I was once told that I “bang on a lot about social proof.”
When I heard that, it put a massive smile on my face. Firstly, because it came from someone I hugely respect (Brian Hill, now of City & Capital). Secondly, because social proof is bloody important. Finally, it showed that our messages were being heard.
Over the past 12 months we’ve helped numerous firms tick the three big social proof boxes:
- Client surveys
- Client videos
- Online ratings and reviews.
So, this week, we wanted to share with you some of our research that you can use to improve your social proof.
1. Firms are taking Google reviews more seriously
Google reviews are an excellent way of impressing people (including those recommended to you by existing clients or professional connections) when they search for you online.
That’s why it’s great to see firms are starting to take them more seriously. When we analysed New Model Adviser’s Top 100 last year, we found that:
- 47% of firms in the Top 100 had at least one Google review
- Only 6% had more than 20 reviews
- The firms in the Top 100 had accumulated a total of 505 reviews.
When we compare these results to the Top 100 in 2021, we find that:
- 69% of firms now have at least one Google review
- 16% have more than 20 reviews
- The firms included in the list now have a total of 1,029 reviews.
It’s pretty clear things are getting better. But what does it mean for you and your business? It’s simple; if you aren’t collecting Google reviews right now, you need to start. That’s either to catch up with your peers or, if they aren’t taking reviews seriously, to get ahead of them.
2. Use two platforms to collect reviews
Google reviews are important, but they aren’t easy to get because your client needs a Google account to leave one.
That means if you only ask your clients for a Google review, you could be sending them down a dead end with no alternative option – even if they love you and want to leave a review.
The answer? Collect reviews on two platforms, Google plus one other.
3. We can’t recommend using Trustpilot as the second platform
Once you’ve decided to use a second platform, you need to choose one.
We often get asked about Trustpilot, but frankly, we can’t recommend it:
- The dynamic widget made available on the free plan links to your reviews on Trustpilot’s website (the VouchedFor widget uses a pop-up). Annoyingly, this takes your website visitors away from your site. This issue is compounded by Trustpilot then displaying ratings and reviews for other advisers/planners next to yours. So, in two short clicks, your website visitor could have jumped from your website to a competitor’s. That’s doesn’t sound like a good idea to us!
- Even if every client gives you a maximum score of 5/5, the Trustpilot system makes it hard for your firm to get the same rating. For example, I know of one firm that has 15 reviews on there all rating their service as 5/5. However, the overall score for their business is just 4.5/5. So, no client has marked them down, yet Trustpilot still only gives them a 4.5/5 rating. That sounds odd to us.
- To come off the free plan, the minimum monthly subscription is £199. That’s one hell of a leap for most firms.
So, instead of Trustpilot (or any other similar option), we recommend that firms use VouchedFor as well as Google to collect online reviews.
4. You will get more reviews on VouchedFor than on Google
We run regular projects for our clients to boost the number of reviews they have. In our experience, firms get 3-4 times as many reviews on VouchedFor as they do on Google.
Two examples prove the point:
- A financial planning firm in Sussex: With our help, they have received 38 Google reviews and 196 on VouchedFor over the past two months
- A financial planning firm with offices in the Midlands and London: Using the same process, they have received 16 Google reviews and 98 on VouchedFor.
Need more evidence?
The firms in the New Model Adviser Top 100 have a combined total of 1,029 Google reviews but 4,401 VouchedFor reviews.
The lesson is clear. Google reviews are important, but if that’s the only option you give to your clients, you’re kissing goodbye to three or four times as many reviews elsewhere.
So, use two platforms – Google and VouchedFor – and always ask for reviews on both. Some clients will happily oblige, some will only do one, others none. But if you only give them one option, you’re working with one hand tied behind your back.
Finally, click here to download our free email review request template.
5. Most firms don’t reply to their online reviews
It’s important that you reply to your online reviews, but most firms don’t.
Your replies have three key audiences:
- The client who left it: Your reply is a great way to thank them for the review.
- Prospective clients who will read the reply: Your reply will show gratitude, while it’s a great opportunity to communicate your key messages and show your personality.
- Google: They will like the keywords you can insert into the reply.
However, our research shows that only 23.19% of the firms who have Google reviews leave replies.
The lesson is a simple one: by doing the basics, in this case leaving a reply, you will set your business apart and make you more attractive to potential clients.
6. Most firms don’t have client videos
Everyone loves a good story, which means that client videos are the best way to demonstrate the value you add.
However, our research shows that only 17% of the firms in New Model Adviser’s Top 100 have client videos on their website.
Again, the lesson is simple. Not only do client videos demonstrate value but, because most firms don’t have them, it’ll set you apart if you do.
7. If you ask the right clients, in the right way, they will happily tell their stories on camera
We know that many advisers and planners don’t run client video projects because they think that their clients won’t agree to appear.
We’re here to tell you that’s just not true.
Over the past 18 months, we’ve worked on video projects for more than 30 firms. Every one of those firms found enough clients to appear. Sure, not every client they asked agreed to take part. But enough did.
So, don’t let your gut hold you back. If you ask the right clients, in the right way, enough of them will agree to take part.
8. Traditional website testimonial pages are pointless
We still talk to some advisers/planners who believe that social proof begins and ends with a testimonial page on their website.
That’s not true.
In fact, traditional testimonial pages are largely pointless because almost no one looks at them. Our research shows that only one or two out of every 100 visitors ever looks at a testimonial page.
That begs the question; if so few people engage with testimonial pages, what’s the point in having one?
Instead, take a leaf out of the social media giants’ playbook and make it impossible to avoid your social proof. Facebook doesn’t have a page of adverts on their platform that you can visit when you choose. Instead, they insert adverts into your timeline, so you have to scroll past them. Naturally, you will interact with some too.
Do the same with your social proof. Distribute your ratings, reviews, client survey results and videos around your website so visitors see it while they browse.
Building social proof demonstrates value and sets you apart
Our research clearly shows that most advice/planning firms still don’t take social proof seriously. That means if you do, you will have a huge advantage.
And, it really isn’t that hard. It just takes the right mindset, good processes, and some time (yours or ours). Put all three together and you can:
- Build an enviable portfolio of online reviews
- Reply to reviews
- Build a library of client videos
- Move away from dusty testimonial pages.
So, as we head into a new year, make one of your resolutions to tick the three social proof boxes in 2022. We can help you stick to the resolution too. Click here to email us or call 0115 8965 300 and we will explain how.