On August 6th, Google slashed the local results pack – instead of displaying 7 results, they’re now only showing 3.
Immediately after that happened, we had a hunch that reviews would play a major role in the new algorithm’s decision.
So we started asking our clients to leave reviews for us. Quickly, we popped right into the top 3.
But we soon realized that, in order to stay in the top 3, we needed to continuously get reviews as Google ranks not only on a number of reviews but on how recent your reviews are.
As we continued to develop this new “online reputation / review” strategy, we realized it was going to be an important part of any SEO strategy.
And, as an agency, you need to be offering online reputation strategy to your clients as well. Keep on reading to find out how to create an online reputation strategy for your clients that will propel them into those 3 key positions.
Why You Need to Offer Your Clients an Online Reputation Strategy
If you want your clients to make it to the top, you need to offer them a reputation/review management service.
Here are some data points we use to help our clients see the importance of online reputation development and management:
To offer such a strategy for your clients, you’re going to need a tool that will allow you to manage reviews for your clients. After trying several tools, we’ve landed on BirdEye. At this time, it is the best tool out there to manage online reputation and here’s why.
It’s really a turn-key solution for reputation/review management. It allows you to aggregate, collect and manage reviews and it has a robust analytics system. You won’t be lacking data to make improvements.
Centralized Account Management
BirdEye is a great option for marketing agencies because it enables you to have a master account with sub-accounts for each of your clients.
You can manage all your client accounts from one partner dashboard, and you can download all business activity data by using analytics reports – everything from a central interface.
Centralizing accounts makes your client management much smoother.
You can also assign a team member to each specific client. The tool makes it easy to add and delete users, too.
BirdEye allows you to customize the interface to suit your brand – throughout the entire platform. It’s a white label product.
For even more customization, they provide you with their data API. That means you can use a custom dashboard your developer has built – with data coming from BirdEye.
The Ability to Send Text Messages
Imagine your client was a doctor. When his patient comes in, he can enter his name, email and a phone number into the iPad at the front desk (or the receptionist can do this for him). If your clients don’t have an iPad, your clients can ask their customers if they’d like to leave a review and, if they do, enter their information manually. It’s important to remind your clients that the best way to get a review is to ask for one.
That action would trigger BirdEye to text the patient at a time you can choose with your client. It is customizable and can be immediately or any number of hours/days later. It’s recommended to send the text within two hours of the end of the client interaction. The text would say something like, “Thanks for choosing me as your doctor. How was your visit? Would you recommend us?”
This makes is easy for them to leave a review, making it more accessible for those who would never go home and log in to a review site.
You want to contact your client’s customers on the phone, because that’s where the greatest chance of them actually writing the review is. Why?
Because the majority of smartphone users use Android. and Android comes with Google Maps installed.
BirdEye integrates with Google Maps and, once the client says they want to write a review of 4 or 5 stars, it will automatically open the Google My Business listing for that business. All they have to do then is write the review. If they choose 3 or less stars, they will not be given the option to write the review on the My Business Listing.
However, they will be able to write the review within BirdEye. That allows them to vent if they weren’t happy and lets them get it out before going home and venting on the My Business page.
After we chose BirdEye as our reputation management platform, we needed to turn it into a product that we could offer to our clients.
The BirdEye sales team was extremely helpful in getting us set up and helping us understand all the benefits.
Reducing Your Clients’ Costs
Finally, if your clients went directly to BirdEye, they’d have to pay $1500 upfront. As a digital marketing agency, you pay monthly for the service so they don’t have to, reducing their costs.
Here’s something we use to help our customers understand the benefits of BirdEye.
Why Not Some Other Tool?
At first, we used a tool called VenDasta.
But it was too complicated. Their team did not provide us with one full-feature package, requiring us to buy an additional feature every time we needed to do something for our clients. We needed a solution that would charge us a flat fee and give us all the features we needed.
There was one other thing that led us away from VenDasta: the system didn’t allow us to upload a spreadsheet of previous customer emails (update: VenDasta has added that feature since we used their service.)
We needed to auto-email each of our clients’ customer as if the email were coming from the client themselves (to ask for a review).
VenDasta doesn’t have that option, so you would have to email each one of your client’s customers manually. And each of those emails would come from your agency, and not from the client.
That’s not in your client’s best interest – and not what your clients will want to pay you for. They’ll want those emails to come from them. It avoids confusion and strengthens their brand.
Finally, their system didn’t allow us to control where the reviews go.
If one of your clients’ customers was interested in writing a review and you needed him to write it on HealthGrades.com, VenDasta was not able to automate that process.
You can compare BirdEye and VenDasta on a feature basis here.
The Step-by-step Process for Setting Up Your Reputation Management Campaign with BirdEye
1. Tell Your Client to Ask for a Review Personally
It’s hard to get someone to write a review – especially online. That’s why it’s always a good idea to tell your client to:
- Personally ask their customer for a review after they’ve rendered their services and
- Let their customers know that they’ll receive an email or text within a few minutes or an hour (whatever timing you set up in BirdEye.)
Then, BirdEye will send them the email.
Also, collect all emails of your client’s previous customers, and save them into a spreadsheet. You’ll send your first email to all of them asking for a review. Here’s how to prepare that first email:
2. Filter Negative Reviewers Out Immediately
Their first e-mail should contain a question:
“Would you like to recommend [our company]?”
Since you don’t want your clients to leave negative reviews, the goal of this stage is to filter out the bad reviewers from the good ones right away.
Here’s an example of how we did that using BirdEye:
3. Depending on Their Response, Send Them to Different Pages
If the customer says they want to recommend your client, you send them to a page where they can give them a grade and write a review.
Here’s how that looks like in our process:
That review is within BirdEye.
If they give them a 4 or 5 star rating, you’ll send them a second email, where you’ll ask the customer to post the review to a platform of your choice (preferably Google My Business). The second email should contain their original review so they can copy and paste it into Google My Business easily.
The purpose of having this interface is to filter out those customers who want to recommend your product or service – but for some reason they give you a low rating.
BirdEye is working on a feature to auto-populate the “Google My Business” textbox, so your customer doesn’t have to copy and paste the review. It is the one feature we’d wished they’d already had, but their other features make up for it.
Finally, your clients’ customer lands on the platform page and submits the review.
If they’re not happy with your client’s service, they’ll click “No” in the first e-mail and will see a review page that looks like this:
They might rant about how bad your client’s service is – but the good news is, no one will see it except for your client because the review won’t be sent anywhere. Your client won’t get a bad review publicly posted on the Internet and they’ll be able to communicate with the customer to try to make it right.
Some Other BirdEye Features You’ll Love
First of all, their analytics system is robust. The UI is intuitive and modern looking. You don’t have to be a stats guru to get actionable insights.
Tracking customer reviews is easy. You also have visualization maps so it’s easier to notice where most of the reviews are coming from.
You can also analyze average rating by location. This enables you to focus your efforts on specific geographical segments, making your reputation campaigns laser-targeted.
Then, there’s an option to review sentiments over time. Basically, you can track the tone and positivity of reviews over a defined period of time.
It’s great if you want to know whether the client’s service is degrading in quality – you have hard data to prove it.
One of the most powerful features the analysis tool has is the ability to analyze keywords inside of those reviews. You’re actually able to see which keywords occur within positive or negative reviews – and how often they occur.
If you want to learn more about BirdEye’s excellent analytics system, check out this post.
Demo Accounts for Clients
Their sales team can set your potential client up with a demo account.
If they become your client, BirdEye can activate their sub-account and join it to your master account.
Competition Analysis and Benchmarking
With all that data, you can analyze keywords from positive and negative reviews your competition is getting. As a result, you can:
- See their strengths and weaknesses
- Advise your client what they can improve to beat the competition
- Reverse-engineer competition strategy to get more positive reviews.
Read more about the benefits you get by using BirdEye’s competition analysis suite of tools.
Why Our Clients Love BirdEye
You can take a feed of all the reviews and place it on your website. It doesn’t matter whether those reviews made it to “Google My Business” or not.
This is convenient for a client, because they don’t have to hire expensive developers to develop these features. It’s as easy as copying and pasting a piece of code.
Your client can choose which reviews to include – they can choose to only select 4 and 5 star reviews if they want to.
Every review comes with a photo of the reviewer – as long as they’ve added a photo to their Google account.
Local SEO is now mostly about online reputation management – about getting good reviews – constantly.
If you want to set your digital agency apart from the competition by providing results for your clients that other agencies can’t, you need to develop a solid, sound strategy that you can offer to your clients.
And you can’t have a solid strategy without a solid tool.
We’ve been using BirdEye, and it’s been great for us. It’s a robust review management platform that will give your agency an edge over the competition.