Whether it’s Yelp, Google, Facebook, or even the BBB (Better Business Bureau), online reviews are ubiquitous on the web. It doesn’t matter what type of product or service you’re in the market for, there’s a good chance that you can find an online review to help you make your purchasing decision. That means, as an online business, it is important that you are working to build your online review portfolio in a positive light.
Why are Reviews So Important?
According to this study, 90% of consumers read and are influenced by online reviews before doing business with a company. It has always been said that word of mouth advertising is the best type of advertising, but do you know why? Because people trust people, not brands.
Word of mouth advertising goes a long way in helping consumers make purchasing decisions because recommendations are coming from a known and (ideally) trusted individual. However, when word of mouth recommendations aren’t possible or are nonexistent, online reviews speak the loudest. In fact, the same study found that 31% of consumers that have read reviews prior to making a purchasing decision are likely to spend over 30% more when making their purchase if your company has excellent reviews.
Not only will 72% of consumers take action after reading a great review, but these endorsements can also help provide a rich, growing library of content and social proof that your website needs to validate your business to first-time visitors. While a brand’s social media is a critical business component, it is still important that companies have a website to draw traffic and educate their audience about their business. Not having enough content on your website can hurt your chances of having strong SEO, which means fewer visitors are being organically brought to your digital storefront. Including customer reviews on your website pages can help you compete for the SEO keywords that you want to rank for, and, more importantly, the keywords that your customers are actually using and searching for.
In short, online reviews are so important to your business because they provide the social proof that people need to reassure and confirm that the purchasing decisions they are taking with you are the right ones.
How to Drive More Reviews?
With statistics like those mentioned above backing up the importance of building this online social proof, it’s crucial that you have a strategy to convert your customers into brand advocates. Here are some tactics you can use to improve your online review acquisition strategy:
Make it Easy for Customers to Leave Reviews on Your Site
The majority of people are busy, and they are not going to take the time to look around the internet to see where to leave a review for your product or service, regardless of how satisfied they are with the buying experience. As a part of your dedication to providing exceptional customer service to each and every one of your customers, it is your job to make it as easy as possible for them to find the correct place on your website or other digital properties to leave a review. Below are two good ideas and real-life examples on how you can persuade your current customers into leaving reviews:
- i.) Create a feedback survey that consumers can use to leave quick and easy comments (here’s an example). Not only will these reviews help other potential customers make a decision, this direct feedback can help you to improve your marketing efforts and/or the service you are providing.
Pro-tip: Only ask for the information that you need because the longer the form is, the less likely people are to complete it.
- ii.) Display previous reviews to establish social proof; these reviews can act as inspiration for your current customers and as a way to provide peace of mind to entice a purchase.
Pro-tip: While entities like Yelp and Google My Business are great places for customers to leave and read reviews, don’t overlook displaying reviews directly on your website. If a customer is on your site and is ready to buy, you do not want them leaving your storefront to go to another website to find your reviews.
Provide Incentives for Writing Reviews
It’s no surprise that people like free stuff. In fact, often times they like anything that’s free so much that it motivates them to do things that they might not have done otherwise. If you are in need of getting customer feedback to build your online review portfolio, try offering your customers an incentive to encourage them. Busy people often want to know, “What’s in it for me?” and you can use these opportunities to offer them something in exchange for their review. Some ideas include:
- Provide a gift card or other prize to a random customer that leaves a review. Depending on how many customers you typically service, this drawing can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
Pro-tip: The better the prize, the better your chance of getting numerous positive reviews.
- Create a reward system (like this) where customers earn points for their reviews that they can then redeem for things that they would like. Not only does this tactic help build your online reviews, but it also helps improve your customer lifetime value (CLTV) and has a tremendous impact on brand loyalty.
If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon or Zappos, you know that they send an email asking for your review several days after your shipment has arrived. One of the reasons that they do this is because people tend to forget things quickly, especially things like leaving a review. Your customers are busy people and even though they may like (or LOVE) your product or service, unless they act quickly on leaving feedback, they may not ever remember to come back and share their raving review. So try sending them reminders through their emails, just like Zappos does:
Google offers a service which helps e-commerce websites integrate this email reminder functionality into their sales and customer service operations. Below is a screenshot from FTD.com showing this feature in practice:
Set up a Review Landing Page
Creating a landing page specifically for gathering customer reviews is another way that you can encourage consumers to leave their feedback (here’s an example). You can make it super simple for them to leave you reviews on multiple platforms by including directions on what to include along with links to reach the different review sites your business is listed on. Google My Business reviews are one of the most important in regards to SEO, so be sure to make this one of the focal points of your ask.
Improve Your Customer Service
The best way to boost the number of great reviews that you get for your business is to improve your customer service. There are many businesses out there, especially online, that provide horrible customer service. Unfortunately, lately it feels like it has become more common to have a bad experience with a business than a good one. That means if you want to stand apart from the crowd you need to have great customer service. By doing this you set the right tone for your customer from start to finish.
Soliciting and gathering customer reviews is the best way to learn how to think and speak like your customers. We collect feedback from our customers and use their words (sometimes verbatim) to talk about our company in our marketing materials, sales collateral, support channels, etc. Reading customer reviews is also how we learn about new products and features we should be building.
Online reviews show consumers they are buying from a company they can trust, despite not physically being in the store speaking with employees. If you want to improve your customer review acquisition, start by improving your customer’s experience, asking them directly what you can do better next time, and then implementing a plan that includes the above tactics.