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get online reviewsOnline reviews are the modern word-of-mouth advertising. According to the 2014 Local Customer Review Survey conducted by Search Engine Land, 88 percent of consumers read reviews online.

Getting busy customers to write a review of your business can feel a bit like wrangling cats. It’s tough to strike a balance between professional begging and outright bribery. So we have compiled a list of six ways to ask for reviews and maximize their impact while keeping your pride intact.

Links From Your Website

The easier you make it for your customers to find and write a review, the more reviews and sales you’ll get. Integrating review widgets into your site will allow you to show off your reviews and provide a convenient link to a review site. Adding a testimonials page to your website is also a great way to show off your reviews. These pages build trust and help overcome skepticism. It just might be the tipping point that converts browsers into buyers and it doesn’t cost a thing. Lifelock’s review page conveniently breaks down reviews statistically so customers can get an overview at a glance.

Ask Your Customers via Email

Send it and send it now. Customers are more likely to give feedback right away. If you have a high volume of customers, try an auto responder that immediately emails a request for a review and a link to one of your preferred review sites. If time permits, a personalized customer email might yield an even greater success rate than an automated one.

Multiple Review Sites

Facebook, Google Plus, Angie’s List and Yelp are some of the most common review sites. But don’t forget about local directories and more specialized sites. Poke around and find out if there are any review sites that are specifically relevant to your type of business such as WeddingWire.com, which specializes in wedding-related reviews.

Printed Marketing Materials

In a digital world, there is something nostalgic about fliers, business cards, postcards, and other various pieces of logoed swag. If you’re using this ancient yet surprisingly effective method of advertising, consider adding a QR code to printed materials that direct them to your testimonials page or one of your preferred review sites.

Incentivization

This one can be tricky. Bribing customers for a review can come off as desperate and get the opposite effect. Forbes suggests simply asking for a review. Not a positive review; just a review. In exchange, you can offer a coupon or gift card or randomly choose one reviewer per month to receive a prize (laws vary from state to state). Remember, it’s not payment for a good review, it’s appreciation of any and all feedback. You can also incentivize in-house by rewarding the employee with the most positive reviews each month.

Quality Over Quantity

The power of a review lies in its authenticity. Keep in mind that there are companies that pay for reviews and even worse, make them up entirely. Don’t be one of them! Your customers are smarter than that. Focus on reviews from real people with a first name, last initial, picture, profession, location and any information your customer feels comfortable sharing.

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