19th July, 2023 - Webinar replay

10 practical ways to use your Google and VouchedFor reviews to improve your marketing

Phil Bray 0:03
I hope it’s nice and sunny where you are, it’s not in Nottingham, but anyway. It is July, isn’t it? So morning everybody who have we got on today? Hi Andrew and Ben up in Yorkshire, and hi David over the water there in Northern Ireland. Emily, hi. Imogen, hi, hope you’re well. Chris, Mark, there’s lots of Marks on here, Peter, Ravenska, hope you’re well in Warrington. Anyway, morning everybody. So today’s session: 10 practical ways to use your Google and VouchedFor reviews to improve your marketing. I put up a poll, we’re gonna do two polls today, one at the start and one at the end. 65% of people have voted so far, so, if you’ve not gone and voted in the poll, please go and do so while we just have a quick chat about what we’re going to talk about today. We’ll start by looking at the poll results. So today, what are we going to cover? We’re going to start by talking about why online reviews are important. We’re going to talk about why Google and VouchedFor, and then we’re gonna look at 10 ways you can use those reviews to improve your marketing, and where you should be adding them on your website. Then we’re going to finish off by talking about how to boost your review count. Every week, I speak to advisers and planners who are making the same mistakes when it comes to collecting Google and VouchedFor reviews, and it’s really important that we, which we will show in a bit, we build that review count, and if we’re going to make those mistakes, then we’re going to get fewer reviews. So I thought we’d finish by how to boost your review count. Then I need everybody’s help, please. We’re going to miss August, because of holidays, etc. So we’re not going to do a webinar in August, but we’re going to come back in September, and I could do with your help as to what we should be talking about. So, we’ll do a poll about that at the end. So I’ll hand over to Dan for the usual housekeeping. 75% Now so far, please do go and vote in the poll. Dan over to you, mate.

Dan Campbell 2:22
Sure thing. Wow, the sun, what’s that Phil? I don’t think I’ve seen the sun in about a month. Yeah, let’s do some housekeeping. So I’m Dan. I’m the Head of Branding and Design here at Yardstick. My job, as always, is to make sure everything’s running smoothly and to keep us on track, and on time. I’ll also be keeping an eye on any technical issues, and any questions that you may ask. So looking at the attendees here, we’ve got plenty of familiar faces in the crowd today. So you guys will know that these sessions work best with lots of input. We’ll be talking about how to use your Google and VouchedFor reviews; so if you want to add to that conversation, don’t be shy; let’s hear what you’ve got to say. Ask questions, share your experience of what has and hasn’t worked, tell us if we’re speaking sense, and of course, tell us if we’re speaking the opposite. These sessions are an opportunity for us to learn from you as well, so, let’s see what we can all get into. As usual, there are two ways that you can get involved, either use the chat function, or there’s a Q&A box that I’ll be monitoring as well. We’re reading your questions out at natural breaks, and then of course, we’ll have a period at the end where we can sweep any final ones up. And there’s a question that we get asked often, so I’ll answer it now. A follow up email with a recording of this session will land in your inbox later on. So, if you do miss anything the first time around, you can absolutely catch up later. Okay, so without further ado, Phil, we’ve already spoken about how to get reviews in the first place. So how do we weaponise them? Tell us everything.

Phil Bray 3:59
Weaponise them? That’s a good word. One person that we should explain their absence of this week is Abi. Abi has flown south for the sun. So she messaged me earlier and said it’s only 31 degrees today, it was about 38 yesterday. So that’s why Abi is not here today everybody, and you’re stuck with me and Dan. So how do we weaponise these reviews? I like that, that’s a blog title there. So, the first thing we do is we try and look at some of the barriers people are experiencing. So, on the way in, we asked a question on the poll. What’s stopping you from promoting your reviews more effectively? 14% of people said they didn’t have enough time. Well, that’s good. So at least we’ve got the time to do this, half, 51% of people said they don’t know where to start. So, you’re in the right place! We’re going to be able to tell you where to start today. 16% said you don’t have enough Google reviews to promote, which is okay, that’s fine, we will come to that at the end of this presentation. And then 19% of people said something else. And if you put something else, just put something in the chat, would you please? Just to explain what that something else is. But it’s pretty clear that about half the people on here don’t know where to start when it comes to promoting their Google and VouchedFor reviews. Well, the answer to that is we start right here. So let me end the poll, and we’ll plough on. Right. So, let’s start by looking at why reviews are important. It’s because, we want to use reviews to impress prospective clients on their digital journey to your door. And every prospect, every prospective client takes several steps on that journey, and it’s something we call at Yardstick, the enquiry equation. So let’s give a couple of examples. Let’s say I am recommended to Andrew up at Berry & Oak up in Boston spa; In my early 60s, I’ve got a pile of pensions, investments, savings, not really sure what’s going on; I’m out on a Friday night and I ask a friend who they’d recommend, and they say go to Andrew at Berry & Oak. So the next morning when I wake up dust off the hangover, because I’m not as young as I used to be, I Google, Berry & Oak and then I go on to Berry & Oak’s website and make an enquiry from there. Other examples of the enquiry equation, I might drive past the office of a Financial Planner every day on the way into work, it gets to that point my life where I need to do something about my retirement planning, so I search for that firm online and I look at their Google reviews and that’s enough to convince me to pick up the phone to them and the telephone number is in the Google Business Listing. Last example, I’m a member of a local Facebook group, where people are talking about cats getting lost up trees and that sort of stuff, and about once a week someone will go on there and say “Can you recommend a Mortgage Adviser? Can you recommend a Financial Adviser?” and I will often suggest people. So the enquiry equation there is what? Facebook group, recommendation from other members of the Facebook group, probably a Google search, maybe straight through to the website and an enquiry. So people take several steps on their digital journey to your door and we need to impress them on those steps, and that’s because sat between someone becoming aware of a Financial Adviser or Planner and taking action, is Google. I’ll give you another example. Let’s say I’m out for dinner, I’m that 60-year-old person. I turn to one friend and they say Andrew Elson, Berry & Oak, the other one says, No you don’t want to use Andrew, I’m sure he’s nice, but you don’t want to use Andrew, you want to use Ben Cordiner at Cordiner Wealth. So I come away with two names and in times gone by, pre-internet and pre-Google, I’d have probably just picked up the phone to Ben or Andrew, on the Monday morning, whoever answered first, I would have made an appointment with. But now Google has made us all more discerning consumers, we all have more information at our fingertips. So instead of waiting until Monday morning, I’m probably going to search online for Andrew and Ben, whoever impresses me most, I’m going to get in touch with first. Interestingly, this is where competition happens. Competition rarely happens around the meeting room table or a Zoom call as it is these days. It happens online, and it’s invisible. Andrew and Ben don’t know I’ve been recommended to them in that instance. So you’ve got to impress potential clients on their digital journey to your door and one of the best ways of impressing potential clients is through online ratings and reviews. We talk about three social proof boxes at Yardstick, client surveys, client videos, and online ratings and reviews. And as we wrote about a few weeks ago in a blog, three key stats to prove the importance of online reviews and I hear advisers often saying “oh my clients don’t read reviews” “High net-worth clients aren’t interested in reviews.” Well, I’m sorry, but that opinion doesn’t override this evidence. Bright Local’s research showed that 81% of consumers say that online reviews are either important or very important when deciding to use a particular company. 87% of consumers use Google to evaluate local businesses, and local is really important because whilst you can operationally deliver a service via Zoom to people anywhere in the country, or indeed the world, a lot of consumers want local advice. And then 1 in 3 new clients, say that read an adviser’s or planner’s VouchedFor reviews, before becoming a client. Bobby, you put something in the chat earlier, and that’s the first stat, to show that VouchedFor reviews are incredibly visible. So that research from Bright Local and VouchedFor shows how important online reviews are in the context of that digital journey to your door. So hopefully, that’s showed a little bit of background about why online ratings and reviews are important. We’ll look at which platforms we should be using in a second, But Dan, there’s a few notifications in the chat, anything we need to deal with so far?

Dan Campbell 11:22
So, these are mainly notes from the poll, and overwhelmingly people are heading more down the VouchedFor route, as opposed to the Google route. A lot of pain points that people are getting, a few people have mentioned that they don’t focus on Google reviews, because they have a habit of disappearing. We’ve got David who says “We focus on VouchedFor, and are getting quite good at getting those reviews, but I’m not asking for Google reviews, as it seems like overkill, am I missing out? How does one get clients to do both?” Imogen backs that up, “We have the same issue, building up a good stock of VouchedFor reviews, but struggling to get people to actually leave those Google reviews.”

Phil Bray 12:07
Okay, so reviews disappearing, struggling to get people to leave Google reviews, and feels like overkill. Right, okay, we’ll deal with all of those three. Dan just write those down, and we’ll deal with all those three over next few slides, yeah? The one thing I would say, I’ll deal with one of them straightaway; I’m not sure who left that comment, but unless you’ve got a different experience, Google reviews do occasionally disappear, it doesn’t happen that frequently. We’ve got 136, five-star Google reviews. It’s a bit of a shameless plug, but why not? We’ve got 136, five-star Google reviews, and we have one disappear once every six months, something like that. It’s a pain in the neck because you’ve got to submit a request to Google to get it back, but it is by no means enough of a problem for me to not want to collect Google reviews, or not suggest to everybody on this call that you collect Google reviews. Another example just to prove that point, we’ve got a firm in Bristol, last month. I hope you can all hear me it’s absolutely throwing it down here. Last month, they lost two Google reviews, they just vanished. They submitted the online form to Google, and Google have put them back on; so that’s a real win. So we’ve dealt with one of the ones there Dan, and we’ll cover the other two as we go through the next couple of slides. And the next couple of slides are really explaining why we should we believe you should ask, and use two platforms. Google reviews can be hard to get. I think we’ve established that from all our research in the past, and what a few people have said so far. They are incredibly hard to get, for every one Google review get, you’ll get between five and ten on VouchedFor, but, they do help improve your local search rankings. So if you imagine someone typing into Google, Financial Adviser, near me, Financial Adviser, Nottingham, Brighton, Norwich, whatever it is, and think about the page that the consumer sees, some adverts at the top, you’ve then got Google Places, which is a section of local businesses. About 40% of people who are looking for local service will click on there, and Google reviews are a ranking factor. So the more Google reviews you get, the more likely you are to be placed in the three businesses that are in that box. So that’s a really good reason to be looking to increase your Google review count. Plus, they impress prospects, prospective clients when they search for your business. So back to that example, when I was referred to Andrew and Ben, if I search for the two business names Berry & Oak and Cordiner Wealth, those Google reviews will come up on the right-hand side and that will immediately impress me. That’s the first online interaction I have had with the business, and I am immediately impressed by the reviews that are there; that’s why they are so important. Google reviews are incredibly important for those reasons, it helps your local rankings, it also impresses people on that first digital interaction on that journey to your door. And I get that they’re hard to get, but I can think of some really good examples of firms. Go and search for South Devon Financial Planning. That’s Charlie Brown, unsurprisingly, based in South Devon, and South Devon Financial Planning, Charlie’s sole planning firm, and he’s got 50 – 60 reviews now, he’s worked really, really hard and it works brilliantly for him. Go and look at someone like Henwood Court, The Aspire Partnership, these firms have all got a decent number of Google reviews. That’s why Google reviews are important. Now, VouchedFor. Our view is that you should always have a partner platform to Google, you should always use a second platform and that’s because Google reviews are hard to get. If you only ask for Google reviews, and your client can’t or won’t leave a Google review, you’ve sent them down a dead end, they want to leave a review, they’re really happy with you, but they can’t or don’t want to leave a Google review, you’ve just send them down a dead end. So therefore, logically, we need a second platform. We’ve done a lot of research, considering what that second platform should be. Should it be Facebook, Feefo, VouchedFor, Trustpilot, LinkedIn, endorsements? They’re still a thing. Which ones do you use? We came to the conclusion a few years ago now, and it’s something we test on a regular basis. We’ve come to the conclusion in the vast vast majority of cases VouchedFor is the right platform to use. There are a few reasons for that; they are easier to get than Google reviews, it doesn’t mean Google reviews are any less important, it just means they’re easier to get. If you use VouchedFor properly, it will generate a handful of leads and new enquiries each year, which if you convert one of them will probably cover the cost of your VouchedFor subscription. They also fulfill a slightly different function. So in that example before with Ben and Andrew, and I’ll stop picking on you in a minute Andrew, If I google Andrew or Ben’s name, rather than their business name, their VouchedFor reviews will come up. So I’m covering two bases. The Google reviews cover the base, if I’m googling the firm’s name, the VouchedFor reviews, cover the base if I am googling the individual adviser’s or planner’s name, so it’s really important that we collect reviews on both platforms. Now to deal with your question, David, about overkill. I think it’s all in how you do it and the process. So a lot of advisers think, like you, David, that it’s overkill to say, please leave a review on VouchedFor, then go back in a bit and ask for a review on Google. So what we suggest is best practice, and we see work really well, is, the adviser, the planner, asks the client verbally, is it okay to send you an email asking for Google and VouchedFor reviews? client will nod and say yes. And then you send them an email. We use two platforms, Google and VouchedFor, here’s the link for Google, here’s the link for VouchedFor. Some will do none, some will do one, some will do both. But that’s the way to do it; one email with two links. The wrong way to do it is two emails with a link in each. So hopefully that answers your question, David. Dan what was the third question? It’s gone.

Dan Campbell 19:25
So the three main ones were reviews disappearing, overkill having both platforms, and then just basic trouble getting people to leave them in the first instance.

Phil Bray 19:34
Yeah. Okay. We’ll cover that one at the end when we do the reviews. Okay. So that’s why we believe you should use two platforms. Dan anything in the chat that we need to deal about, specifically around two platforms?

Dan Campbell 19:53
No, let’s move on. There’s a couple of great points here, but it’s overlap of what’s already been said in various instances.

Phil Bray 20:00
Right, so, use Google, use VouchedFor. If anybody has got any questions for that, any challenges around that, then put them in the chat and we’ll deal with those. So if we accept that, collecting the reviews is great, but it’s only half the job and we need to repurpose the Google and VouchedFor reviews to maximise the impact of them, and maximise your time and your investment, producing them. And that’s why we’ve got 10 ways that you can do this, you can repurpose them to maximise your impact and maximise the investment. So number one, on your website. So your website, as we’ve said, lots of times is your shop window. It’s not an online brochure, it’s not an online business card, it’s so much more important than that. It’s your shop window, it’s where prospective clients get to know you, it’s where prospective clients make decisions about whether you are the right adviser or planner for them; and it’s a one-way conversation, It’s a one-way street, you have no right of reply. So they will draw conclusions from what they see on your website, and you never know what conclusions they’ve drawn, whether they’re good or bad. Therefore, we need to impress people, when they’re on your website. We need to empathise with them. And we need to show them that you are the right firm for them, or not as the case may be, to be fair. Let’s assume the prospect that’s on there is a right-fit prospect. So, testimonials pages on adviser websites are dead, they are pointless. Why? Because only one or two out of every one hundred visitors will ever go to a testimonials page, you’re effectively putting the good stuff on one page and hoping that somebody visits that page. Instead, we need to take a leaf out of commercial TV channels, the social media giant’s books and scatter the social proof throughout the site. So if you imagine your Facebook feed, you’re scrolling down your Facebook feed to find out what’s happening with the people you’re connected to. Every so often, Facebook, it’s actually not every so often is it? It’s probably every three posts, will insert an advert and that means I see the advert while I’m scrolling. Some of the adverts I’ll just scroll past, some I’ll stop and look at, and some I will click. We need to use that concept on your website, and throughout the site, we need to scatter, add, distribute whatever word you want to use, your social proof, client surveys, client survey results, client stories, online ratings and reviews throughout your website. So people see them wherever they go on your site. Ideally, we should display ratings and reviews where possible, and I can’t think of any occasions when it’s not possible, using the widgets that VouchedFor provide, and potentially some of the free widgets that you can get to display your Google reviews. so, where should we put them? The Google reviews should go on the homepage, as should the VouchedFor reviews. If you’re displaying your VouchedFor reviews, there’s two different widgets that you can use. What I mean by the VouchedFor widget is when you click on it, you don’t get redirected to the VouchedFor website, a pop-up appears so I’m still in your website’s domain. A pop-up appears and I can read the reviews. On the homepage, you should display Google reviews and your company’s VouchedFor reviews. Your website should have a ‘Why choose us’ page, it’s the bit where you are selling, and clearly you’re Google and VouchedFor reviews should go there. I’m a big fan of, and we’ve started to do this more often, putting reviews on ‘Contact’ or ‘Get-in-touch’ pages. We’ve not always done it but we’ve started to do it more often now. Your website might have an ‘Awards and Accreditations’ page, I’d put Google reviews there, and your website certainly should have a team section and then individual pages for each financial adviser, or each financial planner in the business, and on those pages, you should use the VouchedFor adviser widget. So those are what we got there. Four or five different pages where we should be displaying the reviews as a minimum, on your website. Dan I could see a few things coming in the chat, I fancy some tea, how are we getting on?

Dan Campbell 25:31
Yeah, have yourself a sip of tea. We’ve got plenty of great questions coming through. So where do we start? So on the testimonials pages being dead point, Hannah raises a great point, “Should we put testimonials throughout the website? And on a testimonials page for the sake of that 1%? Who want to read testimonials deliberately?”

Phil Bray 25:57
Yeah, I wouldn’t get to (caught up on it). Yes, you’re gonna do no harm doing it. Personally, I wouldn’t put testimonials on our website. I think they are kind of the base level of social proof. Online ratings and reviews, videos and client survey results are far more powerful than a written testimonial; but if testimonials are all you’ve got, scatter them around the site and give yourself a testimonials page. But then have a think about the quality of social proof that we have got and whether we should be raising that up a few notches, through ratings and reviews, videos and surveys.

Dan Campbell 26:43
Brilliant, thanks. Now Claire asks the question “why are VouchedFor reviews easier to get than Google reviews?”

Phil Bray 26:51
It’s good question because instinctively, they should be harder. Google, you’re answering two questions, a star rating out of five and writing a comment, VouchedFor you’re answering 8 – 10 questions as well as rating on four different categories. So I would say there’s a few reasons, the first one and the main one is you need a Google account to leave a Google review, and that means primarily you’ll have a Gmail address. One thing I would say, a slight tangent, is we do hear a lot of advisers saying “I’ve just got all my client list, and I’ve just highlighted the ones with a Gmail address.” Don’t do that. Few reasons, first they might have another email address you don’t know about that’s a Gmail account. Second, they might have a company email address that actually is running on the Gmail platform, Yardstick are an example. And third, they might love you so much that they’re going to set up a Gmail account or Gmail email address just to leave you a review. So I think the first reason is that, and that’s the main barrier is that you’ve got to have a Gmail account to leave it, leave the review. Second, your Gmail account is probably linked to your own name, some people won’t want their own name appearing in public, VouchedFor reviews are anonymous. The third is just the journey. With Google reviews, you leave a star rating, and then you’ve got to write a comment and that comment section is just you just faced with a blank white box, whereas with VouchedFor, you are guided through questions. So I think those are the three reasons, I cannot emphasise enough that those three reasons are not a good enough reason to not use Google. Huge benefits of using Google for reviews.

Dan Campbell 28:32
Brilliant, thanks. Good question from Bobby, “What do you mean by video testimonials?”

Phil Bray 28:39
So it’s good question, Bobby. What do we mean by video testimonials? We mean, an interview with a client that is maybe two to three minutes in length, talking about their story, or their journey with the adviser. So why they’ve started working with the adviser, the benefits of working with that adviser, the value that the adviser adds, etc. We record them sometimes face to face, sometimes remotely, and then add them to the website. Couple of examples, go and have a look at the Delaunay Wealth website. That’s a website we built this year, or launched this year, and we went and interviewed the advised clients in their homes or workplaces. Go and have a look at the Expert Wealth website that’s got some videos on it where we have done them remotely.

Dan Campbell 29:37
Just for everyone’s benefit, I’m gonna put those links in the chat now as well so you can all take a look. And on that end theme, Phil, So this is a question from Ravenska, “Do you have any examples of companies that display Google reviews on websites?”

Phil Bray 29:54
Yeah, go and have a look at the Henwood Court website, scroll down on the homepage and you’ll see Google reviews being displayed there on a slider. I think on the Delaney Wealth website as well, but Dan, maybe you can look for that.

Dan Campbell 30:08
Yeah, we’ll put those links in as well. So everyone’s got those. Okay, well, that’s it for the questions right now, let’s move on.

Phil Bray 30:15
Okay. So number one, that’s where to display these reviews on your website. But there’s a bunch of other things we can be doing with them. So, your social media banners, and what we mean by social media banners is the image that’s displayed at the top of your LinkedIn profile, both your personal and corporate, Twitter, Facebook, etc. The banner is so important, because everybody sees it. Everybody who visits those social channels will see the banner and that makes it really valuable online real estate. But too many firms too many advisers and planners don’t maximise the potential. So I looked at one the other day, it was nice, it’s got the firm’s logo on it, but it was ineffective because it was a missed opportunity. Dan and his team spend a lot of time building social media banners in the branding team and there’s essentially four things that should be included, your logo, a hero statement explaining what you do, and who you do it for, your contact details, and some social proof, your ratings and reviews, primarily. So if you just go and look at my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see our banner, it’s got a strap line on there, it’s got our contact details, it’s got our logo, and it’s got our Google review count on there. So really important that you display your ratings and reviews, or some form of social proof on the social media banners. Dan, they don’t take that long to do, do they?

Dan Campbell 31:59
No, for a full suite of banners, and that’s usually a LinkedIn banner for your personal account, and then LinkedIn banner for your corporate account, because the two have different sizes and have different things on them; and then perhaps a Twitter equivalent and a Facebook equivalent, it’s usually around two or three hours of design time for the full set, and that’s just at our standard agency rate of £71 plus VAT per hour. So for a full suite of useful social media banners, it’s not really a big investment in the grand scheme of things.

Phil Bray 32:32
Cheers Dan, so number two, social media banners. Number three, your proposal documents. So as we talked, we talked about a lot already, and we’ll carry on talking about, showing the value of working with you showing the value of financial advice, financial planning, beats telling people about it, and social proof is the best way of showing value. There may be occasions when you write proposal documents for clients, I can think of one firm we’ve been working with recently, where we’ve been helping them write their first meeting presentation, and the follow-up proposal documents, which they are going to put into a system called Better Proposals, which is an online proposal software application that allows you to build templates for proposals, write them, send them out to clients and get them signed. Anybody who’s worked with The Yardstick Agency on the call, you’d have probably received a proposal via that system. You’re still in selling mode at that moment, I make no apologies for saying it, everybody is selling something, and you’re selling financial advice, financial planning, mortgage advice, Yardstick, we’re selling marketing services. So, when you’re sending that proposal document across, you’re still in selling mode, and you should be in showing mode as well, not telling. And that’s where social proof has a huge benefit, it’s hugely important to include social proof in your proposal documents, whether it’s a PDF, a Word document, or you’re using a system such as Better Proposals. And one of the types of social proof you should be using in there is of course, your online ratings and reviews. If you use something like Better Proposals, you can put code in there, you can put HTML code in there, which means that you could probably use the Google and VouchedFor widgets to make them dynamic, which would look very cool. So your proposal documents, make sure you’re putting social proof in there, including your online ratings and reviews. Social media, so we talked about banners, and that’s improving the look of the static page. When you get a review, whether it’s on Google or VouchedFor, unless you publicise it, it’s just going to sit on those platforms. So one of the key ways of publicising this sort of stuff is on social media. Now I know a lot of people struggle with with self-promotion, they struggle to promote themselves, they struggle to talk about their wins. But it’s really important that we’re not shy because if you don’t promote the reviews, nobody else is going to do it for you. So be aware of when a review comes in, write a reply, we’ll talk more about that in a bi, and then go and promote it on your social media channels. You’ve got to be a little bit careful not to overdo it; you don’t want every single post to be ‘look how great I am, we’ve had another review’. That’s why we have something called the 8-1-1 rule. So for every ten posts, eight add value, you’re imparting knowledge you’re giving away information, one is a bit about the business, one is a humble brag or boast, we’ve had a review. If you follow that broad ratio, then you won’t be overdoing it, you’ll still be adding value the majority of the time, but you’ll also be promoting your reviews to demonstrate your expertise. So don’t be shy, nobody else is going to promote these for you, really important that you do it yourself. Social media is a great way of doing it, just don’t overdo it and follow that 8-1-1 rule. Company literature. Now, company literature is a deliberately broad term, I’ll go to Dan in a second and get Dan to just explain what it might involve. But it’s often designed in part to sell your services and again, we’ve mentioned a few times already, that showing beats telling and therefore find ways of working social proof into your company literature. Of course, those online ratings and reviews are one of the three key types of social proof we would expect you to include. So have a look at your company literature, and have a look at where you could include Google reviews, and your VouchedFor reviews, either dynamically using the widget or if you’re printing, obviously, icons and imagery. Dan, where have you done this for firms with in their literature?

Dan Campbell 37:43
So by company literature, generally speaking, it’s things such as client agreements, fee agreements, disclosure documents, anything that you issue to a client that they need to read, sometimes sign, but not always. Some clients that I’ve spoken to argue that it feels a bit salesy to put these in, because at this point the client has technically , well generally already onboarded or is onboarding; but I’d argue that it’s not really about selling at this stage, it’s about reassurance and the client needs to feel that they’re in safe hands and your words can only do so much; the words of other people in the situation exactly the same as that person will carry far more weight. So the approach that we generally take is kind of like the website where rather than have a page of testimonials right at the end, pepper them through, there’s bound to be some natural breaks during the document, little bits of blank space. Usually, we put imagery in there or icons and graphics, but a nicely designed testimonial or a Google review, or even just a widget saying your VouchedFor rating, and perhaps a little passage explaining what that is, is generally quite a nice thing to do. It’s all about being quite subtle, and putting it in fairly often and naturally, and when you’ve got a suite of say, three or four documents that you give a client over the duration of their onboarding process, it does tend to be well received.

Phil Bray 39:14
Thanks, Dan. While you were talking, I just took the opportunity to look at a question from David. David asks whether you can embed widget code in your social media banners? The answer unfortunately, David, as far as I know, is no, you can’t do that. It’s got to be a static image.

Dan Campbell 39:33
Yeah, it’s all about flat imagery with banners, and that’s not to say that will always be the case; they’re always tinkering with the dimensions and resolutions and etc, to the displeasure of the designers that built them because the rules change often. But at the moment, you can put videos into your profile picture in LinkedIn, but you can’t put any widgets or any interactive elements in the actual banners.

Phil Bray 39:58
Right number six, email signatures. So your email signature is seen by lots of people every week, clients prospects, professional connections, so make it work for you. You’ve got to be little bit careful about complacency here, I’ve seen a few firms put a line in there that might say, please leave us a Google review, or please recommend people to us, and then kind of think that’s enough, and don’t go off and do anything else, and then wonder why they don’t get referrals or Google reviews. But your email signature is seen by so many people, we really should make it work for you. Dan I don’t know if you’d agree with this but I would say with email signatures, that less is more, because they have to be displayed on thousands of different devices, and the more complex an email signature is, the more likely it is to break or not display properly, but, I would say make it work for you by including your ratings and reviews. Number seven, company updates. So all the evidence we see is that if you are writing blogs and articles, I’m using those words interchangeably here, clients want to see content about three different things. Financial planning, financial advice, what you do, lifestyle stuff, give them a bit of a break, and news about your business. Therefore, one of the key things you could be talking about in the news about your business, among people being hired, leaving, jumping out of aeroplanes to charity, that sort of stuff, is we’ve had more reviews, five more Google reviews, twenty more VouchedFor reviews, click here to read them. If you haven’t left us a review yet, we’d appreciate you doing it. So if you write updates about your business, every month, every quarter, every six months, however often you do it, include an update on how you’re getting on the review front. It will provide reassurance to those people that already work for you or with you. It will provide a gentle nudge in your direction to prospects, people who haven’t signed up yet, but you do want to work with. And it will provide an equally gentle nudge to clients who have promised to leave you a review but haven’t gotten around to it yet. So for example, on the nudge font, nudge theory, we’ve got a client in the US who hadn’t left us a review recently, he’d promised to do it but hadn’t done it. He asked for the link a couple of times, I’ve sent him the link a couple of times, but I wasn’t about to nudge him, he’s busy and I didn’t want to pressure him. A few days ago, I retweeted one of his tweets and immediately, he sent me a little message to say “sorry I’ve not done the review. Have you got the link, send it to me now, and I’ll do it now.” And you know what? He did. So little nudges are incredibly important, you can nudge about one thing and get something different back. Meeting presentations. If you’re doing a type of introductory presentation to a prospect, you’re sat with them at the first meeting, you’ve got an introductory presentation, then put your reviews in there; it will as Dan said, provide reassurance. And if you’re a Yardstick client, and we do a quarterly referral and recommendation communication for you, we will talk about reviews in there as well. Animations. Another different way of displaying reviews. So we use animations to often display client survey results. So if you go and look at the Berry & Oak website, you go and look at the Ardent website, you will see animations that we have done to display client survey results. That concept of animations could be used to display your Google and VouchedFor reviews, short clips, scrolling through of the reviews, with quotes from clients would be incredibly effective. We use animations, and have done for a couple of years now, to promote a firm’s top-rated status. So a bunch of firms qualify for top-rated status in the VouchedFor guide published in The Times every year, and those who are Yardstick clients, get a little animation from us, three slides, talking about their inclusion in the guide. So animation is just another nice way of displaying the reviews, taking the same information, and repurposing it in a different way. Number nine, when you confirm meetings with new clients. So, there will be new enquiries that come in, they agree to a meeting, you agree to see them, and there’ll be a communication going out, I’m sure, confirming that meeting, the time, the place, the parking arrangements, that sort of stuff, practical information. There’s no guarantee that the prospect will actually convert when you see them, so we still need to keep convincing them, that they have found the right financial expert. We still need to show them, there’s that word again, that they’re in the right place, and one of the ways of doing that is to include social proof in your meeting confirmations. So as I say, you’ve got the email going out, time of the appointment, location, Zoom link, Teams link, parking information, whatever it is, then just finish it off with some social proof. I just want to show you how we’ve helped John and Jane who are like you; here’s a couple of reviews from John and Jane. Here’s a video for somebody else who was in a similar situation. Just to reassure the client, or prospect at that point, that they’re in the right place, they found the expert that they need, and you’re showing them, you’re proving to them your expertise in working with people like them. And I have a theory, a hypothesis, that meeting confirmations aren’t as effective as they could be in continuing that selling process. And then, when the prospect turns up for the meeting, in your office, physically, let’s use that experience that physical journey, sat in your reception, or in a meeting room to again, continue the confirmation that they’re in the right place. So in your reception, you could create the equivalent of a hotel guest book, hotel comments book, by leaving a folder of your reviews, in reception, or in the meeting room. So most small, boutique-y hotels, B&Bs, have got some sort of guest book, comments book etc. I can think of one place where I go and stay on a pretty regular basis when Sarah and I need a bit of a break, down the A1 is place called The Olive Branch. Dan’s been there, he nodded. Upstairs in The Olive Branch, there’s five bedrooms, and there’s a little guestbook, and you write your comment in there, but you go and look at what other people have said, don’t you? Yeah, you go and look at the nice things other people have said. So let’s take that concept, and put it into your business. In your reception area, or in your meeting room, have a folder with reviews from clients. Display the certificate that VouchedFor give you, the top-rated certificates on the wall, and I would also be buying VouchedFor’s top-rated trophies as wel, and displaying those in the office. As you can see behind me, I like a trophy. So put those in your office as well. I don’t see many firms doing these things, so again, it would set you apart and help to show the prospect that they found the right expert and confirm to existing clients that you’re actually really good at what you do. But not every meeting, of course takes place in your office, some of those meetings now will take place by Zoom or Teams; so my bonus number 11 tip is to use the virtual background. So if you’re going to have a virtual background, put it to your advantage, use it as an opportunity to show off your reviews. A little Google five star logo VouchedFor top-rated logo, your actual score, and your company logo as well. Again, this is just another good way of convincing people that they’re in the right place. Dan, these don’t take long either do they?

Dan Campbell 49:32
No. I mean I was looking earlier at the average time taken and it’s around an hour; and it’s because you don’t really want to show a lot because you’re the focus of the conversation, you don’t want things to be distracting, but just subtly placing a few key markers around the space that you’ve got. About one hour for that I’d say quite easily.

Phil Bray 49:53
So, thanks Dan. There were eleven ways, because you got a bonus tip, eleven ways of, as Dan said earlier, weaponising your Google and VouchedFor reviews. But obviously going back to basics, we need to get these reviews in the first place. So, a couple of tips, a couple of ways, best practice, to increase the number of reviews you’ve got, the first thing, adopt two platforms. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to use two platforms, David, you get around that issue of overkill by just using one email with two links, and we’ve done a lot of projects and we’ve never had any pushback. So, just mentally, accept that you’ve got to use two platforms; and then what I would do, is an initial booster project, which is where you invite all your clients at the same time to leave a review on both platforms. So we send the initial email out, send a reminder, here are the two links, and you always see an increase in the number of reviews that the firm has. The latest project we did at the weekend was for firm in the east of the country. Unfortunately, they only got one Google review, but they picked thirty-four On VouchedFor, thirty-four reviews in two days on VouchedFor. Really very good. And the other thing to remember, just a slight tangent, is that VouchedFor’s algorithm is partly based on the quality of reviews, partly based on the quantity of reviews, and partly based on the recency of reviews. So all other things being equal, an adviser or planner with the more recent reviews are more likely to rank well with VouchedFor’s algorithm. So the initial booster project, send an email out to all clients at the same time, asking for reviews on both platforms. Send it once, send a reminder, and then go and leave replies, it’s really important that you leave replies to couple of audiences, the client who left the review, and prospective clients who read the review. Your reply should be detailed, it should reference what the client has said, if you stick with referencing what the client has said, you’re not going to break any confidences, and talk about benefits. Always, always, always talk about the benefits that that client got from working with you in your reply. Then secondly, once you’ve done the booster project, keep your reviews topped up. New clients when they’ve been onboarded, ask them for a review at that point, do not send a survey out, the chances are they will not complete it. A compliance survey, did we give you the terms of business? Did you understand fees, etc? Chances are they will not complete that. So don’t send that out, but do send a Google and VouchedFor review request, two links, one email, chances are they’ll do one of those. There is no better time than when you’ve onboarded the client to ask for a review. I’ve heard some advisers say “I’m going to wait 12 or 24 months before sending a review request letting them feel the benefit of working with me.” Well, they should have already felt the benefit of working with you when you’ve just onboarded them as a client, so ask them at that point. Ask your existing clients after that periodic review meeting. So for some advisers that’s every six months or every 12 months, some advisers and planners call it a future planning meeting, whatever it is, your periodic review meeting. In the meeting, ask if they’re happy to leave a review. If they say yes, send the email, one email, two links; really important that it follows that cadence. Verbal requests by the adviser, follow up by email. Ideally that email should come from the adviser, should have the two links in it, it should be only, solely, exclusively about the reviews. So I’ve seen a few advisers tag the review request onto the end of their suitability letter; that’s not going to get any review requests, chances are the clients are going to get to the end of the suitability letter to see the request for the Google and VouchedFor reviews. I’ve seen a couple of advisers ask for reviews via their online portal, there’s too much friction involved, simply ask in one email with two links, an email that is exclusively and wholly about the Google and VouchedFor reviews after your annual review meeting; and again, leave replies. It’s really important that we leave detailed replies showing the benefits of working with you. And that’s it guys. What have we talked about today? So, we’ve talked about why reviews are important. We’ve talked about why we should be using two platforms, in our view, Google and VouchedFor. We’ve talked about 10 ways, 11 ways actually, we can maximise, or in Dan’s words, weaponise your reviews. We’ve talked about where they can be added to the website, and then finally the process for boosting the number of reviews that you’ve got. Really happy to hang around and take questions. As I say, we’re off in August, So no webinar in August. We are back in September with a bang and I would like your help, please. I’ve just launched another poll and I want to know what you want us to talk about on these webinars. So would you like us to talk about how we show value to prospective clients? How to position fixed fees? How to communicate around stock market volatility and high interest rates? Or do you want something else? If you want something else, vote for something else, and put it in the chat to tell us. We’re really, really keen to understand what you want these webinars to be about. So, vote in the poll, if you would, we’ll send the follow-up out today. There is a cheeky request at the top of that follow-up, if you find these webinars useful, to just click the link and go and leave us a Google review. It takes you two minutes, but means the world to me and Dan. Put smile on Dan’s face and my face. If you want to connect with us, and you haven’t already, there’s the website address, there’s my LinkedIn profile, my email address and my Twitter account. If anybody knows whether England or Australia have won the toss in the ashes, put something in the chat, I’d love to know what the answer is to that. Otherwise, really happy to answer any questions we’ve got. Dan I think there was one from Ravenska that I saw.

Dan Campbell 56:54
So before we get to Ravenska’s question, David, we were speaking about widgets within social media banners, and then David asked a follow-up question, he said, “I presume, then it’s good practice to make sure periodically, that review stats are accurate.” And from our point of view, it’s almost a common sense prevails mentality. So for example, if you look at our own social media banners, we’ve got 136 Google reviews, but every time we get a Google review, we don’t want to be updating images within social media banners. So we just put 100+. It might make sense when we do reach 150 to perhaps put 150+, then 200+, because that feels good. But yeah, I mean, what’s your verdict on that Phil?

Phil Bray 57:43
Yeah, I’d agree, and the way we’ve got around it with Google, on The Yardstick banner is we’ve just put 100+ five star Google reviews. So yeah, I would update it every so often, David, your banner is always going to be underestimating the number you get. And no one’s going to go and say “You said you’ve got 60 reviews, but I’ve gone to VouchedFor and you’ve got 85.” So yeah, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t sweat that one too much.

Dan Campbell 58:10
Brill, and then Ravenska’s question, “Is it okay, if we put the Google review link in our monthly newsletter?”

Phil Bray 58:17
Hiya Ravenska, yes, it’s absolutely okay, no issue with that whatsoever, but, almost nobody will click it, almost nobody will leave a review from it. You still need to do all the other stuff that we’ve spoken about before. So it is a little additional marginal gain, but shouldn’t stop you doing everything else.

Dan Campbell 58:44
Perfect. Phil, you’ll be happy to know that England won the toss, so Australia to bat. And then on a slightly more relevant note, Matt mentions that during this call, he’s already made changes to his booking process auto-emails. So he’s already actioned some of the stuff we’ve said, which is fantastic. Bobby asks, “Can I ask you to do a full review of my website and proposals?” So Bobby, if you’d like to send Phil an email about that, and Phil, what’s best to get you on? Do you want to go to the slide with your contact details on?

Phil Bray 59:24
Yeah, of course. Bobby, just send us an email to, there you go, Phil@theyardstickagency.co.uk address, and I’ll be back in touch.

Dan Campbell 59:33
Lovely stuff, and that’s it for questions. So yeah, I mean, unless there’s any more for any more. We will see you in September.

Phil Bray 59:45
Thank you everybody. Have a good summer, have a good break, see you in September. Cheers. Bye-Bye,

Dan Campbell 59:50
Take care guys, bye

Hear from our clients

Working with some great businesses.

Ian Else

Founder & Financial Planner, 4 Financial Planning

"The brand, logo and website has hit the brief perfectly and I couldn’t be happier! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.”

Read More

Heather Hopkins

Managing Director, NextWealth

"They were a delight to work with – super responsive to our requests and also brought lots of good ideas to the table."

Read More

Rob Gill

Managing Director, Altura Mortgage Finance

"Best of all, their results driven approach is both refreshing and helping us achieve real goals. Thank you Yardstick!”

Read More

Tom Orchard

Director and Financial Planner, Annetts & Orchard

"I’m a big Yardstick fan now and look forward to working with them on future projects."

Read More

Alasdair Walker

Managing Director, Handford Aitkenhead & Walker

"We have felt like collaborators, rather than customers, and feel like Phil and his team has a vested interest in our marketing success that far exceeds his fee.”

Read More


Financial Planner, IQ Financial

We were lucky to be referred to Yardstick last year. We are delighted we hired them. They have specialist knowledge designed specially to help Financial Planning businesses like ours.

Read More


Head of Marketing, Ellis Bates Financial Advisers

Phil's style is informed, humorous and collaborative. The content is punchy, relevant, a go-to guide on how to create more recommendations and prompts action with no exceptions. Great workshop.

Read More


Financial Planner and Founder, Delaunay Wealth

I am absolutely delighted with all the work the Yardstick team has done for us and am very excited about how this will drive our new business/client acquisition in future. I would highly recommend them to any financial planning firm that takes their business seriously.

Read More


Director and Financial Planner, Insight Wealth

Great to work with a good professional outfit that had provided us direction and clear thinking in marketing our business effectively to obtain quality new clients.

Read More


Director & Financial Planner, Citygate Financial Planning

A thorough and excellent service. Phil and his team know exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it. We very much look forward to working together more in the future.

Read More

Get in touch

Request a callback

Whatever your marketing challenges, we're here to help. Simply complete this form and we'll be in touch.