Two simple stats prove the importance of online reviews:
- 81% of consumers say that online reviews are either important or very important when deciding whether to use a particular company (Source: BrightLocal)
- 87% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses in 2022, up from 81% in 2021 (Source: BrightLocal)
Anecdotes from financial planners support this evidence too.
Tom Hatley of Christopher Little said on Twitter last week: “[Reviews are] usually in the top three things people check before getting in touch. They tell us they’ve checked out our reviews when we ask how they found us, although some freely volunteer the information saying that they read our reviews and are now calling for help.”
While over on LinkedIn Simon Cutler said: “Almost 50% of our new enquiries are a result of a client reading our reviews after Googling/searching online for an IFA in their area. We wouldn’t be without them in our business.”
So if they’re important, how many review sites should you use? And which ones?
Give me another three minutes and you’ll have the answers.
We disagree with most advisers/planners
To understand the adviser/planner perspective we recently ran a poll on LinkedIn and Twitter asking a very simple question: “Where’s the best place for financial advisers/planners/mortgage brokers to collect online reviews?”
The combined results were interesting:
- 42.53% said Google
- 32.19% think it’s VouchedFor
- 22.62% said advisers/planners should use both platforms
- 2.65% voted “other”.
It’s great that so many recognise the importance of reviews, but we disagree with 75% of advisers/planners who say they should only use one platform. Instead, we’re with the 22.62% who said that two platforms is the way to go.
Only asking for Google reviews sends your clients down a dead-end
There’s a simple logic to why you need two platforms which I’ll explain now.
There are many ways potential clients become aware of you:
- They might be recommended by an existing client (always the best type of new enquiry)
- A professional connection could have pushed them your way
- They might have seen a social media post
- Or just driven past your office.
Google sits between them becoming aware of you and them taking action (getting in touch) so most potential clients will look you up online before contacting you.
Some want basic information such as your telephone number or email address, others are doing deeper due diligence and comparing you with other options (incidentally, this is where competition happens, but that’s a story for another day).
When they search for your business online, your Google Business listing should appear in the results. The reviews in your profile will impress them at that very first interaction with you.
So that’s why (among other reasons, more of which in a moment) you should ask your clients for Google reviews.
But as anyone who has tried it knows, Google reviews aren’t easy to get:
- You need to have a Google account to leave a review
- Unless your Google account is under a pseudonym, your name will appear in public.
So if the only review platform you use is Google, you’re sending clients down a dead end if they can’t or won’t use it.
That’s not great and it’s the first reason you need two platforms.
Potential clients might search for your name (not your business)
The second reason is linked to how potential clients search for you online. As I said, some will search for your business, others will look up your name, for example, “Phil Bray” rather than “The Yardstick Agency”.
If they do that, your Google reviews will not appear, and you’ve lost a chance to impress a potential client. Choosing VouchedFor as your second platform solves the problem.
For us, the logic of using two platforms is inescapable:
- It makes it easier for clients who want to leave a review
- It means your business will collect more reviews.
That sounds like a win-win to me!
But that’s not all. There are significant additional benefits to using two platforms:
- Google reviews will help your SEO and are particularly important for local searches (“financial adviser near me”, “financial adviser in Brighton” etc.) and appearing in the Local Pack (the box below the adverts and above the natural search results)
- Both Google and VouchedFor reviews can be embedded into key pages on your website
- VouchedFor’s Top Rated Guide, published next year in The Times, Telegraph and Daily Mail helps advisers/planners promote the benefits of working with them (click here to register for our next webinar when you can learn more about how to qualify for the 2024 edition)
- Although not its main purpose, VouchedFor will generate a small number of new enquiries directly from the platform each year. In our experience, the fees these generate are usually more than enough to cover the monthly subscription costs.
“I don’t want to bother my clients by asking for two reviews”
If you’re a glass-is-half-full person, you’re probably now thinking about how to maximise your review count on both platforms. If you tend to think of the glass being half empty, you might have a list of objections to using two platforms running through your head.
Next week, we’ll have all the answers. You’ll be able to read our next definitive guide, which will explain everything you need to know about collecting online reviews.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments or opinions about this week’s blog, please drop me an email to email@example.com or call 0115 8965 300.