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Shopping for the top reputation monitoring service? Here's the important information to consider when making the best choice for your business.
If you’re like most people, you turn to friends and family for suggestions on which restaurant to order takeout from, which plumber to call for a leaky pipe, or which business to depend on for home renovations.
But maybe you're in a new state or don't know anybody who could make a recommendation. As a second option, many consumers turn to reviews.
79% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family. Customers trust their peers, and if you haven’t been paying much attention to your company’s online reviews, it’s time to make them a priority.
Review management isn’t just important when it comes to showing prospective customers that you’re the real deal. Online reviews also play a huge role in determining your company’s ranking in local search.
Businesses that have more reviews, respond to them quickly, and are receiving them frequently will almost certainly be ranked higher than businesses that do nothing.
Whether you’re a small business or a major enterprise, review management should be a critical component of your company’s long-term growth plans.
If you're shopping around for an outsourced vendor, we have some recommendations to help focus your search.
Formula to identify the best vendor for your business:
As an aside - while it may be tempting to handle in-house, when doing so, you’ll spend more time, money, and resources training an internal team versus outsourcing review management activities to experts.
Let’s cover some of the criteria to keep in mind when researching review management companies so that, when the time comes, you’re well-positioned to make the best decision for your business.
Every business is different. A strategy that works for one won’t necessarily work for all, so take a moment to determine the primary goals of your reputation management package.
Are you mainly looking for a review monitoring service that will free up your company's time and resources? Do you want to focus on building your online presence with more reviews, utilize the software to improve customer satisfaction, or employ social media reputation monitoring? Reputation management is a strategy that can encompass all of these objectives. By analyzing your business size, goals, current strategy, and industry, you will be equipped to choose a reputation-monitoring service that fits your needs.
If you do your homework, you’ll quickly be able to tell whether or not a review or reputation management company will be able to help you reach your business goals.
See if the vendor has published any case studies that show off their work with previous clients. If any of the case studies highlight companies that are similar to yours in terms of industry, size, or review management goals, this is a great starting point.
Review management vendors who are experienced in producing results for businesses similar to yours will be well-equipped to understand your particular review management needs and deliver personalized solutions.
That said, the review management motion is largely the same for any local business that benefits from reviews on Google, Facebook and industry-specific sites. The strategies will vary somewhat for technology companies or e-commerce companies.
If you ask, a review management vendor should also be willing to connect you with its customers. Hearing glowing feedback from businesses about their experience with the vendor will give you peace of mind before signing on the dotted line.
On the flip side, there may be cause for concern if a company doesn't want to connect you with their customers. Steer clear of the vendors that are hesitant to discuss previous client engagements, and instead narrow your search to the vendors that are proud to discuss their achievements.
Additionally, see if the review management vendor has published any statistics about how they’ve been able to affect real change for their customers. Statistics regarding review volume, negative sentiment, review response time, conversion rates and outsourced review generation services may shed light on a provider's ability to deliver tangible results for your business.
Good services likely come from good people. It sounds straightforward, but many businesses will partner with review management vendors based solely on their range of services and experience without considering whether they are a good fit.
A robust review response strategy requires ongoing maintenance and optimizations, which means you’ll be working with your vendor frequently.
Real people. No templates. Learn Widewail's approach to review response: here.
Vendor personnel should be easy to get along with, open to suggestions and collaboration, and experienced in serving clients in similar industries to yours.
Yes, it’s important to cover tactics, technology and strategy. But equally important is the need to get a feel for the vendor’s client relations style.
It is also essential that a company only uses ethical practices to monitor your online brand. Strategies such as link spamming, buying fake reviews and using spam bots may show initial results, but can ultimately harm your reputation, sometimes leading to a permanent ban by search engines or legal trouble with the FTC.
Vendor costs will inevitably factor into your decision. As with most things, you get what you pay for. Reviews are both a public medium and a direct line to current customers. An outsourced reputation management company should be able to provide the same level of service available in the store, plus review expertise to add to your staff's skill set.
Save yourself the trouble and partner with a reputation management company that strikes the perfect balance of cost and value for your business.
Determine your budget before exploring vendor options and be clear about what you’re hoping to spend and the results you aim to achieve.
It’s important to compare strategies before choosing an online reputation management service, so price out how much an internal program could cost.
Make sure to include training and turnover in the estimates. There’s really no average on how much review management vendors charge for their services. You could spend anywhere from $100 to $1,000/month. It really all hinges on the needs and expectations of your business.
Quality review management companies will offer flexible pricing models that match your size and level of review activity.
Outsourcing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be involved in the work. Quality review management comes from continuous engagement and analysis.
Your vendor should continually be producing new reviews and ensure timely responses to those reviews. But they should also provide you with updates and be available to chat when you have questions.
Your vendor should be keeping you in the loop with all updates or changes to your strategies, but you should also take it upon yourself to ask questions, make suggestions, or request more information whenever necessary.
The best vendors will take a hands-on approach. This applies to both the solutions and customer support.
A people-powered review management service excels at aligning with its clients' particular needs and providing personalized support every step of the way. Ensure you won’t be in the dark with your vendor when it comes to the services you pay for.
To help further, we’ve put together a Buyers Guide — tools and frameworks you can use to make the best buying decision for your business.
Here are some highlights:
- Jake, Marketing
* Updated on 12/20/23. Originally published on 5/5/21.
I’m a writer, philosopher, climber, mountain biker, and a fried-egg enthusiast. Before joining Widewail as a Review Response Specialist, I attended Middlebury College and studied Philosophy and Art History. I grew up in Michigan, but I fell in love with Vermont while in school.
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