When searching online for a product or service, many consumers won’t purchase an item without first reading the reviews for a business. A review is similar to a personal recommendation and after reading only a few, a person will decide to either pursue services or the product further or to move on to a different company. Because consumers rely on reviews, business owners should encourage their customers to leave them.
Online reviews can help your business in several different ways. It’s important to have a review strategy in place to maximize the benefits of your online reviews and marketing efforts.
As mentioned above, many customers prefer to read reviews before buying. When your product or business has numerous positive reviews, people are more likely to buy or use your services.
Search engines, like Google or Bing, have unique algorithms for how they index content. When a company has more reviews, owner responses on those reviews, and recent reviews, they have a better opportunity to show up at the top of the search results.
When people see that others have used your products and services and have had a positive experience, it builds consumer credibility. While good reviews are more desirable, having negative reviews isn’t the end of the world. Most businesses have some. In fact, the way that you respond to negative reviews also provides your business with more credibility because it shows potential customers that you want them to have a good experience and to resolve any problems that may come up.
If a potential customer sees a review from someone they know, that can be much more powerful than several reviews from customers they don’t know. The review then acts as a recommendation from a trusted source.
If someone does leave a negative comment, it creates an opportunity for you to respond and help remedy the situation. When people see that you’ve politely replied to a dissatisfied customer, they will appreciate your willingness to communicate.
Consistency & Recency
Having a lot of positive online reviews conveys that your company is doing a good job. These reviews should be consistently received over time though. If a curious, potential customer sees hundreds of reviews on Google but notices that nobody has left a new review for several months, your products or services can seem irrelevant or outdated. Plus, some search engines look for possible fake reviews, so if you receive an influx of reviews all at once and then don’t have any new ones for a while, your company may become penalized due to possible fake reviews.
So, how can you get more reviews on Google and other online listings? We have a few ideas that can help.
There is nothing wrong with simply asking your customers to leave you a review. However, there is a wrong way to do it. Incentivizing people with discounts, coupons, or rewards in return for a positive review is dishonest and a poor business practice. And it could bite you later if Google ever finds out or if someone mentions in a review that you paid them for it.
The reviews for your site should give an honest and clear representation of what consumers can expect from your product or service.
Simplify the Process
Some people won’t leave you a review just by you asking, but that is okay. Many people are in a rush to get from one place to another and forget shortly after they leave your business or don’t want to take the time to search for you online.
One thing you can do to encourage them to leave you a review is to make the process easier. For example, ask customers to leave you a review by including a QR code or link to your site on their receipt as they leave.
Another option is to use review management software that allows you to send an email or text link to your customer. Simplifying the process and understanding people’s time will encourage more customers to leave you a review.
After buying a product or service, some people like to wait to write a review so they can accurately judge how good the product or service is. For example, on product reviews, some people will write a review that depicts how long the product has lasted, the quality of its performance, and other details that could only be discovered through time.
Since people don’t always like to leave a review right away, consider implementing a follow-up program that asks for a review a week after their purchase. Multiple follow-ups can also be a persuasive tool for convincing customers to leave reviews.
Say Thank You
If someone leaves you a positive review, say thank you! Replying to your customers opens a window for engagement, communication, and loyalty. When someone feels seen and heard by a company, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends. Recommendations can help you generate even more reviews.
When your goal is to increase your reviews, your team can help. Implementing a rewards program internally for every review earned can help your employees remember to ask more customers to leave a review. You can decide how the program will work and what the incentive will be. Some incentives could be gift cards or a lunch party. It works best if you reward the whole team, not individuals, so that your employees are not asking customers to mention them in reviews.
Use Multiple Platforms
Google is the top search engine, but you should be present on other third-party sites like Yelp. When your company is present on multiple platforms you have more opportunities to generate reviews. You don’t need to have an account on every platform out there, but choose a few that you can keep track of and that will help you build relationships and earn more reviews.
Post on Social Media
If your business has a social media page, consider asking your followers to leave you a review. If they have time to scroll through their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, they might have time to also leave you a review. Besides, it never hurts to ask.
Email marketing has become a popular way for businesses to reach their clients. If your business utilizes newsletters or other email marketing strategies, consider including a prompt in your message to encourage your customers to read your reviews and direct them to your site. By reading the reviews someone else has left, they may be encouraged to leave their own.
As with most things in the digital marketing world, we have some best practices for you to engage in as you work through your review management strategy.
Respond to Negative Reviews
Unfortunately, not every review you receive will be positive. Negative reviews aren’t always a bad thing, you can’t always please everyone.
However, you should respond to every review, but especially the negative ones. Before you respond, take a moment to clear away your defensiveness and generate a polite response. Negative reviews provide you with free business advice and show you where there is room to improve. Responding to negative comments and addressing/implementing your customers' concerns can result in better ratings and a positive online impression with other customers.
Don’t Leave a Review for Your Own Company
When it seems that you’ve done all you can to earn reviews and you still don’t have any, you may be tempted to write your own. If you do it anonymously, what’s the harm, right? However, even operating under an alias, leaving a review for your own business is unethical. Reviews are a way for customers to see what other people honestly thought about your business, products, or services and what any average customer can expect. You should also avoid asking employees to leave reviews as they also do not have the same experiences an average customer will have.
Reviews work to make your business stand out. People leave their honest, personal recommendations that other people trust and use while deciding whether to purchase your products or services. Earning reviews can be tough, but they are worth it. Reviews are more successful and affordable than airing a commercial for your business on television. Plus, they help to boost your website visibility on search engines. If you do not know where to start, simply ask your customers. The best reviews come from real customers with real experiences.