Unlike in the real “offline”, brick and mortar world, where patrons might walk into an empty restaurant and stay for a meal anyway (for fear of embarrassment or lack of alternate plans), online visitors can change directions in a fraction of a second! Think about it, when’s the last time you saw a movie, rented a hotel room or hired a party clown without checking reviews? The benefits of reviews extent far beyond social proof and trust in the eyes of your audience: Google and other search engines love reviews too, rewarding companies with reviews from trusted sites (below) with higher search rankings.
The question isn’t whether of not you should get more reviews online, but how to get more reviews online, and fast! I know what you’re thinking, “Great, on top of running my business, setting up a WordPress site, blogging and advertising, now I need to get reviews?!”
Yep, it’s true. But before throwing up your hands in surrender, blaming me for hammering the final nail in your marketing plan’s coffin, hang in there. At least long enough to read this article.
Get More Reviews the Geek-Free Way
Like most things in life, establishing and executing a successful online reviews strategy is much easier than one might think. All it takes is a little knowledge, courage and execution (the first two of which are provided below).
- Document your reviews goals -Write down your reviews goals and communicate them to your staff. Be specific: “We want to obtain online reviews from 50% of our customers, resulting in at least 20 reviews before January 1st.” Document your goals for online reviews and revisit them regularly.
- Automate your reviews strategy – If you’re not yet using lead nurturing software, do so immediately. Whether you use an inexpensive solution like Aweber, or a complete “marketing automation” solution like InfusionSoft, the goal is the same: set up a series of automated emails that ask your customers for reviews (among other functions).
- Ask in a classy way – One reason business owners fall short in their review acquisition goals is they simply don’t ask. Whether from fear of coming across as “cheesy” or just plain shyness, you need to ask or you shall never receive. The good news is, I have a sweet and effective way to do this: send a message along the lines of this: “Dear Awesome Customer, Part of our goal here at Super Widgets, Inc. is to maintain the highest possible level of service, I have a favor to ask: if you could please take a moment to let us know how we’re by clicking one of the links below (link to Yelp! , Insider Pages, etc.) we would really appreciate it. You’re the kind of customer we aim to work with and your feedback would be a big help.”
- Make it easy – In the body of your review request email (or direct mail), send a link to the exact page (URL) used to review your business. Be sure to give 2-3 links to different websites, not just one. This way, your customer can leave a review on the site(s) they’re already members of, which the sites themselves use as measures of trust (On Yelp! and other sites, reviews from users with few or no other reviews get sidelined indefinitely).
- Ask early – Contrary to what most small businesses owners believe, it’s not only OK, but often times better to as for reviews early in the relationship, while both parties (you and your customer) are jazzed about the experience. In fact you don’t even need to wait until your customer is a customer! If your business involves any sort of consultation or evaluation as part of the sales funnel, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a review of these “pre-sales” engagements: “We’d love your feedback about the fitness evaluation/ security audit/ phone consultation.” Any interaction with your brand counts as feedback fodder.
- Ask more than once – As with any form of marketing (direct mail, advertising, PPC), optimal results usually happen from repetition. Many businesses make the mistake of using campaigns that are “one trick ponies”- a single “Hail Mary”, all or nothing. Most great marketers understand the power of sequential mailings, reviews are no exception. Send an email or post card, followed by two or three “reminder” messages. You’ll probably be shocked by the increase in results.
- Expand your reviews beyond customers – There’s nothing wrong with getting reviews from vendors, current and former employees and anyone who can provide helpful and honest feedback detailing their insights or experiences with your company.
- Get your staff involved – Follow up with your team and cover your progress in getting reviews. Use staff incentives and promotions to support your goals. Don’t be a cheapskate, at least not here. Testimonials, as the most powerful form of social proof, are nearly invaluable. It’s well worth a few bucks to keep your review engine running. Run contests and celebrate your team’s performance and rankings in getting reviews (you should do the same for email list acquisition but that’s a different story).
- Use reviews on your site and elsewhere – One you’ve gained the ability to get more reviews online, it’s critical to leverage these reviews into powerful devises of customer acquisition. When you get a review, send en email to your customer (the “reviewee”), asking for permission to use their kind words in other marketing communications. If you’ve subscribed to our FREE Marketing Course, you know that reviews are a powerful form of “social proof”, triggering emotional trust and conveying authority to your audience. Use these approved testimonials everywhere you can: sales letters, landing pages, post cards, bus benches and Burger King bathrooms.
Where to Get Reviews: the Top 12 Online Reviews Websites
Now that you have an idea of how to get more reviews, let’s wrap this up with a list of where to get more online reviews. In the following excerpt from a recent article on HubSpot, Corey Eridon lists the top 12 sites for small business reviews:
We (and the internet for the past half a decade) have already spent some time convincing you of the importance of acquiring online reviews for your business. So let’s just assume you’re sold on the benefits of having a bunch of people tout how awesome you are on the web.
That being said, I don’t think it’s safe to assume we all know exactly where in the wide world of the web we can point those well-wishers when they want to sing your praises. I mean, we might all be able to rattle off one or two sites (“Yelp! and I think somehow you can do it on Google, right?”), but we don’t exactly have a laundry list of options at our disposal.
Until today. Dun dun dunnn!!! Here we go, guys. Everywhere on the internet you can get online reviews. So now you can … you know … go get ’em.
- Angie’s List
- Google+ Local
- Yahoo! Local Listings
- Insider Pages
- Consumer Search
- Better Business Bureau
- Your Website
Yelp! has also come under fire over the past four years for some slightly shady practices, like incentivizing businesses to advertise with them in exchange for gaming the search results for their business (“pay us money and we’ll push bad reviews down!”), so savvier consumers have learned to look at Yelp! reviews as a whole and with the reviewer’s clout in mind, instead of getting turned off by a business because of one bad listing. Read the full article on Hubspot
Related Video: Using Marketing Automation to Get More Reviews Online