you’re doing is potentially annoying them with lots of emails!
4) Take the time daily to review your customer’s reviews
Remember, it’s all about the good and the bad – and how you then deal with it. Take the time if you can to reply to positive reviews to thank them
For bad reviews:
- Always promptly reply to them.
- Always give them a personalized response, and speak to them (Never speak in the third person and never in a public forum try and apportion blame, theirs, yours or a third party).
- Always try and get into a dialogue with them off of the platform, Phone, Email, Livechat – and ideally make sure it’s you who is reaching out to them.
- Remember that everything you do is very visible, future customers are judging how you deal with a bad review and it will give them confidence if handled correctly that even if they buy from you and something goes wrong then they will be looked after.
When dealing with a bad reviewer, you’ll likely already be on the defensive. The reviewer is likely to use strong emotive language to shame you or the company. You need to take a deep breath – even if you can’t make everyone happy then you can make the best effort – future customers will judge how you react and they’ll quickly be able to see from dialogue if you as a business are doing everything you can and the customer is being unreasonable.
If you think this customer is out to get you, that they’re being unreasonable, they’re lying or perhaps they never were a customer – Remember you can report the review to the platform. They have strict rules about the quality of the review (and business response) that can be made. If they think a review is fake or questionable they’ll immediately hide it from other customers and investigate.
Finally for bad reviews – If it’s resolved, ask them if they wouldn’t mind updating their review. You’re happy for it to contain the problem but you’d like them to reflect on how you handled it since.
5) Bribery will get you everywhere and nowhere
It’s tempting to ‘bribe’ / encourage your customers to leave you reviews, especially good ones. I’ve seen reviews request emails telling me that if I leave them a review that they’ll send me a £5 off my next spend, or free delivery.
The worst I had was a company, seconds after me purchasing some expensive electronic goods for next day delivery, sending me a message to say if I left them a good review then they’d upgrade my current order to next day delivery for free. At that point I felt like quite the fool for already paying for next day delivery, I also immediately questioned if I’d bought from the right company – after all, if the reviews are all from people who had rated them before they received the goods and services could they be trusted?
So this is what it comes to, Bribery will get you reviews, it will get you good reviews but customers will know fairly quickly from the quality of these reviews and their interaction from you which in turn makes them less trustworthy – Sure you’ll have great SEO experience and onboard new customers but you may never learn the true problems your business may have and your return customer transactions will show this.
Another thing to consider is that many review platform terms and conditions do not allow you to offer anything in return for a review. They consider this an unethical bias and will both remove reviews and potentially highlight on your reviews page that this is the case with your other reviews.
6) Getting ROI from a reviews service is a slow process and hard work
You shouldn’t expect miracles overnight, It can take years to build up enough reviews that it makes a noticeable difference but when it does start to work, it is a snowball effect. I’ve had the honour of working with a company that has 25 thousand 5 star reviews and only a hand full of anything less – This doesn’t mean those 25,000 reviews went without fault and if you read them you can tell that problems occur but the way the team deals with it always leaves the customer satisfied.
Remember the benefit of ratings and reviews for your customer’s confidence, as well as the SEO benefit with Google (where if setup correctly your website, products, etc will appear with a star rating next to them), are worth it.
Like many PR based activities, it’s also hard to track the direct effect of the reviews. If you add them and immediately see an increase in conversion then you have an easy winner and of course, if you survey your customers and give the reviews/rating as a reason then you’ve already got a great ROI.
When are third party reviews not worth it?
In my opinion, you’ll have a hard-time with third-party reviews and prefer to stick to on-site testimonials or Google reviews at a push when you’re a B2B business providing a more bespoke consultancy experience.
But other than that, if you sell products and more mainstream services (like insurance etc) then you should have third-party ratings and reviews in place for your business and/or products.
Unsure what reviews service to use, How to integrate it, or how to get the most out of it? Reach out and have a chat and we would love to help you!