Recently I read that people 35 and under put more value in online reviews than anything else! Today online reviews are vital to your business! Getting online reviews is essential for any local business. But it’s not only about quantity, but quality and how recent they are.
Forbes’ Michael Fertik explains,
Millennials don’t trust advertising, celebrity endorsements or any of the more traditional, one-way communications strategies. They’re even growing skepticism of “influencers,” and are beginning to doubt their credibility. This skepticism is in large part due to the “fake news” phenomenon that has plagued (and to some degree, powered) politicians and celebrities alike over the past few years. Such untrustworthy media banter has eroded trust among U.S. consumers — and Millennials are probably the most wary of us all. So how do you build trust with younger consumers online? With user-generated content (UCG) — like reviews…Nearly all Millennials (97%) read online reviews before selecting a business, and 89% trust those reviews. And a recent UK study found eight out of 10 Millennials never buy anything without first reading a review.”
You not only need multiple reviews, you need recent reviews
Last week I was searching for a service and found a company that had 5 star ratings. Then I looked further and saw most were from SIX YEARS AGO. I immediately discounted them and kept looking. Oops! I guess that company should have kept an eye out on their online profiles! I can’t be the only client they missed out on because of that.
OK, so we know the quantity of reviews is important, but current reviews is also expected from your prospective customers. Did you now that in 2017, just 18% of consumers only took into account reviews from the last two weeks?Today that figure is 40%. On top of that, 85% of consumers will disregard reviews more than three months old – so there’s no let-up in the need to be constantly reaching out to customers to increase reviews for your business.
Reviews attract consumers when they are looking to buy
If you’ve ever found yourself searching for a new doctor, in-home services or contractor, you’ve probably read the reviews before you made an appointment or committed to spending money. This is exactly why it’s important to make review generation a part of your standard marketing process.
Online Reviews are an incredibly valuable tool, particularly for smaller businesses, as Forbes writer Cory Capoccia explains:
If you run a small business today, the single most important thing you can do to attract new customers is to take control of your online review score on sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Foursquare and TripAdvisor… In the past, small businesses had to rely on inefficient “push” methods to attract new customers. If you buy a radio ad, for example, the message has to do two hard jobs: Convince the customer to spend money with you and create urgency to do it now, before distractions take over. When a consumer uses a review platform like Yelp or Google My Business, the decision and urgency to buy are exactly what prompted the person’s search. If traditional advertising is a megaphone that enables businesses to shout and see who’s listening, review sites are tractor beams that pull consumers toward local businesses precisely when they’re actively looking to spend money. That’s an invaluable opportunity for small businesses with tight — or non-existent — marketing budgets.”
So how do you increase reviews for your business?
The best way to generate meaningful, authentic and timely reviews from your customers is to simply ask. Clearly, fewer businesses are being proactive about soliciting customer reviews – which means they’re potentially missing out on there benefits.
Here are ways to ask for those valuable reviews:
1. Ask for reviews in person
You know you provide a great product or service, so be sure when you finish a job or deliver a product, you or your team ask for the review.
First identify who on your team (or just yourself) has primary customer contact and then train them both on the importance of reviews and how to bring this up to the customer.
How and when a review is requested will depend on the nature of your business. A contractor can ask as the job is complete. A realtor could request a review when the property closes or when the keys change hands.
2. Ask for reviews via your website
Whether you’re an a local service business or an online store, there are multiple ways you can ask for reviews via your website. An easy way to begin asking for customer reviews on your website is to have a form for them to fill out. Make sure you ask if this review can be posted on your website.
If you have a WordPress website install a plugin that will pull in reviews from all your social media platforms to display. Making your reviews visible on your site can also help you to attract more reviews.
Ensure that they are easy to find and presented in an attractive manner. You can use this page to link back to your review platforms (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), encouraging visitors to leave a review for your business
Another easy way to ask for reviews on your site is to have is part of your checkout process. When the visitor goes to their online cart to pay for their order, add a review request to the confirmation of order screen.
It’s a great idea to display the reviews you have received on your website to fully leverage the benefits they offer you. Having reviews posted on your site reinforces your suitability as a business at the point of sale and can reassure web visitors of your approach to customer service, product or service quality and overall reputation.
3. Ask for reviews via email
Requesting a review via an email to your customer is one of the most common approaches employed by those building a review profile and for good reason – it’s a very effective approach and one that most consumers will feel comfortable with.
Many consumers will actually expect a review request to be emailed to them shortly after doing business with a company.
Be careful though, Yelp, for example, doesn’t want you to ask customers to leave a review and Google prohibits bulk email requests for customer reviews. Make sure you brush up on the guidelines before you send out your review request email to ensure you stay on the right side of what is and isn’t permissible.
Once you know what you can and can’t do, you’ll need to craft your email:
- The best review request emails are clear, concise and feature a call to action. Keep it short and snappy and no more than a paragraph or so.
- The email should feature your branding so the recipient is clear on who’s asking for a review. Visible branding can also help prove the email’s authenticity so make sure the design is consistent with your website, social media profiles and catalogues.
- Make sure you address the person by name to make an instant connection with the recipient.
- Add the order number, product name or other service details to refresh your recipient’s memory and ensure they review the right thing.
If you need a little inspiration, these 20 review request emails from brands such as Etsy, Gap and Crate & Barrel are very helpful.
4. Ask for reviews via in-store messaging
Although you’re looking to increase your online customer reviews, the way you request those reviews doesn’t need to be just a digital approach.
You’re well versed in promoting your special offers and new products in your area, and many of those same tactics can be used to request a review.
If you have a physical brick-and-mortar location, you’re missing out if you don’t ask for customer reviews with in-store messaging. You can do this in any number of ways – if you’re a bar with a big screen TV to show sports for example, you could display a branded screen when there’s no game to show which reminds customers to head to TripAdvisor to leave their review.
Posters on the wall, stickers, even pins on employee uniforms reminding patrons to leave a review are all great ways to increase your review volume. Printed reminders on receipts, catalogues, menus and leaflets also shouldn’t be discounted.
5. Ask for reviews on your business card
What’s on your business card? Your name, job title and contact information will certainly be on there. Maybe you also have your social media handle and website address.
What if you have an invitation for the recipient to leave a review and a link to your preferred site or review generation platform?
This is an easy thing to and can be an effective way to score some reviews, especially if you’re in a field where you hand out dozens of cards each week (such as sales manager, marketer, solicitor, accountant or similar).
6. Ask for reviews via Live Chat
If your website has a Live Chat function, fold a review request into standard operating procedure. Your customer service team or even chatbot should end each conversation with a request for a review.
The great thing about this method is you can easily provide both a link to your preferred review platform and instructions for leaving the review without any extra effort.
7. Ask for reviews via your booking system
Any point of contact with your customer is an opportunity to increase your customer reviews, so make use of your booking system to help you in this task.
You can remind customers to leave a review with a message on screen when the booking is made, add it to the email confirmation sent from the system to your customer, and include it on e-tickets and vouchers issued to the customer.
If your booking system sends a transactional message after the booking has been used, you’ll most certainly want to include both a request for a review and a link for your customer to do just that.
8. Ask for reviews via physical receipts
Both online-only businesses and bricks-and-mortar locations can use physical receipts to ask the customer to leave a review:
Add a line or two of text to your register receipts asking customers how their experience was and providing a review platform name, inviting them to leave their own review.
If you email receipts to customers, add the same text plus a link to your review platform of choice at the bottom of the receipt or invoice.
If you enclose an order receipt, invoice or even a returns slip in packages you ship to customers, ensure the request to leave a review is also included on that document.
For those physically shipping items, it’s well worth considering taking this a stage further and including a flyer which asks for a review and provides a step-by-step guide for those who aren’t sure how to do so.
Now that you have a great list of ways to ask for your reviews in your arsenal, so it’s time to take your customer review collection to the next level. While these aren’t technically ways to reach out to get reviews, they are additional steps you can take to consolidate your review process and maximize the impact of your efforts.
Monitor your business locations
If you have multiple physical business locations, monitoring the performance of each will allow for a direct comparison of review profiles.
Look at the data for each location and identify which ones are underperforming in terms of review frequency left for that location. You may also want to look at percentage of positive versus negative reviews while you have the data to hand in case further steps need to be taken to nip problems in the bud.
When you know which location is generating the least amount of reviews, you can focus your review generation efforts there.
Respond to reviews
Whether you have one location or multiple, get into the habit of responding to reviews and answering any questions posed within the body of the review.
Responding to reviews is important for a number of different reasons; it’s a Google ranking factor according to the Moz Local Search Ranking Factors study, it also shows customers that you value their feedback and it gives you a chance to deal with any negative reviews. The more responses and acknowledgement of reviews consumers see, the more likely they are to leave one for you when asked.
What’s more, 89% of consumers read local businesses’ response to reviews as part of their research. Neglecting to respond in a timely fashion could mean that you fall at the last hurdle and leave consumers to continue their search for a local business.
Use review platform tools to generate reviews
Many of the major review sites provide tools to help you generate more reviews. TripAdvisor and Yelp, for example, both provide physical stickers to place at your location encouraging customers to review you. (It’s admittedly pretty hypocritical that Yelp is allowed to ask your customers for reviews but you can’t, but what can you do?)
Google has a Google My Business Marketing kit containing free stickers, posters and social media posts. TripAdvisor additionally has a range of useful assets including the ability to print physical request cards, a collection tool and downloadable flyers.
Turn your reviews into Google My Business Posts to attract more reviews
When your campaign to increase customer reviews kicks into high gear, you might find that Google also lends a small hand to help you showcase your best reviews.
As of April 2019, Google My Business has suggested positive reviews to be showcased as a Google My Business Post. Suggestions are based on four and five star reviews your business has received and you’ll have the option to edit the suggested review before publishing the Post.
Online reviews wield influence not just on consumers but on Google, too, meaning that as a business owner, you need a good review generation strategy!
It may be tempting to rely on a single familiar method such as issuing an email request, there are many more ways to reach out to your customers to ask them to review your business.
To seriously increase your review count, it’s advisable to put several of these tactics into action. Just don’t forget to first check the guidelines for each review site and commit to monitoring results so you can adjust your approach if needed.
If you’d like to leave a review for Bracewell Web Works, please do! And thank you!
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