Gone are the days when businesses had to buy radio ads in order to convince potential customers to spend money on their products and services, in what was known as a “push” method of attracting new customers. Nowadays, reviews do the heavy lifting, pulling customers toward the businesses. This utility underscores the need for companies to track reviews and respond to them in a process known as review monitoring.
What is Review Monitoring
Review monitoring is the process of tracking customer reviews posted on review sites or product pages on e-commerce sites. It also involves identifying brand mentions and what customers are saying about your products or services.
Review monitoring mainly relies on web scraping, which itself is the automated collection of publicly available data using bots known as scrapers. To find the reviews, these bots use specific keywords such as the brand’s name or registered trademarks, e.g., the product’s name. They then extract the brand-specific reviews from the review sites or social media platforms, convert them into a structured format, and save it for download as a JSON or .csv file.
Benefits of Review Monitoring
Usually, review monitoring offers numerous benefits. These include:
- It enables companies to safeguard their reputation by responding to and consequently addressing any negative feedback
- Responding to reviews boosts a business’s local ranking on search engines
- This process provides insights into consumer preferences, giving companies pointers on how to improve their products or services
- Real-time review monitoring enables companies to resolve issues raised by their customers more quickly. Quick responses show consumers that you care and that you are listening – it boosts customers’ confidence in your brand. It also deescalates situations that otherwise might have gotten out of hand.
- Review monitoring enables companies to understand location-specific or country-specific customer preferences, thereby helping them to formulate go-to-market strategies
Challenges Affecting Review Monitoring
By virtue of its reliance on web scraping, review monitoring is impacted by the same challenges that constrain web data extraction. These impediments include:
- IP blocking
- CAPTCHA puzzles
- Sign-in and login pages
- Complex web structures
- Dynamically changing content
- Outdated and irrelevant reviews/data
- Review spam
These challenges can indeed derail the process of tracking reviews, preventing you from extracting maximum value from the genuine feedback given by customers. But all is not gloomy as you can resolve them using review monitoring best practices.
Top 5 Review Monitoring Best Practices
Here are the top 5 best practices when tracking reviews:
- Use Residential Proxies
- Focus on real-time web scraping
- CAPTCHA resolving capabilities
- Use advanced off-the-shelf scrapers
- Slow the speed of web scraping
1. Residential Proxies
A residential proxy is a reliable but expensive type of proxy. It assigns residential IP addresses and routes traffic through real users’ mobile phones or personal computers via a software program installed on the devices. This arrangement creates a situation where the proxy ‘tricks’ web servers into thinking that all web traffic that is routed through the devices is being sent by their real owners. As such, they are not easily blocked.
In addition to preventing IP blocking, residential proxies offer access to review sites that practice geo-restriction. They, therefore, act as a gateway to reviews that would otherwise be inaccessible.
While we’re on the topic, if you’re looking for a reputable provider, Oxylabs’ Residential Proxies are ethically-sourced, reliable ones, so definitely check it out.
2. Real-time Web Scraping
As detailed, real-time review monitoring enables businesses to resolve issues quickly that may otherwise escalate to unmanageable levels. To identify such issues as fast as possible, you should undertake real-time web scraping. This approach retrieves review data as soon as they are posted, enabling you to respond fast.
3. CAPTCHA Resolving Capabilities
Websites, including review sites, implement anti-scraping techniques, one of which is the use of CAPTCHAs. While these puzzles are meant to stop any bad bots from accessing the sites’ content, some service providers offer scrapers that use artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve them. Thus, it is vital to select scrapers that offer this capability.
4. Use Advanced Scrapers
Advanced scrapers guarantee success. This is because they are developed and sold by service providers whose business is modeled around the creation of technologies that boost the success rate. For instance, these service providers often include an auto-try system that sends a new request every time a server fails to send the desired response. At the same time, advanced scrapers offer features such as a vast pool of residential proxies, proxy rotators, CAPTCHA-solving tools, and more.
5. Slow the Web Scraping Speed
Websites detect bots by the number of requests sent within a second or minute. As web scrapers are bots, which are capable of sending numerous requests at a go, it is important to slow the web scraping speed to avoid detection. This approach helps the scraper mimic human browsing behavior.
Bonus Tip: Why Do Customers Even Write Reviews?
Okay, you now know the best practices for review monitoring that can help you improve your business. But, which one is most suitable for you. Well, the answer can be found in the explanation of each one. On the other hand, people that can’t find answers there should look at things from a different angle.
Generally speaking, the most important thing is to understand why someone writers review. The reason why they do that depends on the type of customer they are. According to our research, there are a few types of customers that write reviews. You will easily recognize them. Because of that, read short explanations below!
Customers That Are True Believers
Among all your customers, there are those that are so-called “true believers”. They are strongly connected to your brand and products and services that you offer. Because of that bond, they feel like they have the right to share their opinion about your company. When they write a positive comment, that means they truly are impressed with what you are doing. On the other hand, if their comments are negative, that means you truly disappointed them with something. These are comments that you should put into consideration.
As we said, the most loyal customers also sometimes share negative comments. However, that is rare. On the other hand, vengeful customers are those that never leave a positive comment. Their reviews have only one purpose – to punish businesses. For some reason, they are angry (in most cases, not because of your business), and they will do whatever it takes to ruin your reputation. Even if you somehow manage to fix things, they will not be satisfied. Their intention is not to make you better – they only want to express negative opinion.
Altruists are people that do not even put into consideration the brand they are using. Their only goal is to protect or suggest particular products or services to other customers. You can be sure their comments are without any emotions. They will strive to reach high level of objectiveness and explain the experience they had with your business. As you can conclude, they can either be positive or negative.
Customer evangelists are even more positive type of review writers than true believers. Even if they are not 100% satisfied with your brand, they will share positive comments about you. Generally speaking, these people often like to share more than one comment. We advise not to put into consideration their comments always because they are not 100% realistic all the time. Their reviews contain passion and they only want to support your company which is not a useful feedback always.
The name of this group of review writers says the full story. There are people that are simply doubters. They are afraid of not making a mistake and that is the reason why their comments are some sort of “catharsis”. That is an available option that allows them to relieve their cognitive dossnance. They are mostly negative and can’t promote your business in a positive light at all. But, if you monitor reviews in the best possible way, you will give answers to their doubts with adequate evidence. In other words, you will know how to protect yourself.
Review monitoring enables companies to stay on top of consumers’ feedback. It offers numerous benefits, although a few challenges still impact it. But you can go around these issues by implementing the top 5 practices discussed in this article.