Quick question, do you ever ask customers if they’d be willing to leave an online review for your business? Not many businesses do, despite the fact that surveys suggest 70% of customers are influenced by online reviews when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
Positive reviews are invaluable as they build trust and help your business stand out from competitors.
To be clear, it is not easy to get customers to leave positive reviews. The sad truth is that a negative experience is psychologically more compelling than a positive experience. Getting a bunch of friends and family members to leave positive reviews won’t work either. These reviews are often discounted and can actually hurt your online brand.
So today, whether you want reviews on Yelp, Google, social media, blog posts or elsewhere, we’re going to cover the right way to get great online reviews for your business.
The Single Best Thing You Can Do to Get More Positive Reviews
If you really want to grow the number of positive online reviews for your business, there’s one differentiator that’s been proven time and again to work. This isn’t a marketing hack or quick fix. It will take hard work on your side, but it’s very effective.
Here it is: Deliver a superior customer experience!
Those happy customers are not only more likely to leave positive reviews online, but they’ll also be more likely to tell others about their great experience with your brand. In fact, a survey conducted by American Express found that happy customers tell an average of nine people about their great experience!
Let’s look at several unique strategies you can employ as a part of your inbound marketing mix to generate more positive online reviews.
There are many strategies you can use to get more online reviews, but you should take care about which ones you employ. Some posts out there tout the effectiveness of offering monetary incentives to customers in return for a good review. Please don’t use tactics like that.
The purpose of this post is to teach you several strategies that you can use over the long run to steadily improve your online brand. These aren’t quick fixes or deceptive strategies. Those aren’t viable in the long run. So with that said, let’s get started:
1) Ask Your Customers to Leave a Review
One of the most straightforward approaches you can take is to simply ask customers if they’d be willing to leave a review. It’s personal, transparent and widely underused.
If you’re already providing a great customer service, then this can be a really effective strategy.
Now, you might be wondering why more of your customers aren’t leaving these positive reviews if they really do love your business and brand. It comes down to psychology. Your customers are living their own lives and odds are your business doesn’t play that big of a role in it. Most aren’t going to go out of their way to help you, so you’re going to need to ask.
Please note that asking is only one aspect of this strategy. You need to put some thought into the type of customers you’re going to ask for reviews. Here’s a quick tip: try and ask the customers who are benefitting the most from your products or services.
The customers who are already referring others to your business and promoting your services to others are a great place to start (if they haven’t already left one).
2) Ask for a Review at the Right Time
Asking for a review can be implemented seamlessly with your email marketing strategy, but you want to make sure you ask at the appropriate time. What do we mean? If you wait too long to ask in an email, you’re forcing your subscriber to remember those details long after the interaction took place.
Your business should do everything it can to make your customer’s lives easier. This extends to the practice of asking for a review. It’s that fear of irritating customers that keeps many business owners from employing this strategy.
So when is the right time to ask for a review? This should be done shortly after they’ve interacted with your brand. This is when the value your business has provided is still clear in their mind.
Here are a few examples of good times to ask for a review:
Following a usage milestone (measured by time spent using a product or value received)
Following the receipt of an invoice (should be reinforcing the value someone gets from doing business with you)
Following positive feedback you’ve received from a customer (could be a message they left or an personal interaction they had with your team)
3) Ask for Honest Reviews
Here’s one disastrous thing that you need to avoid doing: sending an email to a customer that asks if they would leave a “good” or “positive” review.
Trying to coerce customers to write anything other than an honest review for your business is a really bad tactic and one that can quickly destroy your brand’s credibility.
By asking for honest reviews, you may get some less than stellar feedback from customers. That’s actually a good thing as it will highlight areas where you can improve your services. This practice will also help build additional trust and credibility with your customers and fans.
4) It’s Okay to Ask Twice
The best email service providers give you a ton of fantastic functionality these days. This means it’s easy to see who in your email list opened or who ignored your last email.
If you see that a recent email (containing a request for a review) wasn’t opened, that doesn’t always mean that this person isn’t interested in hearing from you. That person could be drowning in an overflowing inbox or it simply could have arrived at a bad time.
Here’s a two-step strategy that you can use to great effect in this situation:
Resend the same email with a different (new) subject line
Schedule it to send out a week later, but only to people in your email list that didn’t open the previous one
That’s right! You should take the time to respond to every review (good and bad). The best brands out there are building relationships with their customers and these customers are rapidly becoming avid fans.
Part of building any lasting relationship is showing gratitude when someone says something nice about you, right? The same principle applies when someone says something great about your brand.
It’s seems like an intuitive principle but it’s one that many businesses miss completely. Heck, a simple “Thank you for the kind words!” can go a long way to developing better relationships and even getting you more leads.
Unfortunately some small business owners aren’t proactive about getting customer reviews because they are afraid of bad ones. If this is the case for you then here’s another thing that you should consider: negative reviews are inevitable.
No matter how well you run your business, it’s impossible to please every single person that interacts with your brand. The modern consumer is empowered by digital media and they can make their critique of your business heard.
Online reviews are going to have a significant impact on your brand and they’re not something that you can ignore or stifle. There are a number of great strategies you can employ to deal with negative online reviews. Receiving some negative reviews and responding graciously is better than having no reviews at all!
Compiling a healthy list of positive reviews takes work and stems from rewarding customer experiences. If your business can do that, then there are several strategies you can employ to generate the reviews you need to make your business stand out!
If you’ve tried any of the strategies detailed above, we’d love to know what kind of results you got. Please let us know about your experiences in the comments below!
Stephen Trevathan is the founder and CEO of Arclight Interactive. He helps companies in a variety of industries generate more online revenue through inbound marketing. Click here to learn more about his agency and what they can do for your business.
Arclight Interactive is an inbound marketing agency based in Orlando, Florida. Our team will work with your company to develop customized strategies guaranteed to drive more traffic and generate higher quality leads. If you're tired of the results you are getting from traditional marketing methods, then we'd love to talk to you about how inbound marketing can change your business.
We offer a full range of professional inbound marketing services as needed by our clients. This includes search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing (SEM) and content marketing.