Recently, there has been some discussion in the reputation management industry regarding “review gating”. Review gating refers to the process where companies send a message to customers asking if their experience was positive or negative. Only those customers who indicate they have had a positive experience will be requested to leave a review on Google, Yelp, Facebook or other review service.
The new chatter in the industry was driven by the FTC sending out notices to a handful of companies warning them that making it difficult for customers to leave negative reviews is a violation of the FTC Act. We were one of the companies that received such a notice. The FTC didn’t talk to us before sending the notice. If they had, we’d tell them that we don’t review gate.
We don’t review gate because it is against Google’s policy (as well as the policy of other review services), because it may be a violation of the FTC Act (at least according to the FTC). As important, we don’t review gate because it isn’t good for our customers. Specifically:
- Review gating doesn’t drive better ratings: Other reputation management companies have run experiments that show that review gating doesn’t drive significantly higher ratings (e.g, higher average ‘star’ rating) at all. Review gating doesn’t work.
- Review gating drives fewer reviews: The same research shows that gating drives significantly fewer reviews. Number of reviews (among many other factors) are a major determinant of organic search ranking.
- Fixing the root cause has a better return on effort: Over time, focusing on solving the problem that drives negative feedback drives better business results than artificially suppressing negative reviews.
We’ll be looking at our sales and marketing materials to make it clear that we do not review gate. More importantly, we’ll continue to look out for the best interests of small businesses by improving our products to make it easier to receive and understand feedback from customers. If you are interested in what we do to help thousands of customers build more robust online reputations, here is a good summary.