Across my entrepreneurial career, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to hundreds and hundreds of business owners. Some have been marketing-savvy, others have been totally clueless. The first group is driven and systems-oriented. They go out and make things happen. The latter group … well, they move a little slower. They tend to sit around and wait for opportunities to come to them.
Here’s a question: How important are online reviews to the success of your business?
Whatever your answer is, I almost guarantee you’re underestimating the insane sway that online reviews hold over your potential clients. If you answered “not important,” well, I’d advise you to take a look at this infographic. And if you answered “very important,” what are you actually doing right now to bring in those reviews?
The fact is, almost everybody underestimates the power of reviews. So many people say to me, “Oh, our customers love us,” and they assume their good service will cause the reviews to come pouring in. But then you google their business, and there are just two measly reviews under their page. You customers may indeed love you, but the fact is, very few people randomly decide to take time out of their day to type up a glowing recommendation for your company.
The good news is, if you are already providing a great product and fantastic customer service, it’s fairly simple to get your review page stocked: Just ask.
So which group do you belong to — those who make things happen, or those who sit back and wait?
Today, I want to convince you to take a closer look at your online reviews, and I’m going to give you the tools to keep them coming in. Those 5 stars probably mean a lot more than you think.
It’s no mistake that when you Google The Newsletter Pro, you immediately see 34 five-star reviews — at least at the time of this writing. Of course, a little of that is due to the fact that our clients love us, but it’s really because we know how to ask.
So many business owners get squeamish when you talk about asking for a review. “Won’t I seem pushy?” they wonder. “Do my customers really care whether I ask or not?” No and no. If you want to (ethically) nail down why, how, and when to ask your customers for that stellar review, this week’s article is for you.
I said earlier that getting reviews is as simple as asking for them, and it’s true — but it’s not the whole story. This listicle (an informative "how-to" list in article format) elaborates on the other aspects, like setting up profiles on multiple review sites and streamlining the review process for your customers. I especially like how they address most business owners’ mentality — instead of trying to wipe away or fix the few negative reviews you have, you should focus on stacking the deck with positive ones.
Hopefully when your reviews start pouring in, they’ll be a little less snarky than the ones on this list!
To 5-star success,
When you own a business, you know that online customer reviews are very influential. From Yelp to Healthgrades, Angie’s List to Trustpilot, people are sharing their experiences on everything, and what they say has an impact.
These days, a Google review can shape your business far more than a Google Ad. According to a Zendesk survey, 90% of participants claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decision, and 86% said their decision was influenced by negative reviews.
As social media expert Brian Solis said, “Welcome to a new era of marketing and service in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.”
Many businesses focus on what to do about the one or two bad reviews, but the most effective way to combat a few negative words is to load up on the rave reviews. This means you’ll need to encourage your happy customers to take the time to write about their experiences. Here are six tips to get you started:
1. Set Up Profiles on Multiple Review Sites
Consider all the sites that are relevant to your business: Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Local, Yahoo Local, LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, and CitySearch. Even if you don’t think you are in a review-driven industry like restaurants and hospitality, general review sites like TrustLink and Trustpilot are great (Trustpilot has the added benefit of showing up on Google).
2. Ask Your Customers
Want to know the best way to increase the number of reviews for your business? Just ask. Your customers understand how important reviews are to your business, and as long as you provide an excellent product or service, they won’t be annoyed if you ask for a review. Don’t wait too long: customers are more likely to give you feedback right away.
The next time a customer compliments you via email, phone, or in person, mention that you’d appreciate if they left the same feedback in an online review on Trustpilot, Yelp, or the review site of their choice.
3. Make It Easy to Leave Reviews
Unless someone has a negative experience to share, the average customer is not going to look for ways to leave your company a review. That’s why you need to ask them to post a review and make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Put direct links to your review profiles in multiple places; for example, a follow-up email, newsletter, and your website. Yelp offers downloadable “Find us on Yelp” banners that you can use on your website or print out for your store.
4. Incent (But Don’t Buy) Reviews
Sometimes even your most satisfied customers need some extra incentive to take time out of their busy schedule to write a review. Offering a small incentive is a good way to show your appreciation. You just need to make sure your offer is for writing a review, and not for writing a good review. Monthly giveaways, where you choose one reviewer at random, are effective ways to encourage reviews, and there’s no semblance of a transaction where you are paying for a review.
5. Thank Your Reviewers
If the review site allows it, thank each person who reviews your product or service. In addition, you can even surprise a top reviewer by sending them a discount code or freebie after they’ve posted a review. This simple act will turn a satisfied customer into an incredibly loyal evangelist.
6. Make Reviews a Part of Your Work Processes
Make sure that all customer service and sales employees understand the importance of soliciting reviews from the customers they work with. At our company we saw the number of reviews rise after implementing an incentive program where employees receive a cash bonus for any reviews (for example, 3 reviews=$100; 15 reviews=$750).
Choose whatever kind of bonus and program makes sense for your business. It’s just an added incentive to help employees remember to ask for a review. Given the importance of reviews in the customer decision process, this is one of the most effective ways to spend your marketing dollars.