Reviews are a driving force for your brand’s reputation. Your reputation is what creates conversion.
Do you need reviews for your company but don’t know where to start? We are going to take a dive into why reviews are important, where your reviews should live online, and 10 ways for you to ask for the reviews your business needs.
Why Reviews Are a Big Deal
Customers are relying more and more on word of mouth and online reviews to make an informed purchase.
95% of customers read online reviews before buying a product. Customers are doing independent research more than ever. A product with zero reviews is 270% less likely to be purchased than a product with only five reviews.
Reviews help future customers become aware of products. They also allow customers to narrow in on their final decision by giving them realistic and honest expectations of the product. Additionally, reviews enable customers to ask better questions of sales representatives. Lastly, they supplement marketing materials with real-life experiences.
Even negative reviews are better than no reviews. 85% of buyers look for negative reviews before buying a product. Bad reviews build the trust and credibility of a collection of customer responses. Customers want to know the weaknesses of a solution before committing to a purchase. Companies can use this negative feedback as an opportunity to respond to unhappy customers in a kind and helpful way to mend the relationship.
For these reasons, it is necessary for your company to encourage customers to leave reviews. But where do you start?
Where Should Customers Leave Reviews
Reviews can be found anywhere on social media, blogs, company websites, and major review platforms. Before we jump into ways to ask for reviews, you need to make sure your product is listed on the right channels. These are the largest review platforms for businesses:
Google My Business
Google My Business is a free tool to get list your business on Google Search and Google Maps. When someone searches for your company or companies similar to yours, your name, location, services, and star ranking will appear. This is one of the most important places to encourage customers to review your site because about 60% of consumers look to Google reviews before visiting a business. Google My Business is designed for companies that interact face-to-face with companies. E-commerce sites that are 100% online will not be able to list themselves on Google My Business.
Facebook is a place where people can post about products they personally love and can leave a quick recommendation on the business’s page. 1 out of 3 Facebook users use the platform to find recommendations.
This social media giant is shifting to a new model where customers will be given a simple yes or no question, “Do you recommend [business X]?” Users will have the option to add more context and specifics if they want, but this yes or no question takes very little effort from users. All businesses have to do is create a business page and turn on the recommendation tool.
Getting reviews on Amazon is critical for e-commerce vendors. This giant retailer has about 300 million users, most of whom will consider Amazon reviews before making a purchase. For startups new to digital retail, it can be difficult to get those first reviews. Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program encourages buyers of new products to leave reviews so that startups can get off the ground with their review efforts.
Yelp is a trusted review site that has over 170 million reviews of businesses of all shapes and sizes. It has strict policies about soliciting reviews. Businesses on Yelp are not allowed to ask customers to leave a review, incentivize staff to collect reviews, or to offer any reward to customers for leaving a review. Yelp penalizes companies that solicit reviews on other platforms. The best way to get ranked high on Yelp is to simply run an awesome business. Remind visitors that you are on Yelp by clearly displaying their sticker and using the badge they give you in your marketing material.
Specialized Review Boards
Though these are the giants of review sites, getting your business on quality specialized review boards can be helpful too. For example, for businesses in the travel and tourism industry, sites like TripAdvisor, Airbnb, and CruiseCritic are worth considering. Or if you’re a restaurant, in addition to Yelp you may want to build a presence on Zomato. Find the niche review sites that serve your industry, and make sure you are represented! You’d be surprised at how many review platforms are out there. Even things like hiking trails have multiple specialized review boards–AllTrails, Trails.com, etc.–that cater to them.
Though search engines, social media platforms, and other sites are great options for highlighting customer reviews, it is also helpful to encourage bloggers to write their own in-depth reviews, create video reviews, or respond to reviews from other customers. You should also highlight insightful customer reviews on your own website and in your advertising campaigns, whether they’re online, print, billboards, TV, or even podcasts.. (Check out this awesome one-star review campaign the ski resort Snowbird created for inspiration!)
10 Tips to Help You Ask For Reviews
It is one thing to know that reviews are important and where to find them, but it is another to know how to get them. Here are 10 tips to ask your customers for their opinion.
#1 Email Request
The simplest way to encourage reviews is to send out an email request. Emails should have a catchy subject line (more on that to come), a simple message, and a direct ask for a review.
Don’t overdo it on the emails. Use tracking software to see which emails are opened or left untouched. Be strategic about follow-up attempts. Sometimes customers are happy to leave a review but forget in the midst of their busy day. Multiple emails are acceptable but if you send too many email requests, it will be perceived as spam and will damage your relationship with that customer.
#2 Question in the Subject Line
The subject line is what catches your customers eye when they are checking their inbox. A well-constructed subject line will encourage customers to open the email. A poorly designed subject line sends an email directly to the trash folder.
Do’s of subject lines:
- Include your company name
- Ask a question
Example: “How was your experience at [My Delicious Restaurant’s Name]?”
Don’ts of subject lines:
- Be emotional
- USE ALL CAPS
Example: “DID YOU LOVE OUR BURGER?”
#3 Simple Email Content with a Link
The email’s content should be simple and to the point. The language and tone should be catered towards your customer base. It should be friendly and direct. A good format should include:
A nice hello,
An opening thank you for the customer’s purchase.
A direct ask and a direct link to where they can review.
A warm farewell.
Many marketers suggest including incentives. This is not best practice for consumer reviews, where a direct gift from the business being reviewed can have too big an impact on feedback. The process has been penalized by the FTC, most major review sites, and it simply does not promote honest reviews. This can blight your reputation as a transparent company with savvy customers.
(Note that incentives work a bit differently when it comes to B2B reviews, and actually lead to more representative feedback when used and disclosed appropriately.)
#4 In-Person Request
Don’t underestimate the power of an in-person request. People are more likely to want to support businesses when they had a good connection with the front line representatives of your business. Whether it be a barista or a customer service representative on the phone, in-person requests can be a direct and personal way to encourage reviews. Train your employees on the importance of reviews, how it helps the business, and equip them with a simple script for the ask.
#5 Pamphlets and Product Inserts
Written handouts are a great way to ask for a review. These handouts can be left at the register, on tables, or placed in bags. Direct links to online profiles can be added to the back of business cards or at the end of receipts. E-commerce vendors have found success placing creative product inserts in the delivery box of their products. The goal is to get reviews, so remember to follow a similar format as the email request. Keep it simple and grateful.
#6 Give Instructions
Even though we live in a time where most customers read reviews daily, many people don’t know how to write their own. They may be self-conscious about sharing their opinion, especially if their experience overall was positive but there were some bumps along the way. They may be unsure about how much detail is needed to be helpful. Or, they may just use Google to find reviews and not know exactly where to go to leave feedback. Give customers simple tips on how to leave a review on your preferred platform. Offering direct links to your business page on Google or Facebook is often the simplest way. Remind them that you want your feedback whether it is positive or negative.
#7 Make It Easy
When crafting your email, message, or personal ask, remember that customers do not want to do anything that causes them inconvenience. The less friction they experience, the better. A simple statement like, “Will you please take 2 minutes of your time to leave us a review?” will let the customer know that this will not be a large distraction in their day.
Include the direct link to your review page to make it easy for your customers. Choosing platforms that are mobile friendly will make it even more convenient for your reviewers. Platforms like Google and Facebook are practically frictionless because most users are always logged in.
A simple way to encourage easy recommendations is to encourage customers to check-in on Facebook. When customers check-in, Facebook asks users in the following days if they recommend the company they visited. This takes the work off of your business and is a simple click of a button for visitors.
#8 Invest in Samples To Gather Feedback
Depending on the type of your business, samples may be a helpful way to get your product tested and reviewed in the early stages of your company. For example, Sarah McNamara Beauty used 70% of their marketing budget to develop and send samples with the intent of gathering reviews. The sample packages included a form with a link to a feedback form on their website. This business was able to use feedback to better develop product and to grow credibility. Especially for new products or products that are still gaining traction, this can be invaluable. Be sure to be fully transparent when you send free products for reviews. The FTC says that any summary or display of the feedback should include a statement that says the survey included free products.
#9 Timing is Everything
Collecting customer reviews hinges on timing. Customers must have had adequate time to familiarize themselves with the product, but not too much time to have forgotten about it. With simple B2C products, an email should be sent within a week of purchase or delivery. With subscriptions and more complex products or services, , timing is dependent more on the relationship with the client. It is wise to wait until certain milestones are accomplished or after you have built a reputable relationship with the user.
#10 Use Consumer Ratings and Reviews Software
Consumer ratings, or reputation management software, can help your company automate review requests, monitor and respond to online feedback, and display positive feedback on websites. These reviews can be better analyzed to help inform product development and drive marketing success. Managing your reputation, especially as your business grows, takes a huge amount of effort. Using top-rated software can help you manage what people are saying about your company online and engage with customers when they leave you feedback.
Reputation Drives Growth
Your reputation is what will bring in new customers. The key to forming and maintaining an admirable reputation is getting people to talk about you.
To do that, meet your customers where they are at.
If your customer base is constantly on social media, meet them there. If they are on professional networks, engage with them in that space. Use the channels that your customers know and love. More importantly, build amazing products and give flawless customer experiences. This is what will make your brand stand out from the pack and inspire positive reviews.