Your Review Management Agency Guide: The First 30 Days

Andrew McDermottAgency, Local, Review ManagementLeave a Comment

You've just won the contract. Your new review management client has signed on for a 30 or 60-day pilot.

At this point, your clients may be interested in a month-to-month arrangement while they evaluate your performance.

Deliver results and they continue.

Fail to deliver results and your clients decide against renewing or extending their contract. It's a wonderful, difficult and exciting time, all at once. How do you make it through your first 30 days? What are the strategies and tactics you'll need to use to keep your new client happy?

A knowledgeable local client is a happy local client

Your client needs a plan.

They're focused on a specific set of details because they're afraid. They've just taken a risk. They've signed on the dotted line but they're now feeling nervous.

They're feeling buyer's remorse.

At this point, they're still happy with their decision. But there's still a nagging bit of doubt in the back of their minds.

What if my agency fails to deliver?

This is why it's important to present clients with a plan that covers the first 30, 60 and 90 days in their campaign. This strategy isn't new and it isn't complicated but it is incredibly important. Here's why.

When you present your clients with a plan you...

  • Relieve their stress and anxiety
  • Keep their attention focused on the work
  • Train their brain to focus on the metrics and KPIs that matter most to them
  • Prime their expectations so they’re within the realm of reality/possibility
  • Increase client compliance overall (e.g. if you want X results I’ll need Y documents)

Your client's stress and anxiety grow when they don't have a plan. Their mind attempts to fill in the blanks, outlining the important steps they'll need to prevent a disaster.

Which of course they can't.

They don't know what they don't know. They don't have the knowledge and expertise needed to plan their campaign properly and they know it. It's a nightmare for you and for them.

Which is why I recommend the briefcase technique.

With the briefcase technique, you have a clear presentation template you can use to present your plan.

What your plan should focus on first

Your review management campaigns are a bit of a paradox. In most cases, 30 days isn't enough time to deliver truly game-changing results. But that's exactly what inexperienced clients want.

They want validation.

They want to deliver the quick wins they need to soothe their fears. Here are the details your 30-day plan should focus on first.

30 day review management plan gradeus

See the pattern?

A large portion of the campaign work is frontloaded. The ongoing portion, however, is still centered around review acquisition. Let's briefly go through and clarify each of these items.

  Set goals, objectives, metrics and KPIs:

This is the measuring stick, the way you'll measure current and future performance data. You'll want to avoid vanity metrics like page views. You want to focus on metrics that correlate to core business drivers (e.g. sales, # of leads generated, revenue, MRR, etc.)

 Benchmark client review portfolio:

It's a snapshot of the beginning. Your client's review portfolio at the start of their campaign. You're also taking a snapshot via analytics. You looking at traffic sources, conversion rate, conversion rate by source, top content, revenue and more. You're looking at the data outlined in your goals, objectives, metrics and KPIs.

 Create an audit review listings sheet:

This worksheet lists the mainstream, niche and specialty review sites in your client's review portfolio. It's an important assessment that shows you whether your review portfolio is balanced or top-heavy.

  Create/set conversion goal/funnels:

You'll want to outline the conversion path from your client's reviews on a particular platform from A-Z. Outline your review profile landing pages (e.g. special offers) through to remarketing and, finally concluding with revenue (a sale).

  Set conversion tracking tools:

Are you using call tracking, tracking URLs, bit.ly links, tracking pixels, forms, something else or all of the above? You'll want to outline which conversion tracking tool goes where and when. You'll want to test these details ahead of time, making sure your conversion tracking is working properly.

  Identifying first X review candidates:

This depends entirely on whether you're running a high or low volume business. Restaurants would be an example of a high volume business, law firms an example of a low volume business. In this step, you're identifying likely candidates in your initial review acquisition salvo. You're immediately sending out review requests to these candidates to use as cornerstone reviews you can promote later. Replace X with a number that's appropriate for your high or low volume business.

   Outline/test landing pages:

It's a rookie mistake that's still incredibly common. Advertisers spending a significant amount of cash, time and effort driving traffic to a landing page that doesn't work or worse, throws a 404 error. You'll want to verify your initial landing pages perform as expected, (e.g. error-free, good load times, fully responsive).

   Identify first Y influencers:

These are local influencers who carry a significant amount of clout yet are still within reach. These are influential bloggers, critics, reviewers who can influence your audience. You want to prepare an initial pitch for these influencers to boost local search results/rankings.

   Pursue first X review candidates:

You'll want to immediately send review requests out to the candidates you've just identified. Replace every neutral/no you receive with a new candidate. This is a subtle step but it's also very important as this will enable you to ramp review acquisition up naturally over the course of your client's campaign.

   Review acquisition implementation:

This is a full rollout of your review acquisition. Your review requests are integrated into various channels in your business (e.g. social, email, SMS, customer service, fulfillment, etc.). You'll want to make it easy/natural to ask your clients customers for review.

  Organic/local search optimization:

In this step, you're implementing the basic components of your local search campaign. You're optimizing local content, videos, guest posts, partnerships, events and link building.

   Optimize conversion funnels:

Reality tends to shake our plans up. Optimizing your client's conversion funnel gives you the chance to adjust to reality. You want to ensure that your adjustments are made in response to statistically significant events. Use this statistical significance calculator to find out.

   Campaign reporting, client updates:

You'll want to provide your clients with weekly updates. This will give you the chance to show clients what's happening, reduce buyer's remorse and sell them on an extended contract. The aim here is simple. You're demonstrating an increase or positive lift across your client's goals, objectives, metrics and KPIs. You're demonstrating the ROI.

   Promote cornerstone reviews:

Cornerstone reviews create activity. They attract more (positive) reviews. Cornerstone reviews are important because they can be used across a variety of marketing channels (e.g. email, text message, remarketing, display, search and social media campaigns). Cornerstone reviews can also be displayed in your email campaigns and on your website and social media profiles.

What about simultaneous action items?

   Review management protocols outline who's responsible for what, when where and why. These protocols cover methodology, explaining how things should be done.

  Customer service support means your customer support teams are prepped on the various aspects of review management and review acquisition they'll need to cover.

  Sentiment monitoring/management. You'll need a precise set of tools that automatically monitors, measures and reports on all aspects of your review management campaigns. SaaS tools like Grade.us automate these details, providing agencies with a wealth of data.

  Claim and optimize review listings. Use instructions like these to create/claim, set up and optimize your review site listings. You want to verify that your NAP/citation data is up-to-date.

  Service/order fulfillment ensures that your fulfillment processes work with, never against your review management campaigns. If you're running an e-commerce business you're adding review requests to your packages. You're sending a request out via email. What if you're running a law firm? You're requesting a review just before the completion of your client's matter. You outlined the who, what and when of your review request.

  Review marketing checklist. The more you share your client's reviews, the harder they work. What can you use to improve the effectiveness of each and every review? Where do you promote your reviews? What's the format or procedure for promoting reviews? How long are these reviews promoted? Which reviews are advertised? Here's a list of promotion strategies you can use to increase the effectiveness of each and every review.

This seems like a lot, and it is.

But this is exactly what your clients need, what you need to accomplish in the first 30 days. This is how you get your clients to extend your contract for another 30 days.

What about set up?

You'll want to rely on review management tools to automate most of your campaign. With Grade.us, you can build your very own review funnel to handle customer outreach on your client's behalf. You'll face one of three scenarios in your campaign.

Scenario #1: No reviews, no systems

In this scenario, your client's review portfolio is non-existent. They have no listings, minimal internet presence, these clients are starting from scratch.

Your major goals for the first 30 days?

This scenario is by far the most stressful. You have 30 days to validate the campaign (e.g. generate actionable results) for your clients. You'll need to hit the ground running.

They're most likely inexperienced.

Here's why this scenario is so difficult. These clients, due to a lack of experience, are more likely to have a set of unrealistic, unspoken or fuzzy expectations. You'll need to focus your attention on producing results quickly if you'd like to keep these clients.

Scenario #2: Some reviews, no systems

Your client has some/a good portion of reviews but they don't have systems in place. They're not earning reviews consistently. Their review management campaigns are hit or miss, or simply nonexistent.

Your major goals for the first 30 days?

Implement systems, acquire reviews on a schedule.

  • Create/implement review management protocols.
  • Create review management systems (including scheduling).
  • Create a review funnel.
  • Create a list of satisfied, unhappy and neutral customers to interview.
  • Create appropriate checklists (e.g. business fulfillment, review acquisition, audit, review management, customer service and marketing/promotion).
  • Set up review/sentiment monitoring.

You'll want to follow the protocols, processes and schedule explicitly on your client's behalf. This is primarily about consistency. Systems give you the chance to score quick/big wins.

It's the low hanging fruit you'll need to pursue to keep this client type.

Scenario #3: Bad reviews / Bad reputation

Your client's portfolio is filled with negative reviews. Their reputation is poor and they're in dire need of a full review management/reputation rehabilitation.

Your goal for the first 30 days?

Stop the bleeding.

You'll need to focus your attention on positive PR. Depending on your client's industry you may need to:

  • Make an announcement/apology where your clients own their mistakes and present a plan for the future.
  • Create a list of satisfied, unhappy and neutral customers to interview.
  • Interview these customers to get a full scope of the problem.
  • Outline the problem, from their customer’s perspective along with a solution to stop the bleeding.
  • Present a plan to make things right. Make appropriate structural changes.
  • Typically this will lead you to a few outcomes: (a.) Provide restitution to unhappy/harmed customers. (b.) Make major corporate changes and immediately request reviews from new/happy customers. Focus on review search profiles with a large degree of domain authority/ranking in search results. (c.) Rebrand the business, kill existing websites, review/social profiles and start over.

Your local clients are happiest when you have a plan

Your review management campaigns are a bit of a paradox. In most cases, 30 days isn't enough time to deliver truly game-changing results. But that's exactly what inexperienced clients want.

They want validation.

It's important to present clients with a plan that covers the first 30, 60 and 90 days in their campaign. Their stress and anxiety skyrockets when they don't have a plan. Their mind attempts to fill in the blanks, doing everything they can to prevent a disaster.

Your first 30 days sets the tone.

It determines the success or failure of your campaign overall. You've won your client over. Deliver value and you'll have what you need to keep your clients in the long term.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin and the co-author of Hook: Why Websites Fail to Make Money. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.

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