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“The value of social media dashboards has already been firmly established, but an online review monitoring and management tool like Review Trackers can actually make as great an impact, if not greater, on business performance.”

An experienced entrepreneur with more than six years in digital marketing, Chris Campbell is the Founder and Chief Tracking Officer of Review Trackers.

Founded in early 2012, Review Trackers is the online review monitoring platform for local businesses. Built on proprietary data collection technology that’s designed to track, analyze, and centralize online customer reviews from sites like Yelp, Google+ Local, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, and more—helping multi-location business owners listen closely and respond promptly to what their customers are saying.

MO: How did you come up with the concept of Review Trackers?

Chris: Review Trackers actually started early last year when I was still working as a digital marketing strategist for a Chicago marketing agency. One of my clients – a major retailer with hundreds of locations scattered across the U.S.– came to me with a problem they needed to solve. They were trying to track their online reviews. They realized it was critical to their business, particularly in terms of gathering business intelligence, tracking customer feedback, and identifying problems in their different stores nationwide. They asked me help them find a tool that would solve their problem of tracking reviews. Well, there wasn’t. (Or at least none that we were happy with.) After testing and demoing a lot of the solutions that my client and I had researched on the Web, we realized we needed to build something new: a better mousetrap, if you will. I saw a great opportunity there, so I quit my job, focused on creating Review Trackers, and developed a prototype. This was the foundation of what Review Trackers platform is today, and the client eventually became one of our first customers.

MO: Why are online reviews so important? How can a business that has just a few, encourage its customers to get writing and spread the word about their positive experiences?

Chris: Online reviews are important because they influence consumers’ decisions. In fact, according to VentureBeat, 92 percent of adult buyers check online reviews before making a purchase decision. Forrester Research also found that reviews exert greater influence on these decisions than do search engine results, E-mail marketing, social networking content, online ads, and other branded communications. A Weber Shandwick study added that the average buyer consults an average of 11 reviews on their path to purchase, and that these reviews are more trusted than opinions written by professional critics. So reviews definitely have a significant direct impact on consumer behavior and, therefore, business performance.

To generate more reviews, I regularly advise clients to improve their level of customer service and engagement. I think that’s the most important step, because creating positive experiences goes hand-in-hand with building trusted relationships with customers.

Also, I usually tell clients to enhance their online visibility, which they can do by actively managing and promoting their review site profiles, pages, listings, and social networks. Creating Yelp deals or Foursquare specials, for example, encourages customers to interact with the business via these review sites. Offline promotion works, too. A Happy Hour sign next to your Yelp window cling, a free dessert for people who checked in using Foursquare, a special discount for customers who reserved via OpenTable or booked via TripAdvisor: these are all simple but effective ways to ethically generate great reviews. The key is to identify key customer touchpoints and find ways to make these interactions truly special and memorable.

MO: What advice would you give to a company who has accumulated some recent negative reviews?

Chris: This is always a difficult question to answer. A few negative reviews and one-star ratings can be heartbreaking to a passionate business owner If this is not just a fluke, and you are consistently getting negative reviews- I would start by telling them to change their business. If people are leaving negative reviews- something is fundamentally wrong that needs to be addressed. The average review is actually a four star rating so if all your reviews are one star, something needs to be fixed. That’s the hard truth.

If for some reason, it is just a weird anomaly of reviews- the best medicine is empowering your loyal customers. Asking them to leave reviews in the store and via email works.

MO: What are some online trends that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?

Chris: One very exciting trend I noticed is that there’s a lot of research papers coming from universities like Harvard and Berkeley (to name a few) telling businesses that reviews are more important than ever. Harvard Business School for instance has found that a one-star rating drop causes a 5-9% loss in revenue for that location.

There’s another study – this time by New York Times and Latitude – saying that reviews inspired twice as much consumer trust than tweets or pins or Facebook “likes”. I think this helps the business sector pay greater attention to what’s really happening right now, wherein the digital media landscape is changing and spreading out beyond just Facebook and Twitter. Now, there’s also Google+ Local, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Citysearch, what-have-you. Business tools have to evolve with that. Sure, the value of social media dashboards has already been firmly established, but an online review monitoring and management tool like Review Trackers can actually make as great an impact, if not greater, on business performance. It’s great for our company, and it confirms the viability of what we do.

MO: Startups typically need to pivot and evolve their business model over time, especially as customers start to use the product or service. Can you provide some advice or lessons learned to entrepreneurs on pivoting while keeping your business moving forward at the same time?

Chris: I started working on the idea for Review Trackers as early as 2011. Originally I had very big plans and ideas on what we were going to build. We went through several rounds of interviews and focus groups with business owners in order to generate feedback. We met with 100 different people before we wrote a single line of code. This feedback was extremely valuable as we were able drill down into what businesses really wanted in a review tracking tool. In January, we launched the first public iteration – a stable, scalable one – of the platform. But to this day, we continue to test and refine our development plans, we talk to our customers on a daily basis and collect their feedback to guide our product roadmap.

MO: What’s one marketing strategy that’s worked well for you?

Chris: My experience is concentrated on digital marketing, so there are several strategies that have worked effectively for me. With Review Trackers, we’ve been executive an aggressive inbound marketing strategy that integrates SEO, PPC, article marketing, link building, guest blogging, and social media marketing efforts. We also have an outbound strategy that involves reaching out to business owners who would be a good fit for our company. The mix seems to be working great so far as we have people signing up everyday to use Review Trackers.


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