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The Review Lasagna: Four Layers of Social Proof

“I have all these reviews that I’ve collected and I keep it in my excel spreadsheet and just type them into my website“

Ehhhhhh. Wrong!

Too many times have I received a customer testimonial that’s just been copied and pasted from some dusty excel spreadsheet because you received the feedback in some shape or form. I hate to break it to you, but if this is true for you, then you have a BIG problem.

What you want to be doing is getting a highly credible third party company like Yotpo and Trust Pilot and start building reviews directly into your website, as well as utilising off-page online reviews on platforms such as Google My Business and Facebook.

Picking the right review channels for you will depend on which channels your business has the strongest presence and engagement on; however the concept remains the same no matter which platforms you choose.

So what’s the problem with my excel spreadsheet filled with juicy testimonials?

Well let’s make this into an analogy that we can all relate to… lasagna.

Think of your product or service like a delicious slab of fresh lasagna steaming out of the oven; made with all the love and care of this world.

lasagna

(Image source)

So who’s going to rave about it?

Probably you. But, if you start telling everyone “dude, this is hands down the best lasagna in the world” they may giggle a little at your cute admiration for mama’s lasagna recipe but probably won’t believe you.

Why? Because it’s coming from YOU!

You, unfortunately, are not a reliable sauce. I mean source.

However what happens if you have 4 – 8 of your friends telling someone “No, trust me he’s got a point, his mama’s lasagna recipe is seriously out of control”.

See what happened here?

The third party review that advocated mama’s lasagna is instantly more credible than your shouts from the rooftop.

Same goes with your product.

If you have your own spreadsheet with reviews and just dump them on your website, they just don’t carry as much weight as they could.

Get the picture? Capiche? Alright, now let me break down the levels of credibility versus social proof in my ‘Lasagna Advocacy’ analogy.

Layer 1: La Familia Level Reviews (Collected Data)

If you have your family saying “oh yeah, our mum makes the best lasagna!”, this is the equivalent of your testimonial excel sheet . Nobody is going to believe it because the source is biased, and doesn’t provide a huge amount of social proof.

What you could do instead, is film the testimonial, upload it to YouTube, and embed this video on your website. This way, it’ll be a whole lot more convincing than a bunch of text from Dad recommending your product or service.

Layer 2: Mis Amigos Level Reviews (3rd Party)

If I have my friends (or in this case third party reviews) raving about mama’s lasagna, then this is much better. The online equivalent of your friends raving about mama’s lasagna is the same as your customers leaving reviews on Google My Business, Facebook and eBay organic reviews. These reviews are the ones you want, and are much better because:

  1. They’re all 100% organic testimonials from your customers (and are less likely to be made up or manipulated);
  2. Having organic reviews from Google My Business, Facebook and eBay helps your website rank better in the search results on Google and other search engines;
  3. Having reviews across multiple channels helps your brand’s overall social proof, and therefore increases the likelihood of someone making a purchase or enquiry.

Word to the wise: DO NOT, under any circumstance, bribe or give “gifts” to your customers as an incentive to leave positive feedback on Google My Business – it actually goes against Google’s terms of service.

If Google does catch wind of this, they will likely remove all your reviews and leave you reviewless.

Additionally this could REALLY hurt your rankings, so please don’t do this.

It’s better to have real reviews that may have a little bit of negative feedback, but so long as you address your audience in those cases, then it’s all fine. A little transparency goes a long way.

Back to the lasagna.

Layer 3: Mi Barrio Level Reviews (3rd Party, highly credible)

Mi Barrio, for those not in the know, means “my neighbourhood” in Spanish. Say Mi Barrrrio and roll your R’s for added authenticity.

Now THIS is where the magic happens. It would be the equivalent of having the whole neighbourhood talking about mama’s lasagna.

This is a huge win because the people raving about it are not necessarily people you already know. The online equivalent of this would be utilising the services of Trustpilot or Yotpo + organic reviews.

Trustpilot and Yotpo offer a more beefy and robust review platform where you can add these reviews to your website (backed by the company of course), which also has the added benefit of usually increasing enquiry and purchase rates.

The best thing about having Yotpo and Trustpilot reviews, is that you can also pull these into your search ads through AdWords, and your online presence can immediately skyrocket due to these organic reviews.

Plus, your AdWords PPC Consultant (me) will love you for this! It’s a win-win!

Layer 4: Chef Jamie Oliver Level Reviews

(3rd party organic review + 3rd party review platform + Expert/Highly Credible Reviewer = Next level madness!)

I know this deviates from the Mexican theme I had going, but let’s mix it up a little. Now we have a traditional Italian dish being reviewed by a White Englishman from Sussex, BUT HEY!… it’s all about the lasagna.

If I have Chef Jamie Oliver come and say “YES! Your mama’s lasagna is awesome!”, then instantly your audience (who align your product/brand to you, and to Jamie Oliver) will have a VERY compelling reason to make a purchase.

Why?

Because you’ve made a brand advocate who endorses your product, and this kind of advocacy is huge.

Granted, you could sponsor these kinds of reviews, and they will still hold in the eyes of your customers; but again, the crème de la crème is the authentic reviews.

It’s through these reviews where all of your revenue driving, analytics breaking, eye-popping traffic will come with cash in hand begging you for product. This is definitely the most potent mix you can get when it comes to brand/product advocacy in the form of social proof and reviews.

Of course Digital PR can be paid (and often is), but if you can leverage it correctly with the aforementioned review channels, this is a recipe for success. See what I did there?

It’s rare to get to this point but if you can manage to pull something like this off, this is guaranteed to boost your conversions and increase brand advocacy like you wouldn’t believe.

Happy cooking!

Tim Vasquez

Digital Marketing Consultant (PPC, Conversion Rate Optimisation)