Renegade Entrepreneurs of the Pacific Northwest, Episode #5: Review Websites

What are the Pro’s and Con’s of the Review Websites

  • What are the essential internet marketing tools for local businesses?
  • Why should a business standardize Systems, Processes, and Procedures?
  • What are review sites and what can they do for your business?

Know The Pro’s and Con’s of Review Websites and How to Optimize Their Potential.

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Show Transcript:

Jesse Stoddard:             00:06

Hi, welcome to another episode of Renegade Entrepreneurs of the Pacific Northwest. My name is Jesse Stoddard and with me is Keith Eneix and we’re excited to be with you today to give you some great tips, as an entrepreneur, as a small business owner, independent sales professional, and we’ve got a really good topic today. Don’t we? Yes, this is an important topic for local businesses who are trying to figure out how to grow outside of maybe the typical SEO or PPC channels on, with digital. And if you are just tuning in for the first time, I’m a Marketing Consultant and I help small businesses grow through strategy and marketing plan writing and execution. And, Keith is the Founder and CEO of Fannit, which is an awesome digital marketing agency. You tell a little bit about that first, I don’t know if we’ve talked about it.

Keith Eneix:                     00:58

Yeah. So Fannit is a digital marketing agency that helps local businesses try to grow their business. If they haven’t done any sort of internet marketing, they can grow their business as just what we call an essentials level where they haven’t built the system yet and get their business up to the next level. And then there’s a competitive level in a dominant level we can take businesses. So really, our goal is to help business owners create lasting wealth, lasting wealth with Internet marketing tools essentially. And, those main tools are SEO, PPC content and web design. So that’s what we’ve been doing for the last seven years. We’ve brought many local businesses, home services lawyers are the, are the main target markets that we serve. But we brought many of these businesses from usually about the seven million all the way up to five million dollar mark.

Keith Eneix:                     01:48

That’s, that’s our sweet spot. And uh, and then, uh, some businesses in the professional services do a $10,000,000 plus per year. So, you know, we’ve, we enjoy, we enjoy helping these local businesses grow. I’ve always… when I first started in business… I like talking about small business owners. It’s been there. The front line in the trenches trying to grow their business, trying to get our economy to grow. And, I really felt that when I started, because it was back in 2009 when the economy wasn’t doing very well, so it’s a real big deal to me. How do you create lasting wealth even in a down economy and that comes down to your systems, processes, and procedures and being able to, being able to standardize those. So yeah.

Jesse Stoddard:             02:32

One reason why I wanted you to review that, I’m glad you did it is because of the topic today is something you guys hear all the time. I hear it all the time from business owners, in fact, I get daily emails from business owners asking me, hey, I got an email from this review site or this company trying to sell me leads. Should I do it? Yeah. How many of those do you see? Yeah, all the time. All the time. So we want to talk about review sites and we want to talk about lead sites. In other words, sites or companies that will sell you leads. So you’re a service based business

Jesse Stoddard:             03:00

In particular, although any business usually is going to business B to B is going to hear this too, but especially B to C, right? For example, if you’re a moving company, you’re going to get somebody calling you saying, Hey, I can sell you people that want to move. I’m moving leads, right? Or a lawyer. Same thing. I’ve got people that are looking to get help with their personal injury claim. You know, I’m only going to charge you x number of dollars per lead. So what are your thoughts on that? And just to start with you,

Keith Eneix:                     03:26

It can be a little bit daunting for business owners who haven’t done any sort of digital before. They get all these emails are not sure which ones are spam. You get them from somebody saying, Hey, I am the best SEO and I’m with Google and those kinds of emails or phone calls and if it’s a phone call, they usually have thick accents or it’s broken English. If it’s in the mail and you don’t know what’s really real. And then he gets some of these emails that talk about lead generation and they have this website that you’re not sure if it looks legit or not and really figuring out what that really is, you know. So, that’s what I do. I go in and I take a look at those opportunities and I help our clients figure out, OK, is this really a legit opportunity in a lead gen space or is this just another scam kind of thing. So,  you definitely want to stay away from the scams and there’s some good goal out there too if you’re just willing to.

Jesse Stoddard:             04:18

you dig a little bit. So. Awesome. So let’s talk about some specific ones, right? Yeah. I’m just going to name off a few that are really common, at least with our clients and marketplace. You’ve got Angie’s List and Home Advisor, but I’ve talked about that because they have a Home Advisor has purchased Angie’s List. So that’s been merged. Yeah, it’s going to be interesting. Yelp, another big one that everybody knows. And then there’s a lot of smaller ones. There’s the Better Business Bureau, we should mention that there are things like Houzz with two z’s and some of the Thumb Tack and all those little ones, and then you’ve got these independent providers that have set up just a specific lead generation site for a particular industry. Automotive would be huge. They get a ton of use. And so which ones? What are you hearing about? Which ones do you find are good? Well, let’s talk about what’s good, what’s bad, who are the winners are, the losers, or which company and how does a company decide whether they’re going to be on these, to begin with.

Keith Eneix:                     05:11

 

I to I like to think about also so winners and losers and also were there and the buyer’s journey. So you have three stages of the buyer’s journey, browser, compare and buyer and when you’re doing paid search, he often focuses just on the bottom of the funnel person who’s just trying to buy. And that gets you your best cost per acquisition of a lead that turns into a customer for you. So,  if I was to say, you know, the bottom of the funnel best what should be focused on best bang for the buck. It’s, it’s not really about brand awareness or anything, you know, although it can help on that, it’s more about just getting bottom of the funnel opportunities for yourself. The first one that you want to start off with that apart from Google Reviews and being on your Google My Business location, SEO, which is number one, very important, number one, that’s the first thing that you want to do.

Keith Eneix:                     06:03

93 percent of people when they start the buyer’s journey browse comparison and by they start on Google and they’re doing it on their mobile device. And the first thing that pops up as a local service company for you is gonna be your reviews on Google. So that’s number one. And that’s free. I mean, you just, you get on there, you can set it up yourself if you’d like, or Fannit can help you set that up of course too. And we can help with ongoing management to help you rank above your competitors. But you can set that up for yourself, that’s free. Another the second most important one that is free to do as well, but there’s also paid is Yelp. A couple of reasons why Yelp is so important, one, it ranks so well on Google. So that’s where a lot of their traffic comes from.

Keith Eneix:                     06:47

If you do a search for your brand or you do a search even for your industry, you’ll often notice that Google shows up and then Yelp takes up one or two positions in the organic listing with a star rating. And so a lot of people are clicking on those and they’re trusting that brand because the reviews that are given are actually quite trustworthy. And I know that’s a tough point for your business owners out there because when you hear Yelp, it’s almost like the vomit response, you know, because it’s, it’s not fair sometimes the reviews you’re getting. But actually from a third party perspective, this is what I always encourage people to do. Think about the last time you went out to go eat or you know, use a service or something. And was Yelp in the buyer’s journey for you? And did you find that the Google reviews were more honest or the Yelp reviews? And you’ll tend to find that taking Google, taking the Yelp and somewhere in the middle there’s the perfect medium in there.

Keith Eneix:                     07:44

And there’s just some really great, a really great information to glean from Yelp. That’s how people treat that. So especially for your high average sales price type company. I mean if you, if you’re, if you’re selling stuff for anything about $800 and you know, people are looking at Google and in Yelp together, I mean they’re not just, you know, gonna go with you because you’ve got a good sales pitch. It’s a lot deeper than that. They want to get the third party perspective on your business. So that’s really important. OK. So that’s one reason Yelp, is trusted another reason is because there are partnerships with search engines like Bing. OK. So when you have your local Yelp listing in place, being as pulling that data directly and serving that up and you know, Bing is a much smaller search engine, you know, not a lot of people are on, there tends to be an older demographic searching, but that still is really important.

Keith Eneix:                     08:40

So let’s just say you were to go do a paid search campaign with Google Adwords and we find that  as far as the cost per acceptable cost per acquisition, let’s just say we have a moving company and getting about 30 leads a month, you know, and they’re actually one of our clients. They get 30 leads a month from a paid search campaign that is an acceptable cost per lead of about 50 bucks. OK. So then you have their Google listing which gets like 400 leads per month. Right? And their Bing as much smaller than Google. It’s only about 30, but it’s all free and it’s the same amount of leads that Google Adwords is sending. So Bing on Yelp and making sure that Bing is optimized with your local listing is very important. And your reviews, if your Yelp reviews are bad, that’s exactly what’s being served on being. So that’s, that’s really, really important. OK, and I can go onto the other ones here to if you like. Well, yeah, you might have a comment on that. Yeah, he’s on. You’re on fire. Don’t know. Yeah, this is good. This is what we are. And this is why we have you here is for that.

Jesse Stoddard:             09:50

I do want to say something there. There’s a, there’s a common thought among business owners and entrepreneurs when it comes to Yelp and that is that Yelp, I can’t stand them. I hate them because for some reason my reviews disappear unless I pay them lots of money and you know, Yelp a denies that and, and it’s true. Basically, its true. So, I look at Yelp as, you know, you have to pay to play on the Internet in general and it’s in all of their. I’ll just make a quick comment and you can move on to the other sites, but my, the theory behind reviews sites is a little disturbing to me and I just want to warn all of the viewers about this in terms of the mindset of it. So let me, let me put it this way.

Jesse Stoddard:             10:42

Do you want to be on Yelp? Do you want to be on Google? Do you want to be on Better Business Bureau? The answer is probably. And, but here’s something you need to think about. Everybody that is relying on their reviews on Yelp and Google, et cetera. The problem is, is once you start playing that game, you then have to continue playing that game. It’s like a drug you get addicted to and worse than that, you can’t get back out. And also once you start going, then you open yourself up to negative reviews. You open yourself up to managing those reviews. You open yourself up to another can of worms, of communication. And I’ve heard business owners go, well then I don’t want to do it. I’m going to stay off Yelp, but I’m going to stay off Google that sounds like an easy answer, but then what happens is they get destroyed by their competition.

Jesse Stoddard:             11:28

So it is sadly a game you got to play and if you’re on Yelp and you’re frustrated because they only show your negative reviews and even who they swear up and down that it’s not because you’re not paying them. Watch what happens when you start paying them more money. Magically you’re good reviews appear. So, they can deny that. I’m probably going to make a lot of enemies over Yelp just by saying that, but you know, it’s my experience. Maybe it’ll change maybe by the time you’re watching this, you know, they’ve cleaned up their act, probably not. But what I would do right now is I would definitely create a strategy and that’s another reason why they need somebody like you, Keith, because you need to be managing these things. It’s not a one and done. You don’t just set up your Google profile and never touch it again.

Jesse Stoddard:             12:06

You can do it for free and that’s better than nothing. But then as things change and as reviews change, somebody’s got to keep an eye on those reviews, you’re going to get customer complaints on the review site before you even hear about them in the office. That’s dangerous. So it requires more labor. But I would consider it a good good expense. I would consider it an investment that you may have to have somebody in your office that instead of just picking up the phone, they also got to check out the Google and the Yelp reviews and keep an eye on them. And if you don’t, you’re asking for trouble. So that’s what I wanted to say. It’s a great point and I can, I can definitely sense the undertones of dislike for, for Yelp. Based from experience, you know.

Keith Eneix:                     12:44

I get that too and a great story of that would be one of our clients who disliked Yelp. Absolutely. In fact, he said, I don’t want to advertise it all at Yelp,  find other channels that I can advertise on and, you know, we’re just going to spend there. And I said, OK, all right, but I’m gonna. Look into this. All right. And so I looked into it, I found out a lot of the problems with Yelp and Yelp advertising isn’t actually the platform, it’s how it’s, it’s how it’s calibrated. OK? So when you talk to the salesperson over there, they’re just a salesperson. They don’t know anything about their platform. They have been given a standard operating procedure of how they’re supposed to talk to uneducated business owners and just get you to start paying for this platform. There is no other system to it.

Keith Eneix:                     13:30

So they hopefully just get you on telling you what you want to hear. And then over time hopefully leads start coming in. Well, there’s a lot better way of calibrating in that system and what you want to do is make sure that you actually do the research. So if you go in and do the target market research, you do a competitor research, you can actually dial in the system and the cost for the system to make sure that you’re getting into an acceptable cost per acquisition. OK? So when we did this for the client, the guy who wanted to go elsewhere. We actually put them on Yelp and started doing Yelp advertising. We also did a full fledged review campaign for his Yelp profile and so he took his Yelp profile from about a three star rating to like a four and a half star rating, which helps a lot.

Keith Eneix:                     14:14

That’s a unique identifier as a business. You want to make sure to do that and even though you might not like Yelp, the good thing about not liking Yelp is kind of everybody else does. So if you can do really well on Yelp, your consumers trust it. You can be very unique as far as a unique identifiers as a business. OK, so back to the results. So we went on there and uh, we took a budget started. He had nothing going into it at first. We actually increased his budget to $2,000 a month. That was a huge step for him. But I’d done all the research and figured out the target market and figured out the impression share opportunity.

Keith Eneix:                     14:51

I’d figured out the competitor research and such. And we actually found that our conversion rates were really high with this platform and in fact, where our acceptable cost per acquisition on other channels was a $50. We are finding that we were actually getting leads for about $18 from Yelp, somewhere in there. However, when we upped our spend, we started acquiring at a better level. We started acquiring that about $12 per lead and that channel produces during this busy season, about 200 leads per month.  And here’s the thing, as a business owner, OK, still talking to him, he would be getting 200 leads per month from this channel and he would still be telling me he hates Yelp. So, you know, sometimes what’s good for you, you don’t know because you’re just used to a habit of how you think and you’ve got to change that process.

Keith Eneix:                     15:42

And I tell them, hey, look, you know, Yelp, I can understand why you don’t like it, but, this channel is providing you one of your best cost per acquisitions for paid. The only other best cost per acquisition that you have is organic. So it’s really beneficial for him as far as the channel. So anyway, that’s, that’s just Yelp, great story. That’s just Yelp. I think what we need to do is just talk about review sites only today and we’ll do a part two where we talk about the lead site so that we can spend a couple of minutes here in about this because this is good stuff that you can given. I’ll add one thing and then you can close it with some more thoughts, but I just want to say a general, a strategy thing specific to your overall business when it comes to review sites.

Jesse Stoddard:             16:26

And Keith, you’re the master of getting more specific here, but I want to take it back one step just for a second because I talked about my complaint with Yelp and so I’m going to give you one more example of that. Yelp has a, a fancy algorithm computer thing. They show you a picture of like this machine that, that that’s, you know, organizing which leads, they’re to which reviews they’re going to show him that the argument is the strategy is or the thought is that if you are actually asking for a referral in real life, not on digital in real life, you trust certain people more than others, so you may trust a neighbor that you were friends with more than a guy that walks in the street and gives you a referral, so with that mentality, they screen reviews, so they say that they throw out, throw out the really low end rants, but they also throw out the really high end raves and none of us want the rage to be thrown out.

Jesse Stoddard:             17:15

We want the five star, but they tend to throw out ones that are people that haven’t left a lot of reviews. They don’t have a lot of experience on Yelp, but they don’t actually tell you specifically how it works. They say that this is automated and AI stuff or something that’s continually being improved. Well, here’s my complaint with why I prefer Google reviews. They’re trying to be more fair, but now they’ve added the screening mechanism, which by its very existence is not truly objective and subjective one way or the other and therefore what they’re showing is not the whole truth. They’re showing a fragment of the truth that they say is more accurate. Well, who determines that? Yelp determines that so they can say, no, no, there’s no conflict of interest. What you pay us has nothing to do with that, but I just don’t buy it, so that’s why I don’t like them, or I like Google is that they just show all the reviews good in math they do, and so that is the way to be fair.

Jesse Stoddard:             18:04

Yelp, assuming that there’d be more fair. Now back to the overall strategy. What I would say about reviews is the truth, it’s the world that we live in now. However, if you really want to be ahead of the curve, don’t even compete with all your other competitors in the review world. In other words, yeah, you to be there, but the more that you can remove the buyer from that place, that where you can isolate the buyer and you can make a sales presentation that’s controlled, the better. So when you’re go to a vendor booth and you put up your display and let’s say you’re selling pencils and the worst place that you can sell pencils is among 50 other people all selling pencils. And the first thing that happens is a price war, right?

Jesse Stoddard:             18:52

So when you’re online on Google and Yelp, although you got it right, you’re basically competing with everybody else offering the same stuff. And now you’re in a price war or you’re worried about the one review that can make the difference. If you have, if you’re competing where no one else is, for example, like it Disney world or Disneyland, you can go there and you can buy a pencil for like 40 bucks, you know? And and because it’s a special left handed pencils or is at least 10 to $20 for this left-handed pencil with stuff on it, you would never pay for that at the, at the dollar store, more than a dollar if that you want it for fifty cents or 10 for a dollar, but because you’re in that new position, you’ll pay more with the same thing here. If you can get your buyer away from that, and that’s the reason why you cannot give up on testimonials and reviews that you have on your website ,that you have in your sales letters, that you have in your materials, that you have your sales presentation.

Jesse Stoddard:             19:45

Take your reviews and put them there and put pictures and put video. Those video reviews are still going to be powerful compared to these unbiased reviews online. If you can control where they’re coming from. So my, my opinion is yes, you gotta have a guy like a Keith that can help figure all that out for you to play that game, but you also need to have your own reviews. You have to have your own testimonials and you have to control that material on your own media channels. So that’s all I had to say about. No, that’s great.

Keith Eneix:                     20:14

That’s great. And I’ll let you wrap up, but I just wanted to say one more thing. So let’s say you do put a review system in place, which I, you know, the best system review would be, you have an Ipad and you go out and give it to the customer and you guys from that IP address location you know, you do review and the IP address is a really important thing. So if you have reviews being put on Yelp or Google actually, and they’re all from the same address, all those do get filtered. So, that’s why you want to make sure you’re connected to that client’s Wi-Fi or a unique Wi-Fi that has a unique IP address. Yeah, what they want, what Google wants, of course, is unique IP’s giving reviews and also Yelp. That’s a big reason why they filter those

.Keith Eneix:                     21:04

So if you are having people give reviews right after the job and you’ve got that system in place, just make sure it’s coming from a unique IP address. Don’t put it on your office computer and having everybody there doing it. No, it will filter all your reviews. Or on their own phone. Customers, customer’s phone, if they’re right in front of there, right in front of you on your phone, as long as they’re not connected to your Wi-Fi every time you know it’s on their own unique Wi-Fi or their phone. That is a great tip. That’s worth a lot of money there. See now you know why you’re listening. Thanks again for joining us.  I think next time we’re going to have to do an episode on these lead generation sites, a part two if you will. Yes, absolutely. And we’ll see you guys next time.

 

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