Online reviews can be good, bad, or at times, ugly, and for all the positive and negative reviews out there, there are hundreds, if not thousands, more experiences that never make it to a reviewal page. So optimizing existing reviews is essential to maximizing their value – and benefiting a business.
“Reviews are funny when it comes to insurance. Everyone needs insurance, so everyone has an agent or agency they work with,” says Phillip Long, internet marketing product manager at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC). “So why is it so hard for agencies to get reviews when everyone could leave one? The short answer is if you are trying, you aren’t trying the right way.”
How to get reviews
Some qualities set the good reviews apart from the bad, and it has nothing to do with what’s being said. Long highlights how keywords, geo targets and length are the key aspects to valuable reviews.
But how do you get them?
“The most convenient way would be to use an automated email marketing tool,” he says. “There are also a lot of review generation companies out there.
“Regardless of if you keep the project in-house, the formula to success is the same; it’s called ‘The Human Ask + Timing’,” explains Long. “The human ask is straightforward. You need to train your staff to ask for reviews … Timing ties in to how likely someone is to leave a review when you ask. Did you save someone money? Ask. Did you fix a huge headache for them? Ask … When you ask someone to leave a review, word it in a way that encourages them without being so blunt. Ask someone, ‘If you don’t mind, could you leave a review about our service for your auto insurance policy?’ Don’t ask, ‘Please leave us a lengthy review that mentioned auto and home insurance’.”
How to optimize reviews
Now you have the reviews, but the question is, what do you do with them? Long suggests aiming for a mix of first- and third-party reviews to achieve a natural balance, such as first-party reviews directly on an agency’s website and third-party reviews on external sites, including Google and Yelp. For first-party reviews, Long recommends using schema markup, a code that helps search engines return more informative results to users, and including testimonials on agency websites’ “about us” or “line of business” pages to better influence new business.
“If you want to build reviews, and build them the right way, follow the information above and you will be on your way,” says Long. “Reviews aren’t easy to get and it is common to get discouraged. But, if you stick with it, you can generate some extra business while making your agency look good.”