Don’t Make These Reputation Management Mistakes

Just a quick video to show you two big local business reputation management mistakes.

Nelson’s HomeTowne Recreation just sent me this email asking for feedback on their business. But I’ve never done business with this company and I don’t live anywhere near Wisconsin.

We don’t subscribe to any of these things with our support email address. Somehow because they received an email from us — maybe a webinar invitation or something like that — and they’ve automatically added us into their reputation management system.

Reputation Management Mistake #1: Asking Non-Customers for Reviews

Lesson number one, make sure that you’ve really looked at the rules of your reputation management system. Don’t just shove any email that you receive into the system. Make sure you’re only putting in people that you’ve actually done business with.

This particular email came from Signpost. I’m not saying anything against Signpost or Hometowne Recreation, but these settings are something that you want to really think about. Make sure you set it up right and make sure whatever reputation system you’re working with, that you’ve asked the right questions. Only add in contacts from people that you have recently done business with.

Issue number two, there’s review gating going on here. So as a local business, you’ve got to make sure you ask your reputation management system how they’re handling review gating. Let me show you what I mean.

Reputation Management Mistake #2: Review Gating

Let’s say that I give these guys a poor rating. When I click on the two star rating, all they do is capture my feedback for their private use. But when I give them a great five star rating, they instead ask me to give us review on Yelp or Google. This is review gating.

First of all, if Yelp finds out or suspects you’re actually asking for reviews, they will spank you big time. There’s a better way that you can do reviews on Yelp that I’ll share with you in a different video down the road. But this kind of review gating and review solicitation violates Yelp’s term of service.

Review gating is also violates Google’s terms of service. You can’t only ask people for a Google review if they give you a four or five star rating.

Again I’m not saying that Signpost is a bad system, or that Nelson’s HomeTowne Recreation is trying to do anything sneaky. But you’ve got to make sure that you take control of your reputation. Don’t add email addresses of people who haven’t done business with you. Make sure the setting you use in your reputation management system don’t violate the terms of service on Yelp and Google. If anybody finds out about these reputation management mistakes and reports them, you listings could be penalized.

I’d also like to do a call out to all the reputation management systems out there. If you’re going to allow review gating for your clients, that’s your call. People are all adults … they can choose. But make sure that the businesses you’re working with know about these settings and are configuring them up properly to not send review solicitations to non-customers, and to not violate Yelp and Google’s terms of service.

Eric Shanfelt
Eric is the Founder and CEO of Local Marketing Institute. He has 25 years of experience in digital marketing and has been the Chief Digital Officer for several B2B and consumer media companies. Eric has a passion for local businesses and focuses on practical digital strategies to help them attract more customers, build customer loyalty, and grow their business.