Reputation Hacking (2 Simple Strategies to Drive Positive Word of Mouth)

I’ve heard a few crazy business stories during my career. 

From businesses dropping $250k on Kim Kardashian for a couple Instagram posts to … to “entrepreneurs” wanting to take on the US Mortgage application market with a budget of $10k. 

But this a story that really sent chills down my spine. 

So I was in talks with a professional services firm:

One of the partners gets forwarded a call from reception. 

It’s a prospect wanting to speak with someone “in charge”.

His back stiffens, game face on: 

“Hey there this is Jay, thanks for calling our firm, how can I help you today?”

“Ah, yeah, hi. Look I was just calling to tell you I read that review by Stephanie on your Google listing, and yeah, I won’t be working with you guys.”


That was it. 

Someone whom they’d never dealt with before, took the liberty to call them up and inform them that they wouldn’t be using them, based on a review they read online!

Most business owners never get this lucky!

The vast majority of people will NEVER inform you that they’ve seen something they don’t like in your online reputation. 

But it will be seen:

  • 72% of customers won’t take action until they read reviews.
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (and make their spending decisions accordingly).
  • More than half of consumers won’t use a business if it has less than a 4* rating.
  • 83% of customers don’t trust advertising.

So how did I respond when I heard that story?

Me: “So what are you guys doing to drive positive reviews?”

Them: “……”

Me: “Are you getting regular feedback from clients at least?”

Them: “Umm……”

Me: “Then who’s in charge of responding to these negative reviews you’ve got here?”

Them: “……”

Me: “Here’s 3 automated strategies that I think you need to implement. Firstly to ‘pulse check’ client happiness, secondly to ask the ‘delighted’ clients to leave you an online review. With these campaigns running, you should get 5-10 high-rated reviews a month, which will in time bury the bad review and lift your overall score. You also need to respond professionally and empathetically to every review, both positive and negative.” 

Them: “……”

In the end, they didn’t want to step up and own the situation, weren’t willing to proactively manage both the collection and responding to reviews. 

We weren’t a good fit. 

However in this post, I’m going to show you want I showed them, and hopefully you’ll make a smarter decision 😅

The #1 ‘Meta-Strategy’ for Great Word of Mouth

Before I introduce how you can hack your reputation and get a virtually ‘perfect’ record with 4 and 5 star reviews… 

I want to preface this by reinforcing the #1 ‘meta-strategy’ that all businesses should hold as a core goal: 

Delighted clients.

It should come as no surprise that ‘consistently delighted clients’ is one key indicator for future business growth (more on this in the NPS section below). 

Of course right? 

If a business really does a great job for you, and you’re thrilled about it, what’s the first thing you want to do?

You want to tell someone!

And aside from caring about our friends and family, there’s something a little selfish driving this behaviour: 

What happens when you refer someone to an awesome business?

You get the satisfaction of knowing you helped your friend out.

In other words, they owe you a little 😉

So be that reason by delighting your clients, and see your word of mouth grow naturally!

The 2-Step Approach to Hack Your Reputation

Now I’d like to share a simple 2-step process for hacking your online reputation, that works almost like magic.


Here’s the process:

First you send a regular client ‘pulse check’ campaign. 

I recommend the Net Promoter Score (NPS) format sent at least annually. I’ll explain why in the next section.  

Now, here’s where the magic comes in: 

  • If the user enters 9 or above, they’re considered a ‘Promoter’ and should be asked to leave a public review.
  • If the user enters and 8 or lower, they’re considered a ‘Passive’ (7-8) or a ‘Detractor’ (1-6) and should be asked for feedback.

With this simple feedback gate in front of your review request, you’ll: 

  • Only ask your raving fans to review you publically
  • Catch problems before they become public

So why the Net Promoter Score (NPS) format? 

Let’s have a look at that now:

What’s a NPS Campaign and How to Set It Up

You’ve probably seen an NPS campaign before. 

These are the emails and pop-overs which look like this: 

Responses from users are aggregated into an ‘NPS’ score, or Net Promoter Score. 

It’s a score out of 100, which in a nutshell, shows what proportion of your client base that are ‘promoters’ of your business – or really really happy!

The higher the score you get the better!

Here’s how the score is calculated:

Let’s imagine that you had the following scores for a measurement period:

Score Number of Responses % of Responses
1 0 0.00%
2 1 0.67%
3 0 0.00%
4 5 3.33%
5 11 7.33%
6 7 4.67%
7 8 5.33%
8 15 10.00%
9 44 29.33%
10 59 39.33%
Total: Detractors 24 16.00%
Total: Passives 23 15.33%
Total: Promoters 103 68.67%

In this example: 

NPS = 68.67 – 16.00

NPS = 52.67

The beauty of this format is that you have a single metric that you can:

  • Look at company-wide 
  • Review over time (i.e. monthly or quarterly)
  • Or segment into specific client groups (i.e. VIP clients or new clients)

A great company-wide NPS score is widely considered as a predictor for business growth!

So I guess your next question will be, “What’s a good NPS score?”. 

Here are some industry benchmark data (benchmarks from the US via Delighted):

Can you have a negative NPS score?

Yes, you can. 

As a matter of fact, the 2019 NSP scores for Commonwealth bank (-54) and AMP (-50) as per

In general, a score of:

  • < 0: indicates serious problems with the business
  • 0 – 40: Is a ‘good’ score
  • 40+: is an excellent score

Setting up an NPS campaign

You’ll need access to a NPS platform. 

Have a look at this comparison of 7 leading platforms. 

My recommendation is to send a client survey out quarterly.

That way you can roll up averages monthly to see how your NPS score is trending over time. 

Important tip: look for a platform that integrates with Zapier. 

With a Zapier integration it should be possible to ‘tag’ new clients in your CRM, and when specific ‘tags’ are added, the Zapier integration will push the client details to your NPS platform. 

For example: 

Here I have an automation triggering when the tag ‘Client’ is added, which adds a new NPS tag each quarter: 

In this example, the tag ‘NPS-quarterly’ would trigger Zapier to push the client record through to the NPS platform and kick-off a new NPS campaign. 

There are probably 100s of ways to set this up – the process should be tailored to the systems and tools your business are using, and your preferred processes. 

Now in terms of the second strategy in this 1-2 combo, you’ll need an NPS platform to do 1 of 2 things: 

  1. Have a custom thank-you page based on the user score
  2. Or integrate directly with your review platform of choice (for example your Google My Business listing or Facebook company page)

Getting a Flood of Positive Online Reviews on Autopilot

So now you’re getting regular feedback from clients. 

What do you do with the Promoters? 

These clients should immediately be asked to leave you a review online. 

Two of the most influential platforms at the moment are: 

  1. Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing
  2. Your Facebook Page

These are two go-to areas which consumers check when researching new companies online. 

So again, here’s the user flow: 

  • Detractors and Passives (any client leaving less than 9) are directed to a private feedback form to respond to the question “Please tell us how we can improve?”
  • Respondents with 9 or 10 are asked to go to your Facebook Page, GMB Listing or anywhere else to leave you a review 

The best part of this process?

You’re only asking people who are really really happy about working with you to leave you an online review.

In my experience, it works best when you make it easy for the user to complete the action. 

So ideally you:

  • Allow the user to select 1-10
  • When they select 9-10, send them to a page with a simple form, saying “Please could you tell us why you gave us that score?”
  • On the next page, feature their feedback text with a ‘click to copy’ button, and have a link to your chosen platform, with copy such as: “Positive feedback from happy clients like you lets our new prospects know it’s safe to do business with us. Please share your experience on our Facebook page:”

There you go – if you implement this process you’ll have tons of new online reviews and a stellar overall rating and reputation – in next to no time!

Feel like it’s cheating? Well it is, kinda! 😉

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