22nd March, 2023 - Webinar replay

Everything you need to know about Google reviews and how to get more of them

Phil Bray 0:07
Today’s webinar – everything you need to know about Google reviews, and how to get more of them. It’s going to be a pretty packed hour, but welcome to everybody that we’ve got in today. You may have noticed on your way into the webinar, we’ve got a poll up, we’d be really grateful if everybody voted, about 50% of people have participated in that, if you’ve not voted yet, and you could hop on to the poll and leave your answer to that question, we’d really appreciate it. It helps us tailor the webinar to your problems, so if you could go and leave that and on the poll, I would really appreciate it. As I say, we’ve got a lot to get through today, If we’re going to talk about everything you need to know about Google reviews in just an hour, so I’ll hand over to Dan for the housekeeping, and then we can come back and get started. Dan, do you want to tell everybody everything they need to know?

Dan Campbell 1:01
I certainly do yeah, Hi, It’s good to be back after missing our last webinar due to being on jury service, which was far less exciting than this, I can absolutely promise you. As Phil correctly states, I’m Dan, I’m the Head of Branding and Design here at Yardstick. And today, I’m back into my old role of keeping us on track and on time. I’ll also be reading out all of your questions so that Phil can answer them as we go through. And in order to do that, we need plenty of input, so don’t be afraid to get stuck in. Google reviews are always going to be an interesting topic as people’s experiences and opinions wildly differ. So challenge us, agree with us, share your stories good and bad, let’s all go away having learned something. And there are two ways to get involved; either ask them in the chat function, or the little q&a box at the bottom there. We’ll be monitoring both of them and reading them out at natural breaks. And I’m sure time permitted, there’ll be a little period at the end where we can sweep any final ones up. I always say this, and it’s an important point, this is a little safe space that we’ve crafted over the past few years. There are no silly questions, I absolutely promise that, so if you’re thinking that somebody else will be, let’s hear it. Speaking of somebody else, we also have Abi, our Head of Social Media with us, she’s gonna be lending a hand as usual, compiling the follow up comms, which includes any links or resources that we mention today, plus a handy video recording of the session, you can watch it back at your leisure. If one time isn’t good enough, you can watch it again later. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of bits you can pick up from there the second time around. Now, before we get into the thick of it, let’s take a look at what people are saying in the poll. So Phil, do you need to officially close the poll for us to see the results?

Phil Bray 2:55
If I end poll, what do we think happens? Should we give it a go?

Abi Robinson 2:58
I have to log in on Zoom and give you the results that way.

Phil Bray 3:03
I’ll give you the results now then and then you can read the comments in the chat Dan. So what prevents you from getting more Google reviews? Four potential answers: “the client needs a Google account”, 36% of people said that, “not seeing the benefit to my business”, just 2% of people. So be really interested to see whoever said that, let’s see if we change your mind during this webinar, perhaps put something in the chat at the end? “Time/just not getting around to it”, that was 47%, and then “something else”, we asked people to comment in the chat, that was 15%. So Dan, do you just want to maybe go and have a look in the chat and just give us those additional reasons?

Dan Campbell 3:35
Yeah, brilliant. So we’ve got seven great comments here. So Emma says they “can’t get their advisers to ask for them, no idea why, perhaps they’re shy, they feel like it’s putting on the client.” Mark says, “getting clients to complete them despite asking”, so Mark is asking but not actually getting anything in the way of results. Guy mentioned they “need to get better to convince their advisers and admin team that getting Google reviews is not just a nice to have, but a key process”. And then Matthew, “I’ve already asked them for VouchedFor reviews, as opposed to Google reviews” so that’s an interesting reason. Claire, “advisers seem reluctant to ask clients…”, this seems to be a recurring theme coming up, doesn’t it? “reluctancy to ask clients, “…even though we have it in a meeting checklist”. Elaine says “we ask for both, but only Google if they have a Google account, we have more VouchedFor than Google”. And that Google account thing is going to be a prominent theme I’m sure in a lot of the pushback. Jade mentioned they “just can’t get clients to complete them”. Again, mentions the Google account being a barrier. So that’s the big barrier there for Jade. Again, Elaine says advisers are a little shy in asking. So shyness, another recurring theme there. And then Kerry mentions, “we offer Google reviews or Trustpilot, most tend to go to Google, but we ask them at the office stage, and get a good amount back”. And then finally, we’ve got Lindsey says they’re “unsure how to ask clients to review them professionally”.

Phil Bray 5:26
Right, so that’s really helpful that, let’s see if we can, I mean, there’s a couple of sort of consistent themes there, I think, reluctance to ask, getting advisers to buy in, and then obviously, the Google account issue as well. So, let’s see if we can deal with some of those issues as we work through today. Any questions, comments you’ve got keep them coming into the q&a and chat and Dan will deal with those as we go through. So what we’re going to talk about? We’re going to talk about the importance of Google reviews, why are they important, and hopefully, that might give you some ammunition, to go back to your reluctant advisers, to convince them of the importance of Google reviews. If that doesn’t work, then what I would be saying is manage the process centrally, and take the advisers out of the equation. But we’ll talk about that in a bit more detail a bit later. How your peers and competitors are doing, So let’s see what other firms are doing, seven ways to get more reviews, and trying to get around this issue of having to have a Google account, why we should be writing a reply, and how to write the perfect reply is up next. And then we are going to talk about why Google reviews vanish. It is incredibly annoying when you have worked very hard to get a Google review, and then it vanishes. It happened to Yardstick a couple of weeks ago, we got a nice Google review for our recommendation workshop two days later, it had vanished. So we’ll tell that story in a bit. And then we’ll just finish off by talking about ways to promote your Google reviews, and, we’ve got our third, free scorecard to help you nail down where you are doing well on the Google reviews, and where you are weaker. So we’ll launch that at the end of this webinar, and you can go away and take the scorecard. As Dan said, please do ask questions, give us feedback, we don’t get everything right, so share what works with other people on the call. Because together, we’ll get better at this.

So, why are Google reviews important? And I think that the next two slides are useful for those people on this call, whose advisers are nervous about asking, who maybe don’t see the benefit of asking. So the first reason, and possibly the most important is that it impresses prospects on their digital journey to your door. So we spoke about this in quite a bit of detail at, I think it was January’s webinar. And if we imagine I’m out on a Friday night, and I’m sat with a couple of friends talking about the budget, and I’m saying, ‘right, I need to sort my pensions out, I’ve never had a financial advisor, I’m getting old, I need to sort my pensions out.’ I turn to my friend on the left, and then say, ‘Who do you use?’ And they say, ‘you’ve got to go to Adrian, Adrian has been brilliant for me.’ I write Adrian’s names down and the business name. The other friend says ‘no, Mark has been fantastic. Try mark.’ So, I write Mark’s details down and carry on with my evening. Next morning, wake up, dust off the hangover because I’m not as young as I used to be, I’ve got two names. I’ve got Adrian’s name and I’ve got Mark’s name. What am I going to do? Now, pre-internet, I’d have picked the phone up to one of them the following week. But, we now have something called Google. And Google sits in the way, and sits in between someone becoming aware of you, and taking action. So to decide whether I get in touch with Adrian or Mark, I’m going to hit Google. And I might Google Adrian’s name, Mark’s name, their business name, and if I Google their business name, what comes up? The Google Business Listing. and what will impress them if it’s in that Google Business Listing? Reviews. They can click on those, read the reviews, read the comments from clients, and read your replies as well. So that Google results page is where I in that apocryphal story. Google reviews results page is where I first meet Adrian and Mark and if Adrian’s got a bunch of reviews and Mark hasn’t, that’s a tick in Adrian’s box. So the first reason and probably the most important is it impresses prospects on their digital journey to your door. There are some other benefits as well, it helps you appear more prominently in local searches. So, financial adviser near me, financial planner Nottingham, that sort of stuff. And service based searches. Google clearly wants consumers to connect with the right person, adviser or planner in this case, and therefore it’s going to use reviews as an indicator of quality, and it’s going to promote those firms with more reviews, above those with fewer. It’s not an exact science, but it does broadly work. Clearly, you can use the reviews elsewhere, in your marketing. And if you get a bunch of reviews now, it gets you ahead of the game. And I mean that in two ways. The first is that a fake review might appear, and while you’re trying to get that down, if you’ve got a bunch of positive reviews, it shows the fake review stands out like a sore thumb. If you drop the ball, and you get a negative client review, and it’s a genuine negative client review, then the fact you’ve got a bunch of positive reviews already on there shows that actually, that was a one off, that negativity, that negative review is a one off, and actually, overall, you give really good service. So it gets you ahead of the game. And also, as we’ll see in a minute, if you have Google reviews, it will differentiate you from other firms. So those are five reasons why Google reviews are important. I think the most important is it impresses prospects on that digital journey to your door. But as we’ve already alluded to, there’s a problem. Google reviews are hard to get, in practice the person leaving the review needs a Google account, and reviews are generally not anonymous. Yes, you get some people setting up a Google account with a fake name, but generally speaking, if you look at most people’s Google reviews, they are not anonymous, they’re attributable to a real person. And those two things mean that we do have barriers. And as we’ll see later, that means for me, firms should be asking and giving clients the option of leaving reviews on two accounts. So when you ask your clients, we use Google and I would go with VouchedFor, I would always go with VouchedFor for the second platform, for reasons I’m happy to explain. Simply because, if your client wants to leave you a review, and you only ask for Google, you’re sending them down a dead end and there’s nowhere else for them to go. Whereas, if you ask for two accounts, Google and VouchedFor, some will do both, some will none, some will do one. And what you’ll tend to find, is for every 1 review you get on Google, you’ll get 5,6,7,8,9,10 on VouchedFor, it is a significant multiplier on VouchedFor, but as we’ve said, because that Google search results page is where people first meet you, Google reviews are incredibly important, despite this issue. Dan, have we got any questions that we need to deal with now?

Dan Campbell 13:16
We’ve got an interesting point from Graham, just on the back of VouchedFor versus Google, and Graham says, it seems a bit clunky to ask for both VouchedFor and Google reviews, especially as they’re different formats. And he rightly mentioned that VouchedFor guide you through those questions, whereas Google is very generic, and that’s where he’s struggling.

Phil Bray 13:38
Right, Hi Graham how are you doing? it’s not too cold in Scotland today. So, I don’t think it’s, in my experience, and we’ve run these projects a lot for clients, I don’t think it’s binary, Google or VouchedFor, I think it’s Google plus VouchedFor. And if you word the wording correctly on the email, we use two platforms, Google, which you might have heard of,and VouchedFor, which is TripAdvisor financial advisers. Click here to leave Google, Click here to leave VouchedFor, as I say, some will do both, some will do none, some will do one. But it just isn’t clunky, you’re giving people an option, you genuinely are. So that would be what I would say on that Graham. I’m happy to pick up on our next one to one call with you, if you like. Anything else Dan?

Dan Campbell 14:31
A few people saying they don’t have VouchedFor and asking a) whether it’s worth it, b) whether it’s paid for, which I appreciate probably a whole webinar in itself, isn’t it?

Phil Bray 14:42
So short answer is yes, and it’s 54 pounds a month plus VAT, I’m happy to expand separately on that. There’s just a whole bunch of reasons why I like VouchedFor, I should make it clear there’s no commercial interest between us and VouchedFor, but I’m just a big fan of what they do, just look at some of the stuff they did at the weekend with that guide in The Times.

Right, so, if we’ve established that Google reviews are important, how’s everybody doing? We did some research in 2021, which showed that only 1 in 258 advised clients, ever leave a Google review, does it make it less important, just makes it harder to get. And then we did some research on the back of the New Model Adviser 2022 top 100 list,d our research showed that 76% of firms have Google reviews. Now, clearly, some of those have got 1, because the lowest had 1 review, the highest at 186. A couple of points I’d make on that, 1 Google review, is actually worse than having none. And the reason being, if you don’t have any Google reviews, it’s not immediately obvious, unless you are used to looking for Google reviews, it’s not immediately obvious that there’s something missing. Whereas if you’ve got one Google review, and you’ve just told your prospective client, that’s where Google reviews go, and we’ve only got one of them. Yeah, it’s a little bit like saying, I’m working towards chartered status. And your prospective client didn’t know charter status was important, and he now knows you’ve not got it. So if you’ve just got one Google review, I’d say that’s worse than having none. And the other thing I would say on the number, I can think of one financial planner, who is a bit of a Google review champion, sole practitioner down in Devon, and I think he’s got something like 55 reviews. And it just shows what’s possible. When you’ve even if you’ve got a relatively small number of clients, it just shows what is possible when it comes to Google reviews. So 76% of firms have got them, the average number was 20, lowest 1, highest 186, the average score was 4.8, out of 5, the lowest score 3.3, the highest, 5. So that’s telling me that there are, and there’s another one later that we’ll come to, there are some significant ways we can use Google reviews to differentiate ourselves. And after this call, do a search on Google, tap in financial adviser near me, look in the Google places section, which is the bit that sits below the adverts, and above the natural search results pages in a little box, and just see how you’re doing compared to your peers, and competitors. If you’re lagging behind, then you need to catch up, for reasons we’ve spoken about before, If you’ve got more than them, then great go and get more reviews and create even more clear blue water between you and them. So that’s how your peers and competitors are doing.

So, if we’ve established that the Google reviews are good thing, and that there’s an opportunity to either get ahead of your peers and competitors or catch up, how do we do it? I wanted you to leave today with some really practical hints and tips for getting Google reviews. So the first thing that I would do, and we’ve got a tried and tested process that we use with our clients is we do an initial project. Sometimes we call it a review boost. And it’s an initial project where we would, on behalf of the adviser or planner, obviously within their branding, so nobody knows Yardstick has done it, and you could do this internally, yourself. But we write out to all clients, asking them for a Google review and a VouchedFor review. So exactly that process that we spoke about before. We use two platforms, these are the reasons why they’re important to us, and important to the team. One of the things we talk about, and one of the ways we try and motivate clients to leave a Google review is saying how important it is to the team. It improves team morale. I sent an email this morning to a planner saying if we got a Google review, it would put a smile on one of our team members faces, because they worked really hard on a project recently. So, that initial project of writing out to all clients saying we use these two platforms, click here to leave a Google review, click here to leave a VouchedFor review. And that always, always always results in an increase in the number of Google reviews and VouchedFor reviews that have been missing. Don’t get downhearted, though, as I said earlier, you will get more VouchedFor reviews than you will Google. So that initial project, really important. And for those firms who are struggling to get advisers to do this, cut them out, run that project yourself, run that project centrally. Yeah, tell them what you’re doing, but run that project centrally.

Second thing is, after you’ve done an annual review meeting, where you’ve onboarded a new client, that client is feeling, what are they feeling? They’re feeling more reassured about their financial future, confident about their financial future, they’ve got peace of mind, everything’s just as it should be, they’re going to be okay, they’ve got enough. So they’re feeling really happy about their future, that’s the perfect time to be asking them for a review, feedback in public. So I would be getting the advisers to tee it up and saying to the client, we’re going to send you a request for a review, and then I would manage it centrally. Sending the email out, either on behalf of the adviser, or somebody in the admin team sending it from the advisers email account, it depends on how your business is structured, and send it out as soon as they’ve onboarded the client, or after review meetings. And again, that tops up the reviews, this is a regular top of reviews, after the initial project.

Number three, after pro bono conversations. So, there will always be times when you speak to a new enquiry a new prospect, you give them 20 minutes, half an hour, even longer of your time. But actually, they’re not the right fit, and therefore they don’t become a client. So you’ve done a good thing by having a conversation with them, clearly, you’re not going to charge them a monetary amount for that. Ask them to pay you in a Google review. Just ask them, I hope that was helpful, would you mind doing me a favour in return and leaving me a Google review? If they say yes, send them the link by email straightaway. And we’ll show you how to get the link in a second. But send them the link straightaway, and it genuinely works. We’ve had a client, two clients this week, I put them on Twitter, I mentioned them on Twitter, who’ve done exactly that, gave a bit of pro bono time to somebody, there was no monetary exchange, but they paid them in a Google review. It genuinely works.

Next, when you receive unsolicited feedback, so occasionally a client will send you an email, send someone in your admin team an email, and say ‘that was great, I really, really appreciate it, this person has gone above and beyond’, send them a quick email back, say thank you for that, would you mind just copying and pasting that into a Google review? And then send them the link. Again, that genuinely works. Number three and four, is just about remembering to do it, after events and webinars, guess what you’re going to be asked to do after this webinar, guess what our last slide asks you to do today. Yeah. And Abi, Dan, and myself would love you forever, if you would leave us a Google review for our webinars. So after you have an event or after webinar, ask people to leave you a review. Mix it up as well, so whilst your initial project and after your review meetings and onboardings, might, you need to email those. Mix it up, use text or WhatsApp messages change the method of communication. I can think of a firm we work with, who delayed their Google review project because they were nervous about markets, not a good reason to delay, as we proved to them. They got about 15 reviews from that initial project, and then they sent the reminders by whatsapp and got another 14, I think 14 or 15. So they went from having no Google reviews to 30 in the space of about six weeks. And then finally, ask your professional connections. People who introduced you, and trust you enough to work with their clients, even though they might not be a client themselves. Ask them to leave you with Google review as a professional connection. Dan, questions?

Dan Campbell 23:42
Oh, yes, plenty of questions. Right, so I suppose the best place to start here, is somebody asked about the price of VouchedFor, how much do Google reviews cost?

Phil Bray 23:55

Dan Campbell 23:57

Phil Bray 24:01
Sorry Dan, that doesn’t mean that Google is better than VouchedFor, still use both. But the answer to the question is nothing.

Dan Campbell 24:10
Now, Lindsey asks, would you suggest asking for reviews as part of your email signiture?

Phil Bray 24:17
Yeah, but I doubt anybody’s going to click it. And I think part of the problem with that, it’s a little bit like putting on your email signature ‘we grow our business through recommendations if you know anybody we can help’. I think part of the problem with putting those on the email signature, is it lulls advisers, planners, their team into a false sense of security, oh we’re doing this, that’s going to be enough. And it absolutely isn’t. So yes, would I do it? Yeah, but I don’t think there’s going to have much benefit, and there’s a whole load of other things I would do beforehand to connect them.

Dan Campbell 24:52
Brilliant, thanks, and interestingly, Stuart answers Lindsay’s message in the chat saying, I have a link on my email signature so new clients can see previous reviews as part of due diligence, which really helps. And I’ll be interested Stuart, if you could just pop something in the chat, whether it helps garner more reviews, or whether it just helps clients come to you with more confidence as they’ve seen other reviews. Now, the next question is around your point, Phil, around having one review is worse than having no reviews. That’s caused a bit of a panic among many of our attendees. Because as Jade rightly says, everyone has to start with one Google review, so there’s always going to be a time when everyone has just the one. How do we get around that? How do we control it other than quickly getting a second?

Phil Bray 25:42
So I think let me caveat the point then. I think it’s a real problem when you have one Google review, and it was left in September 2017. Yeah, there is always a time when you’re going to have one review, everyone’s got to start somewhere. But if you start with the initial project, the next Google review should come in reasonably quickly afterwards. So my caveat would be it is a problem if you’ve got one Google review for a long period of time.

Dan Campbell 26:06
That’s a fair point, and going back to your point around averages of peers, and the amount of reviews that people have, in your opinion, what’s the minimum people need? Glen wants to know?

Phil Bray 26:19
That’s a really good question. And I would say, minimum you need depends on the size of your business, I think to a degree. if you are HSBC, and you’ve got 10 reviews, there’s probably a disconnect there. And but I would say your first target, if you’re a relatively small business, I would say your first target is double figures, and then try and improve from there. And if you can get one or two Google reviews coming in a month, that’s about where you need to be. Yardstick, we’ve got a goal, and you can help us meet this goal after the webinar of three reviews a month. That’s all we want to do. Can I move on Dan?

Dan Campbell 27:02
Um, let’s have one more question, because there are quite a few, and then we’ll move on. So the question I’m going to choose is from Charles. Now, Charles says, ‘we started off prioritising Facebook reviews, but then recently switched to prioritising Google, I’ll be taking a run at VouchedFor after this webinar, but should we still push Facebook as well? Or is that irrelevant?

Phil Bray 27:24
I think it depends how important Facebook is to your business, and if you have a really good community on Facebook, you’re doing Facebook advertising, I think I would do that. But for me, I’m just not a fan of prioritising Platform A, B and C, I’d rather push two at the same time. But if you’ve got a bunch on Facebook, and you’ve got a bunch on Google already, yeah, I can see the logic of going for VouchedFor, if that’s the way you’ve done it in the past.

Dan Campbell 27:52
Perfect. And very quickly, Stuart’s got back to us and said it helps more clients come to me and make that initial enquiry, as opposed to generating further reviews. So thanks for that, Stuart.

Phil Bray 28:03
Right. So I’m going to, as they say in Parliament, I’m going to make some headway. So, ways to get more Google reviews, we need a link, don’t we? And the Google review link used to be horrible, it was massively long, and it looked really horrible. It still doesn’t look much better now, but it’s shorter. And the way to get it, is just go to your Google business profile, scroll down, there’s a little button that says get more reviews, the pop up will come up, and you can just copy the link in there. So really important practical point on how to get a link, and that’s how you do it. So, if we’ve convinced you on the importance of getting reviews, you’ve now got some ideas to get some reviews. What happens when you do get a review? You need to leave a reply. Now, as we say on point 3, 76% of firms, nearly 8 out of 10, don’t leave a reply. They don’t leave a reply in public, they might thank the client privately, but they don’t leave a reply in public, and it’s really important that you do. And for me, there’s five reasons. First, it’s polite. It’s just a nice thing to do to say thank you, and of course, you’re saying thank you in public, so you look polite and courteous to anybody who happens to read the review, and read your reply. And that means it shows appreciation, it showing your clients and anybody else who reads it, including prospects that you care, you care enough to leave a reply. I said you’ll stand out from the crowd, do a Google search to see how many of your peers and competitors are actually getting reviews, and then have a look and see how many have left a reply. And it’s those firms that elect reviews and then leave replies, that really stand out. It allows you to deliver some key messages as well, so let’s say you’ve had somebody come to you, and then you’ve helped them retire, you’ve done some cash flow forecasting, you’ve helped their organisation, and you’ve given them the confidence that they can afford to retire. Talk about that in a Google review, clearly not going to break any confidences, but just play off what they say. And just talk about the benefit of working with you. ‘Delighted you’ve been able to retire, it’s been wonderful to see your pictures from your trips to whereever’, that sort of thing, it starts showing the benefit of working with you through those key messages. And then add some keywords, because it boosts local SEO. So, lets say I’m a financial planner in Nottingham, you might start your reply to a new client. ‘Thank you for choosing us, you could have chosen any independent financial adviser in Nottingham, but delighted you’ve opted to work with us.’ That sort of line, that sort of sentence means you’ve just worked in the key words, independent financial adviser in Nottingham, into your review, it works really well. Existing clients, ‘there’s a lot of independent financial advisers in Nottingham, glad you’ve put your faith and trust in us, for the last 15 years.’ It shows that you’ve worked with a client for a long period of time, and you’ve worked those keywords as well. So really important that we leave replies. Your replies are really aimed at four groups of people. And one of the things I should say, we’ve written quite a bit about leaving replies, and we’ll put a link into the follow up, which has got those two blogs in it. The replies are really aimed at four groups of people, those who either left you to review, saying thank you, nice thing to do. Prospective clients, because prospective clients will read the initial review, and read the reply. Existing clients, because when you ask them to leave you a review, I think it was Stuart that was doing that earlier, when you ask them to leave your review, they’re bound to read the reviews from other clients as well just because we’re nosy. And therefore that again emphasises the reason why they work with you, reminds about why they work with you, and can help on the referral and recommendation front. And then finally, of course, Google, Google loves replies loves reviews. So you’ve got those four groups of people. And if you’re going to write the perfect reply, I would say do these 7 things: Be specific, explaining the problem you helped the client solve or what you helped them achieve. And just play off what they said, so you’re not sharing any confidences, but play off what they’ve said. Respond quickly, I think 24 hours is reasonable. So just make sure that you do get that response in. And respond to all reviews. I’ve seen a few advisers only respond to the good, and there was a negative review in there as well, that looks really poor, it looks as though you’re replying to the good stuff, but actually, you don’t care enough to reply to the negative review that was in there. And the reverse is also true, just reply to every review. If you can, use the person’s name, remember their name is probably only review already, so it’s just always nice to use people’s names. And as I say, play off their comments, expand on their comments a bit, show your personality. And for me, it should be the adviser, always writing the reply. Or if you can’t get your advisers to do it, get one of the admin team to do it, or paraplanners to do it, or somebody else in the business to do it, get the adviser to sign it off, and then pop it up, but it really should be signed off by the adviser. Include the key messages we’ve talked about that already, which are aimed at prospects. And then those keywords, start including some key words into your reply. And as I say in the blogs that we’ve got there, that we’ll send after this after this call, there’s some more information about this and then some example replies that we’ve written to give you an idea of the sorts of things you should be saying. But if around 8 out of 10 firms are not replying to reviews, this is a really good way of you differentiating yourself. Dan I’ve seen a couple of things come in, is there anything we need to deal with right now?

Dan Campbell 34:28
So on your point about replying to all reviews, Kerry summed it up very well, at quarter past, saying “if I’m looking at a business, I look at the replies to see how the business responds even if it’s a bad review, It shows the company takes things seriously, and wants to resolve any bad comments. Sometimes they don’t respond or respond badly, which can say a lot about the business.” So think about how you yourselves deal with businesses, your clients are no different. So great input there Kerry. a question from Paul, “can individual advisers have access to the company Google account and be able to respond?”

Phil Bray 35:07
Yeah, you can give people, well put it this way, a lot of advisers and planners give us access to their Google business account by making us an admin or manager, there’s different levels. So yeah, that’s absolutely possible, I would just think about who you’re giving access to, and what level you’re giving access to. You know, your business inside-out, you’ll know what the answers to those questions are. But absolutely, you can do that.

Dan Campbell 35:36
Thanks. And that also answers Danny’s question about should replys come from marketing, or the adviser – providing the sign off from the adviser, it can technically come from marketing. And Elaine rightly mentioned that she responds on behalf of the advisers. So it’s what works for you, isn’t it?

Phil Bray 35:54
Yeah, I think that’s spot on. The if expediates it, if it gets it done more quickly, Danny, you could write the reply, you might need a bit of feedback from the adviser to help you write that reply and tick all these boxes that we’ve talked about, then get the advisers to make sure they’re happy with it, and then pop the reply up. But it shouldn’t be signed off by the advisers name rather than your name Danny. We good to move on Dan?

Dan Campbell 36:21
I think so.

Phil Bray 36:22
Okay, right. Google reviews, these pesky Google reviews are hard to get, they’re incredibly hard to get. And every so often, they vanish, they just disappear. And sometimes they don’t appear at all. So in the past six months, I can think of occasions where an adviser has kindly left us a review, he sent me a screenshot of it from his Google account, and it’s never actually appeared on our list of reviews. And say, a couple of weeks ago, I’ve gone out and presented our recommendation workshop on a couple of face to face sessions, and the marketing manager at the firm who had organised that, had left me a really nice Google review. Two days later, it had disappeared. It’s so frustrating when it happens. And I think this generally, and again we’ve got a blog about this, and we’ll put it in the follow up notes. But there’s 11 reasons why a Google review might disappear. So let’s just touch on these briefly. First, Google thinks it’s spam, or it’s a fake review. And clearly, it’s an algorithm, it’s a piece of AI, not particularly intelligent AI sometimes, but it’s a piece of AI that’s making a decision. And if you were on our webinar yesterday, with Glassdoor, Glassdoor talked about the fact they’ve got two levels to review reviews. What they use to look at reviews is artificial intelligence, and then a human. So the AI would flag something suspicious, the human would actually make a final decision. I don’t think that happens with Google, I think there’s AI in the background making those decisions could be wrong, but I don’t think a human is involved. So the first reason is Google could think that review is spam or fake and then just take it down. If it includes contact details, chances are, it might not ever be put up and then it might be taken down. So for example, we’ve launched websites before, the client has been very happy to leave a review, and the client has put something along the lines of ‘delighted with my new website, click here to go and look at it’, put the URL in, and Google has just taken it down. Google doesn’t like those sorts of things in Google reviews. The review is from an employee, Google does not like you asking your employees to leave reviews. It sees it as a conflict of interest, probably reasonably understandably, but just to show that the AI reviewing tool is fallible. One of our staff left a Google review for us about six weeks ago, didn’t ask him to do it, by the way, and that’s still up. So a little experiment, see how long that stays up. But if your review is from employees, that’s a reason why it may come down. If Google thinks you’re offering incentives it will take the review down, it’s against the policy, Google doesn’t like offering incentives to people to leave a review. It also doesn’t like duplicate reviews. So if you’ve got a client who has copied and pasted the same words into Google and Facebook or Google and Trustpilot, Google doesn’t like that. Because Google is selfish, it wants to unique content. So that can sometimes be a reason why it comes down. Google thinks there is a conflict of interest if you review somebody, then they review you, there’s a fair chance that both of those reviews might be taken down. Getting a large number of reviews in a short period is a theoretical issue, I’ve only actually seen it seriously problematic once. We had a firm in Cheltenham, we did that one off review project for them, they got 90 Google reviews in the course of three days, I’ve just never seen anything like it before, and never seen anything like it since. Google took their Google Business Listing down for about 48 hours, and then put it back up. So there was clearly some sort of verification going on. So number seven, more of a theoretical problem than actual. number eight, the obvious one, the client deleted the review. So there may be a reason why the person who left you to review, has now decided, actually, for whatever reason, this now doesn’t represent my views, I’m going to take it down. And someone might delete the review because they’ve decided actually, they want to reduce their online footprint, and therefore taking all their reviews down, that’s perfectly possible as well. So it isn’t always Google’s fault, might be the client that’s deleting them. Number nine pretty obvious, the client might have deleted their Google account. Delete the Google account, the reviews go. And those eight and nine are often the reasons why reviews might disappear. 10, Google thinks the review is inappropriate. I can’t imagine your clients would include anything in there, that is inappropriate, I’ll let you decide what might be in that category of inappropriate. Yeah, but hopefully, that’s not an issue. And then number 11, a bit of a catch all, as a bug or the algorithm got carried away. There is absolutely no reason why that person who left me a Google review a couple of weeks ago, said there’s no reason why Google should have taken that review down absolutely none whatsoever, it was two lines, It was absolutely factual, so I’m just putting that down as to a bug, or the algorithm got carried away. So those are 11 reasons why Google reviews might come down. So if that happens to you, what should you do? If a review disappears, what should you do? And as I say, what happened to us a couple of weeks ago is a really useful case study. So essentially, three things, first, prepare, there is a bunch of things you should do now, to get ahead of the game and start preparing. Then, fight your corner. And number three, just accept, you might not win, and you might be disappointed. So how should you prepare? Three things. First thing, you should keep a marketing KPI dashboard, it’s just good practice anyway, to keep a dashboard to show what you’re doing from your marketing, website traffic, newsletter engagement, that sort of stuff, new leads, new clients. And on there should be your reviews, and actually a couple of reasons for doing that, one, It allows you to spot if a review vanishes. But also, we talked about processes earlier, building processes to get Google reviews, asking after onboarding a client and your annual review meeting. If you have a KPI dashboard, months across the top January through to December, and you’ve got a line on there for the number of Google reviews or VouchedFor reviews, and it’s 0,0,0,0,0, you know your process isn’t working. Because if you’re doing a good job and the process is working, you will have some people leaving you Google and VouchedFor reviews. So a KPI dashboard will help you understand how much progress you’re making, but also specifically about reviews vanishing. You’ll be able to easily spot when one has gone. So, first thing KPI dashboard. Second, and do this, again take away after this call, create a master list of all the reviews that you have. So it’s quite easy job someone can do it sitting in front of Eastenders at night, might not take you long, might take you a while depending on how many reviews you’ve got. But create a spreadsheet. Client name, date they left you the review, cut and paste of what they said. And that means when a review disappears, you can quickly scroll down your Google reviews, scroll down the Excel spreadsheet, and work out which review has gone missing. If you don’t have the spreadsheet, you’re relying on your memory. To tell you who left a Google review. Get to my age, memory gets a bit fallible, so far better to have a Google review list in an Excel spreadsheet. And then finally, take a screenshot of each review. So at yardstick, we have an Excel spreadsheet of our Google reviews. We have an electronic folder, with screenshots of every single review. And those three things help you identify when a review disappears and helps you fight your corner. If you don’t have those things and a review disappears. You’ve got nothing, you don’t know whose, probably don’t know whose review has disappeared, and you’ve got nothing to go on, no evidence that it was ever there. So that’s the three things to do to prepare.

You then need to fight. So how do you fight? How do you fight Google? So the first thing to do is confirm which review has been removed, find out why one’s been removed, and then have a think about why that might be the case. When you see Mr. & Mrs. Smith, whose review has come down, there might not be an obvious reason, or there might actually be an obvious reason, they might have moved advisers, use someone else. So if there’s an obvious reason, you might leave it there. But if everything is, the client is happy, everything’s tickety-boo, then you’ve got to then try and get that review back. And you’ve essentially got two options. The first is you submit an online form to Google. And we wrote again, as I say, a blog about this, and we’ll put that blog in the follow up notes, and in there is a link to the form where you would request Google look at it, and put the review back. It’s also where you would try and, or where you would go to Google if there’s a fake review that’s been put on your account, trying to get the reverse to happen, and get them to take the review down. So submit online form to Google, cross your fingers, it works. If it doesn’t work, then go to the client and ask them, would you mind putting it back up? Most clients will be happy to do it, and as I say, the client that we did it for allbeit, it’s a client of Yardstick, it’s B2B rather than B2C, she was delighted to put the review back up and did it the next day. But because I got a copy and paste of what she’d said, and I got an image, she didn’t have to think what she’d done, all she had to do was logged into a Google account and copy and paste the text that I’ve sent over to her. So this Google review, the vanishing is a thing, it absolutely happens. And you can’t do anything about it. Other than make sure I guess that the reviews don’t fall foul of those 11 things that we talked about. But when it happens, you need to be prepared and then you need to fight your corner. Because we know how hard these things are to get, and therefore we want to maximise the number that you have. Dan, any questions?

Dan Campbell 47:22
Right so, Abi has done a great job of answering a lot of the specific questions in the chat around how many reviews people can leave. So that’s brilliant, thanks, Abi. In terms of new questions, Greg asks, “would you include VouchedFor reviews in the master sheet? I can’t think of an example of these being deleted like Google.”

Phil Bray 47:43
I probably wouldn’t. There’s a there’s a difference with VouchedFor. VouchedFor is based in South London, they have named people based in the UK that you can go and talk to when a problem arises. And they’re brilliant when a problem arises. So it’s far easier to deal with and I’ve never seen that as a phenomenon. I’m sure there is a mechanism for a client removing a review if they wish, I’m sure that must be there. But I’ve never heard of it being a problem, so I wouldn’t bother right now.

Dan Campbell 48:13
And then just one more question in from Neil, who asked, “I currently have a Google My Business page with several reviews on, which just does generate regular leads for me, I am now also working from a second location, and explored if I could add a second location on my Google My Business page. But this doesn’t appear to be possible. I’m considering setting up a separate Google My Business page for the new location. But the issue with this, is that it then means having to get separate reviews for each location. So the question is, is it possible to have two locations under one Google My Business page? Or do I need to have two and then ask for reviews on both of those pages?”

Phil Bray 48:50
So really, really good question. And I think the answer depends on how far away your locations are from each other. I can think of examples of firms we work with where I think one where they’ve got an office in Cardiff, and they’ve got an office in the home counties. And what happens there is the office in Cardiff has a Google Business Listing, the office in the home counties as a Google Business Listing, and clients of each office are requested to leave a Google review for the respective Google profiles. So for me, it depends how far apart your offices are, and if there’s value in having two listings. And for me, the value there is that if people are searching for you online, we want the appropriate Google listing to come up. And of course from a local search perspective, financial adviser Cardiff, or financial advisor Bedford, again, you want the appropriate Google listing to come up. So if your offices are some distance apart, and you’ve got clients that deal specifically with the different offices, I would have two listings.

Dan Campbell 49:59
So, for context, Neil says the locations are 20 miles apart.

Phil Bray 50:03
Yeah, I think I’d probably have two listings. So I’m thinking of Nottingham, where is 20 miles from Nottingham? Loughborough, Grantham, they’re far enough apart for me that I would probably have two listings. Okay?

Dan Campbell 50:20
Brill, yeah, let’s carry on.

Phil Bray 50:21
Marvellous, right, So, next: promoting your Google reviews. You’ve collected them, you’ve maintained them, and we now need to promote them. The fact that you’ve got them there, are, as I said earlier, incredibly important because they will impress people on that digital journey to your door. The first time they meet you is that Google search results page. I’m sure they’ll go through to your website from that, or at least we hope they will. When that Google listing pops up, and they see 55 five star reviews, they scroll down them, they read your carefully written replies, that’s the main aim here. But you’ve got them, we therefore should repurpose them, and maximise the opportunity that comes from having them. So first thing I’ll be doing is embedding the reviews in your website. And there’s a couple of tools that our digital team will use for clients that we work with, to embed the reviews into your website. And what you end up with is a little slider that comes across, someone can scroll left and right, and they can read the reviews. And then the below it, it just says 83 reviews 4.9/5 rating. And that’s a free tool to embed those reviews in your website. So again, really important to do that. Social media banners, your social media banner, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, is incredibly valuable online real estate. And that’s because everybody who looks at your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profile, I’m sure the same is true with Instagram, I’m too old for Instagram, Abi will tell us about that. But at the top of your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles is your banner, everybody sees it. So everybody who goes on your profile, whether it’s a personal account, or corporate account sees your banner. And that means it should have a few things on there. It should have your logo, it should have your contact details, it should explain briefly what you do and who you do it for, and it should have social proof on there. Something to show the value of working with you. That might be a an image of your VouchedFor rating, it might be an image of the number of Google reviews you’ve got, so if you go and have a look at my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that our branding team, led by Dan, has come up with a beautiful banner with all those four things on there. And gut feel, you might think it sounds crowded, but go and have a look, I assure you, it’s not. So using your Google reviews on your social media banners really important. Social posts when you receive a review. You want to tell people when you get a good review, don’t hide it away. If you’re not going to promote yourself, nobody else is going to do it for you. So social posts, when you get a new review, make sure you’re not putting, review, review, review, review out, you need to be adding value for your social posts, we have an 8,1,1 guideline at Yardstick, eight posts to add value, one about the business, and one a bit of a humble brag. And that example humblebrag might be a Google review. So when you get a nice review through, post it, don’t be shy, nobody else is going to promote you unless you do it yourself. Email footer, we’ve already spoken about that, and so don’t need to dwell on that too long. But lots of people each day, week, month, will see your email footer. So why not use it to positive effect? And for me, I think it was Stuart earlier wasn’t it Dan? who is using that to a brilliant effect. If it means showing off the reviews as opposed to asking for them. Your newsletter template, you should be putting the reviews in your newsletter template, we should be putting some social proof in there, lets put them in there as well. And then any other marketing and promotional literature that you have. So, Yardstick, for example, we have a proposal template, we use a tool called better proposals, and we have a template. And guess what? We’ve got a load of Google reviews in our template, not just the number of reviews and the score, but we’ve actually copied and pasted images into our template. You’ll know what marketing and promotional literature you’ve got, start thinking about where you can showcase your reviews. Not only the number, the score, but also cut and paste some comments. There’s a bunch of stuff that you can be doing to promote your Google reviews.

To help you understand how well you are doing on the Google review front, hopefully we’ve given you a load of ideas today, but to help you understand how you’re doing, we’ve created our third free scorecard. So we have done scorecards on a digital journey to your door, on your fees page, we’ve had over 200 people complete those scorecards now, and this third one is about Google reviews, are you maximising their potential. It’s 12 questions, takes about three minutes, and you’ll get the results instantly on your screen. All you’ve got to do to access the scorecard, is leave your name and email address. Don’t worry, we’ve already got your email address because you signed up for this webinar. So we’re not about to start spamming if you do the scorecard. It’s genuinely there to help you. Abi, if you could just put the link to that in the chat if that’s okay? And people can start taking that scorecard. As I say that’s the third one we’ve done now. Right. That’s it. We’ll do some questions in a second, just a couple of slides to wrap up, future webinars and workshops. Next webinar, Wednesday the 19th of April at 10am, debunking 10 myths and misconceptions about newsletters. I hear a lot of myths and misconceptions about newsletters, it’s partly the reason I’ve gone grey, so, we’re going to debunk some of those on that webinar. As always with our webinars, it’s free. Abi again is going to pop the link in. And then Thursday the 20th of April, the day after, we’ve got our next Lunch and Learn. Yesterday’s, I really enjoyed the interview with Jill from Glassdoor, and the next lunch and learn is with Eileen Murphy. Eileen Murphy is the queen of IFA back office systems. What she doesn’t know about intelligent office, and other back office systems, isn’t worth knowing. So she’s going to come on, and we’re going to talk about how you can record marketing KPI data, especially around leads and prospects into your back office system. So I think that’s going to be a really useful session. And then finally, contact details. If you’d like to leave us a Google review for this webinar, or any of our other webinars, It would be wrong for us not to be mentioning that today, we’ll put a real smile on Dan and Abi’s face and mine, if you would pop on and just leave a quick review for this webinar, we’d really appreciate it, we don’t normally ask. But if this is about Google reviews, it would be a bit of a shame not to take the opportunity. So Abi is just going to put a link in there. It only takes you a minute. And then if you want to go look at our website, connect on LinkedIn, email me about anything today, there are the contact details. So Dan, two minutes to go. I wasn’t sure we’re gonna get through all that today, there was a lot in there. But really happy to stick around if we’ve got some questions.

Dan Campbell 57:58
Yeah, we’ve got a couple of questions. So, the first question is from Jade, and I promise we haven’t slid a 20 pound note over to Jade to ask this question. And Jade asks, just out of interest, do Yardstick offer a service for helping firms to get Google reviews? similarly to the client survey service that you offer.

Phil Bray 58:18
Funnily enough Jade, we do. Yes, absolutely we do, we’ve done it a lot for advice firms now. So we can either coach you on how to do it, or we can do it for you. And Jade, best way is to just drop me an email. And we’ll get on a phone call or a zoom call and explain that through. But yeah, thank you Jade, we definitely do do that.

Dan Campbell 58:40
Brilliant, thanks. The next two questions are linked, so I’ll read them both out, and let’s get them answered. So the first from Danny, who asks, don’t you need direct permission to reuse Google reviews? And Lindsay asks, do we need consent from review leavers for use in marketing content? If the review is on a public domain?

Phil Bray 59:01
So like you said, the reviews are on a public domain. They are absolutely in public. All you’re doing is repurposing them, or pulling them through. So, if you are using the tool that we use to pull them through to your website and display on the website, all you’re doing is displaying them in exactly the same way as they are already displayed on the Google Business Listing itself. So no, I wouldn’t be asking permission for that because you’re just pulling it through. If you are cutting and pasting a specific review somewhere, into maybe marketing literature, you might want to go to your client and say, Do you mind if we do this? I really can’t see it being a problem because it’s already in the public domain. So would I ask for permission? I personally wouldn’t, if you want belt and braces, and you are going to copy and paste a review into somewhere else, you might just want to go back to the client and say ‘Do you mind if we do it?’ or you might even want to do it slightly differently, just drop me a line if you mind, if you don’t we’re just going to crack on and do it, because it’s in the public domain.

Dan Campbell 1:00:04
And for a bit of context, so my team work a lot on brochures that often have social proof weaved throughout, and some of them do originate from Google reviews. And if I had to put a number on the amount of people that we had to get permission from, it’s probably one project in every 10, or 15. And that’s often very over secure compliance departments that, like Phil says, belt and braces. But sometimes you often ask the same question to two people in the same compliance department and get different answers. So make your own interpretation from that as you wish.

Phil Bray 1:00:40
Two other points there, the first, if we just think about VouchedFor widget, so the correct way to use the VouchedFor widget, or the way to display VouchedFor reviews is to use the widget, use the widget code and embed it into your website. That’s the correct way of doing it, because it means that the number of reviews and the rating is always up to date, because it’s dynamic, and when someone clicks it, a pop up appears on your screen. So that’s the best way of doing it, and that’s all you’re doing really, with Google, it’s just a feed-in. So that’s the first thing I would say there. Second is, it’s always best to apologise than ask for permission. Dan, any other questions?

Dan Campbell 1:01:17
No more questions. Just a lovely message from Sam, who says Google review provided. So consider yourself the giver of three smiles within the Yardstick team, Sam. So thank you very much for that.

Phil Bray 1:01:30

Thanks Sam, much appreciated.

Dan Campbell 1:01:32

And then Lauren mentioned, we have our Google reviews on our website, but these aren’t automatically updated. Is this because it’s a free plugin? And the answer to that is probably, probably.

Phil Bray 1:01:44
Yeah you get what you pay for to a degree, but I don’t know because I don’t know which plugin you’re using. If you drop me a line, I’ll get the digital team to have a look at it, and I’ll drop you a reply back with the plugins that they use.

Dan Campbell 1:02:01
Wonderful. Well, no more questions from the crowd. So yeah, thank you very much.

Phil Bray 1:02:07
Thank you, everybody. See you, See you next month. Cheers. Bye bye.

Dan Campbell 1:02:10
Take care guys. Bye.

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