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Future of Review Funnels (7878)

Discussion in 'Offline Marketing' started by bigreddog, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. bigreddog

    bigreddog Newbie

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    (I posted this on the Whitehat SEO subforum to get outsiders' perspectives... I'd be interested to hear what you all have to say.)

    Some questions/thoughts on the long-term prospects of review funnels (the excellent 7878 method).

    Do you guys think the review sites (Google Places, Tripadvisor, Yelp etc.) will eventually step in? It kind of defeats the sites' 'objective consumer advocate' position if bad reviews are filtered out. And that could ultimately affect their traffic and bottom lines. So are they likely to make funnels a ToS violation? That could be a problem for people here who are tied down to 6-12 month ORM contracts that are based around the funnel method.

    Or do the sites just have no control over funnels? Does it really not matter what they say in their ToS? People say not to incentivise reviews because it violates the ToS, but I think the bigger issue there is legal concerns - so that's a different situation. And at the end of the day, what are they going to do about funnels? They normally hate delisting businesses, so I don't see that happening... The only possible issue could be if a business did sponsored listings with a review site. They could maybe shut that down?

    I guess they could find out that a business was using a funnel in a few ways, e.g. noticing a sudden boost in 4/5 star reviews, or noticing that most reviews are coming from a single source (the funnel page)... Maybe there are workarounds to this?

    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
     
  2. lipton80205

    lipton80205 Newbie

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    At this point, I doubt much will change. I don't have solid data to back this up, but IMO, the number of companies using review funnels has to be a fraction of a percent of all reviews being posted. If and when this changes, or if people figure out a way to use it to SPAM, then things will change.

    What is the long term viability? I really can't say. There is nothing to stop Goolge or Yelp from changing their TOS and saying "you can't use a review funnel".

    There might be individual instances where a red flag might go up (as you had mentioned). For example, a company which averages 1-2 reviews per month, jumps up to 20-30 reviews per month for multiple months and all reviews are coming from the same referring webpage. This might throw up a flag. Companies that run Groupon deals experience this. From what I have seen, Yelp doesn't like this and their filter jumps into overdrive. Again, this is just from what I have seen and since I don't have access to Yelp's algorithm, I can't confirm this.

    As a service provider, your job is to monitor the number of reviews coming in and change the review funnel options once a threshold has been hit. While Google, Yelp and Tripadvisor are the major players (US). There are multiple other review platforms (tier 2), including niche specific, you should be helping your clients get reviews. A well balanced review portfolio is essential for a solid online reputation.

    If your review funnel is worded correctly, you shouldn't be violating the TOS.

    Incentivizing people to leave reviews is walking the legal line with regards to the FTC (in the US). However, incentivizing a customer to complete a survey, which the data is used internally for company evaluation, does not violate the FTC. If there happens to be a link to Yelp or Google, etc on the page, but you're a not explicitly asking for them to leave a review then it's a little gray area.
     
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  3. bigreddog

    bigreddog Newbie

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    Thanks for your reply, Lipton. I know none of us can comment with any level of certainty, but I was interested to hear the community's ideas. I'm considering starting the 7878 method, but I'm worried about signing contracts that I won't fully be able to control. It's an issue that I need to work out because I'd like a stable and expandable business model.

    You make a good point about the service provider being responsible for changing the review funnel options. Taking charge of this is also another 'thing to do' for the service provider. I like having a few of these as this method is generally quite hands-off; it adds to my perception of really adding value for the monthly fee.

    You say that a red flag would be 'all reviews coming from the same referring webpage.' Is there any reliable way to completely prevent Google, Yelp, Tripadvisor etc. from seeing where visitors are coming from?
     
  4. lipton80205

    lipton80205 Newbie

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    I wouldn't worry to much about the contracts. Have the contracts written so that there is an out if any review platform changes their TOS. Yes it would suck to have a revenue stream dry up, but its one of the risk with this business model.

    I don't know a way to "mask" or "clone" a referring webpage. I am guessing it can be done, but its exceeds my knowledge bank. Again, I wouldn't worry to much about this. There will be people who leave reviews regardless of a review funnel or not. For most businesses, 1-2 reviews a month would be good. Some exceptions would be for high volume places such as restaurants or chain hair cut place, etc.
     
  5. thisismymp3

    thisismymp3 Power Member

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    i think to post a review the reviewer should scan a receipt
     
  6. netmoney1

    netmoney1 Executive VIP

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    There is absolutely nothing wrong with sending out a customer service survey asking for a grade. Let's just say a 1 - 10 scale and then following up with everyone who scored it a 9 or 10 and saying something along the lines of "We value our customers feedback" and including links to Yelp, Google, etc. No incentive...no bait. Just real reviews from customers that WANT to leave them. After all, those are the best and most genuine. If you look at enough of them you can spot a fake or incentive review from a mile away.

    Look at some large hotels or restaurants - do you think each reviewer got home and said "Oh, let me sit down and write a review" - no. Not at all. We live in such a fast paced world that the majority of reviews aren't natural in the sense that they are done by the consumer with no "reminder" from the business. The majority come from a follow up and a "oh hey...by the way...we love feedback...oh, and here are the places you could leave it IF you wanted to..."
     
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