Believe it or not, data shows that the majority of your customers will happily write an online review for your business. But you need to know how to get them to...
Your grandfather's farm didn't need online reviews to succeed, but your farm-to-table restaurant certainly can't survive without them.
It's the rare business that can thrive in today's marketplace on old fashioned word-of-mouth alone.
Today's consumers expect to be able to read reviews about a business before using it for the first time, simply because they're in the habit of doing just that.
News on Reviews You Can Use
More than 90 percent of American consumers read online reviews at least occasionally, according to a recent survey. The survey reveals a lot about the way people use reviews, and a lot of it works in your favor:
- Ninety percent of respondents read fewer than 10 reviews about a business before deciding whether to trust the company - which means you don't have to have hundreds of reviews on Google, Yelp or Facebook to attract new business.
- Eighty-seven percent said they would trust a business with a minimum star rating of 3 out of 5 - which means that a few negative reviews probably won't hurt you.
- Eighty-four percent said they trust reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations - which means that you can actually translate positive reviews into real-world sales.
How you approach your quest for reviews will determine the number and quality of the reviews you get. Here's how to do it:
- ...only mention reviews to customers who you believe will have something positive to say. It may take a little detective work to figure out who's satisfied with your service and who's not. You can try asking a few probing questions - or make life simpler and use an automated review system to separate the satisfied customers from the rest. (More on that in a minute.)
- ...ask at the right time. Wait until the end of your transaction with the person, and be mindful to "read the room." If a customer seems harried and irritated at the end of the transaction, don't add to the person's annoyance by bringing up reviews.
- ...use the right method of communication to ask for reviews. Depending on the ages and personalities of your customer base, they may prefer to be contacted by email, or they may prefer to be reached by text. You can try asking a few customers for their opinions or run some tests and ask for reviews using different methods at different times of day to see which method yields the best results.
- ...make it easy for customers to review you. Create and claim your business page on the major review sites, and provide links to the pages when you text or email customers with requests for reviews.
If you fumble your review request once, it may leave a bad impression in a customer's mind. Avoid these common pitfalls:
- ...demand reviews. It sounds obvious, but when you're asking the same question to a lot of people each day, your delivery can start to lose its spark. Be mindful that each time you ask a customer for a review, you're asking for a favor. Be gracious and pose it as a real question, not an expectation.
- ...be too indirect. Just like you don't want to be too abrupt, you also don't want to be so subtle that people don't realize what you're asking. Make sure to name your request clearly by saying something like, "If you're already on Facebook, we'd love it if you'd post a review about us on our page!"
- ...try to entice customers to write reviews by offering discounts, coupons or other incentives. Some sites like Yelp will identify inauthentic reviews and filter them out (at best) or plaster a banner on your page, declaring that you used unethical means to get reviews.
- ...make your quest for reviews a one-time thing. Consumers care most about the most recent reviews. If you only make a big push for reviews once a year, those reviews will seem dated in about three months and you'll have to start again. It's best to use a system that makes it easy to get reviews consistently on an ongoing basis.
How to Get More Reviews
So now you know the major do's and don'ts of getting reviews, but you may still be wondering, "How the heck am I going to make this work for my business long-term?"
Using an automated system like ReputationStacker takes the work out of getting reviews.
All you have to do is focus on giving your customers the best possible experience, and make sure you get a phone number or email address for the ones who are satisfied with your service. Then ReputationStacker will automatically contact them with a one-question survey. The people who respond favorably will be sent right to your page on the review site of your choice, making it easy for them to write you that rave you've earned.
Once you put the system in place, you can consistently rake in reviews without having to make all those requests yourself, which means avoiding the constant work and potential awkwardness that comes with directly asking your customers for favors.
It seems simple, but the process of getting more online reviews is actually rife with potential landmines. Ask the wrong way, and you may sour a customer on your business forever.
To make sure you ask for reviews the right way every time, and to simplify your own life without alienating customers, use ReputationStacker to systemize the way you get reviews and grow your business.
Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.