These days the first thing a potential customer does when they’re looking for something is look it up online. Even if they hear about a new product or business through word of mouth, they are more than likely to turn to the internet for reviews. In fact, 90% of people read reviews before visiting a business, and 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (Source: Forbes).
What does this mean? It means that getting 5-star reviews should be a top priority in your marketing plan. As we are increasingly able to provide and access opinions toward a business (instantly), it’s getting more and more important to proactively build your online reputation. In this post we’ll go over five ways to get more online reviews so you can get in front of a channel your audience frequents.
One way to get reviews is to ask people for them. Of course, you can’t ask for good reviews, but there’s nothing wrong with asking a happy customer if they would take a few minutes to evaluate your services.
Note: If you do ask for reviews, do not offer customers a financial incentive in exchange for good feedback. Just like paying for friends, paying for reviews is a bad business practice. If a loyal customer happens to give you a glowing review, there’s nothing wrong with emailing them a coupon for a free drink at your coffee shop or giving them a friends and family discount, but businesses shouldn’t offer financial incentives for positive customer reviews.
Related eBook: The Power of Online Reviews (free download)
Customers shouldn’t have to work to give you a good review. Making it easy for customers to submit reviews increases the likelihood that they will write one. List your business on multiple directories so that customers have a choice where to review your services. Not every customer is on Facebook or Yelp so the more places where they can review your business online, the better. Here are a few ways to facilitate easy feedback:
Engaging customers is another way to get good reviews, such as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Ask questions and create posts that invite your customers to provide their thoughts. Even if these are unofficial reviews, the positive points that come up in conversation can still serve the same purpose of positively and accurately representing your business online. You also never know when a positive conversation with a follower may spark them to write a review.
Even if you don’t get reviews from this type of engagement, the manner in which you interact with your social media followers will also help to portray your business in a positive light for onlookers.If someone tweets positively about your business, retweet it, and thank the user for their thoughts. Share positive feedback on Facebook and thank customers publicly. The point of getting more online reviews is to build your reputation, not to simply meet a quota.
Along the lines of engaging customers, if you receive a negative review, you should always respond. Respond in a short time frame, but make sure you’re not too heated over the bad review. For more tips on responding to negative reviews, read our blog post here. Often customers who write a negative review will write a positive one if the problem is fixed or if they receive good customer service.
What goes around comes around, right? If you want to get reviews, you should be willing to give reviews as well. Small businesses work hard to gain traction in their local area and business niche. So when you work with or patronize another small business, post a review! Pass the positive word and your love for another business out on Instagram and Facebook using hashtags like #smallbizbiglove. Chances are they will return the favor!
It’s important to get online reviews so that potential customers can have confidence in choosing you over a competitor, but that’s just one piece of a bigger picture—your business reputation. Focus not on just increasing the number of reviews. Focus on providing service that inspires the best reviews. Rather than skipping past a current review in an effort to get another, take the time to thank the provider of that review. Be genuine in your efforts and remember that your reputation is not what you put forth to your audience, it’s how you interact with them and value their contribution to your business’s improvement and growth.