Word of Mouth, But Make it Digital

Question: when was the last time you looked at reviews for a business, or a product? In June of 2022, my wife and I bought our first house and moved about 45 mins north of our hometown to a new city.

So, I’ve been looking at a lot of reviews for coffee shops and places to hang out in general so I can learn about the cool spots to check out in our new town. I’ve also been asking people for their recommendations on things like healthcare providers to parks lol. That got me thinking about private schools and their word-of-mouth marketing.

Private schools are historically good at traditional word-of-mouth advertising. I think the nature of the industry lends itself to creating a strong sense of community. Thus, the word of mouth marketing kind of just happens naturally. But, one thing that private schools are bad at is digital word-of-mouth marketing. AKA. asking for online reviews.

Who Leaves Reviews?

The truth is that the only people who are leaving reviews without being asked to are those highly motivated enough to do so. Let’s be honest, usually, the people who fall into that category are the people who are displeased with your school. This leaves schools with a tarnished online reputation – a disproportional amount of bad reviews to good reviews which is often not a true reflection of the level of service that they provide. This is a big problem because most often the first impression that a potential prospect has of your school is through an online search. In other words, it’s a bad first impression.

 

I think we inherently know that this is the case. We know that reviews are important. We know that we should be getting as many positive online reviews as possible. But still, we don’t have a process in place to systematically ask our best families to share their experiences in the form of a review. Why? 

Why Reviews Are Important

I think it’s kind of awkward, can come across as gaming the system, and we’re worried that people may be brutally honest and leave a bad review.

So, we sit on our hands and let the bad reviews roll in anyways? Yeah, that’s not much of a good plan either huh? 

In preparation for this post, I reached out to a colleague, Angela Brown who does a lot of work at Niche. I was looking to get her take on the importance of reviews, specifically on the Niche platform and how they affect a school’s viewability.

She let me know that K12 schools typically see a 30-60% increase in profile traffic after getting just their first review.

Honestly, I was pretty shocked, that is a big number for only receiving one review. Still, so many schools fall into this category of either ignoring their profiles on platforms like Niche and Great Schools or not caring about the number of reviews or the quality of the reviews that they receive on these platforms. 

Getting as many five-star reviews as possible is one of the quickest, most affordable, and highest returns on your investment marketing that you can do.

Why? Because it’s making better use of the traffic and the views that you’re already getting by turning those people into prospects and customers at a higher rate.

Anytime you can do a better job at converting traffic that you’re already getting you’re essentially creating more leads out of thin air… because you don’t need to do anything new to get that traffic. It’s already there. 

Here are some more benefits, in no particular order;

  • Reviews account for 16% of weight in the decision-making process for local SEO
  • A Harvard study suggests that an increase in ranking on Yelp by one star can lead to a 5-9% increase in sales.
  • Having high reviews on your site means that Google will trust you more, enabling better SEO rankings by itself – but not only that, local customers will approve more as well!
  • 7/10 customers trust an online review, definitely showing the benefit.

The best Defense is a Good Offense

Okay so it’s important, we kind of already knew that. But, I hear you saying that doesn’t help with the fact that it’s kind of awkward, and there’s not really a good system in place to request these reviews from our families.

Am I supposed to just email them a link? Text it to them? Do I have to remind them the next time I see them on campus that they haven’t submitted that review yet? Is it going to be awkward the next time I see them and they haven’t submitted that review yet? 

I hear you. Those are valid points that are all pretty accurate.

I would hope that you don’t just say hey here’s a link, leave us a review and shoot off a text or email.

I would hope that it would be put a little more elegantly than that.

And yes, it might be a little awkward and a little hard to keep track of but, I think the reward outweighs all of these challenges. 

But what if we start asking people for reviews and we start getting bad reviews?! We still don’t really have a plan for that. Well, we kind of do actually. 

Review generation is a bit like the best defense is a good offense kind of play. Here’s what I mean.

Inevitably some bad reviews will come in whether you’re asking people to leave reviews or you sit idly by and wait for them to come in.

So, when you actively seek to get as many good reviews as possible, once those few bad reviews do end up coming in your average rating is protected by all of the good reviews.

See, the best defense is a good offense. Protect yourself from having a low average ranking by getting as many good reviews as possible.

The Answer to Your Review Problems

Now, there is a way to do this entire process on autopilot.

You don’t have to send out email or text message review requests. You don’t need to follow up with people who haven’t submitted them. You don’t need to keep a spreadsheet updated to keep all this info in one place.

All you need to do is provide the email, text message, and name of the contact.

They’ll get put into an email and text message campaign, fully customized to your school’s branding and voice, asking them to leave you a review.

Once they do it, they’ll be removed from the campaign so they don’t get bothered. 

You can get your week of this review generation service completely free, no CC required, just to see how well it can work for your school. I’ve seen it literally transform new school enrollment numbers.

Join me on LinkedIn to keep this conversation going, I’d love to talk with you on there. Thank for reading, as always, I’ve been Nick and I’ll see you next week! 

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