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consumer feedback

If you have been managing your online reputation, then you know that review volume is important to how you rank, how your potential customers perceive you, and how quickly you climb popularity lists. In addition, a high volume of fresh reviews allows you to have a more balanced cumulative score and a better understanding of how your business practices are affecting your consumers.

If lately you have noticed a decrease in the number of reviews that are posted organically or through review request efforts on sites that allow it, then we may be able to help you understand the whys behind this phenomenon. Once you know the root of the problem, fixing it or adjusting your expectations should be significantly easier.

Seasonality Impacts Review Volume

We often hear from hospitality partners who see their TripAdvisor popularity score go down during low season, even when their cumulative score is five-star. Thankfully, seasonality does not affect your business alone. Instead, everyone in your competitive set is likely to suffer in a similar fashion during low season.

Now, this is good news in more ways than one. When everyone is suffering, just a little extra effort will give your business a competitive edge. One way to maintain a good review volume during low season is by focusing on delivering five-star services and not being shy about asking for feedback.

Remember that asking for feedback does not mean incentivizing feedback. For reviews to be valid, they must be experiential and unbiased. If you are sending review request emails using platforms such as TripAdvisor’s Review Express, then you may want to send the requests in batches in order to maintain a steady stream of reviews through your low season.

If you opt to do this, then please don’t leave more than four weeks between the customer experience and review request. After four weeks, customers begin to forget the facts, resulting in low response and low-quality reviews.

Another way to overcome seasonality is by hosting special events that provide unique experiences that trigger the desire to brag. Restaurants do this best by participating in events such as restaurant week, or hosting wine dinners that offer value during low season. 

Promotions Impact Review Volume

The thing about review volume is that we tend to have a pretty short historical memory. When everything is going well, we seldom notice what is triggering activities, and simply enjoy the benefits that come from a steady stream of reviews.

If in the past your business has been promo-heavy, pushing check-in incentives, Groupons, and happy hours, and now that has stopped, then chances are that is the root of your problem.

Before you rush into activating new promos, take time to conduct a cost benefit analysis to understand what type of promos are most advantageous to review acquisition, as well as overall revenue. If you do your homework, then it is entirely possible to have your cake and eat it, too.

Lack of Change Impacts Review Volume

When your products or services fail to innovate, you will most likely see a drop in your reviews. Truthfully, your most loyal customer would have already reviewed you and would not have anything else to add. To get the most value of your promoters and possibly secure two or more reviews every year, it is essential to constantly revise your offering, enticing your new customers and your regulars to talk about what’s trending in your venue.

Study consumer feedback and past reviews to understand which innovations have had the most impact, and seek to implement products or services that appeal to the same segment. For example, if you saw a rise in positive engagement in association with a summer menu, then look at having special menus to cater to every season.

Poorly Built Profiles Impact Review Volume

For someone who is ready to post a positive review, landing in a poorly built, content-light profile is not encouraging at all. Profiles that show interactivity on the part of the business and reflect customer focus generally garner more reviews than profiles that don’t.

Take time to make sure your business profiles on popular review sites provide a pleasant and informative customer experience, and show that you care by responding and showing appreciation to those who have so graciously taken their time to review your business. 

Lack of Incremental Growth Impacts Review Volume

If your business is not growing incrementally, then you are very unlikely to get new reviews. Having the same customers visiting your venue every single time is not the best approach toward growing your online brand reputation.

Work on developing a marketing strategy that seeks to introduce your product or service to new customers. Expanding your territory or tailoring your product or service to serve a new segment can achieve this. For example, if you are a professional carpet cleaner, then you may want to explore the value of adding services such as grout cleaning or duct cleaning, which will aid you in securing additional business and, consequently, new customer reviews, tackling another facet of your business offerings.

Full Market Penetration Impacts Review Volume

If you are located in a small town, then you may experience a review-volume decrease rooted in market penetration. This means that basically every single customer that will review you or patronage your business has already done so. When a business reaches the highest levels of penetration in terms of reviews in third-party sites, all that is left to do is add products or services to give your reviewers something new to talk about. 

Mild Quality Issues Impact Review Volume

If you are terrible, then customers will rant; if you are excellent, then customers will rave. If you are average, then expect radio silence. If your review volume is going down, then chances are you are failing to be extraordinary. Go back to the drawing board and look for ways to provide every single customer with experiences worth talking about. 

Increased Segment Competition Impacts Review Volume

If you were an early market entrant in any segment, then chances are you initially had pretty steady review volume. As more businesses started offering products or services similar to yours and managing their online reputation, some of your reviewers and potential customers likely engaged with the competition.

A great way to illustrate this trend is by looking at cupcake shops. The very first one in town likely captured a ton of reviews. As new shops opened, many of their customers headed to the new kid in town to try their products, reducing engagement at store and review level. To capture some of your traffic back, work on introducing and promoting innovation, and working through different marketing channels to increase your wallet share.

Whatever the reason for your decrease in review volume, a consumer feedback and brand reputation strategy allows you to detect and address this trend early and quickly. Learn how ReviewTrackers can meet your needs and sustain or enhance your review management efforts.

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.

Discussion

  1. Ethan

    I remember when Five Below moved into my area they were selling 5 cent hot dogs on opening day. It was literally all anyone talked about online for several days. I don’t know if that amounted to much of an increase in review volume but it got them a lot of attention for a little while.

    Reply
  2. Jason S

    I’ve had issues with review volume before. It seems like I’m always getting either a lot or almost none. People are very sensitive to changes. If they have the same experience they’ve always had they’re not going to write about it.

    Reply
    • Austin

      It’s like the difference between television and real life. When people are writing things down they tend to skip the boring parts. That’s why you need to be constantly innovating and changing things up in order to get reviews.

      Reply
  3. Mary Rose

    It all comes down to – innovate and excel at your business 🙂 I heard once Jay Conrad Levinson (father of guerrilla marketing) sharing some of his experience and wisdom on that subject. The key is to be different, original, unique and creative, and you actually don’t need much cash for that!

    Reply
  4. Sanjay

    When you are making changes to your business offers, make sure that the changes will not only attract new customers, but they will not chase away the regulars. Most of the regulars are here because they love the things the way they exactly are right now. By adding innovations, there is a good chance to force the regular customers away and nobody can assure you that new customers will come. So, I am sticking with my regulars.

    Reply
  5. Mark Dee

    It is all about innovation, even when it’s a low season you can attract what little customers are available if you offer something that differentiates from the crowd. This way even if there are less customers overall you will keep your reviews flowing in.

    Reply

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