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July 19, 2023

Going Steady // Local Marketing Insider #063

Unique review strategies for businesses with long-term customer relationships.

Hey! Welcome to Local Marketing Insider where 10,000+ local marketing professionals get better at reputation strategy & more with insights delivered 2x a month.

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Last week, Widewail launched Listings Management. Pair accurate listings on 75+ sites with top-tier review management, easily managed from a single platform.

See the full list of sites


A lot of my advice in this newsletter relates to retailers.  

The sequence of events is pretty straightforward: a prospect finds a business, visits the location and buys something. A day later they get a request for a review.

1, 2, 3. Easy.

But…

There are other types of local businesses whose customers don’t follow this linear process. 

Today, I’m focusing on some review insights for businesses with a high frequency of repeat customers or long-term relationships with a customer. Think: gyms, dentists, apartment complexes, credit unions, lawyers, financial planners, etc. 

Review strategies for these businesses are different given the unique relationship with the customer.

There are more variables:

  1. Longer relationship → more opportunities for something to go wrong → higher likelihood of unsolicited negative reviews
  2. Longer relationship → more variability in experiences → when you ask becomes more important
  3. Longer relationship → more likelihood of being annoying or tone deaf → how often you ask requires some finesse

If your business fits these criteria you could have A HUGE advantage over the competition when it comes to reviews. Why? Because getting the right review content (legally) is so tricky.

Here are the four ideas to try.

1. Don’t Annoy → Try 60-Day Suppression

Starting off with the most basic point. Don’t ask the same customer for a review twice within 60 days. 

How did we come up with 60 days? Purely gut instinct. But it feels right, right?

You don’t want to be annoying. 

This number could vary based on how you run your business. Another question to ask yourself could be “Has this customer experienced a materially different event with the business since our last request?” If yes, it's likely fine to ask again.

2. Ask at the Right Time → Utilize Lifecycle Stages

Customer sentiment will naturally have ups and downs. 

For the gym members, sentiment will be up when new treadmills are installed but down during a loud renovation period.

For the apartment complex residents, sentiment will be up after move-in when the excitement of a new apartment is high but down after a tricky maintenance issue. 

Identifying when throughout your customer’s journey they are on average happier will give you insight into the best times to ask for a review.

3. Time of Year → Summer vs. Winter

In Widewail’s review sentiment database, we find that negativity can be cyclical. As an example, for property management and automotive businesses, negativity tends to peak in the summer and bottom out in the winter.

*We calculate the percentage of negativity as the proportion of all reviews 3-stars or less. 

Property Management:

Automotive:

We will be doing some more sentiment analysis to determine what could be the cause of these patterns (stay tuned for that in later LMIs) but if you have anecdotes, reply and let me know!

Sidenote - I’m always impressed by the review content coming out of automotive. To describe this chart above in the reverse, since the come-down from COVID in 2021, ~90% of automotive reviews in Widewail’s database have been 4- or 5-stars. Very impressive.

4. Dynamically React to Previous Review Activity → Produce Useful Outcomes on Secondary Requests

If you know a customer has already submitted a review, there are three strategic moves you can make to increase the relevance of a second, third or fourth request.

Ask different questions: Assuming in your first request you simply asked “Would please leave a review,” in follow-on requests ask more specific questions. Ask specifically about “customer service,” “selection” or “facilities” - whatever components of your business that you’d like to give more exposure to. 

Send to different sites: In almost all situations, we recommend Google as the primary review destination. For secondary reviews, send customers to additional review sites that you’d like activity on. These will vary by industry.

Revamp old reviews: I’m not sure if this nuance is widely known but when a customer leaves a review for a second time on Google, it replaces the original review. Each customer can only have one review per business published at a given time. So, especially for customers that have previously left a negative review, soliciting another review at a different lifecycle stage (that your data suggests is typically rated higher) has the potential to replace an older negative review with a new, hopefully, more positive review.


Last week Widewail launched Listings Management. Is your business accurately listed on all of these sites? Listings Management can help.

A spooky, but great example of how listings tools can help protect your brand, Insider reported on how a traveler’s flight was canceled and in an effort to find a new flight he called the number listed on Google, which led to a scammer.

Undoubtedly, the larger problem seems to be a hacked GBP, but a tool to automatically correct information that is changed in this manner is a useful safeguard.

See you in 2 weeks - Jake, Marketing @Widewail

Jake Hughes

I’m the Director of Marketing here at Widewail, as well as a husband and new dad outside the office. I'm in Vermont by way of Boston, where I grew the CarGurus YouTube channel from 0 to 100k subscribers. I love the outdoors and hate to be hot, so I’m doing just fine in the arctic Vermont we call home. Fun fact: I met my wife on the shuttle bus at Baltimore airport. Thanks for reading Widewail’s content!

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