Obtaining online business reviews is an easy way to maximise the performance of any marketing campaign, both online and offline. Not only do search engines including Google use online reviews as a ranking factor, studies have shown that 90% of customers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
Most businesses understand that positive reviews will increase their sales, however, business owners often have no idea how to obtain said reviews. This article will cover the top 4 ways to build regular, positive online reviews to skyrocket your sales and increase the return on investment from your marketing efforts.
1) Ask For Them!
One of the simplest, yet most effective ways to gain new online reviews is to ask for them. According to recent studies, approximately only 1% of customers will leave online reviews without any prompting so if you want reviews, you need to ask for them.
However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do so. Firstly, you’re going to want to ask customers that are satisfied with your services. This might seem like a no brainer, but if you’re too focused on getting as many online reviews as possible and begin asking every customer you meet for a review, you may be less than pleased with the results.
After all, even if you have 100+ reviews, if the overall rating is three stars or less you would may be better off with no reviews at all. In fact, 94% of consumers would consider using businesses with a four star rating. This number drops dramatically to 57% with a three star rating, and only 13% of consumers would consider using a business with a star rating of two or less. Thus, it is essential to ask for reviews from customers that have had a positive experience, as they are very likely to leave a positive review.
Once you have identified that a customer has had a positive experience with your business there are two main ways that you can ask them for a review; in person, or via email.
On The Spot – In Person
Asking customers for a review in person is one of the most effective ways to gain regular online reviews. When doing so, it is important that you help them complete the review on the spot. Not only will their positive experience be fresh in their mind, you will also be there to make leaving a review as easy as possible.
Conversely, if you ask them to leave you a review when they get home, even if they are willing to do so, there’s a good chance that they will forget to do it. And if they don’t forget, they may have trouble remembering where or how to leave the review causing them to give up – after all, they are getting nothing out of leaving a review so if it’s too hard to do, it’s not going to happen.
One way that many businesses have found success in this is by asking for a review on the spot and offering to guide the customer through the process. Before doing this you need to ensure that you are familiar with the process of leaving a review on both Apple and Android phones (try practising with friends, family, or employees beforehand).
Another thing you can do to ensure that this process runs smoothly is practise what you are going to say. Here’s an example script that we suggest to many of our clients:
“If you’re happy with our service today then the best compliment you can give us is an online review. If you have your phone handy now I can show you how to do it.”
By asking for their phone you are encouraging them to complete the review there and then, for a much higher chance of the review actually being left. Plus, by showing them exactly how to leave the review you are ensuring that the review is left on the most beneficial platform (Google reviews) and that the customer won’t get lost at some point in the process and give up. Additionally, they are much more likely to leave a favourable review if you are standing with them when they write it.
Note: Leaving a Google review requires a Gmail account. If the customer does not have a Gmail account you can suggest leaving a review on your Facebook business page as almost everyone will have a Facebook account.
It’s important that everyone in your organisation is aware of how important reviews are and how to ask for them. Service team members should be trained in the process of asking for reviews and assisting customers in the process. Setting KPIs or offering incentives for employees that receive a high number of positive reviews can increase the effectiveness of this endeavour.
Post Purchase – Via Email
Another effective way to ask customers for a review is via email. This is particularly useful for business that mostly deal in online purchases. Ideally you should already be sending follow up emails to customers 3 to 5 days after a purchase. Simply adding the option for the customer to leave a review can drastically increase your online reviews.
This option is inexpensive and requires minimal effort. Just like on the spot reviews, it is important to make leaving reviews as easy as possible for the customer. In this case, providing a clickable link that takes them straight to leaving a review will increase the effectiveness of the process.
Additionally, for best results, emails can be split tested to fine tune the wording and look of your review proposition based on the reaction of your audience.
2) Offer An Incentive
Another effective way to increase your online business reviews is to offer an incentive. As mentioned earlier, you can offer incentives to employees based on how many new reviews they bring in. However, there is also the option of offering an incentive for the customer to leave a review.
It can be difficult to effectively create an incentivised review process without making the customer feel bribed, and you may be worried about losing money through incentivising reviews. But, when properly executed, this approach can have a huge impact on your online reviews which will build trust for your brand and drive sales.
In one successful review campaign, a business offered to donate $10 to a not-for-profit organisation for every new review. This helped customers to feel like they were doing something good by leaving a business review, without feeling bribed.
Alternatively, you may offer a discounted price or a small item for free to incentivise reviews.
Note: It’s important to check the guidelines of individual review sites as some third party review sites have guidelines for how reviews can be acquired which may not include incentivising.
3) Set Up Review Profiles
Although Google reviews may be the most beneficial platform for customer reviews, if you want more reviews you need to make sure that customers can leave them wherever possible. For example, many popular review websites such as Yelp, Facebook, and True Local require you to set up a business account before customers may leave a business review.
Though some third party review sites allow reviews for businesses that have not set up their own business profile, these reviews will not show up in search engines until the business profile is claimed by a representative of the business.
Not only will setting up business profiles on popular review websites increase the number of reviews that your business receives, it will also allow you to build a presence and reputation for your business across multiple platforms.
As an added bonus, many review websites allow you to add a link to your website from your business profile, building new links to your site. Plus, as reviews are becoming increasingly important to consumers, top review sites are beginning to rank on the first page of Google giving you the opportunity to get your website on page one of Google via the third party review site.
4) Add Links To Your Website
Adding visual cues and links from your website to third party review sites (eg. a button displaying “Review us on Yelp!” with a link to your business profile on Yelp) is another way to increase online reviews for your business. This makes it simple for customers who have purchased from you to click through and leave you a review.
Additionally, this can be used to encourage customers who have had positive experiences but may not have thought to leave a review, to do so. And considering that when left to their own devices, customers are much more likely to take the time to leave a negative review than a positive one, adding a simple link to your site can have a huge impact on your business.
- Ask satisfied customers to leave a review
- When asking for a review in person, walk them through the process on the spot to ensure that the review is completed
- Add a link to post purchase emails to direct customers to leave a review on your Google My Business account
- Consider offering incentives to staff for obtaining reviews, or to customers for leaving reviews
- Set up business profiles on as many popular online review sites as possible
- Add links from your website to third party review sites to make it easy for customers to leave their review