The Ultimate 2019 Review Management Checklist Guide

Andrew McDermottReputation Management, Review Funnel, Review Management, Review Marketing, Review MonitoringLeave a Comment

review management checklist guide blueprint feature blog image

It's something everyone wants.

Reviews.

It's also something most organizations struggle to attract. Online reviews are kingmakers. We've seen, over previous posts, that online reviews are crucial to attracting, converting and retaining customers.

No surprise, right?

The points below show you how to win more of the online reviews your business needs. These reviews will provide you with actionable strategies, tactics and tips you can use to win more five-star reviews.

Let's get started.

How to use this Review Management Checklist

The details we'll share have a cumulative and compounding effect on your business. The more of these tips and strategies you include, the better your review portfolio will be.

Think 2 + 2 = 400.

These details give you the leverage you need to dramatically improve the results you're able to achieve from your online reviews.

Treat this checklist like a buffet.

Pick and choose the tools and resources that will work best for your business. I recommend giving all of these details a try as you'll find your results increase exponentially when used together in its entirety.

Let's get started.

The Business Fulfillment Checklist

It doesn't matter whether you're running a service or product business. Whether you're focused locally, regionally or nationally. Your fulfillment needs to be top shelf.

This is the basis of every review.

Prospective customers want to know:

(a.) Are you safe and trustworthy?

(b.) Did you deliver as promised (or over deliver)?

(c.) Have you helped businesses similar to theirs?

Here's how you do that.

  • Ship products on the same day orders are received.
  • Provide customers with a service timeline outlining what will happen and when.
  • Consider providing free/discounted shipping both ways.
  • Ensure products are delivered on or before delivery due dates.
  • Give service customers regular status updates (e.g. weekly, monthly, etc.).
  • Provide service deliverables early or on time.
  • Give customers more than you’ve promised whether that’s faster delivery, a lower price, more than expected, or additional surprise bonuses.
  • Provide customers with advance notice in the event that you’re unable to meet/keep your promise.
  • Share a concise recovery plan with customers when you’re unable to keep your promises. Explain why the failure happened, how you plan to fix it and when results will be back to normal.

Auditing Review Management Checklist:

Reviews are the foundation of almost any marketing campaign. At some point, customers will want you to prove or validate the claims you've made about your business.

Reviews do that.

Improving reviews then requires that you take stock of your review management campaigns and portfolios. Here's a list of the basic details you'll need to have in place to set your campaigns up properly.

1. Create an audit review listings spreadsheet

Make a list of the mainstream, niche and specialty review sites unique to your industry.

Mainstream websites include Google Reviews, Facebook Recommendations and Yelp.

Examples of specialty or industry specific review sites could be ZocDoc for doctors and Avvo for attorneys.

Search for your business and each location you'd like to verify. You'll want to verify that you've claimed/control each listing.

claiming your reviews on yelp as an example for a review management audit

Next, you'll want to take stock of (a.) the total number of reviews and (b.) the number of reviews received in the last three months.

audit of recent reviews for businesses on trip advisor as an example

2. Claim, set up and optimize review site listings (if you're starting from scratch)

If you're starting from scratch you'll want to create/claim, set up and optimize your review site listings. Here are instructions for claiming each of the mainstream sites.

Go through and setup profiles for optimization on each of your niche/industry specific sites as well. An optimized review profile includes:

  • NAP (name, address and phone)
  • Photos + videos
  • Question and answers and/or FAQs (where relevant)
  • Descriptions
  • Keywords + tags + categories
  • Hours of operation
  • Website address
  • Booking and/or appointment URLS (if applicable)
  • Tracking details (e.g. discount/store codes, ad extensions, call tracking phone numbers, labels, etc.)
  • Call to action
  • Balanced reviews (5:1 ratio)

3. Set Quarterly Goals

If you've read my previous post on review management ROI, you know the value of aggregate reviews in the search results. You'll want to set specific goals for your review management campaign.

  • Internal goals e.g. five new 4 or 5 star reviews on three different review sites each month. Be sure to prioritize Google and other mainstream platforms first.
  • External goals e.g. overtake competitors on mainstream and niche review sites by the end of Q2. Make a systematic effort to catch, outperform and surpass your competitors on each and every applicable review site.

Why does this matter?

Because prospective customers set the tone here. They decide which review site matters most to them. These review sites are a fundamental part of their decision making process. Your business should be present on each of the review sites prospective customers use to find what they need.

Strategy and Implementing Review Management Checklist:

You'll need to determine the who, what, where, when and how of your campaign. Take the time to define your campaign strategy, roles and responsibilities, details, etc.

1. Set Strategy

  • Decide who is in charge of review management. Is it your customer support team, your marketing dept., business owner, or marketing agency?
  • Create review management protocols. If you’re using review management software, you’ll want to setup notifications for each of the review platforms you’ve listed earlier so they’re able to respond to reviews as they come in.
  • Create employee incentive programs. What can you do/offer to motivate employees so they’re more willing to request reviews? Which employees can participate?
  • Create a response policy. Which reviews do you respond to (all, positive, negative, neutral) and when? Will you provide employees with scripts and templates they can use? Are they free to respond as they need to or do they need to respond specifically as outlined in your documentation? What should the overall tone of their responses be? How much authority will responders have/receive to solve/resolve customer concerns?
  • Set reporting guidelines. Create reporting plan outlining who will receive the reports (e.g. executives, dept. managers, directors, etc.). Which reviews (e.g. positive or negative) will be shared with employees? Will employees in your incentive program receive more data than those who are not participating?
  • Set distribution guidelines for incentives. Determine when employees receive review acquisition incentives. Are incentives distributed privately, publicly (inside the company?)

2. Review Acquisition Implementation

How will you acquire reviews? You'll need to determine whether you plan on using a review management platform or plan on requesting reviews manually.

You'll need to:

1. Set up review funnel (landing page with review site links - make it easy to leave reviews)

grade.us review funnel example

2. Set up email drip campaigns to automate review requests

grade.us review request email example

Next, you'll want to:

1. Determine your campaign's cadence.

  • How many emails?
  • When will they be sent?
  • Where will customers send replies?

2.  Write copy for email campaigns

  • Personalize your emails with names, contact details

3.  Include links to review sites or review funnel

4.  Configure your review management tool with your email service provider

You may also want to:

5.  Set up SMS campaigns to automate review requests

example of an SMS review request with logo
  • Determine the SMS cadence for your campaigns.
  • How many texts? (Just one?)
  • When will they be sent?
  • Write text message (make sure to stay within the character limit)
  • Configure with your SMS provider

6.  Next, set up a repeatable routine to upload email address/phone number spreadsheets for review request campaigns (if not automated)

  • At time of transaction?
  • Weekly?
  • Monthly?

7.  Train sales and support staff on when and how to ask for reviews

  • Inform/educate your employees on the ins and outs of your strategy
  • Provide employees with campaign links (e.g. review site links, review funnel links, and email signature snippets for review requests)
  • Share your incentive program with employees (if you’re implementing one). Provide them with written details (e.g. how performance will be tracked/rewarded) on your incentive programs

Review Marketing Checklist

The more you share your reviews, the harder they work for you. Here's a set of details you can use to improve the effectiveness of each and every review.

example of the grade.us review stream with 5 star reviews.
  • Set up a testimonials/review showcase page on your website
  • Install and connect an automated plugin with curated reviews
  • If you don’t have access to a plugin of your own, set a schedule for adding new reviews
  • Manually write reviews in review schema or an automated plugin like review stream to include schema data automatically
  • Create a sharing strategy for social sharing
  • Choose the social media platforms you’ll use to share your reviews (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Set automated share settings if you’re using a review management platform. If you’re sharing your reviews manually you’ll want to create a social sharing plan
  • Determine when positive reviews will be shared
  • Decide the ratings you’ll share (e.g. 4 and 5 stars? Only 5 stars?)
  • Outline how these reviews will be shared (e.g. manually vs. scheduled, designed as an image vs. review site link)
  • Include reviews in your advertising, marketing and retargeting campaigns

The Customer Service Checklist

Customer service is an often neglected part of review management. Many times the decision to write a review (positive or negative) is based entirely on a customer's recent interactions with customer service.

Mistakes happen.

Customers, for the most part, aren't unreasonable. They're aware of that fact that you're human and that humans make mistakes. They just want you to own, fix and avoid repeating those mistakes.

Here's how you provide exceptional customer service.

1. Make sure support knows the product or service

Customers expect your support teams to have in-depth knowledge of the product or service you're offering. Many customer support teams at large and small organizations aren't knowledgeable. Why?

Because management would have to pay them more! Knowledgeable reps are exceptionally valuable, and for good reason.

  • Provide comprehensive training for customer facing teams (e.g. support, sales, etc.)
  • Conduct monthly, quarterly and annual testing on business, product/service details
  • Reward employees with the highest scores
  • Provide employees with strong incentives to maintain high product knowledge
  • Consider paying more/reducing the size of your support team

2. Monitor competitor/industry sentiment

Do you have your finger on the pulse of the marketplace? Do you know what customers are saying about your competitors and your industry?

You should.

You can use tools like:

Additionally, there are a plethora of additional options for you to choose from.

If your customers or competitors are on a particular platform, you'll want to monitor those platforms accordingly.

In a spreadsheet, include monthly details on:

  • Whether industry sentiment is trending up or down
  • Competitors who are gaining or losing favor in the marketplace
  • Sensitivities or expectations regarding delivery, price, product, service or support
  • Opportunities to pull ahead of or outperform competitors (via competitor miss-steps, gaps in their offering or +/- industry changes)

Use These Review Management Checklists to Outperform

Reviews, as you know, are incredibly important.

But they're underutilized.

Once they've received them, most businesses neglect their reviews. They fail to provide their customers with the underlying structure they need to help their business.

They don't see the connection.

You're now in the know. Online reviews are kingmakers - if you know how to use them properly. As we've seen, online reviews can be used throughout the sales and marketing funnel. But only if your review management campaign has structure - the systems and procedures needed to perform well.

Can you deliver?

You can if you follow the items listed in this checklist. With a clear plan to follow and some upfront preparation, you'll have the resources you need to run circles around the competition. A complete surprise to everyone, except you.

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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