Marketing Marvels is back with a new episode all about harnessing the power of customer reviews. I’m joined today by Erin Jaeger, Director of Product Marketing at Yext.
Yext is an extraordinary tool for managing your business’ location data across the web. Keeping your contact information consistent is crucial to successful local marketing—Yext makes that easy by pulling all of that data into a single place. And thanks to a brand-new tool called Yext Reviews, you can now manage customer feedback with the same, incredible ease.
Today, you’ll get a peek at the Yext Reviews platform, which makes it simple to respond to customer reviews, identify your company’s top ratings sites, solicit new reviews, and stay in touch with your biggest fans. It’s the perfect software for turning customer reviews into a powerful marketing tool. Watch the demo video below for more!
Jay: Hey, everybody. It is Jay Baer from Convince & Convert and this is another episode of Marketing Marvels. It’s Marketing Marvels, the show where I show you, the busy marketer, some technology that you should absolutely buy, license, support and use.
Marketing Marvels is a production of Convince & Convert Media. Every single episode of Marketing Marvels includes a short demo of some software that you are going to know and you are going to love and you are going to want to purchase and some questions to kind of show you why it makes sense and how it may work in your business.
Today on the Marketing Marvels program we have a very special guest, Erin Jaeger, who is the Director of Product Marketing at a company called Yext. Yext is based in New York City and has an unbelievable software platform. It’s called Location Cloud.
The way it works is this. If you’re a business that has a physical location or in many cases you have many physical locations, you’re a chain of restaurants or supermarkets or shoe stores or doctors’ offices or what have you, you’ve got a local data about each of your locations. What time does it open, where do you park, phone number, all these things.
As you know, more and more of your customers are using mobile devices to access that information. But sometimes, because there are so many places where that information can live online, obviously Google but you also have Yahoo Local and all these Yellow Pages sites and Yelp, etc., sometimes that data can get out of sync.
If you decide to close early on Thursdays from now on, you’ve got to make sure all that data gets synced up across the entire internet. If it doesn’t, it can be a huge problem. The customer shows up for their appointment, you’re closed. They’re like, “What is going on?” So Yext handles all that for you. It keeps all your data synced up across the entirety of the web. That is Yext Location Cloud.
But even more exciting and the focus of today’s Marketing Marvels episode is that Yext rolled out a new feature, a new platform called Yext Reviews recently. Yext Reviews allows you to see all the reviews that people are leaving about your business, analyze them, respond to them and then solicit reviews from your customers to make sure you’re getting as much feedback as possible and the highest average star rating for each of your locations.
It’s super important because ladies and gentlemen, today, 80% of Americans trust ratings and reviews as much as they trust recommendations from their own friends and family members. Reviews are a huge part of what makes people buy from you versus your competition and Yext is right on top of that trend with the brand new Yext Reviews.
So Erin, let’s look a little bit at the system. Let’s talk about what it does. Welcome to Marketing Marvels. I cannot be more excited. This is exactly the kinds of things I’m excited about these days, reviews and feedback and customer service. Man, it’s good to have you here. Let’s see it.
Erin: It’s good to be here too, Jay. Thanks. So I’m actually going to jump in and share my screen right here to pop into sort of what we’re seeing, the context for how we came to be here right now. That is that, Jay, you gave a great intro to Yext. We help you manage all of the public facts about your brand and your locations anywhere that a consumer might find them.
So here we’re looking at an example about what a listing for a restaurant in Brooklyn, not too far from where I am right now, might look like on Google. So this should look pretty familiar to anybody who uses local search, who uses their phone, uses Google or other outlets to find local businesses around them. You’ve got those hours, you’ve got the phone number, business description, everything Jay mentioned before.
What you can see on this listing is actually there’s a pretty big portion that’s taken up by reviews, by that feedback that Jay, you and I are both so excited about. We’ve got these stars right here at the top. Google is pulling reviews from other places across the web here at the bottom. It’s not just Google. We’re seeing the same type of thing happening on Facebook where we’ve got those reviews right there at the top, 4.5 stars. Same thing happening on Bing. They’re pulling in reviews from Yelp. Who can forget Yelp? One of the biggest players in the review space.
So when we think about managing the data that customers want to see when they’re looking for local businesses, it’s pretty undeniable that reviews are a huge piece of that. Right, Jay?
Jay: It’s massive and more and more all the time.
Erin: Yeah. So I think a lot of us, I’m a marketer myself, often times historically we’ve thought of reviews as customer service, a way to find that hater, that one guy who’s giving you the one-star review and hug him, respond, tell him that you’ll do whatever you can to have him come back and have a great experience next time. I think reviews are often falling into that bucket of customer service.
But I’m here today to talk about a new way to think about reviews that we’re seeing based on some really, really big changes we’ve seen in the search space here at Yext. That is that reviews are not only customer service. Reviews are also search. So I mentioned a couple big changes that are informing our opinion around this, right?
The first one is that last year, Google actually came out and openly said that reviews are a part of how they define local ranking. So if I’m looking for a local business, Google wants to make sure that they’re showing me results that are relevant to what I’m looking for. They want to make sure they’re showing me results that are nearby, especially if I’m trying to walk there.
They also want to make sure they’re showing me results for businesses where they think I’m going to have a good experience. That’s where this prominence piece comes in. Ratings and review content are now part of how Google determines which businesses to show to consumers when they are looking to buy.
If I’m looking to find a hardware store, I’m probably not casually searching. I’m looking for something right now because I need to go fix something in my apartment. So we’re thinking about high intent consumers. Reviews are informing how Google is showing me these results. Pretty crazy.
Jay: Yeah. It’s amazing. In that example, it actually put the Warshaw Hardware above Home Depot even though it was farther away, presumably because it had a higher average rating. It’s pretty fascinating.
Erin: Yeah, presumably. I don’t think we’re ever going to have full insight into really the special sauce that Google pulls into this, but they’re saying prominence is a factor in how they return these results is really, really huge for brands.
So that brings me to the second big update that we’ve seen that really inform how you should be thinking about reviews as search and not only as customer service. That is that if you want to get some stars in your organic search results, you can do that too. So beforehand I was looking at the map, now I’m looking at an example in organic search. We’ve got the stars right beneath this listing here.
We’ve seen that adding stars to these organic links actually can result in a huge, huge increase in how consumers engage with them. So if I have a listing that’s in position two on a search with no stars and I take the same listing in the same position, position two with stars, we’ve seen in some studies we’ve conducted that that can lead to a 153% increase in click-throughs. People are really, really excited to engage with listings and with examples of your business in search when they see those stars and they think they’re going to have a good experience.
Jay: That’s an organic listing, right? You’re not paying per click. You’re getting 153% more clicks essentially for free.
Erin: Exactly. Yeah. This is not a cost per click scenario. This is not an ad. This is just your organic listing. But there was another big change in terms of how you make these stars show up. That is that in August, Google actually changed its requirements if you want to make those stars show up.
Now if you want to get those stars, you have to ask your customers for reviews directly and you have to put those reviews on your own site. You can’t be pulling in reviews from other third-party sites like Facebook or Yelp or what have you. These have to be reviews that you yourself generate if you want these stars. That was a big change in August.
Jay: You have to generate them and then the reviews actually have to live on your site as well, right? They have to present on your own domain?
Erin: Exactly. That’s why it’s showing up in this organic listing. Yeah. It’s a huge change. So if businesses were already thinking about how to get those stars in the search, there’s another thing they need to be thinking about now, which is that first party requirement. We’ve got Google saying how it influences its local rankings. You’ve got Google saying you have to get your own reviews if you want stars in the search. Any way we look at it, we’re really seeing reviews are the real key to starring in search. So that’s why I’m so excited to jump into Yext Reviews today.
Jay: All right. Let’s do it.
Erin: Let me hop out of these slides and jump into the platform. Cool. So this is Yext. This is the actual Location Cloud. You can see in this demo we’ve got all of the locations for this business and this brand loaded up right in here. If I were to click into any one of those, we’d see that same data that Jay and I spoke about before about the hours, the phone number and all of that jazz for each individual location. This is sort of the central nervous system of Yext. It powers the other parts of our offering as well.
Now, I’m going to click over into this Reviews tab here. You can see that the first thing we see is a roll up of all the reviews that customers are leaving about all of my locations anywhere across the web. So that could be Google, that could be Facebook, that could be Foursquare. We’re pulling in every review for every location into Yext right here. So you’ve got a one-stop shop to see all of that overall feedback.
Jay: In the column there that says Site, you’ve got icons. One is a Yelp icon. I think one is Google and then the x is your logo. Does that mean those reviews were generated, as we talked about, by the business and is on their own site?
Erin: Yes, that’s correct. We’ll get more into the method of how you generate those reviews in just a sec. We’re also seeing the reviews you’re asking for rolled up in the same view as those the consumers are leaving on third-party sites.
I can also filter. So if I wanted to see only my five-star reviews or only my one-star reviews, I could just click these bars over here to see. I can do the same for site. So I can click over here to see only my Facebook reviews or only my Google reviews.
I can also filter by location. So if I managed only one location, I can make sure that we’re looking at the reviews only for that location so I can drill down and see the ones that are really, really relevant to my business here. So it’s super flexible and it’s a great way to get a bird’s eye view of all of your feedback in one place.
Jay: So if somebody in the business, if you’ve got a number of locations like this example, just 20 or 25 locations or something like that, and there’s one person who’s responsible operating Yext and they see a review that’s like, “Maybe we should address this,” do they then send that via email to the general manager of this particular restaurant location?
Erin: Yeah. They certainly can. The Yext platform is super, super flexible. We’ve seen some customers prefer to handle all of their review responses and interactions in corporate. We’ve seen others who have franchisees and they want those franchisees or local managers to have a seat at the table and to be responsible for their own reviews. So there are really robust workflows and approval settings baked into the platform where you can give access to reviews for specific locations to people who only manage their specific locations.
If they wanted to respond to those reviews, you could also set it up so corporate could review those responses before they go live. That helps you keep brand control over anything you’re putting out there from any of your locations. It’s a representation of your brand. But the platform is really flexible.
Jay: Do you respond to those reviews in Yext or do you kind of click through from Yext to the platform or does it depend on the site?
Erin: That depends on the site. You can respond to Google reviews and Facebook reviews directly from Yext. For reviews on any other site, you can click directly to that listing, so you don’t have to do any searching to find where that review lives in the wild. Most sites will allow you to respond to there.
Erin: Yeah. So it’s a great bird’s eye view. Of course, there’s another thing too with reviews, Jay, which is that we’re not only trying to get our rating to go, we also want to make sure we’re learning from those reviews if there are specific elements to be found in them across the feedback we’re getting.
Jay: Yeah. You see commonality. You see patterns in the data, like all of a sudden this particular topic is mentioned again and again. That’s typically not a bunch of customers conspiring to all lie. Usually where there’s smoke, there’s fire at some level. So using the Yext Reviews platform, you can actually find those common phrases and see, “Hey, maybe there’s something we need to fix.”
Erin: Exactly. Yeah. I’m going to click over to our Insights tab to show you how you might learn from your reviews with Yext. The first obviously, we are a location-centric company. So we like to show your reviews on a map, especially if you have multiple locations in different geographic areas, you can look for trends to see are there certain areas or cities or specific locations that are getting better or worse feedback.
We’ve got some really good stuff happening here at this one in Dallas, a little bit more questionable activity over here. We might need to drill down. It looks like it’s in Georgetown, Texas, to see what’s going on there. They’ve got potentially more one-star reviews at this location. It’s a good way to get a roll up to see any geographic trends. You can obviously zoom in, zoom out depending on how big your footprint is.
Jay: I was just in Georgetown not that long ago and I drove by that one. Had I known, I could have gone, given a review, really helped them out. Next time.
Erin: Next time. There you go. If I scroll down a little bit more, we can see our review count and some other metrics like our rolling average rating, so are we improving over time. Also, as I’m scrolling, you can see that these insights are all filterable by location for any amount of time. I can even go back to that site filter as well. If I only wanted to see these graphs for my Facebook reviews or my Google reviews, I could do that as well.
Jay: There’s a download CSV button as well, Erin, so you can grab this raw data and do some additional spreadsheet gymnastics, if you’d like to.
Erin: Certainly can. Yeah. So we like to make our data available sort of whether you want to get really deep in the weeds or you just want to note a review, you can certainly download it. You can also download a PDF of this Insights page, which is a little bit more user-friendly for those of us who aren’t quite as fluid with data and with spreadsheets too. You can just see our reports rolled up. We can also schedule those reports to be emailed to various people across the business at various times to give everybody a review, if you will, of how we’re doing.
But to your question from before, I’m actually going to scroll down to the bottom of this page here to our content analysis insights. So you mentioned before where there’s smoke there’s fire. Are there specific words that are associated with good or bad reviews? From those, can we learn whether there are actually things we need to do to prevent that feedback from surfacing in the future?
Jay: Do not order the Thai noodle.
Erin: Exactly. In this example, you can see that they’re doing really well with vermicelli. It’s associated here with four-star reviews, pretty good. The Thai is a little bit of a problem area. So if I hover over here, you can see Thai is associated with seven one-star reviews, probably not that great. Something is probably going on.
So I can use this overview to then drill down and see the actual content of those reviews that we’re pulling and try and figure out what’s going on. We’ve actually had some beta customers with Yext Reviews, also restaurants who, like we’re showing in this demo, who saw tables and bathrooms often associated with red bubbles here with those one-star, two-star reviews.
They were able to learn very quickly that there were a few locations where they needed to do a little bit better job of cleaning up. That type of insight at the location level is really, really powerful. Then you can call up the local manager and say, “We’re seeing across a couple of different sites, a couple of different months some feedback that’s pretty consistent. So I need you to look at this and make it better.”
Jay: But obviously the more reviews you have, the more powerful that information becomes, right? The wisdom of the crowds effect. So not only because it helps for search, but also it helps you to understand your business better. You want as many reviews as possible, right? You don’t want one percent of your customers creating reviews. You want 100% of your customers creating reviews. That’s probably impossible. But more is better and that’s why the Yext Reviews solicitation and creation piece of this is so important, yeah?
Erin: Yeah, absolutely. That brings me into the Generation tab. When we think about reviews, remedying the sort of bad table, bad cleanliness aspect is certainly part of customer service, like I mentioned before, but what about reviews in search? So that brings me to generation, which is the next phase of how we can use reviews to get more business, not just remedy issues with our current business, if you will.
Now, you mentioned that typically the people who are leaving reviews passively, like if I’m a business, whether or not I ask for reviews, there are going to be some number of people who leave them anyway. Often times what we see is those are the ones that are super-huge fans or very, very upset.
Jay: It’s ones and fives pretty commonly.
Erin: Exactly. It’s the ones and fives. So when we’re thinking about how to use reviews in search, I know there can be a little bit of trepidation. If I’m going to ask for more reviews, how do I know those reviews aren’t going to be bad? I don’t want to opt in to getting more bad reviews, right?
Jay: Yeah. But what I always say after that . . . I hear that. People say, “How can I make sure my reviews are good?” To which I always say, “Well, you can run a better business.” There’s that option.
The software is not going to save you. If your company sucks, the Yext Reviews is not going to fix that. Let’s make sure people realize this is not like a panacea. This makes good companies better and shows companies that have some work to do where they need that work to be done. But this idea that, “I don’t want to ask for reviews because they might be bad reviews,” it’s like, “Why don’t you fix the problem,” and then the bad reviews isn’t an issue.
Erin: Certainly. Exactly. They always say recognizing the issue is the first step to solving it. So potentially getting more feedback that will pinpoint that will help a little bit more in that regard too.
There’s one other piece of this too, which is that the people who are huge fans, huge super fans, the five-star reviewers and the one-star reviewers are always going to leave reviews, whether or not you ask for them. Those are always going to be there. They’re probably still out there right now.
So when we think about who’s not leaving reviews, those are the customers that you’re delivering on your brand promise. They visited you. They like you. They’re going to come back. They think you did a good job. Obviously nothing happened that might compel them to leave a terrible review. Things are pretty good.
So this concept of asking that silent majority of people to leave you reviews, we see that when you do that, we call it firing up your fans . . . feedback is actually going to skew up because people are likely to leave reviews if asked. If they haven’t had an experience that would encourage them to leave a negative review, that review is probably going to be pretty good.
Jay: So you’re going to get a lot more three, fours, and fives if you ask people to leave a review. You do that through the Yext Reviews Generation platform via email. You upload a list of email addresses of customers that sends them a note that says, “Glad you were in. We’d love for you to leave us a review.”
Erin: Yeah, exactly. So email is a really popular method of asking people to leave a review. So Yext can connect with any system or spreadsheet where you’re storing your customers’ contact information, like their email addresses. But email is actually not the only way you can generate reviews. We’ve seen customers want to use SMS text if they have phone numbers and maybe not email addresses.
We can also create links that you can print out on your receipts or put in a sign by your checkout. So there are a bunch of different methods you can ask for reviews and generate new reviews. So Yext supports all of those. It means it’s really flexible, so you can decide what’s best for your business.
We know that some brands may already be emailing their customers a lot and might choose a different method of collection for reviews. So the fact of the matter is that it’s super, super flexible. But email is a really popular way to do it.
Jay: We talked earlier that there are the third-party reviews that are left on sites like Yelp and Google and Facebook and TripAdvisor and Angie’s List and all that jazz. Then there are the first-party reviews, which are so, so important to Google now, which are reviews that are left on your own website. So do you have to send two batches of emails or two batches of SMS? How do you handle both of those? That seems complicated to me.
Erin: Yeah. That’s actually the really special thing about Yext Reviews. It’s definitely the piece that excites me the most. When we’re thinking about generating reviews, it can be kind of confusing. Where do I want to put them? What’s going to be better for me? Is it going to be to get more reviews on Facebook where I have kind of low ratings or to get more reviews for my own website that I can then use in search like we looked at the beginning. It can be hard to kind of think about what the best thing to do is. You can just get kind of confused and don’t really end up doing anything.
So with Yext, we’ve actually baked in a patent pending algorithm that dynamically directs customers to the places to leave a review that are going to be the most impactful to your business. You can set that up based on what types of problems you want to solve. So here, in this example, we’re looking at pinpointing a few listings across third-party sites that have a low rating.
So this business is doing pretty good. Only 13% of their listings we would consider a low rating. They can setup what that is. Most people would say it’s two and a half or below stars. We’ve also got a couple locations that have some recent one-star reviews that they’ve received and we have a couple more locations that have no reviews, say, on Facebook or on Google. That’s also kind of a bad situation too because silence is a statement in itself, if you will.
So Yext in the background here is dynamically generating links to the best place for each customer to leave a review such that we’re solving all of these problems at once. So we call it review balancing. Essentially if you think about what’s going to be best for my business, getting more reviews to use in search, fixing my one-star rating for one location on Facebook, getting more Google reviews because I only have three here on this one location, Yext is dynamically working on the background to have all of your review generation apply and work to solve all of those problems at once. It’s really pretty magical.
Jay: Yeah. That’s really, really smart because it does allow you to address both sides of it, both third-party and first party. But also, Erin, it really emphasizes the need to collect data from customers somehow so that you can actually communicate with them. I suppose you could do it with a sign or receipt, as you said, but it would be better doing the physical ask via phone or email. It makes it even more important to opt people in to a loyalty program or something like that.
Erin: Certainly. Yeah. Loyalty programs are actually a really good place to start if you’re thinking about how to generate reviews because often times we also know which locations people will typically visit when we’ve got them synced up with our loyalty program. That can help us really drill down and say, “Please leave a review of this location in Georgetown, Texas, because we know you have visited there and checked in there” and what have you. So loyalty programs are a great thing to connect if you want to get started fast here.
Jay: I love it. Anything else we should look at?
Erin: That’s pretty much it. The power of Yext Reviews is really in that balancing algorithm. So what we really want to just hit on is think about using reviews not only to help remedy any errors or negative feedback that people may give you, but also to use the power of reviews to bring up your ratings across all of the sites your business is appearing on. That includes your own site.
Jay: So we’ll get off the screen share there on your side and I’ll ask you how do people buy this? Is Yext Reviews sold separately from Location Cloud or is it all a package and do you charge an annual fee based on how many locations you have or how many users have access to the software? How does that work?
Erin: Yeah. You’re exactly right. So we’re a SaaS company. So Yext Reviews is packaged as part of overall location cloud offering. We charge customers on an annual basis based on how many locations they have. So how we work with you would vary based on how big your footprint is.
Jay: How did you get to Yext? You’ve been in product marketing for a long time. You could be at a lot of companies. Why are you at this company?
Erin: That’s a great question. I’ve been at Yext for just under three years now. I was at IBM for a number of years before that also doing product marketing for a portfolio of marketing software. So that’s certainly been where I’ve built my career. I joined Yext . . . I’m based in New York and Yext has an incredible presence here in New York, even three years ago.
The combination of the passion of the people at this company and the huge opportunity I saw because mobile is becoming overall so fast the main way that people are interacting with businesses around them. So the combination of people and that opportunity plus the fantastic footprint here in New York and increasingly across the globe was really exciting to me then and continues to excite me now.
Jay: I love that answer. Erin, obviously Yext is terrific. That’s why we have the software on Marketing Marvels and we invited you to be on the show. But you have been in this business for a long time and you as a marketer I’m sure use lots of marketing software. What’s a marketing marvel for you?
Erin: Great question. Another thing that I think is really exciting about Yext is the idea of having a central place where you can do a lot of different stuff. Reviews is certainly an arm of our offering. There’s a lot more that our platform powers as well. Another fantastic example of that framework is HubSpot. So we’re huge HubSpot fans here at Yext. Obviously any tool that centralizes a lot of stuff that can be sort of disparate or confusing and also makes marketers’ lives easier is good in my book.
Jay: Good answer. Love those guys at HubSpot. Always a fantastic platform. You’re right. It takes a lot of different things and puts it into one dashboard and one platform that you can execute on without having to login to a million places a million times. So a good answer.
Jay: Erin, anything else that we should talk about?
Erin: Don’t think so. If you’re interested, you can go to yext.com to learn plenty more about Reviews as well as our other offerings. But it’s been really great to chat with you.
Jay: Fantastic. Yext.com, the leaders in location and now also in reviews. Erin, thanks so much to you and the whole Yext team for being on this episode of Marketing Marvels. Marketing Marvels episodes release about every three weeks. Go to bit.ly/marketingmarvels to subscribe. That’s bit.ly/marketingmarvels, all lower case, to make sure that you do not miss an episode. We’ll be back next time with another fantastic edition of the show.
Don’t forget, Marketing Marvels is produced by Convince & Convert Media. We have a network of five podcasts, an award-winning digital magazine and a daily email newsletter. Go to convinceandconvert.com to get more for smart marketers like you.
Erin, thanks again. Thanks to my friends at yext.com. Until next time, this is Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. This has been Marketing Marvels.