Grade.us gets some good press, which shouldn’t be surprising, given that they’re in the business of review management. That proves they can be effective, but it can also make it difficult for consumers to make an educated decision. This guide will cover the benefits and drawbacks of Grade.us, and introduce you to an alternative service so that you can make the most informed decision possible.
What is Grade.us?
Grade.us markets itself as “everything you need to generate, monitor, and market your customer reviews.” Regardless of whether it’s “everything you need,” it is a tool that can help business owners foster positive reviews and help them try to remove or prevent negative reviews from cropping up. That’s the aspect of Grade.us that we’ll be focusing on here.
Grade.us uses a pretty simple strategy. It gives clients a set of tools to reach out to reach out directly to their customers without much hassle, and helps to target certain kinds of customers. Clients can send emails to prompt customers to leave good reviews for their services, and they can get in contact with customers who have left negative reviews in order to try and make peace with them to mitigate the fallout.
Grade.us’ strategy isn’t flawless, though, especially in the way that it addresses negative reviews. Any small business owner will know that a dissatisfied customer can be a powerful force, and not all of them be calmed by an apologetic email, especially if that process is obviously automated. Because angry customers are much more motivated to leave a review than happy ones, businesses trying to improve their review scores are fighting an uphill battle.
Grade.us Pros and Cons
- It does what it says on the tin. They provide the service they say they do, and it can be effective.
- Grade.us offers a free trial.
- It has multiple plans so you’re not stuck paying more than you need.
- It focuses on addressing and preventing negative reviews, which isn’t effective against savvy reviewers.
- The price of Grade.us has seen sudden increases in the past, with only one month’s notice beforehand, and they don’t offer refunds. There’s no guarantee it will happen again, but it’s a risk.
- Since the price increase, prices have been fairly high, with their flagship package costing $400 per month, and the most expensive option costing $2500.
Why Choose a Grade.us Alternative?
Grade.us offers a way to address bad reviews, but even if it were 100% effective, that strategy would be best suited for businesses that receive a large volume of negative reviews. Grade.us could be characterized as a review vetting tool, designed to prevent negative reviews from reaching the public, or staying there for very long.
If your business does good work and mostly receives positive reviews, then by having more reviews as opposed to fewer, potential customers will be able to see natural positive trends emerging in the data. Grade.us has a complicated process, even for leaving positive reviews, which can reduce the number of total reviews that your business gets. For an honest business, more reviews are always better.
Grade.us, along with much of its competition, charges a high price for its software and services. Birdeye won’t even allow potential users to browse its pricing option until they’ve provided their phone number and email. (Its lowest priced plan is $3000 per year.) Given the services that these companies have on offer, they could probably stay afloat charging much, much less. For larger businesses and resellers, the cost might be manageable, but new startups and small businesses usually don’t have that kind of capital rattling around from the jump.
Finally, the review management business tends to have bad optics for customers. It’s not always easy for a customer or client to distinguish between black hat reputation management techniques like fake reviews or deletion of reviews and ethical methods like requesting reviews from satisfied customers.
If a business’ customers discover that it’s making use of a reputation management software, or outsourcing review management to professionals, and their methods look even a little bit shady, it could seriously hurt the same reputation that business is trying to protect. Pair that with the high price of Grade.us and the likelihood that it won’t be able to effectively prevent bad reviews, and it might be tempting to avoid review management entirely.
All the same, reputation management is a must-have for any business, especially small businesses where a single review can cause a lot of trouble. This makes it incredibly important that the methods used are transparent, and that the marketing rhetoric surrounding them doesn’t send up any red flags. Grade.us is a mixed bag in that regard. In the words of their founder emeritus, they provide “the best review management software on the planet.” He immediately follows that they’re “free of the bloat and hubris of other reputation management solutions…” The irony there would be hard not to notice.
What is the Best Grade.us Alternative?
There’s a lot of demand for review management software and services, and a lot of companies have formed to fill that void. Many of the most popular services offer solutions for very specific circumstances, from preventing bots from writing fake reviews of your business, to specializing in reputation management for healthcare services. A simple Google search for reputation management services will give you pages and pages of results to sort through, and at the time of writing, nearly all of the first page is occupied by sponsored listings.
Taking into account pricing, simplicity, ease of use, and effectiveness, we think that one of the best options for review management is SmartEngage’s Smart Review Autopilot. It’s something of a hidden gem, and it can be hard to find with a simple search, but it has a few advantages over Grade.us and its other competition. Here’s how it does things differently.
Instead of trying to control how customers review a business, Smart Review Autopilot works to get the maximum of genuine positive reviews quickly. It taps into small business owners’ own expertise and knowledge of their community customer base to figure out which customers have been most satisfied with their experience, then creates an automated pipeline that guides those customers into posting a positive review.
Smart Review Autopilot doesn’t use any strategies that could be considered immoral or dishonest, and by accessing pre-existing goodwill in customers, it can help to create positive reviews that are unique, honest, and convincing. It’s easy to assume that people reading reviews online will trust them blindly, but most folks have a sense of whether a review was written in good faith, so honesty is always the best policy.
One of Smart Review Autopilot’s biggest advantages over the competition is its ease of use. All you need to get started with it is a customer list, and with a minimal amount of setup, that list can be fed into a completely automated process which will contact customers and help them make high quality reviews. If you’re too busy to micromanage reviews, then Smart Review Autopilot can do it for you.
The SmartEngage platform markets itself as “the world’s smartest autoresponder,” and offers a slew of tools to streamline customer engagement without direct input from business owners or employees. It specializes in automation, and allows its users to build pathways for customers to follow, helping them post reviews, sign up for subscriptions, and otherwise engage positively with a website. Smart Review Autopilot is part of SmartEngage, but not the only part, and access to the whole package can help with more than just reputation management.
Finally, the pricing. It’s completely free to start with SmartEngage. The free plan has most of the same features as the higher tiers, but it will display SmartEngage branding. The basic tier costs $47 per month, which is significantly less than most of the other options, and within the realm of possibility for a small business or a startup.
Making the Switch to SmartEngage’s Smart Review Autopilot
If you’re already using Grade.us, now is the time to cancel your subscription. (You could wait until just before the next monthly payment if you wanted to get the most out of it, but you should account for the time it will take to switch.)
The first step is to cancel your Grade.us subscription. Then, all you need to do is sign up for SmartEngage and start automating customer engagement. Their website has a video that runs through the setup process for the Smart Review Autopilot from beginning to end, and you can contact their customer service if you have any trouble getting set up. After that, the only thing to do is watch positive reviews roll in.
SmartEngage Pros and Cons
- Completely automated. It can work while you’re asleep.
- Comes with additional SmartEngage customer experience services.
- Provides ethical reputation management.
- It’s a good option for small businesses.
- Offers low prices, and a free option.
- Can be hard to find via search, depending on the terms used.
- Doesn’t directly address negative reviews.