Online Review App Comparison: Cost, Features and Functionality
We receive all kinds of questions about online review management services from contractors that have experience with these systems as well as companies that are new to the technology. With so many different services available, most businesses want to know about the different options, what’s included and whether it’s worth spending more to get complex features.
The Basics of Online Review Management
To educate decision makers and eliminate some of the confusion about customer review platforms, we have compared a few of the most popular applications. These services have one thing in common. They get businesses more customer reviews. They essentially do the same thing, but each one has unique methods for collecting and reposting reviews. There’s also a significant price difference.
In full disclosure, this list features our own app for rating local businesses. It’s called Acquirly. However, all of the descriptions are as objective and impartial as possible and include both the pros and cons as well as any limitations. This page will be updated periodically as new features are added. If you see anything that’s out of date or a feature that isn’t mentioned, let us know. We’ll be happy to incorporate that information.
Before we move on to the applications, let’s talk about the importance of online reviews. You can jump down to the comparison if you like, but this section covers some information about customer habits.
The Importance of Online Reviews
As you may already know, it’s easy to get a negative review that appears all over the web. Unfortunately, almost everyone who has a bad experience complains online or to their friends and family. On some social media platforms, users are 50 percent more likely to post their bad experiences. At the same time, 90 percent of shoppers base their buying decisions on reviews. It doesn’t take them long to make up their minds. Most people read less than 10 comments during the process.
Glowing reviews are harder to come by, and that’s why customer review platforms make a difference. Approximately 70 percent of consumers say that they will leave a review if they’re asked. Online review management tools make sure that potential customers see the good things that people have to say about your business.
An app for rating local businesses can help companies earn positive reviews on popular third-party websites, such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, HomeAdvisor and others. Reviews on these platforms lead to more conversions. For example, a company with 20 good reviews on Google will receive more calls than a listing with five bad reviews.
Reviews and Search Engines
Review sites and star ratings are appealing to customers, but they also improve your company’s search engine ranking. Favorable reviews will help your listing move up in the results when clients search for businesses in your area.
This technology works in your favor. Those mysterious wooden boxes with slips of paper and tiny golf pencils never worked. Now, you can interact with customers in real time and put positive reviews to work as soon as they are posted.
Timing Review Requests
Timing is everything, so when should you ask customers to post reviews? There is some research available, but we believe that it depends on your industry and what kind of products or services you’re providing. For example, if you’re in the roofing business, customers want to see how things hold up during the first storm. Businesses should wait until customers are ready and have enough data to leave a credible, detailed review.
Asking for Reviews in Person vs. After the Sale
In general, both approaches may have advantages or disadvantages depending on your industry. Face-to-face requests are generally preferred when your business is personal. Home service contractors, tour operators, spas and health and beauty businesses benefit from direct interactions with their customers. Restaurants and companies with storefronts can ask for a review via email or text message.
Social Sharing vs. Reviews
Another thing to keep in mind is the difference between social sharing and real reviews. Some applications claim to take posts and transfer them to multiple sites. This is not the case. To receive a star rating, a review must be left by a registered user on each site. There’s no way to duplicate customer reviews and still get a star rating. These social sharing services have very little value for promoting your business and improving your search engine rank. When you compare these applications, keep these facts in mind so that you can make an informed decision and select the best app for your business.
|Acquirly||Birdeye||Signpost||Nearby Now||Review Buzz|
|Approach||In person||After Sale||After Sale||After Sale||After Sale|
|$30 to $149 /
|Multiple Location Discount||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Sites Submitted||Custom||Custom||Custom||Default List||Custom|
(Only on higher level tiers)
|Negative Review Filter||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Multiple Location Access||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Overview of BirdEye
BirdEye is a good system for small and mid-sized businesses as well as enterprises. It tracks and manages customer reviews. Then, the content is displayed on your website and social media pages. The automated system engages customers and helps you get more quality reviews on leading sites.
• Works with Yext, BrightLocal and other listing services
• Manages video reviews
• Supports social media sharing
$250 per month
BirdEye has a solid, versatile platform. The company’s large investor backing shows in the interface. However, extra quality costs more. This is a good choice if you’re willing to pay a premium for an adaptable system with great functionality. BirdEye supports traditional reviews and social media postings, but there’s a big difference between these features. The first is a full review where the customer logs in and leaves a rating and a comment. The second option copies reviews to other sites, but the reposts won’t earn star ratings.
Overview of Signpost
Signpost is a holistic solution that engages customers, tracks marketing activities and request customer reviews. It’s ideal for small and growing business. The system functions as a lightweight CRM with marketing and reputation management tools. Customized protocols will automatically send emails and text messages to your current customers asking for reviews. You can also offer coupons or discounts as an incentive.
Signpost customers receive access to all of the tools and reporting dashboards. There are no a-la-carte features or expensive upgrades. The system can be fully integrated with other platforms.
• Trusted by 7,000 businesses
• Comprehensive platform includes access to all tools
• Review requests sent via email after the sale
$299 per month
$208 per month with annual billing
$199 setup fee
Signpost’s comprehensive interface has a great reputation. The downside is that it’s only available as a full-featured suite. You have to pay for everything even if you never use all of the features. Additionally, the system is quite complex and requires some advanced knowledge. It is best used and managed by a dedicated administrator or marketing manager.
Overview of Review Buzz
Review Buzz is another good company in the Review Generation space. Like the others they do have their own way of getting reviews for clients. The biggest difference about the system is that they encourage reviewers to go to their own “review site” to leave a review. This allows clients to mange reviews right from their site as well as other online review sites.
• Competitive pricing to start
• Can ask for reviews in person or via email
• They have their own review site
• Includes custom business cards to hand out to customers
$147 per month
Review Buzz has some great features and is a fairly easy to use tool. However, the focus on their own review site for reviews is not as compelling to other sites such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. The goal for any business online should be to get reviews on these sites to capture traffic from these sites instead of other sites that are not as popular.
Overview of Acquirly
Acquirly is our own review generation tool. It’s designed especially for home contractors. The system requests and receives reviews while employees are interacting with customers. In-person reviews are the best approach for the industry based on our extensive research. Thanks to the intuitive interface, all employees in the office and on the job can request and manage reviews with minimal technical knowledge and no additional training.
Our product is designed with the single goal of getting your business more reviews on quality third-party websites. While our dashboard and review options are not as robust as other offerings, we believe that simplicity and ease of use are more important. Acquirly has features that you’ll use time and time again. You do have to pay for tools that you’ll never implement.
• Designed for in-person interactions and review requests
• Simple and easy-to-use interface for all employees
• Review management and employee reporting
• Review requests sent via email or text message
• Starting at $79 a month for one location and up to five employees
• $65 per month per location for two to five offices
• Custom pricing for companies with more locations
• 15 percent discount for annual billing agreements
This application is designed especially for home contractors, but we aren’t going to recommend our service as the only solution for this industry. Before you make a decision, check out some reviews from our customers. The simple interface and special in-person features are the primary advantages.
Overview of Nearby Now
Nearby Now is a reputable company that focuses on promoting reviews for its customers. This system requests and manages reviews. It also displays the content on multiple third-party sites. The product excels at promoting select reviews on company websites, social media platforms and other channels.
• Post sharing on social media
• No customer service at lower tiers
• Default list includes limited review sites
• No customization for review locations
Starting at $30 per month
Premium packages cost up to $149 a month
Nearby Now is a decent service with a reasonable rate. However, technical support and customer service are somewhat limited, particularly with entry-level packages. If you need help setting up the application, there’s an extra charge, so Nearby Now may not be as affordable as it seems.
(NOTE: Want to know how many online reviews you have compared to your local competition? Did you know that having a 5 star rating boosts search click-thru by 28% Check out our Free Reviews Scan to find out where you stand! Learn more now.)