The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has developed a reputable brand over many decades. That said, BBB’s reputation has fluctuated and in some industries become a little less relevant. With a recent resurgence, businesses are starting to focus on this accreditation ecosystem.
Does the BBB still have value as a review platform? Is it still the incredible powerhouse it used to be? As you’re about to see, the answer is yes. The BBB still has tremendous value.
Many businesses don’t agree.
In the right hands, the BBB can produce the traffic, leads and sales your organization needs to grow.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
Are you ready? Let’s get started.
Is the BBB worth it?
When it comes to the BBB, there’s a lot of confusion about expected outcomes. The vast majority of local and regional businesses approach review platforms with the wrong expectations.
This isn’t their fault.
Dishonest sales people, eager to land their next commission, fuel these inaccurate expectations. They tell business owners that they’ll receive an “avalanche of traffic, leads, sales” – you name it. Some review platforms state this explicitly using convincing, but difficult to verify stats.
You know what happens next.
Local businesses sign up for an account with the BBB, pay for accreditation then wait for the cash to start flowing in. What happens?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
As a result, the Internet is filled with feedback from angry customers who expected more from the BBB. Here take a look:
The general consensus among many businesses and former BBB customers is that it’s not worth it or that it’s a scam of some sort. Many of these customers expected an avalanche of traffic, leads and sales from their BBB membership and were promptly disappointed when they failed to deliver.
Are they right?
Is the BBB a complete waste of time for small, local and regional brands?
Review platforms provide five different types of outcomes for the brands they serve. Most businesses are unaware of these results, so it makes sense that most won’t receive the benefits of these outcomes.
- Branding: Branding builds a strong economic moat for your business. A strong brand (e.g., Coca-Cola, Google, Amazon, etc.) is perceived as more credible or authoritative by customers, receives more loyalty and produces more revenue.
- Traffic: Some review platforms, like Google reviews, send a significant amount of traffic to brands in-the-know. With Google reviews, reviews are tied to keywords, so this makes sense. Local search optimization coupled with strong review management tactics produces the greatest gains.
- Conversions: This is the primary purpose of your online review portfolio. Online reviews give customers the confidence and trust they need to buy your product. A strong review portfolio can boost your overall conversion rate by as much as 270 percent!
- Revenue: This is the main expectation most small, local and regional brands have. If they spend $1 with a review platform, they expect $5 in return. It’s typically an unspoken expectation, at least until their expectations aren’t met.
- Lift: This is the outcome most brands are in the dark about. A strong review portfolio improves performance across each of the previous four categories. Marketing is less expensive, more effective and provides a greater return.
Here’s the secret most brands are unaware of.
If it’s handled properly, you can achieve all five of these outcomes across your review portfolios, including your BBB profile.
How’s that possible?
The BBB is an ancient relic for old-timers, for people who are familiar with their shtick, right? Nothing could be further from the truth. If you’re looking for an answer to the question “is the BBB worth it?” there’s only one person that can answer that question definitively for you.
How’s that you ask? The BBB provides businesses with a detailed spreadsheet outlining the number of inquiries they’ve received. Here are the broad strokes.
Statista confirms this listing “consumer agencies” as one of the top nine sources customers used to read online reviews.
Find more statistics at Statista
Long story short, your customers are using the BBB. They rely on the site as a credible source for online reviews.
How the BBB compares to other traffic sources
Compared to mainstream sources, the BBB doesn’t seem to be worth the trouble.
Am I right?
Don’t let the low review counts fool you. The BBB is populated by a higher number of lurkers, they received 170 million inquiries in the US and Canada in 2018.
Your customers rely on the BBB.
With that in mind, what should your goals be? It seems a lot of businesses expect conversions or revenue from the BBB. Is that an unreasonable goal?
Not if you do it right.
The business goals you can achieve using the BBB
Remember the goals I mentioned earlier in this article?
Each of these goals is achievable if you’re willing to take on more responsibility with your BBB profile. Here’s the strategy in a nutshell. You create and optimize your profile. Next, use your profile in your marketing to build a strong brand and drive traffic boosting conversions, revenue and left.
But it requires a change in expectations.
Instead of signing up, paying for the money, then sitting back and waiting for the cash to begin rolling in like everyone else, you’re going to have to pursue this aggressively.
The first step?
Creating an account on the BBB.
How to create/claim your BBB listing
Here’s a step-by-step primer you can use to create or claim your BBB account.
1. Visit BBB.org. At the top of the navigation menu, click Join/Apply.
2. As of today, the BBB funnels everyone into their Accreditation program, so you’ll need to fill out a form. The landing page you see may vary as they seem to be dependent on your local BBB chapter.
3. Once you’ve filled out this form, you’ll see a thank you page confirming your submission. Your information will be sent to your local chapter and you’ll also be contacted within a few days as well. You’ll then be asked to continue to the accreditation process.
4. In the first step of the accreditation process, you’ll be taken to a form that looks like the one below. It’s populated with the data you entered in step two.
In this step, you’ll be able to ask questions and view pricing. Pricing is assessed on a per month basis with options to pay monthly or annually. It’s based on the number of employees you have in your business.
5. Next, you’ll be asked to provide payment information as well as whether you’d like your accreditation to be renewed automatically or not. You’ll also have the option to pay later if you prefer.
How to find your BBB contact info
From there, you’ll be able to review and submit your order. Pretty straightforward, right?
What happens next?
You’ll receive an email confirmation stating that your application was received. Once the application process is complete, you’ll also receive an email with your UserID and password to log in. You’ll want to check your spam folder to make sure your email isn’t accidentally flagged or deleted by your spam provider.
Received the credentials?
You’ll want to log in and complete your profile.
What if you don’t see the Join/Apply link mentioned in step one, or you’re not interested in accreditation?
1. Head over to the BBB’s directory. Scroll down to “Browse by State/Province.”
2. Click on your state, province (in Canada) or country (Mexico).
3. You should see contact cards for each of the BBB chapters in your state.
You can contact your local chapter by phone or email. While it depends on your chapter, most local representatives are responsive. Okay, you have the contact info for your local chapter. What should you say?
Here’s a template you can use.
I’m trying to find a way to add my business to your directory. I’m willing to consider accreditation down the line, but I’m not ready to do that just yet. For now, I’d like to start by just adding my business first.
Can you help me get this done?
Thanks for your help,
It’s a simple template you can use to negotiate for the terms and conditions you want.
Can’t you do this anywhere else?
Seriously, why bother with the BBB though? Here’s the most important reason. Taking control of your BBB listing puts you in the driver’s seat. If you’re building and optimizing your BBB profile, you can fill it with reviews and positive data about your business.
Data you can use to counteract negative reviews.
It’s a way for you to avoid the surprise that comes from a negative review. It’s a way to insulate your business against the damage from a negative aggregate review that’s displayed in Google. It’s protection against major financial disruption, due to Google displaying malicious reviews.
All it takes is one unhappy or malicious customer, one disgruntled competitor, to pursue action against you. When this happens you’re reacting to a problem, which means you’ve already lost trust.
This is why you need the BBB.
How To Get BBB Reviews
What about requesting reviews from your customers and asking them to post their reviews on the BBB? Here are several guides with lots of templates you can customize.
These templates are designed to work with a variety of industries, simply customize the details needed and you’re all set!
They also have a somewhat comprehensive verification process for new reviews (in case you don’t see them right away):
Seems like a lot to leave a review.
Something else to keep in mind?
The BBB is different from other review platforms. They have both customer reviews and Grades or ratings (e.g., A – F ratings). You can have an A+ rating but a one-star review. They’re calculated independently as Joy Hawkins points out.
“It turns out that the average rating the BBB shows is not just based on customer reviews; 67 percent of the rating is based on the BBB’s evaluation of that business.
That opinion, which is reflected in the letter grade that company receives from BBB, is based on a variety of factors, including past complaint history, how promptly the company responds to complaints, their truthfulness in advertising, appropriate licensing and other factors that are explained on the BBB website.
Customer reviews are also noted on each company’s Business Profile, but they are not factored into the letter grade rating. These two factors – complaints and customer reviews – are combined into a composite score of 1 to 5 stars, which is what search engines see.
The review rating percentage does not include customer complaints. This company manages to get a five-star average, regardless of having 59 customer complaints.”
Which leads many to ask.
What are the rules and regulations businesses must follow on their platform?
Expectations to follow: BBB rules and regulations
The BBB’s accreditation standards dictate what’s expected and how businesses should behave on (and off) their platform. Here’s a brief overview of their standards.
- Build Trust: Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace.
- Advertise Honestly: Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling.
- Tell the Truth: Honestly represent products and services, including clear and adequate disclosures of all material terms.
- Be Transparent: Openly identify the nature, location, and ownership of the business, and clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to buy.
- Honor Promises: Abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.
- Be Responsive: Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally, and in good faith.
- Safeguard Privacy: Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of customers regarding the use of their information.
- Embody Integrity: Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and commitments with integrity.
There’s a concrete list of requirements for each of these points, so it’s strongly recommended that you read through their accreditation standards for yourself.
What about goal tracking?
Aside from tracking referrals via Google Analytics or specific landing page URLs, there’s not much in the way of goal tracking. If you’re an admin user, you can use Google Analytics to track referrals more closely. Here’s a short primer showing you how to do that. Neil Patel also offers a helpful guide on working with referral paths in Google Analytics.
Advertising and review marketing on the BBB
The BBB offers several marketing and advertising options. These include advertising partnership programs, tools and resources. Let’s take a look at what they have available.
These are helpful ways to extend the value of your BBB listing. Here are some ways to boost the performance of your listing even further.
- Include BBB in your advertising. Add excerpts from your BBB reviews, accreditation seal and ratings in your Google, Facebook, email or display campaigns. Spend 10% of your budget on cold traffic. 30% of your budget on warm traffic. 60% on hot traffic.
- Include the above content on your landing pages. Run A/B split tests where you link to your BBB profile and one where you don’t. Test the results to verify the life you receive. Use review widgets to promote your reviews on your website, in your copy and via direct mail advertising.
- Add reviews to your proposals or quotes. If you’re running a service business, you can add reviews to your proposal, sprinkled throughout your documents. If you’re using proposal tools like Bidsketch, you can share direct links to your proposal itself.
- Combine reviews with upsells. Take it a step further and combine your five-star reviews with upsells, down sells and cross-sells. Choose relevant reviews that are directly related to your product or service.
- Add reviews to key decision points. Add a relevant review to decision points. Contact forms, booking pages, opt-in forms, sales and product forms, free consultation forms, newsletter sign-ups, etc. If you’re asking them to make a decision that benefits you, use reviews as a motivator to boost conversion rates.
- Add review excerpts to guest posts, podcasts and author bylines. If you’re a prolific writer, interviewee, or guest weave your more amazing stories into your bio. For example, Rick helped clients like Samantha eliminate $157,850 of student loans in 2 years. Here’s how he did it. “I was skeptical until it was done. I couldn’t believe Rick did it,” said Samantha.
- Add compelling review excerpts to email signatures. Tie those excerpts to a specific, relevant and precise landing page. Combine reviews with an irresistible offer and you have everything you need to produce amazing results from your BBB reviews. Add your BBB accreditation (and other review profile logo links) to the landing page. Just make sure your review portfolios are well maintained.
- Combine review excerpts with urgency triggers. “Only 5 products left, I only take on 10 clients at a time” or something as simple as “supplies limited” are effective urgency triggers that are more effective when combined with amazing reviews. Just make sure that your urgency triggers are real, genuine and fair. False scarcity is gross, but it’s also a surefire way to turn customers off.
- Add BBB accreditation and reviews to your direct mail pieces. Give prospects an irresistible offer, urgency trigger, risk reversals, uniqueness and social proof (in the form of reviews). This improves the conversion rates of your direct mail pieces.
- Pair your vest reviews with various offers. Combine stellar reviews with discounts, incentives, bonuses, etc. to identify the strategy that attracts the kind of customers you’re looking for, at the price point you’re looking for.
These are the strategies you can use to improve the performance of your BBB portfolio. As it turns out, these are also the same tactics most BBB are in the dark about.
Which is why they fail to achieve results.
The BBB, it's worth it, if you know what to do
Contrary to popular belief, your profile with the BBB isn’t worthless. The platform still has tremendous value, but it takes work to unlock that value. It’s a powerful tool in the right hands.
But those hands should be yours.
When it comes to the BBB, there’s confusion about expected outcomes. The vast majority of local and regional businesses approach review platforms with the wrong expectations.
This doesn’t have to be you.
With the right training, your BBB profile can produce the traffic, leads and sales your organization needs to grow.