Danno: All right, so today, guys, we’re going to be talking about the step-by-step guide to boosting your customer reviews in 30 days, and by extension, also the easiest way to get thousands of reviews in the long term to help you grow top-line revenues, either for your own business or for your clients. I want to share with you what I believe to be the simplest marketing strategy that I know of, and it also happens to be the highest ROI marketing strategy that I know. It comes down to reputation and reviews, because these days, almost everybody seeks out reviews to help them decide where to spend money, and consumers have a lot of choice these days.
You guys know the deal. Attention spans are short. We’ve got seconds to influence someone, so how do we make them call us instead of John down the road? I believe that that’s easy. We just get a ridiculous number of reviews, more than he does, just to make ourselves the obvious choice. Strategically, we focus on five-star reviews, and to get, again, a silly amount of them so that people just frankly feel stupid for not calling us first, right? There’s just so much social proof that if– and we’re just giving ourselves that amazing positioning in the marketplace, then we are the obvious choice. We strategically focus on acquiring five-star reviews so that we essentially make the competition invisible and irrelevant. You could say that we strategically focus on five-star reviews so that people see us as the clear choice to transact with. It’s just that easy. Just hurry up. Take my cash.
All right, quick. Why should you listen to me about this stuff? All right. First of all, not that it matters, but I’ve lived in a bunch of places, so I’m well-traveled. I’m a husband and father of two. I’m trying to earn my world’s best dad mug every single day of my life, trying to live up to that title, and I’ve been fascinated by nature and entrepreneurship ever since I was a kid. I’ve spent the last six years studying online reputation management and specializing in what I believe to be the most important part of online reputation management, which is review acquisition, just focusing on review acquisition strategies. More reviews beats less reviews, and so that’s been my focus, and that’s what I’ll share with you guys today is what I’ve learned along the way. I’m also on a mission to plant a million trees before I clock off this rock. I want to leave the planet a bit leaner and greener for me, having shown up.
The strategy I’m going to be sharing with you guys today applies to any business, such as a local window coverings business. They used this stuff, and they generated 33K in additional annual sales now. A local optometrist increased appointments booked by 280% in 12 months, and a local law firm tripled their inbound lead volume in 180 days. The good news is this is all super simple stuff to achieve. I think sometimes we overlook solutions that seem too easy because business is complicated and growing businesses is challenging, so I think we seek out challenging solutions that are commensurate with how challenging it is to grow businesses, and so sometimes we do. We overlook stuff that’s just job debt simple.
This is what I believe, again, to be the easiest way to get a competitive advantage and grow sales that I’ve ever seen, which is why I dedicate my life to helping our clients do this exact thing. All right, this leads me to this smiling, happy chappie. This guy’s actually from Manchester, and he immigrated to Canada. He became a building inspector, and he wasn’t always this happy looking because when I met him, he was working on his own as a struggling sole proprietor. He didn’t have enough clicks, calls, or cash to grow his business, and in fact, the worst of it was that he had about six months worth of cash left before he was out of business. I couldn’t find a picture of Chris being sad, so this sad Oprah will have to do for the time being.
All right, Chris posed a good question, and it was this. He said, “How do I even start to compete, and what can I do for a low budget?” Because when we looked at Chris’s marketing, he’d blown tens of thousands of dollars on social media and paid ads. I encourage Chris just to write this off. Write off the PPC and social marketing as experiments. You can’t afford to do that right now. Strategically, I want you to focus on the cheapest, most highest ROI strategy I know of, and your most valuable online asset, your online reputation. Chris said, “All right, let’s do it,” but the bad news was his reputation was sickly and pretty much non-existent at this time. He only had one Google review when he started. In his words, he said, “I wouldn’t even call me. I wouldn’t even call me.” Of course, he said, I’d call my competitor who has the most reviews. In today’s hyper-fast world, again, we’ve got two to three seconds to influence someone. Without enough reviews, we just lost out to somebody who understands how we all shop these days. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling here or providing, coaching, print on demand, gifts, legal services, web design, heating, cooling, fitness, coaching, hairdressing. It doesn’t matter. Consumers have a lot of choice. The way that they determine who to call is usually by weighing up, comparing, and they do that by using the voice of the marketplace, which is the reviews, those little stories that tell things to the world about us. That’s the questions we asked ourselves. How do we make them choose Chris every single time when he’s in contention with a new client? How do we do this in a way that’s cheap, easy, and profitable?
I know we’re moving fast here. Let me slow down so you can soak this one in. This should be the first big takeaway. The reason why all this online reviews and reputation stuff is important is because 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses these days, 82%. That’s just a huge number. That’s a profound shift in the way that consumers seek out and choose which business to transact with, who to spend money, 82%. I can’t think of– like the only thing that’s more influential than reviews is word-of-mouth referrals. That’s it. After word-of-mouth referrals are reviews, which essentially, if you think about it, online reviews is the infrastructure for word-of-mouth referrals. It’s the digital equivalent of a word-of-mouth referral.
Sad Oprah again. Why? Because sure, having tons of five-star reviews is a goldmine. I hope I’ve established that clearly. The reason why we’re here is because if you’ve ever tried to get reviews, you’ll know just how hard it can be. Most people convert then less than 5% when they try to acquire reviews. What I’m about to share with you is a system that has our top members converting at over 40% and our average conversion rate of about 14%, which is about three times more than the industry average. With the system, we call it star loop. It’s about building a star loop. You engage your clients for a review using this framework that I’m going to share with you.
The more customers you attract means more reviews. The more reviews means you attract more customers. It’s this beautiful virtuous cycle that just repeats it over and over again. A beautiful, profitable cycle. Now there’s 2,000 reviews here on this screenshot. I know that can seem like a big number, but we do have members that have that kind of online reputation, like Chris that I showed you before. In many cases, you don’t need thousands of reviews to actually move the needle on your revenues in a lot of low volume industries, real estate, mortgages, things of that nature. A lot of the time you can get 40 reviews and that’s the difference between the calls going to somebody down the road or the calls coming your way.
Let’s get to the good part. We call it reputation control secrets. These are the three secrets to gain control of your online reputation and to exert control in the marketplace using your reputation. Because again, once you start trying to get reviews, you’ll understand that it’s harder than it looks. With these secrets, you’re going to give yourself a shortcut. The first one is the right language. Don’t ask for reviews. This is the first thing we got wrong when we got started. Yes. Let’s just ask for reviews if we need reviews. The downside is, well, the process of starting to get a review. If we ask for a review, we’re basically shooting ourselves in the foot because it’s a loaded question. Asking for a review is a loaded question.
Loaded questions kill engagement and if engagement sucks, well, then conversion is going to be atrocious. It’s a loaded question because if I ask Rhonda, “Hey, can you leave us an online review?” She knows that what we’re really asking for is a good review. This is awkward and awkwardness again is just bad for engagement and it’s bad for conversion. When we first got started, I got interviewed by Forbes for the hard work that I’d done on a special script. Because again, we figured out that asking for reviews was a really terrible way to get reviews. I spent 26 months, 26 months. That’s crazy when I think back, split testing different words and phrases and the author at Forbes wanted to interview me about my discoveries. I’m going to share that script with you right now.
Instead of awkwardly asking Rhonda for an online review, we’re going to invite Rhonda to leave us some online feedback. Write this down, because again, the script I’m sharing with you, 26 months’ worth of split testing to come up with these words. This script, this is part one, by the way, there’s a part two. Every word in this script can justify its existence. There’s no fluff and it’s a remarkably economical script from a word count perspective. For part one here, there’s two magic words. These are invite and feedback. When we extend an invitation to a human being, it has connotations of warmth and friendliness and inclusion. That’s what an invitation says. These are things that humans respond really well to. Warmth, inclusion. The word feedback. The word feedback is this nice neutral word and it’s permission-based too, which is really cool. It just says like, we’d love to know your thoughts. We’d love some input. What’s your feedback? That’s secret number one. If you want reviews, don’t ask for reviews. Instead, invite your clients to leave some online feedback. This increases engagement and gets you more reviews, which then helps you to increase your lead volume and if you’re increasing your lead volume, your revenues are on the way up.
Secret number two, excuse me. This one’s fast and easy. It’s the law of reciprocity and it’s the second part of the script. As I like to say, giving is the new getting. When we give away the right thing at the right time, it’s like magic. This is key because the next hurdle that you have to clear to get yourself an online review is the fact that all of us humans are busy, lazy people. All of us, we’re all busy, lazy people. From the time you wake up in the morning, you’re in busy mode, just taking care of your priorities. Then sometime in the evening, you switch to lazy mode because, well, it’s time to chill out. We all do that.
Put another way, everything in our hypothetical client, Rhonda’s life, is just more important than writing you an online review. To top it all off, that’s not the only problem we have to deal with. We also have to deal with competition. Last month, Rhonda may have been asked for a review from her gym, the plumber that fixed her sink, her last Airbnb stay, her recent Amazon order, her hairdresser, and the last four apps she downloaded on her phone. They all want a review out of her. If you’re at the back of the line going, “Hey, can we get a review?” Good luck.
We can see why consumers these days can easily ignore our request for a review. We call this review exhaustion. Because reviews are so profitable, every smart brand and business that’s paying attention is scrambling to get there using old, outdated techniques, which is why you’re here. You’re learning the new stuff, the good stuff. This is the full magic script now, part one and part two. Can I invite you to leave us some online feedback? Part one. Part two. A tree gets planted for every review that we get. I want to let that sink in for a bit. A tree gets planted for every review that we get. That’s how we cut through this stuff. We cut through the noise, we cut through the competition by planting a tree. This is called invoking the law of reciprocity.
It’s a simple but powerful concept. The idea that if we venture to do something nice, like plant a tree, Rhonda’s far more likely to do something nice for us, like write an online review. I know this might sound idealistic on the surface, but as it turns out, tree planting is good for the planet and it’s really good for business too. It’s so remarkable. It makes you stand out from the pack, and it significantly increases your chance of getting a review. That’s secret number two. Don’t bribe people, use something beautiful, like tree planting, to get more reviews so that you can attract more clients.
Last secret, easy one. Getting reviews can be tedious. If we say the right thing at the right time, then we’re going to get better results. A lot of people ask me, “What’s the best time to engage someone for an online review?” The answer to this is that the best time to get a review is different for every single day of the year which sends out over a million emails and texts. It’s a huge data set. It’s fascinating to see when people write reviews and when they don’t. If you ask me, when’s the best time to get a review? My answer is honestly, I don’t know. I let the algorithm figure that stuff out, because you can’t know. Again, every single day of the year is different. Today is a Tuesday in February. The best time to leave a review today is going to be different than a Tuesday in July, because this is what we know. We have to avoid what we call red zones and target green zones. Red zone is Rhonda’s not leaving you a review, it’s just a really bad time to engage her. Again, she’s going to be in that busy mode, taking care of her own priorities. You’re not getting a review during a red zone. Green zone doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to get a review, but it does guarantee that the likelihood of getting a review goes up significantly just by avoiding that red zone and targeting the green zone. This is what it might look like on a day-to-day basis.
Now, even though I don’t know specifically the exact time, what time is a good time, the best time to get a review, because again, Tuesday in February is different than a Tuesday in July, and it’s the same for every day of the year, right? It’s just different. The red and green zones ebb and flow. What I do know is this, that generally speaking, you want to avoid early in the morning, especially on a work day. Typically Mondays are not great. People are really focused on starting their week, their priorities, and too late as well is no good. Hope that helps.
That’s it. That’s the three secrets to taking control of your online reputation. Ask correctly, using that nice natural language, that script that I shared with you. Motivate people ethically. Try to invoke the law of reciprocity where you can. It’s just such a beautiful, powerful force. Then engage and remind people automatically during those green zones. Avoid the red zones and you’ll get maximum results.
Using these results, Chris and others made their businesses so attractive that people just, again, they feel stupid not choosing them. If you google Odds on Home Inspection Services, you’ll be able to see where Chris is at today. I can’t keep up with him. He just keeps getting more and more reviews. These reviews were just easy to get for him and they were highly profitable. Gave him market leader positioning, gave him higher search rankings, like just think of 2,000 tiny little stories. That’s what reviews are, right? Tiny little stories.
In each one of those little stories, the clients don’t know this, but they’re using like money keywords for Chris. They can’t help themselves. He’s a home inspector. They might say something like, had a great home inspection. My home inspector was right on time. This is a really reliable home inspection company. They’re using these keywords, which is really great for SEO.
Five reviews. Is that a lot of search engines ranking signals? No. 2,000 reviews? Yes. That’s a lot of signals. Plus, it’s on Google’s very own properties. They give it authority. Something to consider anyways. Chris, higher search rankings, more leads, more clients, more sales. Very important. Protection in a down economy when COVID rolled around. Guess who barely felt it. He was the market leader. When there was less clients to go around, he was still accruing the lion’s share of the clients. Being the market leader basically gives you consistent demand and growth, no matter what the silly economy is doing, no matter what the world events are.
It’s hard for me to describe these advantages sometimes and not have it all sound like hype. I don’t know. It’s just such a beautiful thing. On this note, I’m going to go off script a little bit. The other benefit for Chris is that with all this verifiable goodwill in the community, he can hire and attract better staff. As a business owner, at some point when he exits, it makes his business worth more, easier to vet, and probably easier to sell as well, compared to say, if he was sitting on a, I don’t know, a 3.0 with seven reviews. There’s just so many intangible benefits, I guess you could say, to having a really strong online reputation. Cliché, but it is a rising tide that floats all boats.
Word-of-mouth referral. Oh, hey, you should check out Chris if you need that home inspection. All right. What’s his name? Chris. Odds on Home Inspection Services. Okay, cool. A word-of-mouth referral, a person’s not going to hand you a business card. They’re just going to tell you who to search for, and that search is going to be a Google search, which leads to the online reviews and reputation, which leads to you getting another client. Anyways, I’m going a bit off-tangent here. Let’s get back on track. I love this quote from Adriana Stan over at W Magazine. “If you’re not working to demonstrate trust, then the future might be about to leave you behind. Trust has become the most valued currency of modern time, and the way that any local business these days establishes trust. Yes. Online reviews. Okay. Compared to social media and PPC, your online reputation is, it’s low cost. It’s easy to do this stuff, plus it’s easy to execute. Ever try to put a dollar into a PPC campaign and get more than a dollar hour? My hat’s off to you if you have, it’s hard. This is easy. This is like a kid could do this.
Your online reviews are visible forever too. The PPC, when you turn off the budget, oof, your ads evaporate. No more visibility, but your online reviews, visible forever 24/7. This makes it really high IOI because the Google my business profile is free. Then it’s just your time and money getting the reviews, which from a budget perspective, is going to be significantly lower than any other digital marketing strategy. Lastly, the reviews are something customers care about. Do they really care about your Instagram, your Facebook page, your website? Kind of somewhat. Do they care about your reviews? Yes, a lot. It’s way more influential.
Everywhere, everybody’s in their own lane, and I get that. I’m super biased, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I strongly recommend that for most of us, if you own a business or if you’re a marketer and you’re helping local business, don’t put this off till later. This is a long-term strategy. We call it getting rich slow, like a total. The benefits really accrue to you by just being consistent. Again, it’s not difficult when you know how, and a lot of times you can just automate this 100%.
It takes time, months, years to build a money-making reputation. Those 2,000-plus reviews that I showed you with Chris, that took him five-plus years. The sooner you start, the better off you’ll be. It’d be sad to wake up years from now and just realize like, yes, you’re still at square one. I encourage everybody, just get going now. Put a system in place, automate it, and let the benefits start coming your way. More reviews beats less reviews every single time. Thanks. That’s it.
Interviewer: Oh, that’s it. Well, that’s brilliant. I’m sorry. I was waiting for the screen to disappear. That’s brilliant. We’ve got a bunch of open questions in the Q&A.
Interviewer: I’ve got a couple of questions myself actually. If you want to kill your share screen, just so I can see your lovely face. I remember when I worked in an agency before, people that ran PPC ads saying how important the review side of things. Does that get pulled through from your reviews or do you manually have to add that into an ad? I don’t know whether you know the answer to that.
Danno: Could you phrase that question in a different way, please?
Interviewer: When you are running a PPC ad, that’s coming up at the top of Google, sometimes you can see the reviews built into the advert itself. It might have like five stars, and that was always a thing that was quite eye-catching, I thought in adverts. Does that pull that data from your Google reviews?
Danno: Those reviews are not pulled from your Google My Business profile. I think those reviews are pulled from whatever Google’s payment platform that allows you to transact on their platform. I think it’s something different and separate.
Interviewer: Cool. Okay. Well, that answers that one. I noticed a lot of people were talking about Trustpilot, which is obviously another review side of things. Am I right in thinking that you would, obviously your preference is Google, presumably you get more of an SEO benefit when you are using Google reviews versus Trustpilot?
Danno: I would imagine so, and I’m just guessing because Google basically weighs things based on authority and then Google’s very own platform is probably, it’s going to give itself more authority than Trustpilot. It’s not to say that Trustpilot reviews don’t matter. I think they’re interesting for certain types of businesses. Probably the most interesting would be for like E-commerce businesses to show a bit of Trustpilot activity. Ultimately, I think that when you think about getting reviews on any platform, it’s almost like we benefit from the authority and the brand awareness of the platform that we have those reviews on. For me, again, I’m biased, but I do believe that probably Google reviews generally for most businesses have the most strategic value and have more ability to make the phone ring and grow sales just because there’s so much familiarity with Google. It’s a verb, that’s how powerful that brand is. It’s a verb now, but also too, it’s the first port of call for when people are searching for stuff for most of us. I know there’s Bing, I know there’s Yahoo, but like, come on, most of us are still using Google. The weight of the Google reviews, I think have far more strategic relevance and far more ability to deliver ROI than the reviews anywhere else, generally speaking.
Interviewer: One of the things that I noticed was a common thing in the chat. To give context, I don’t think that many people know necessarily that much about Starloop and the process of the tree planting. I don’t know whether some people thought that maybe they had to go out and plant the trees. It was like, how does the whole process work? If you’ve got a big spade and some big forearms, what’s the deal with Starloop? How does it work?
Danno: With Starloop, our value proposition is one tree planted per review. This isn’t a way to apply some ethical pressure on folks. It’s like an ethical forcing function is what I like to describe it. No, I’m not turning up with a shovel and a sapling and ready to plant the tree in somebody’s front yard. The way that we do it is at the end of every month, we tally up all the reviews that we’ve gotten for our members and then we provide financial support to our reforestation partners. These are NGOs whose mission it is to put as many trees in the ground.
Danno: Yes, we support them to fulfill on the plant a tree promise.
Interviewer: Yes. That sounds really cool. Okay. I’m going to go to the community because we’ve got 15 open questions here with Chloe. She says, “What other things could we incentivize/encourage people to leave a review? Not sure our candidates or clients, the type of people who would respond to the tree being planted, can it be classed as bribery as well?” Which I thought was an interesting one. I think certain industries are a lot more switched onto the bribery apps than others.
Danno: Let me talk about the bribery thing first. I feel like, the bribe or the direct incentive, and there’s laws around this in the US by the way, like consumer protection laws that are laid out by the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission. The way that they think about it is reviews cannot be– you can’t pay for reviews, and you can’t directly incentivize somebody for a review. You can’t give them 50% off their next visit. You can’t give them a freebie. You can’t give them money. The way that we operate in an ethical way, I believe is one, we’re planting a tree. Nothing’s going into somebody’s pocket directly in order for that review to show up, and also the way that we phrase it is that we’re planting a tree for every review that our member gets. We’re not planting a tree because the customer is leaving a review.
That’s a subtle shift in the language, but an important one so that the incentive is for our members who are local businesses, most of all, or marketing agencies, we’re planting a tree for every review that they get. That gives us the, I believe, the arm’s length from the whole bribery thing. As far as the type of incentive to use, I think that’s a really great question. We’ve found universally that trees just work in pretty much every single industry. Sometimes there’s more alignment because we’re helping somebody in landscaping or in health and wellness, like a day spa, yoga studio, that kind of thing.
The idea of a tree being planted, just there’s alignment with those kinds of industries. Then like the home inspector that I show you, Chris, at Odds on Home Inspection Services, like there’s no– I can’t even find a thin connection to planting a tree for a home inspector or a law office. We have a law office, a thousand-plus reviews. Maybe the thinnest connection for the law office is that they use a lot of paper. I don’t know. The tree planting offsets the paper that they use as lawyers. Then veterinarians and float centers, and it just seems like the tree planting is a universally well-received incentive. I don’t think it’s the only one. I’ve heard of like a local lawyer donating bikes to a local orphanage. I thought that was cool. I’ve heard of a mortgage company that donates meals to their local soup kitchen. Yes, it’s just really, I think, about exploring and finding something that has one, either alignment personally with the business or the people who run the business, and then just seeing if that has any resonance in helping you to accomplish whatever goal you’re trying to accomplish. In the case of review acquisition, again, we’ve just found that tree planting is universally just this, yes, so effective.
Interviewer: Yes, I don’t think there’s many people out there that don’t think that having more trees in the world would be a bad thing. I really like it. It’s quite a simple thing to understand as well. There’s not too many questions to ask around planting a tree, whereas maybe donating a bike is like, well, what kind of bikes and who are they going to? It’s a bit more complex, isn’t it? Cool, okay. We’ve got a question from Paul, who says, as a lending provider, our issue is that the only customers who leave reviews, specifically for him, it’s on Trustpilot, are those who have been turned down for a loan, which has dragged our ratings down. It was one of the things that I’ve made a note of in terms of bad reviews. You quite often, I guess when people have a bad experience, there’s an incentive to go and vent some anger. How do you go about improving your overall score? Is it just getting more? Is it doing a better job? I don’t know. I understand with a lender, that’s a tough one.
Danno: Yes, that’s an interesting one. Look, if we wind the clock back, people used to do what’s called gating. They used to basically segment by sentiment. Hey, how was your experience with our business? Thumbs up, thumbs down. Thumbs down would be sent to a private feedback form. Hey, I’m sorry, your expectations were met. We strive for 100% customer satisfaction. Please let us know how we can do better next time or how we’ve let you down. Somebody who hits thumbs up, okay, cool, they’ve indicated as being satisfied. They’re likely going to leave a positive review at that point, send them over to Google or Trustpilot or whatnot.
That used to be an acceptable practice. It isn’t anymore. We’ve like, every great and ethical reputation management platform, we don’t have that functionality. Please be aware of any platform that does because it’s against the terms of service for practically every major site out there, including Google. Regarding what can you do about negative reviews? I’d say there’s a few things. This is a really fascinating subject to me. One is if the negative feedback that’s being provided is thoughtful, then that’s giving insight into where the operations can be improved. I think the negative feedback is actually a really– it’s a goldmine.
I’ve watched a ridiculous number of interviews of billionaires and not because I want to be one myself, I’d have zero interest in the strings that come attached with that kind of wealth. I do love seeing the thought process of people like Bezos and Musk, Jobs, Gates, you name it. Because to get into that club, you have to have a very special kind of mindset. One of the things that these guys say over and over and over again, particularly Musk, is solicit negative feedback, solicit critical feedback. That voice from your customers telling you what they don’t like is basically telling you how to improve the thing that you have so that you can sell more of it.
They go out of their way to get it. If you’re getting it naturally, consider that as like gold potentially. If the theme is, if you’re getting negative reviews and the same thing keeps coming up, well, ignore that at your peril. That’s number one. Secondly is when you have a good strategy for review acquisition in place, what tends to happen is this, your negative reviews are still coming in because that’s just life, it’s going to happen. Now you’ve got a system in place that’s helping you get more and more five-star reviews than ever before. Now your ratio of negative to positive is exactly where it needs to be. When you think about any kind of transaction that you’ve made in the past, I’ll say buying something on Amazon, that’s a great example. Most people can relate to this. You’ve probably never bought something on Amazon that has a perfect five-star rate. You just boughtsomething that had a healthy ratio of positive to negative, it gave you enough confidence, add to cart, transact, good to go. It’s the same for any brand business on the planet. Just get a system in place where you’re overwhelmingly getting those five-star reviews and then keep an eye on the negative ones to see if there’s any value for improving operation.
Interviewer: You’re bang on because I know even if I’m buying some clothing and there’s no negative reviews, I’m like, “Well, not enough people have bought it then.” There’s always some weirdo that puts some strange thing in there that you go, “Oh, okay, well, these are real,” whereas I almost feel like if everything is perfect and five star and there’s 100 of them, it’s like, “Hmm, is this–
Danno: That’s suspicious, isn’t it?
Interviewer: It is suspicious in itself, isn’t it? To tie into the negativity thing that’s been asked, somebody’s asked about spam reviews. Is that a problem on Google and are there ways of tackling that?
Danno: Yes. If you mean fake reviews, yes, definitely. Again, because the reviews are so valuable, there’s a black market that sprung up for vendors that are typically offshore that are happy to sell reviews. They’re offshore because, well, they can be, and most of all, they’re selling reviews into countries like the US where they’re not beholden to the laws of the Federal Trade Commission.
I believe there was a proposal that was floated by the FTC. I don’t know if it passed, but they’re basically looking at fake reviews as a consumer protection issue. The thing they put forward was heavy fines, like $48,000 fine per fake review for any business caught with them.
Interviewer: From the stuff that I’ve read, basically, we can estimate that anywhere in between 10% to 20% of the reviews on any given platform are going to be fake. It’s something that all these platforms are very aware of and that they’re doing their best to deal with. That does mean that sometimes some of our members at Starloop are having their real reviews being removed, deleted, filtered, or whatnot because they just get caught in the crossfire when Google’s trying to algorithmically deal with 30 million small businesses just in the US alone. They can’t manually edit this stuff at all. It has to be done algorithmically. Overall, we get enough of them to go through, and they get to build their reputations very strong.
Interviewer: That’s interesting. We quite often get questions whenever we have a guest of B2C and B2B, business-to-business and business-to-customers. Simon’s talking about whether Google is the best for B2B reviews. Which review platform should we be using? Obviously, Starloop, Simon. We’ve got the main man here, but do you see a big difference? Do you get a lot of B2B marketing agencies selling to businesses or is it mainly people who are buying products and services directly to consumers?
Danno: Yes. For us at Starloop, out of our hundreds and hundreds of members, we don’t have any one specific industry that’s showing up really strong, but you can imagine like Main Street USA or High Street UK is really the cross-section of our members. Everything from contractors like HVAC, electrical, plumbing, anything medical from dermatology, optometrists, GPs, veterinarians, anything services-based like mortgages, lending, real estate, you name it.
B2B is less for us. I think that if you think about it though, I’ve only ever come across a handful of exceptions where reviews just really wouldn’t move the needle for somebody’s lead volume. I don’t know what B2B space he is in, but again, generally speaking, more reviews beats less reviews, and it’s pretty rare to be in a situation where the reviews wouldn’t accrue benefits to the business.
Interviewer: Well, I’m thinking even for ourselves, we are not selling to the community, but it would be great for us to have more reviews because if people search for us, A, there’s the SEO benefit, but B, people say, “Oh, the webinars are great, and the in-person meetups are wonderful.” You go, “Oh, it’s almost like a brand play as much as it is an acquisition thing.”
Danno: Absolutely. In a way, I love that you put it that way because I think for certain types of businesses, and especially for local businesses, their reputation is their brand.
Interviewer: Yes, super interesting. I’m going back to the negative reviews thing again. Let’s say we have a disgruntled customer. This is a question from Kirstie, who talks about the most effective strategies they’ve found to respond to negative reviews. I’ve had this with clients before where they’ve had like a standard reply on social media to a negative comment, and they’ve just tried to take it offline. Are there any sort of set rules or language or strategies or anything that you could advise for those who maybe get a negative review?
Danno: Yes, for sure. I think the first thing that I’d suggest is never let a negative review or any review go unreplied. You want to be responding and doing personalized replies to those reviews. That’s actually the latest feature that we rolled out at Starloop is AI-generated replies to help people come up with personalized replies at speed. If you get a bad review though, don’t let it go unresponded. You need to show that you’re on deck, so to speak. Easiest thing to do, the no brainer, is have that canned reply. Sorry, you didn’t have a great experience. We care so much about our clients. Please contact Susie at phone number to resolve this. Okay, that’s like the lowest bar.
I believe though that the value of replying to a negative review is equally to hopefully help turn around the negative review to the person who left it. If you can turn the frown upside down, great, but sometimes it’s too far gone. You won’t be able to do that. The next thing that’s as equally valuable about responding to the negative review is to basically show the people who are now on your Google My Business profile or wherever they are reading these negative reviews of how you respond to the reviews. Say for example, there’s a local business. They’re getting positive reviews, so they’re getting busier and busier, but now the car park’s filling up and clients who have appointments turn up and there’s no place to park. They got to go park three blocks down the road.
Now these two and three-star reviews are coming in, great business, but you’ve always got to go park way down. I had my kid with a stroller, it was hot. I had to like wiggle and bounce my way down three sweaty blocks just to get to the place. The great response would be, first of all, the people taking a note of where can we improve the operations? We need more parking. The florist shop next door doesn’t need all the spaces they’ve got. We’re going to do a deal with them and free up some of their parking for us. Cool, we’ve got that solution in place now. Dear, client, who left the bad review about parking and having to walk three blocks, thank you so much for your feedback. We’re sorry you had to walk all that distance. Just so you know, we’ve now got more parking spaces available because we did a thing with florists. We hope we’ll see you next time.
That’s really valuable for the person who’s, again, creeping the negative reviews to find out like, “Why are people hating on this business? Then they’re like, “Oh, it was just a parking thing and they fixed it. Cool, good to go.” I’m going to make that a point.
Interviewer: Yes, I love that. Yes, it’s really smart. We’ve got a question here from Ellis. She says, “I work in B2B services. We have good testimonials from past and current clients. These are public apart from on our website. How do you recommend encouraging people to leave public reviews if they’ve already given us private testimonials? Is that a language thing again, or is that a?
Danno: Yes, just let a little time go by and then re-engage them, using some of the stuff that you’ve learned here.
Interviewer: It’s inviting and feedback, which I need to say at the end of this webinar as well, we invite everybody on this webinar to give the marketing meetups and feedback.
Danno: To give some online feedback and then yes, link them to your GMB. That’s the only–
Interviewer: I forgot the QR code.
Danno: That’s all right, we’ll follow up. Basically, we live in a world where getting one action out of a client post-transaction is a win. Quite often I speak to companies and managers and owners who are basically saying like, “Yes, we have a client satisfaction survey in place and that’s giving us some operational insights. How does your system work? Can we get reviews as well?” Basically, the conversation has to go something like this. Getting one action is a win. Getting two is practically impossible. Now you got to go decide, do you want the survey filled out or do you want the testimonial, the private testimonial going on your site? Which is quite frankly, that’s a little bit 2005. You want the testimonial to show up on a site like Google as an online review. Online reviews are basically the testimonial of our age. If you think about it, they just have so much more weight and authority and credibility when it’s not on our own site because people know that the stuff on our own site, we’ve curated, we’re just putting our best foot forward. Whereas the stuff on a public site like Google, it’s the voice of the marketplace. I hope that helps.
Interviewer: An ethical question then to go, and I don’t know what the answer is to this. This is me trying to hack my way into getting a review online. If somebody had given me, I’m a marketing agency, they’ve given me a great review, and I’m asking them again to go onto Google. Would it be wrong to say, “Look, can you cut and paste this review into Google?” Or am I treading a bit of a fine line there? I’m trying to think of like reducing the friction.
Danno: Yes, I guess you could suggest that again, to just try to lower in their mind the whole work factor, like, ah, work. Trying to make it sound as easy as possible. Really, I think again, if you’ve already engaged somebody for something, a survey, a testimonial, whatnot, just let a quarter or two blow by and then reengage that person or the ever-valuable Google review.
Interviewer: In fact, the next question is exactly the same, but from LinkedIn to Google. Somebody has obviously got a load of reviews on LinkedIn and there’s no way, I guess, of moving them across. It’s a case of just [crosstalk]
Interviewer: Okay. That’s cool. Kirstie says that they lost a load of reviews when they changed office address. Interestingly, we’re literally in the process of doing the same thing at the moment. How do you retrieve them? I did contact Google Business, but I have a generic response, which didn’t resolve the issue. Have you come across that one before?
Danno: No, I haven’t heard of that. I have heard when people cross borders, you have to leave your Google My Business behind. If you basically you’re incorporated in one country, and then you’re like, “Oh, you know what? We’re actually going to be a French company and not a British company,” at that point, Google’s not going to let you transfer your GMB from across nation borders. I haven’t heard of Google filtering or removing reviews when there’s been an address change, like in the same city or in the same country. That’s new to me. If she wants to reach out, I can ask our team and see if they know anything about that. It’s email@example.com. D-A-N-N-O@starloop.com.
Interviewer: Somebody’s put here, “Interested to get your thoughts on Glassdoor. It can be a harsh but helpful source for new talent. Would your outreach strategy also potentially work for current employee engagement to help recruit the right new team members?”
Danno: If I understand the question, like it would, what I chatted about today help with getting glass door reviews? I think so. Again, the whole premise around the philosophy and the framework is to really be industry and platform-agnostic. We weren’t trying to create something that is specific just for Google reviews. It just happens to be the strategic focus for the kinds of businesses that we apply. The psychology, the philosophy, the underpinnings of the entire framework really, I believe, will work for you to get reviews on any platform. Tripadvisor, Glassdoor, Trustpilot, Yelp, you name it.
Interviewer: More reviews are better than less reviews. [laughs]
Danno: Yes. More reviews beats less reviews. That’s right. Using good natural language and incentivizing people with tree planting or some other law of reciprocity item and then hitting them at the right time again, you’ll just get more reviews on whatever platform it is that you’re trying to get them on.
Interviewer: Talking of real natural language, there’s a good question here from Raymond saying, “We’ve noticed, we’ve been getting a few reviews that people are getting AI to write. There’s an AI question in every webinar these days-
Interviewer: -and it lends itself to you to being lazy. Do you think the sites will penalize this in the future because they aren’t authentic? Do you think they’ll be able to pick that up?
Danno: Yes. That’s a good question. My gut feeling is that they might be– Let me put it this way, it seems like on all these big giant platforms and brands that we know of, they’re wanting for AI-generated content to be flagged as such. I think that as human beings, we’re enamored with what AI can do, but we’re also a little bit disillusioned in some regards if we figure out that the thing that we’re doing, that we’re assuming is AI-generated and part of alleviating our disillusionment is if there’s a disclosure there. If we’re like, “Oh.” If you come into an experience and you’re like, “Oh, this is an AI thing.” Then you’ll be a bit more, I guess, forgiving or whatever other expectations that you might have had will be laid to rest at ease because of the disclosure.
All that to say that I do think that for the time being, we’re really staying focused on getting reviews onto Google that are generated by humans. On the reply side, we’re okay with that because again, we’re trying to provide a tool that is for people that are trying to save time in their businesses. The way that we generate those AI replies is not like generate an AI reply and publish it, it’s not about that. It’s just like the AI generates a starting point for you that you can then edit so that you’re curating what the AI is saying and you’re modifying it to your own voice and to your own satisfaction before you publish it over to Google. I hope that answers the question.
Interviewer: I think it does. I think it’s going to be an interesting world when we’re getting AI to do more and more things for us. Talking has been deficiency, there’s one final question that caught my eye.
Interviewer: In terms of, you’ve got lots of different businesses, but quite often people are on the go, on the move. In order to get people to, and this particular person has said, “What’s the best way to receive reviews when your customers are on the go? I work in a racking and storage company, and it’s been hard getting reviews from the process. I guess, like mobile is key, is it something that you can send out via WhatsApp, or is it always done via email? Have you found that industries like this that are maybe a bit more mobile are harder to get reviews from?”
Danno: Essentially, we think about it from the perspective of all of us human beings being busy, lazy people, and trying to engage somebody when they’re busy, they’re going to be like, “What? I’m not writing your review. I’m busy right now.” Or when they’re lazy mode, like, “Leave me alone, I’m trying to relax.” There’s never a great time to engage a human being for a review if you think about it. They’re either busy doing something or busy being lazy.
In the context of that kind of business, what I would say is that it’s the same approach that we use for any business. Say the right thing at the right time with an ethical motivator and then lean into a piece of software that knows when to re-engage and send reminders. Then use a piece of software that gives you the option too to engage by email and/or SMS and just see what works better for you. I can tell you that overwhelmingly, the most requested feature that we had at Starloop was, “Hey, can you let us send invites by SMS?”
“Yes, sure. We can build that. It’s a mobile first world. That makes perfect sense.” Get busy. We develop it. “All right, guys, go for it. You can send out review requests by SMS now.” They start sending them out. It was like [unintelligible 01:26:38]
Interviewer: Oh, really?
Danno: Yes. Here’s what I think is going on. This was fascinating to me as a reputation node because I would have bet the farm, yes, mobile first world, SMS is going to outperform email, but here’s the thing, SMS, if I send you an SMS, I’m disturbing you. I’m making your phone blink and flash at you and you’re either busy doing something or you’re busy doing nothing so I’m interrupting you in both of those cases. If you think about the dynamic of trying to get a review, you’re trying to hit somebody in an opportune moment where they have this convenience, where they can now take the next step to leave a review. If I’m starting off that process by disturbing you, my chance of getting a review, I think goes down. Now think about the dynamic of getting an email. We all check our email, usually, when we have a moment that’s convenient for us to check our email. That moment of convenience is exactly what we want and need for somebody to take that next step. Typically speaking, what we see not always this is I am speaking in general terms. There are some businesses where SMS is preferential but it’s definitely in the minority. Email is still about converting SMS on our platform. Forget it for a review acquisition.
Interviewer: I’m now being disturbed by a Labrador that’s come in to tell me that the webinar should be coming to an end now, and she wants to [unintelligible 01:28:01] walk. That’s been so, so interesting and super useful. People can connect with you, presumably on LinkedIn if they look you up. I know you said you want to set up your LinkedIn game, so hopefully you’ve got the requests there. We’ve got four more webinars lined up.
Next week we’ve got Dr. Grace Kite, founder of Magic Numbers, and Tom Roach, VP of Brand Strategy at Jellyfish. They’re going to be talking about nerdy marketing effectiveness. Then the weeks after that, we’ve got Sir John Hegarty, Chief Product Officer at Tony’s Chocolonely, CCO of Man United, and David McQueen, the author of Brave Leader. We’ve got some incredible people coming up too, to follow on from Danno and you can sign up for those on our website today. It just leaves me to say thank you so much. I find that super interesting. Hopefully, there’s going to be a bunch of people who’ve been on today who are going to get on to Starloop or get hassling their customers with the right language.
Danno: Awesome. I hope everybody enjoyed it and got some great takeaways that can help them accomplish whatever growth goals they have for themselves or their clients in this coming year.
Interviewer: Thanks, Danno. That’s amazing. Thank you everybody for joining. We’ll see you next week.
Danno: Cheers everybody.
Interviewer: Take care. Bye.
[01:29:27] [END OF AUDIO]