Seven Stellar Tips to get Five-Star Reviews

Arguably, all marketing is based on human behavioural psychology; even digital marketing.  If you take this view – and here at Pull Digital we certainly do – then there is no reason to believe that it can’t be applied to managing store, supplier or product reviews too.

So don’t leave your reviews – like any of the rest of your digital or content marketing – to chance. What are our credentials in this arena?  Well we have helped a US client achieve and sustain a ‘most loved’ rating for a US ecommerce client and move a UK insurer from 1 one-star rating to a 4.3 star rating in 12 months.

Review Centre - Average Stars

Helping clients optimise their review process has been a very rewarding process for us.  At first, we were a bit nervous – is there going to be a sort of white hat/black hat thing to the art of review optimisation as there supposed to be with SEO?  In fact our experience is that review optimisation is a classic virtuous circle: The more good ones you get, the more they beget.  The more good reviews you get, the better your customer service gets and the more you deserve those good reviews. 

Just as with web content, in the end you can’t fake it.  The obvious pre-condition for a good review is a good service.  Just as all SEO should start with quality content, review optimisation should start only once you know you’ve got a good product or good service.

So what impels people to give good, bad or indifferent reviews?  This is what we have found over five years or so of monitoring and managing client’s reviews and the motivations behind them.

1. The Frustrated Flamer. Complete and utter frustration that they can’t get a useful response or remedy from a supplier.  Most likely the online supplier doesn’t have a fast response mechanism for dealing with queries or complaints.  If you don’t have a good mechanism for responding to customers, they will – often as a last resort – take their frustration public, and flame you as loudly (and in your opinion) as unreasonably and unfairly as they can.  They will seek out a review site and give you 1 star and as much abuse as they can.  If they are really clever they will post the same diatribe on as many forums as they can too.  We have even seen people optimise their forum posts for search on the basis that they know how to make their review appear for a brand search on Google Hell hath no fury like a miserable, motivated, flaming troll.  Lesson one? Divert positive comments towards your reviews and catch disgruntled customers and remedy their gripes before they flame you online.

2. Purchasing things is an emotive process, it has its ups, it has its downs. Best get people on an up. Much as grief is supposed to have 5 stages dominated by different emotions, so we believe does purchasing: As a straw-man, how about: – Research, abandonment (to the urge to buy), euphoria, indifference, remorse.  When do you think is the best moment to ask people for a review?  As an online retailer, you have quite a few opportunities to ask for a review: at the order confirmation, when providing a receipt, shipping confirmation, six months later etc.  Think about it though, and when are people most likely to provide a positive review.  Somewhere between abandoning any scruples about making their purchase we would say, and reaching euphoria that it’s on its way.  So how about soliciting a review when you tell them when their order is on its way?  You don’t sell a physical product?  We worked on the review process for a car insurer.  Now you might think that you are unlikely ever to get to ‘euphoria’ knowing that your insurance was on its way.  But what is the key driver of motor insurance sales? Price.  How do you feel about an insurance company that might have just saved you a thousand pounds? (it does happen) – When might be the best time to ask for a review. . ?  Just after your new policyholder found out how much money you could save them.

3. Want good reviews? Get your happy customers to review you. This might sound obvious, but how many good reviews are ‘wasted’ because they are the proverbial rose blooming in a desert?  Most large organisations that are easy (or preferably surprisingly easy) to deal with, get a steady stream of unsolicited thank you notes and other notes of appreciation. Many don’t know what to do with them.  Some at least reply, others don’t even do that.  But how about asking the writer to kindly post their comments on a review site?  Thanks them profusely and make it easy for them to post the review by providing a link to the place where you put most of your effort to optimise your reviews.

4. People need an incentive.  Would you write a review? Why would you? It is endearing to see how many people will create and send or post positive unsolicited reviews.  However, most people probably need an incentive.  So why not provide one?  (And by the way – we are not advocating providing rewards for positive reviews – that’s not white hat, and likely to get you into a lot of trouble).  But give people a freebie in return for their review – any review.  And what do you think people’s reaction is likely to be? Say you are a die-hard brand-fan and actually read a supplier’s every email campaign. And in one of the newsletters is an offer for a discount on your next order if you provide a review.  Let’s just imagine that you are only neutral about that brand.  Are you likely to write a positive or a negative review? And – most likely, the retailer will get another order from the reviewer – win-win! But watch the scale of the reward.  Don’t reward people at all and provide a great service and you will get a pitiable number of rave reviews high on detailed reasons for praise.  Offer too much of a reward and you will provoke ‘cupboard love’ – a large number of glib ‘I bought this, it turned up’ 3-4 star reviews – which isn’t exactly the objective either.

5. People follow the crowd.  What’s the first thing that people do before writing their review?  See what other people wrote.  A little pissed off with the supplier and see this: ‘Don’t go near these crooks’.  Might just reduce your 2-star rating to one?  Think that your experience was great except for one little thing?  But see that no-one else had the same little gripe?  You will probably treat your experience as the exception.  Good reviews beget good ones, bad reviews beget more bad ones.
6. People forgive and forget. When you get flamed, if you care about your business you will care.  But don’t fight back – it might not feel like it, but time is on your side.  Firstly, make contact if you can directly and discreetly.  Do everything you can and that you should to address the issues dispassionately and objectively.  Take a bit of pain – even a bit of abuse.  And remember this – if you go even half-way to addressing your negative reviewer’s issues, let the dust die down and contact them again.  Ask them very politely if they would consider re-appraising the opinion they expressed in their review.  In our experience in seventy five per cent of cases, people will at least dilute the vitriol and add one extra star to their review.  We have even seen cases where the aggrieved party has been so relieved to find a human to communicate with that they have completely reversed their review opinion.

7. Bad Reviews: Crowdsourcing works in a fight too. You can’t win them all.  Sometimes people will have a bad experience, and some people will invent a bad experience (we’ve seen everything. There is a small percentage of shoppers –like people! – who are just plain malicious, and will shamelessly exaggerate and even lie through their teeth in a review – it’s part of online life’s rich pageant).  Every now and then you will get one.  People will read these and make their minds up based on what the majority say.   And in fact your big brand fans will likely create such a hue and cry about the unreasonable review that you will end up feeling sorry for the reviewer.  If you provide a good and genuine service and get unreasonably flamed, your best defence will not come from you – it will come from your fans.  Besides would you trust a store that never, ever seemed to get a bad review?  The odd bad reviews show you’re human.  Would you be happy looking at one thousand five-star reviews without a word of dissent?  Would look quite fishy.  Should you never respond directly to a bad review?  Yes, but only in our experience after:

a. You have done everything you can to research and address the reviewer’s issues
b. You have contacted the reviewer directly, and if you can offered to remedy things
c. Having done a. and b. above, you have politely asked the reviewer if they will re-visit their review
d. They maintain a confusing or inaccurate position in regard to their review

In the event that a bad review sticks but is accurate – apologise to the customer, eat some humble pie, and respond to the review to tell people what was done to remedy the situation.

In the event that items a. – c. above have been covered but condition d. persists, state ‘your side of the story’ – only don’t make it look like ‘your side of the story’. State the facts as you see them, and provide facts to refute anything that needs refuting, and leave it at that.  You have a right to defend yourself, but don’t look hurt, angry or vindictive.  You should sound informed and concerned.

And one more thing – concentrate your review optimisation efforts.  Select a review site to monitor and point people at to leave reviews.  Remember, Google only picks up reviews form a small set number of review sites.  These include ResllerRatings in the US and in the UK.  These appear to be leaders in the reviews market so we recommend our clients focus on these.  ResllerRatings puts reviews into a 48 hour ‘quarantine’ to give you time to deal with issues raised offline and ‘save the review for a pretty reasonable monthly fee which we think is a good value add that offers a benefit to both reviewer and reviewed without distorting reviews.

Want more good reviews?  Call us now on 01483 and talk to us.


Last one to utilize this is a rotten egg!
08/04/2013 15:00:41

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