With 86% of consumers reading reviews for local businesses, it’s not only important but essential for insurance agencies to stay on top of what people are saying about their business and manage their online reviews.
There are many considerations to keep in mind when monitoring and managing your online reviews, as well as a number of factors that influence agents’ perceptions of promoting them. In this webinar, BrightFire’s Spencer Breidenbach covers the do’s and don’ts of the various categories related to managing online reviews, including:
- Online Review Perception
- Increasing Review Counts
- Responding to Online Reviews
- Leveraging Your Reviews
- Managing Reviews
Finally, Spencer dives into how BrightFire’s Reviews & Reputation Management service addresses each of these categories to support your agency’s online reputation management needs.
Watch the Webinar
Spencer: Hi everyone. My name is Spencer Breidenbach, and I’m a Sales Executive here at BrightFire. Thanks so much for attending our first 20 Minute Marketing Webinar of 2021.
Before we took a short break in December for the holidays, we had a great turnout in November for our 20 Minute Marketing webinar on ADA Compliance for Agency Websites. And just a reminder, if you missed any of our webinars in 2020, or have some coming up for this year that you have a scheduling conflict for, don’t forget if you visit our website brightfire.com/webinars you can access all of our webinars on-demand if you weren’t able to attend a particular one.
As a reminder for folks who are joining us for the first time, the goal of these webinars is to provide you with some digital marketing advice, discuss some current digital marketing topics, and give it a brief 20-minute format, but we’ll always follow it up with a Q&A period at the end so we can answer any additional questions from attendees. We know that you guys have a lot going on in your life while running agencies. So we want to try to keep it to this brief format. So you can get some information that you need and not lose your whole day sitting through webinars.
Today’s 20 Minute Marketing Webinar is going to be focused on the Do’s and Don’ts of Managing Your Online Reviews to help insurance agents build awareness for their brand and enhance customer loyalty.
And if you guys have any questions at all during the webinar, please go ahead and send those over on down at that gray bottom menu in zoom, you should see a Q & A with two little speech bubbles. So feel free to type those in and then we’ll collect those and get to those at the end, during that Q & A session.
Spencer: But before we jump into our online review suggestions and guidance, here’s a brief background on BrightFire since we do have a mix of both current customers and some agents that are new to BrightFire attending with us today. We started out in 2000 providing only Insurance Agency Websites. But over the years as the needs of insurance agents have grown and the Internet has matured to become a bigger marketplace and guide for consumers, we expanded our digital marketing services. We now also help a lot of clients with SEO, Social Media Marketing, Local Listings Management, Pay-Per-Click Advertising as another avenue for lead generation, and what we’re covering today, Reviews & Reputation Management.
Currently, we have 866 agencies that are utilizing our Reviews & Reputation Management service across 41 different states. And we’re always really proud to say our first agency customer back in 2000 is still working with us today, and they’re taking advantage of our Reviews & Reputation Management service. With that little bit of background out of the way, let’s go ahead and jump in.
Spencer: When it comes to managing your online reviews or protecting your brand’s reputation online, there’s a number of different considerations to keep in mind. And I know a lot of times folks come in with some existing perceptions of promoting online reviews.
So today we want to cover some of those major categories of considerations to look at. We’ll talk about online review perception, how to increase your review counts, how to respond and why you want to respond to online reviews, how to leverage your reviews after you get them, and then how to manage those reviews out there online. Finally, we’ll dive into how BrightFire’s Reviews & Reputation Management service addresses each of those five categories to support your agency’s needs for reputation management online.
Spencer: First up, we just want to address the perception that agency owners sometimes have towards online reviews. I’ll often talk to folks or hear from agents saying that they’re scared of review sites or are hesitant to ask for online reviews or just say, “I want to fly under the radar. I’m not comfortable promoting myself or pushing folks for reviews.”
This leads us to our first point today, which is to not be scared of online reviews. Whether you like it or not, online reviews for any company can be left, even if the company hasn’t claimed their listings, and will be seen by consumers. In fact, a 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey done by BrightLocal found that 86% of consumers read reviews online for local businesses. Instead of being fearful of them, we really want to encourage you to embrace your reviews. When you take control of your website and review management platforms that your agency is represented on, you have a lot more ability to manage your reputation, strengthen those relationships with your current book of business, show appreciation for positive reviews and help flip some of the negative ones into being a positive for you.
Spencer: Another big misconception we see at BrightFire is that agency owners think it’s important to only have five-star reviews from consumers. If it’s not five stars, consumers are not going to trust you. While collecting as many positive reviews as possible is a great best practice and a goal to strive for, negative reviews can actually show that all of your positive ones are authentic and not fake or that there’s something going on to filter out voices of dissent. When consumers read some negative reviews online, they’re a lot more likely to believe the positive things they hear about in the good reviews.
As individuals read through the positive and negative reviews, they can compare each experience, which helps paint a better overall picture of what kind of customer service and experience they can expect from your agency. A lot of times when you have only positive reviews showing, customers begin to think, “Hey, is the agent or company hiding something? Is there something they’re doing to block negative reviews?” As folks know, for even really great companies, something is going to come up that displeases someone. Negative reviews are inevitable. That’s why you really want to make sure to not be afraid of reviews, and don’t think you need only five stars. Rather, really take advantage of the opportunity to regularly generate new reviews and be authentic by displaying some of the less than five-star reviews on your website. We’ll discuss how to handle those negative reviews later on in today’s webinar.
Spencer: Now that we know it’s good to embrace reviews, let’s address the do’s and don’ts as it relates to increasing the number of reviews that you receive. First, it’s really important to not create fake reviews. I know it can be tempting to think, “I’m doing a search for auto insurance and I’m seeing Acme Insurance down the road has 30 reviews,” compare yourselves to them, and feel like you have to compete. Or maybe you’re tempted to fake a review because you want to promote a certain carrier that you’re working with or highlight your customer service. You may even be tempted to think, “I just got this one-star review. I need to get a positive one out there right away so it hides that a little farther down the list.”
However, it’s really important to keep in mind that many review platforms and search engines, big places like Yelp and Google, have really strict rules regarding creating fake reviews. Whenever those get detected by that system or a user says, “Hey, this sounds weird. I’m going to report this review,” your account can end up getting flagged and penalized, and your rankings on Google – or how you’re showing up on others review sites – can fall. This really decreases your chances that new customers are going to find your agency if they’re looking up options online.
Spencer: There are even marketing companies you can hire to create fake, realistic-sounding reviews for you. But once again, we would never recommend that you do so for the reasons that we just talked about, as well as the fact that your marketing dollars and efforts will be way better spent promoting your current reviews and asking your actual book of business, who haven’t reviewed your agency yet, to share those experiences in an online review.
So, what to do? Instead of faking reviews and risking damage to your reputation, it’s really good to have confidence in asking real customers for reviews. It’s really easy for people to forget to share their positive experiences in an online review. And oftentimes people are more than happy to do so when asked. It can definitely come up organically when a customer says, “Wow, I’m super excited that I just got this quote that’s cutting my monthly premium by $20 a month,” or “Hey, I thought I had lost this document and they were able to get back with me and get me a new certificate super quickly.” People in the moment are more than willing to spend a minute or two to leave a review after somebody has done them a huge favor and gave them great service.
If you want to strategize some ways your agency can receive new reviews, many clients have a lot of success emailing surveys, adding links to their review sites in their email signature, sending postcards in the mail, asking clients for feedback about their experience, and more. BrightLocal found that some of the most common ways that businesses will ask for reviews are in an email, in person, on receipts or documentation, through social media, or over the phone when it comes up.
Spencer: The next topic we’ll dive into covers how to respond to your online reviews. With a BrightLocal survey finding that 96% of consumers who read reviews also look to read the business’ responses to those reviews, it’s really critical that you don’t ignore your new reviews as they come in. You really want to take a moment to address each one, showing appreciation for their business and for sharing their experiences online. We’ll get into how to specifically respond to negative reviews in just a moment.
But first, let’s talk through the logistics of responding to every review. And while it may be tempting, you don’t want to fall into the trap of providing a strict go-to template that you reply automatically to every single one. If Bob Smith is looking for a quote and scrolling through your reviews, it’s going to start to look impersonal and less authentic if they notice, “Oh, they leave the exact same message with everyone’s reviews.” Instead, it’s really great to offer a personalized response to each review, and it doesn’t have to be something super time-consuming or really in-depth.
It’s okay to draft a few responses as a starting point for both positive and negative reviews. You just want to make sure that it’s not a default template. Instead, leave a little room to customize each message with the policyholder’s name and maybe a sentence or two building a rapport with them by acknowledging that you remember them and appreciate their business.
Spencer: There’s one last word of caution that I need to mention on this topic. In the event that you receive a negative review, refrain from arguing with the reviewer, trying to get defensive about the comments that they had. Remember your comments should reflect your agency’s reputation and maintain professionalism. Apologize for the customer’s poor experience, share core values or the experience that you want your policyholders to have, and offer to talk about this issue, take the conversation offline, and talk through the situation with them to help resolve the problem.
A study by Harris Interactive found that 33% of customers who received a response to their negative review later went back and changed it to be a more positive rating, while 34% deleted that review altogether. And that same survey also showed over 40% of respondents believe that a great response from a business owner on their poor review would be something that would help them potentially win back their business.
Even if that reviewer leaves their negative review up, a really professional response represents the business well to other consumers who read it to see how the business handled it. Most folks recognize even the best businesses aren’t going to please everyone all the time, and a positive response shows your customer service and that you’re going to stand behind your clients if an issue does come up for somebody. If you need to, wait an hour or so before responding to a negative review so you can avoid letting that anger or frustration that’s natural to have show up in the message back to the reviewer.
Spencer: Now for the fun topic. As these reviews come in, you want to leverage the positive reviews. Don’t just keep reviews to yourself or just let them live on the one review site. “It’s a Yelp review. So it should just live out here on Yelp.” You want to share and promote your positive reviews with your employees. Praise folks for their great work and let them know this doesn’t go unnoticed.
You should also showcase those reviews on your social media accounts, your agency website, and other marketing materials like flyers or brochures, things like that. Don’t be afraid to really highlight those reviews and turn them into promotional tools that can help your leads see what your current policyholders love about you and the agency. You should also avoid limiting your opportunities to gain new reviews. You can leverage your reviews by showcasing review site links like Yelp and Google on the footer of your website and email newsletters. You can also drop a link into your normal email signature that folks can easily get to when the moment comes up.
Spencer: For our last topic, I want to cover the logistics of managing your online reviews and business listings. It’s really critical to not leave brand reputation unprotected and turn a blind eye to reviews by only cherry-picking a couple of your business listings. To maintain control over your online presence and reputation, you want to find and claim all of your citations for each of your agency’s office locations. Brand them appropriately. Make sure you’ve got your company name, address, and phone number. You’ll see a lot of times with citations and listings for services we’ll call it NAP for the name, address, and phone number. But don’t just stop at that.
New business listings can get created automatically for your agency if a customer leaves a review for you on a review platform where you don’t already have an account. To make sure all of your citations remain active and accurate, you want to frequently do little audits where you’ll check for new listings, monitor each of those listings for new reviews, and make sure that any outdated or inaccurate information gets updated.
Spencer: Last, but not least, it’s important to not stress about managing your online reviews. I know we’ve covered a lot of topics and tips today to put your best foot forward with your online reviews, and I know that finding time to manage them can seem daunting with everything else that you’re juggling and have in the air. As with any new initiative your agency takes on, it’s important to judge, “Do I have time to take this on in-house or does it make sense to take this to another place to outsource and get done for us?”
If you find yourself overwhelmed or unable to efficiently and effectively manage your reviews, you can always seek assistance from digital marketers that can protect your insurance agency’s reputation and take care of the review monitoring for you.
For additional info and tips on online review and reputation management, we have created a comprehensive guide for agencies on how to ask, manage, and utilize reviews to help your agency grow and really protect that reputation because it’s really important to note what folks are going to think about when they find you online. You can check out all the details at brightfire.com/ultimate-guide-reviews, and everything is free to access.
Spencer: At BrightFire, we know how important, but tedious and daunting, it can be to manage all of your reviews. That’s why our Reviews & Reputation Management service is designed to take the burden off of you and help your agency easily grow, nurture, and protect its online reputation. With the support of our digital marketing experts, your agency will be able to generate new reviews with ease, help improve your online rankings and gauge your customer’s happiness. We provide everything that you need to successfully manage your online reputation, including a dashboard where you’ll be able to see reviews and feedback from individual clients on the surveys we do.
Twice a year, we’ll manage and run a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey for you. And for folks who aren’t familiar, NPS is basically a response to the old-fashioned question of how to get people to answer customer satisfaction surveys.
NPS surveys ask the single most powerful question, “On a scale of one to 10, how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend or a colleague?” You’ll be able to see both your aggregate and average responses, as well as individually, such as, “Bob Smith gave us a nine, awesome. He’s somebody who’s going to send referrals our way. Or, Joe gave us a four. He hasn’t raised any issues with us. Let’s have a CSR give him a call really quickly and see if we can figure out what’s going on before it’s just a mystery cancellation.”
As we talked about, BrightFire can monitor those reviews for you and help you with review generation. Then, we’ll also send you alerts for new reviews and summaries of how many reviews have been coming through.
Spencer: BrightFire’s Reviews & Reputation Management service costs $80 a month, and like all of our services, we don’t have any setup fees or contracts. There’s also a 30-day, money-back guarantee included with that.
Additionally, our Ultimate SEO Bundle is a really common service, because it tackles all of the major criteria Google has for local SEO. That includes Reviews & Reputation Management, the Insurance Agency Website itself, and Local Listings Management. The Ultimate SEO Bundle costs $190 a month, and that together saves your agency $30 a month, from if you were doing those three services independently with the standalone prices.
Our onboarding process is designed to take the burden off of you and typically consists of one 30-minute phone call for Reviews & Reputation Management. Typically, we can get your review service launched within about a week of signing up.
As a thank you for attending today, we’re offering a $50 account credit to webinar attendees for signing up for any service that includes Review & Reputation Management. That promo ends on January 31st, 2021. To get started managing your online reviews with BrightFire, please visit our Reviews & Reputation Management service page or you can also give us a ring and speak to an expert at 888-778-4393. And that concludes our presentation on the Do’s and Don’ts of Managing Your Online Reviews.
Spencer: We’ll go ahead and start that Q&A session now. If anyone has any questions, we’ll do our best to answer anything that comes through. And if we don’t get to your question today, we’re going to make sure that someone from BrightFire reaches out to you later via email to make sure you get the answer that you’re looking for. Let me see if we’ve got some coming through thus far.
Okay. “What other review sites are there to manage other than Facebook, Yelp, and Google?” Great question. There are many other review sites like Better Business Bureau, Superpages, Yellow Pages, and a host of others. When you work with Brightfire, though, you don’t have to find and manage all of those on your own. Our experts will reach out, pre-research, claim, monitor, and manage all of the links for you. We’ll aggregate them into a clear and concise dashboard so you can easily access and respond to the individual reviews you’re getting from various networks.
Oh, this is a good one, too. “My agency already has over 50 positive reviews and an average rating of 4.9 stars. Why do I need more?” That’s awesome to hear. That’s a really great place to be in; congrats. I would encourage you to keep up the good work and strive to get more reviews. The more that you receive, the bigger impact that’s going to have with Google on your local SEO, and the better your ranking on Google is, the easier it’s going to be for local consumers to find you when they’re actively shopping the lines you go after and are trying to make a buying decision. If you stop getting new reviews, eventually your current reviews are going to become old or outdated.
And you’re also leaving the door open. If you have a big head start on the race relative to the competitors around you, taking a pause on generating new online reviews is going to give people an opening to catch-up and come closer to your total review count. I’ve also heard a lot of consumers say, “Oh, awesome, this place has a great reputation. But wait, their last review is a year old. What’s going on? Are they out of business? Did they stop having good customer service, or are they under new ownership?” When they see current ones, they instead think, “I’m confident in the past they’ve had great customer service, but I know people are also recently having good experiences with them.”
Spencer: “How does BrightFire help my agency generate new reviews?” As I mentioned earlier, we’ll do two Net Promoter Score campaigns for your agency each year, which will ask your policyholders how likely they are to recommend you to a friend or a colleague. Each campaign also offers policyholders links to leave a review directly for you on Google, Facebook, or Yelp.
“I have multiple locations. Does your service bundle these together?” As we touched on a little bit, it’s imperative to claim and manage each separate location to improve the local SEO for that location and enhance your rankings on Google. BrightFire’s Review & Reputation Management service is set up to maintain and cover a single office location. And we do recommend purchasing the service for each location if you’re looking for optimal coverage and support. I do sometimes talk to clients who started out with one location and say, “This is working great. Let’s add it for the other locations as well.”
“You mentioned a recurring cost. What all does that cover?” That’s a good question. When managing your online review networks, it’s important to not just set it and forget it saying, “Hey, I’ve got it set up and now I’m just going to leave it be.” When you do, that can make it easy to miss new reviews or forget to update info if your company name, address, or phone number changes. And if you have different information out there, Google doesn’t like that. It gives the algorithm more uncertainty, and Google will ding your rankings. That being said, BrightFire’s recurring costs include access to your reputation management dashboard, where you can view all your results and stats, and respond to reviews, the ability to run those Net Promoter Score campaigns we talked about, review alerts, and the ongoing addition of new reviews. As new positive reviews come in, we’ll automatically pull those into your website, if your agency also has our Insurance Agency Websites service. That way you’ve got fresh reviews and feedback from folks.
Spencer: Let me see if we’ve got others coming in. “Can we put review requests in an email and send them out in our day-to-day emails?” Yeah, that’s a great idea. You can add links to write a review in your email signature or store those links in a document that you can easily copy and paste into select emails when it’s a good opportunity. You can shoot them over and say, “We would really appreciate it if you would leave a review for us when you have a moment,” and send them that link.
If you need help figuring out what the links to have customers write a review for your agency’s website that is with us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and a member of our team can help you out and show you where on your BrightFire website for your agency that specific link is.
I’ll leave it open for another moment or two. “Is it a bad idea for employees or family members of an employee to review the agency when they are also a policyholder? They are legitimate customers, but I can see why it might be a conflict of interest.” That’s a tricky one. If they’re legitimately policyholders, in theory, that wouldn’t be a true ethics problem. However, you always want to keep in mind the potential perception customers could have. If somebody locally that knows they’re related to the agency sees that, or somebody online can put two and two together and figure out that this person is related to this other one, even though you’re not actually doing anything wrong and it should be totally fine, you may just want to keep in mind that it’s easy for people to jump to conclusions because they’re not able to see your book of business and see that they are also policyholders.
Spencer: That’s all we have time for today. If there are any remaining questions, we’ll follow up with you individually by email afterwards and make sure everybody gets any questions addressed that they had. I want to thank you all again.
Before we close, though, I just want to remind everyone of our upcoming 20 Minute Marketing Webinars. Our next webinar is 10 Tips to Humanize Your Agency with Social Media Marketing. Insurance sales is all about developing relationships, and that’s exactly what social media can help you do. We’ll talk about ideas to communicate and connect with your consumers in the more fun and casual structure of social media, where you can show off the human side to your agency. So we’ll go through 10 tips to make your agency feel more human. This will be held on Thursday, February 25, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern or 11:00 a.m. Pacific, and will be available to watch on-demand after that.
Spencer: Then, coming up in March, our webinar is How to Personalize Your Sales with Video Proposals. The importance of personalizing the online experience that your prospects and clients have is only going to increase as COVID-19 continues, and folks are less engaging in face-to-face business when they can help it. Join us in this webinar as we walk through how video proposals can take your sales efforts to the next level and give you some strategies to help convert more prospects, build relationships with clients, and grow your sales. Get that human element back into your sales and offer a little more face-to-face experience with your customers. We want to help you, if you can’t see people face to face, get a little back closer towards that. That event will be held on Thursday, March 25, 2021, again at 2:00 p.m. Eastern or 11:00 a.m. Pacific, and will also be available to watch on-demand after that.
That does it for today. From me and the rest of the BrightFire team, I want to thank you all again for taking a little time out of your day and attending. I hope to see some of you around next month. Take care.