Did you know 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business? Or that 88% trust those reviews as much as personal recommendations? Online reviews also help build brand authority, create a stronger customer base, and improve your local search engine rankings. What people say about your business online matters, which is why we came up with these simple steps to help you build up and better manage reviews.
Stake Your Claim
First things first, make sure your business profile is set up and completed on review sites appropriate for your audience. Popular choices are Yelp, Facebook and Google+, but don’t overlook others relevant to your industry. Your business profile may have already been started by the site or a former employee. Taking control of that profile is top priority and these links can help stake your claim.
Strike While the Iron is Hot
For many businesses, the best time to ask is after the work is completed and before presenting a final invoice. That being said, timing is everything when requesting online reviews from your customers. Maybe it’s mid-way through a project after resolving an issue or that time you went above and beyond their expectations. You know your clients best, so be on the lookout for the best time to strike.
Appeal to Your Audience
The most effective way to request a review is face-to-face or over the phone. For customers who prefer to type more than talk, email and text can be equally effective as long as you take a personalized approach. Avoid simply saying “I’d like you to write a review for me.” Give them good reasons why they should take the time and emphasize how much you value their opinion. Here are some conversation starters.
- “I’ve been getting a lot of business from online reviews and would appreciate your help in building momentum.”
- “We’re trying to build our brand and experts tell me that reviews are a good way to do this. Could you take a few minutes and help us out?”
- “Great clients, like you, make us even better and your feedback is important.”
- “Our companies worked really well together. Would you be willing to share that experience online?”
- “Your company is a leader in the industry and a review from you would go a long way for my business.”
Make It Easy
Even your biggest fans may be either too busy or too unsure how to recommend you online. Your goal is to make it as easy possible. Provide customers a simple, step-by-step guide on how to submit a review, including direct links to your business profile for each site. Let’s take Facebook as an example. Provide them a link to your Page along with the following steps:
- Click Reviews on the left side of the Page's timeline.
- Click the gray stars to choose a rating. You can also write a review.
- Click at the top to select your audience.
- Click Done.
Send a Friendly Reminder
We all get busy, right? Best intentions can take a backseat to business demands. Don’t be afraid to follow up with your customers. When done tactfully, they’ll appreciate the reminder and follow through on giving you the credit you deserve.
Never Pay for Positive Reviews
Reviews are powerful, but only when the contributions are credible. Some experts may tell you there are creative ways to incent your audience, but the risks far outweigh the rewards. If caught paying for positive reviews, you could lose the organic reviews you’ve worked so hard for and be subject to a costly fine. Your safest bet is to keep doing good work and keep asking good clients to recognize your efforts online.
Acknowledge, Appreciate and Address
Whether positive or negative, respond to ALL reviews publicly and thank them for their business. The best way to handle negative reviews is to acknowledge publicly with language like, "We're sorry you had that experience. We'd like to reach out to you directly and help resolve this issue." Then, follow up with a phone call or private message. This allows you to deliver the personal attention your customers deserve and helps protect your online reputation.
Practice Makes Perfect
Keep track of all review requests. Understanding what works and what doesn’t for your business will go a long way in making this process easier in the long run. Whether using Excel, Google Sheets or something else, be sure you track the following categories.
- Company Name
- Contact Person
- Request Date
- Attempt (e.g., first, second)
- Approach (e.g., in person, phone, email)
- Result (e.g., review submitted, declined request, no response)
Online reviews greatly influence a buyer’s decision and should be incorporated into your company’s overall digital marketing campaign. This blog helps you get started, but there’s much more to learn. If you have any questions, please call us at (702) 262-9901 or send us a note below.