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Marketing for Reviews

Dustin Brackett
March 31, 2020

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In 2019 our team ventured into the world of podcasting and started the Gettin' Buzz'd video podcast. Hosted by our CEO and Founder, Dustin Brackett, and Business Development Manager, Michael Thebeau, the Gettin' Buzz'd podcast is all about pulling back the curtain on important marketing and sales tactics and topics with the goal of sharing some of our expertise and helping our listeners/viewers with actionable tips that they can implement right away.
Check out our fourth episode on marketing for reviews. Transcription of the episode is available below. Be sure to follow our Gettin' Buzz'd YouTube channel too!


Dustin: 00:10 Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Gettin' Buzz'd. I'm Dustin, CEO and Founder of HIVE Digital Strategy and with me, as always, is my co-host Michael. He's our Business Development Manager. And our guest today is Zach Lemmer. Zach is an Account Manager at HIVE Digital Strategy. 

Zach: 00:32 Thank you guys for having me on the show. As a subscriber to the YouTube channel, I'm very excited to be Gettin' Buzz'd. 

Dustin: 00:39 Oh, so you already know what this is? 

Zach: 00:41 Yeah, I might've seen a couple of them. 

Dustin: 00:43 So when we invited you, you were like, "I get to drink at work?"

Zach: 00:45 You guys happened to pick one of the better IPA's in my opinion. The Juicy Hazy IPA . 

Dustin: 00:53 For our new visitors, every week we're drinking something local. So we're going to go through a marketing or sales topic every week, but also drink a local beverage. Today we're drinking Voodoo Ranger. It's an IPA from New Belgium. New Belgium has a Fort Collins brewery that's got a pretty massive reach now. I think they're definitely national, maybe even international? I don't know. 

Michael: 01:23 They're doing great. 

Dustin: 01:24 Yeah. Cheers. Cheers. Excited for another episode. 

Zach: 01:29 Thanks guys. 

Michael: 01:29 Thanks for coming on, Zach. 

Dustin: 01:33 So today we're actually talking review marketing and how to get the most out of your reviews, how you should solicit reviews, why both good and bad reviews are actually good for you. And the fact that reviews don't just happen, right? There's a method to the madness. But before we dive into that, Zach, could you give us an intro to you? What do you do? Where do you come from? What are your interests? 

Zach: 02:05 Sure. So I was born the only child to a poor farm. That's not true. I love my family a lot. I won't get too into that. I'll say I got my bachelor's. Marketing from MSU, Denver. Beautiful campus, beautiful people. Been working here at the HIVE for almost a year now. I've learned a lot. I really enjoy the environment here and I love the diversity in the work here. You know, there's lots of small clients, there's big clients and all of them have different industries, different niches, different competitive advantages. So I think it's really fun to work in all of it. 

Dustin: 02:49 Yeah, absolutely. I always tell people I'm addicted to change. The more different every day can be the more I'm in. 

Zach: 03:01 It makes life so much funner. 

Michael: 03:02 So much fun. So much more fun. 

Dustin: 03:05 So today we're talking review marketing. I guess Zach, could you give us an intro? What is review marketing and why is it important? 

Zach: 03:13 Absolutely. So it's a fairly self-explanatory term. It's the reviews that businesses or consumers see regarding your business, whatever product or service you have, it could be offering. And when you do it every day, like whenever I'm shopping on Amazon, I look for reviews before I buy whatever product. It could be ordering food from a restaurant. Sometimes if they have reviews, I definitely take that into consideration. And certainly larger decisions, like don't need an attorney yet, but I'm sure if I did, I would look at Yelp. I'd want to see what other people have thought. Is it the real deal or am I getting hosed? 

Dustin: 04:04 I feel like the perception behind reviews is that, Oh, my business is so great. When we do such a great job where we have such a great product, people are just naturally going to leave us reviews. We don't have to worry about that. Like it's just icing on the cake. But that's not really necessarily how it works. 

Zach: 04:25 Right. In a perfect world it would, but a lot of times people don't want to go out of their way just for that extra little bit of review. You have to really wow somebody. And even when you do, sometimes it's just not on their mind. You've got to just ask them. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but there's all types of ways that you can nudge them tastefully for leaving you a review because it is costing them their time. 

Dustin: 04:54 Getting into that, why do reviews matter that much? I know we're all looking at it like we want to see the four and five star review places or products or whatever. But if you've already got 20 reviews and we have a 4.8 rating, why do you care? Like you're good. Right? 

Zach: 05:17 Well, aside from the decision making process, it also impacts your business from an SEO perspective. So if you are seeing on these multiple platforms, good reviews or not, that all factors into your search engine rankings. 

Dustin: 05:33 From that perspective then is more better? Like you want, you want a million reviews, like is that the goal, you want to just continue to get as many reviews as possible? 

Zach: 05:47 Absolutely. But there is some nuance to it. You don't want to have a million reviews from three years ago and nothing after that. It's got to be consistently coming or else what happened? Like the bad review from three years ago. Your experience might be a lot different now. Maybe things have changed. Who knows? So that is definitely something to consider. 

Dustin: 06:08 I think that's really interesting because I mean I'll do that and I hadn't really considered that before. When I'm looking at a product or service, I'm looking at the reviews and all of these all sound great. Oh wait, but that was three years ago. 

Michael: 06:23 Let's say I've got a million reviews and they're all on Google right now. Do those integrate or translate over to other platforms? Do they translate to my Facebook page, my Yelp or whatever other social? 

Zach: 06:39 It's a great question and no it does not. And even if it were like YouTube and Google owned by the same company, they are siloed like that. So you do want to make sure that if you're going to ask someone for a review that it's on a platform that makes sense for your company. 

Dustin: 06:58 Be strategic about it, right? I mean, if you have a million reviews on Google, you're killing it. 

Michael: 07:05 If one million people have used our services or products, you're probably doing okay. 

Dustin: 07:13 You're absolutely right. Getting reviews on other platforms that make sense for your business, that's a big deal too. How do you actually do that? How do you get somebody to review you where it makes sense? 

Zach: 07:31 Sure. Well, the first thing you've got to do is make it easy for them. After you've decided what makes sense for your business, maybe just directly emailing them with a link so they don't have to go too far out of their way. 

Dustin: 07:46 I can see a lot of people making mistakes with those links because it's not just, Hey, here's my Facebook link or here's my Facebook handle. Right. It's, let's actually get the link to the review so that when they click on that link, they're at the place to review. They don't have to go search that out. That's across the board, right? Whether it's Yelp or it's Google or it's one of the million directories out there. You want it to be something that they can just click on and review right away. 

Zach: 08:27 Yeah, absolutely. And the sooner the better. For a lot of service- focused companies that's a little different because you want to have completed the job or been working with them for long enough that they're giving an honest review. 

Dustin: 08:44 So we're not going to ask a client to review us the day we sign them. 

Zach: 08:48 Right. Exactly. That makes sense. 

Dustin: 08:50 We bought these microphones, right? Like that's an opportunity right away. I mean, you use it once and you know. Maybe we should take a step back real quick and talk about the anatomy of a review and what we should be looking for in a review. What goes into a review and should you be giving instructions to people you're asking for a review? 

Zach: 09:24 I don't think that you want to give too much instruction. The only instructions I would give are, where we want you to leave us a review if you are so kind to do that. And that's obviously done through links. So there's not a whole lot of information. 

Dustin: 09:39 Well, you don't want to threaten them and say, here's what you're writing. It depends. 

Zach: 09:44 The obvious things to consider are the ratings are very important. If it's a one to five star review, show five stars. Better than one star. 

Dustin: 09:55 We actually had somebody that left us a one star review and said things were so great and we had to go back to him and say, Hey, that means something different. More stars is better. 

Zach: 10:15 Aside from the rating, I would say the sample size. Think about how much more impactful it is to see this product that has 400 four-star reviews as opposed to this product that has two five- star reviews. That's the average. Obviously, it's going to weigh your decision greatly based on sample size. The comments are also very important. If you're a company that's doing a review marketing campaign, you want to make sure that you're actively reading the comments and getting back to people online just because there are people who are checking you out for a ton of things. It could just be the product or service, it could be as specific as hiring, but it matters how you reply to people in the public forum because review marketing also comes down to you're being judged other people. 

Dustin: 11:17 One of the things that I see a lot is businesses will kind of ignore the good reviews. Like, yeah, of course we're getting good reviews. That's just supposed to happen. But then will lose their mind over a bad review. They got one bad review. They think their business is going under, the world is on fire. And that'll be the only one that they respond to. What's the best practice there? 

Zach: 11:50 Even if it is the best review you could imagine just saying something like, Hey, thank you so much. It goes a long way. That's just going to show you're involved, right? You care. What people have to say about somebody, is somebody is paying attention. That says that's a big deal. Right? And then talking to that the world is on fire person, right? I've got 500 5-star reviews and I just got a one star review. My business is going under the world is ending. What's the impact really of a one star review or a two star review that's not so great? Hopefully you have a large sample size so it shouldn't affect you too much. I mean if you have the two reviews, one's a one star, one's a five star, that hurts, that's going to hurt your average. The way that you reply to somebody who's had a poor experience on the public forum. It's not like you're pandering, you just want to be honest and transparent. And I've personally read reviews that were terrible and it makes me like, Oh, I'm not downloading that app or whatever it is. Sure. But then you read the response and it can totally change your opinion. 

Dustin: 13:08 Absolutely. I mean, that's one of the things that we talk about a lot internally, is if you get a bad review. Yeah, that sucks. You don't want a bad review, you don't want any one star reviews, you don't want anything under a five star review. Right? But it's the way you handle it. You see the one star review and you're like, ah, that maybe I don't want this product. You read the comment and you're like, okay, yeah, probably still don't want this product. But then you read the review and it can completely go one way or the other. It can be, Oh, the owner ended up attacking this person for leaving the one star review. And you're like, okay, I'm out, I'm leaving this second. Never buying this. Or that owner is calm and approaches it the right way and explains what happened. I mean, I've done it personally. But looking at something and you're like, okay, that's a one star review. The comment didn't really add up that much. And then you see that owner's comment that is a rational story. Here's what actually happened. The whole, the customer is always right adage is not always actually correct. So you get a one star review, maybe that guy's just a jerk. You can turn a one star review into a sale even. 

Zach: 14:46 Yeah. That's absolutely, entirely possible. Happens all the time. Right. I think what's more important is what's going to get you to making that transition into turning that review into a sale is not always saying like, here's what happened. Like, Oh, I have some excuse, but just saying we're going to make it right. I'm sorry, it didn't go how we've told you it would, but we're going to make it right. 

Dustin: 15:10 I mean, we're all human, right? We make mistakes, especially Michael. But we make mistakes and that's going to happen with any business. You're around long enough you're going to do something wrong. But I think you know that those simple words, let us make this right. That's a big deal. Showing that you care about your customers from both sides I think is important because as humans we just want to feel cared for, loved and so to leave a good review and they say, Hey, thank you. Or smiley emoji. I'm kind of like, wow, I took the time out of my day to leave a review and somebody read it at fortune 500 company and responded back to me and that means something to me. 

Michael: 15:57 Or Hey, these shoes broke down within two weeks of wearing them. What are you guys going to do about it? And it's like, send them back right away. We'll pay for the shipping and then we'll send you some new ones. It's like, perfect. They care about me. And I think both of those are important. If the company shows that they care both sides of the spectrum as a consumer of the service or product, it just makes me so much more invested. So much more trusting of that company. 

Dustin: 16:24 Absolutely. That's a big deal. That's what review marketing is all about. Building that trust. Does the public trust you? Absolutely. That's what your star rating is. 

Zach: 16:35 Yeah. And then think about their whole network of people that they get the word of mouth out. 

Michael: 16:47 Review and marketing. You never know that happens. 

Dustin: 16:51 So, I mean we talked about, Michael's got a million reviews on Google, but most people don't. How does somebody go about getting more reviews? We talked about at the beginning, most people view reviews or most companies view reviews as, Oh, this is just going to happen. Like it's an evergreen thing. We deliver a service or we sell a product, people review us, rinse and repeat. People leave reviews without being solicited, but if you really want to change the game or move the business forward through reviews, how do you actually get people to start reviewing you? What are the steps there? 

Zach: 17:40 Just keep it easy, make it easy for them because you feel the more effort they have to put into it, the less likely it's going to be. And our attention spans are like zero through with it. So, I mean, if it could be something like an email where the link takes them right to the place that you wanted them to leave the review. Even something like offering an incentive. Nothing big. We're not saying that you should bribe anybody. Just like a gesture for the time you put into leaving the review, good or bad. Like it could be that they had a terrible experience, but here's a $5 Starbucks card. Thank you. And you know, we're going to make it right. 

Dustin: 18:22 I think a lot of businesses think, Oh, if I give an incentive for somebody to leave a review, I'm bribing them for a good review. But that's not really the case. Right? You're not offering them something insane. But you are saying, Hey, we know it's where you're taking time out of your valuable day to show your appreciation. It's not, Hey, leave us a good review and we'll give you this. It's just review your experience with us and we'll send you a $5 gift card. 

Michael: 18:55 I mean, to me, the thing that you said that stands out is making it easy. Right? Which I think is so important in almost everything you do in life, especially in sales or marketing. You want to have the lowest barrier to entry. So by sending that link that takes them right to the review page it's just like, okay, I click the five stars done, bam, or I clicked the five stars and I can leave two sentences right there. Right. It takes a minute out of their time, but it's so much easier and you want that when you're creating a website. You want to have the best user experience, you want it to read like you buy here, you apply to the college here, whatever it is, you want to have that quick and easy button and that's exactly what you want for your review marketing because then you're going to get those. And then sure, if there's an incentive, great, but if not, as long as you're making it easy on them, that's the biggest thing. Eliminate the friction. 

Zach: 19:43 Absolutely. And I will say that as far as product-based services go or product-based companies, the sooner you can get the review, the better. Just because you want it to be fresh in their mind with like those first impressions. You don't want the shiny this to wear off. 

Dustin: 20:03 I bought a big water bottle off of Amazon and it's a big one. They immediately asked me for a review. Like, I mean, if they asked today, the honeymoon phase has gone. I've had this for like two months now. I'm not making a review on a water bottle. Settle down. After a day or two days after you get the product or whatever it is, absolutely. 

Michael: 20:36 You're pumped on it. 

Dustin: 20:37 You're excited about the whatever new products you got. What are some steps that somebody can take today to start a review marketing campaign on their own? 

Zach: 20:51 It starts with discovering or thinking through what platforms and directories make sense. Do you have to know where you're going to ask people to go leave a review? 

Dustin: 21:03 Sure, because there's so many, right? Like it could be different for every business, like the directories. I mean, Google pretty much makes sense for everyone. Sure. But that's because Google runs the world. Yelp doesn't necessarily make sense for everyone. There's education-specific ones and lawyers and home advisor and Angie's List. There's so many of these, so really that makes sense. Thinking through, okay, if I was a customer searching for my business, where am I looking? Which review platforms am I going to be looking at? 

Zach: 21:42 If you're a school, you want to be on Great Schools. If I'm looking to hire somebody, you want to make sure you're on Glassdoor. So there's all sorts of variables to think through. But that's definitely where it starts, just finding the right directories. And then it's as simple as sending that email that's got the link in it, offering an incentive if it's possible. 

Dustin: 22:05 Are you just sending to one? Are you just sending them one directory link or are you sending them a few? 

Zach: 22:12 I would cap it at three, but definitely you want to send a few. You don't want to send them a list. Hey, leave us a review on these 30 sites. Give them a few different options. I know some of them, you have to have an account login and all of those, so I think it probably makes sense to say, Hey, here's a few options to leave that review and even saying that in the email, you don't have to do all three of these if you could just pick one, Google or Facebook. 

Dustin: 22:45 You mentioned the incentive; how do you typically frame that so it doesn't sound like, Hey, you know, here's a bribe for a five star review. 

Zach: 22:54 Right. Well, I mean it's really just a thank you. Like, Hey, I know it's going to take you a second to fill this out and we really appreciate your business. We'd love to send you a $5 Starbucks card for filling this form out for us, leaving us review. 

Dustin: 23:10 And it could be anything, right? It could be, Hey, for 20% off your next purchase, or a New Belgium beer can't be done. Michael would leave me a review for that app to check the legality. Can you send beers? I could send one to your office though, please. Well, great. Zach, it's been great having you on and I think it's something that's probably not talked about enough is review marketing. You know, I think that the more people and businesses start to think about the impact that those reviews have and thinking through how do we actually get those reviews. I think that's a big deal. 

Zach: 23:58 It's definitely put on the back burner because like you were saying earlier, people just assume it's going to happen organically and it does sometimes, but not really. You've got to work at it. 

Dustin: 24:10 A lot of people kind of have a bad taste in it. A lot of business owners have kind of a bad taste in their mouth with reviews because people are just much more likely to leave a negative review. Right? Like, Oh I had the worst experience ever, I'm going to leave the nastiest review. But I think if you opened that up to everyone and say, Hey, what was your experience? Let us send you a $5 gift card. Let us give you a 20% off your next purchase. Then you level that playing field. Even if you have the most outstanding experience, you're not necessarily going to go leave them a review because you're just so happy. That's just human nature. We'd rather shout the negatives from the rooftops than the positives. 

Zach: 24:58 If I had a closing statement, it would be don't be afraid of the negative reviews. You've got nothing if you're too scared to ask for a review and if you don't have any reviews, that's a red flag in itself. 

Dustin: 25:11 Yeah. It's funny. We have a coworker, she always says I never trust the five star reviews. Even if it's 50 5-star reviews, she's like, right. Nobody's perfect. I don't know if that's reasonable. So even getting a few, one, two, three star reviews, that's not the end of the world. People want to see, okay, great, you have a 4.8 rating. That feels real as opposed to five star reviews everywhere. They're perfect. They're the best company of all time. So Zach, our last section is how's the buzz? Like I said, we were drinking Voodoo Ranger. I think Michael finished his right away. 

Michael: 26:12 Oh yeah. It was my third. 

Dustin: 26:15 Well, what are your thoughts? You've had it before, but what do you  think? 

Zach: 26:19 Yeah, I love it. I love how it's got this juiciness to it. Super palatable. This thing is gone in five seconds or less if I wanted it. 

Dustin: 26:33 It's not as heavy. It's not as heavy as normal. 

Zach: 26:37 Yeah. It's got flexibility. It's whatever you need it to be. Four stars. Oh, just because I don't want it to look like too many. 

Dustin: 26:53 So you're doing New Belgium a favor with that, right? Because you're like, if I said five stars, that's probably all they got. I don't want it to look fake. 

Zach: 27:02 Right. They didn't pay me to say that. 

Dustin: 27:11 Next week we'll be back with another episode. Make sure to tune in, subscribe, and we'll see you next time. Cheers! 


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