Here’s a post I contributed to FullStart.com
All business verticals have their own mechanics, some of which aren’t as obvious from the outside looking in. I’ve spent the last 8 years in the wonderful world of ratings, where the acronym PEARL is an easy way to remember an important mechanic. The great thing about PEARL is that it applies to any situation that connects a consumer to a positive experience.
When looking at Yelp, TripAdvisor, RottenTomatoes, Angie’s List and the dozens of other destinations that surface user opinion, you might be hard pressed to say what’s “sticky” about those platforms. There are no photos of cats for you to share, no updates about your niece’s first steps, and no stream of selfies from your friends.
Reading reviews of nail salons is probably not what you like to do in your spare time. Yet, 3 of those companies went public last year and the 4th is one of the most trafficked sites across both web and mobile.What’s PEARL?
That’s where PEARL comes in. PEARL stands for Positive Experience And Recommendation Loop. Think of your friend who makes great restaurant recommendations. It all started the first time he or she came to you and said “you’ve got to try that Italian place on 7th Avenue.” You went there a few weeks later and loved it. Now you call that friend whenever you have a question of where to eat.
Your emotions around the great experience and the source that led you there are now tied together. The recommendation was the Italian restaurant, the positive experience was the great meal, and the loop is your subsequent return to that source. That’s PEARL in action in real life.
Now let’s take a look at your digital life. If a website or app provides ratings that help you make a decision, and that leads to a positive experience, you’ll return to that platform the next time a similar decision presents itself. If it’s picking a movie, it might be Rotten Tomatoes. If it’s finding a nice hotel, it might be TripAdvisor. If it’s selecting a great product, it might even be my app, Consumr.
Of course it’s not easy to make good recommendations. It means building up trust, having a deep source of actionable data, and proficiency in quality assessment. But connect someone to a great experience and they’ll be sticky on you when those decisions surface again in the future.