Online reviews increase sales by an average of 18 percent. In other words, online reviews don’t just exist in the online world, separated from your brick-and-mortar business: they are your brick-and-mortar business.
So how can you get them? And not just get them, but get a lot of them? You can increase the number of online reviews you get by making just a few adjustments. Make reviews an everyday thing, incentivize them, make it easy to review your business, ask for reviews at the right time, and use an online reputation service. You’ll see the reviews flooding in in no time.
Make reviews a run-of-the-mill part of your workday.
Gaining reviews takes a dedicated effort, so make sure you and your team are 100 percent on board with encouraging customer reviews. One way to do this is to treat review-solicitation as a regular part of the employees’ workday, rather than as something outside of your business or as something that your team only does when there’s nothing else to do.
Another way to make reviews an everyday part of work is to incentivize asking for them. One company “saw the number of reviews rise after implementing an incentive program where employees receive a cash bonus for any reviews (for example, 3 reviews=$100; 15 reviews=$750).”
This model may not work for your business, but the idea is to remind employees how important reviews are. Because reviews are so important, these bonuses would be a worthwhile way to spend some of your marketing budget.
Incentivize reviews—don’t buy them.
Have you ever been turned off when a positive review on Amazon ends with “I received this product in exchange for posting an honest review”?
If you’re like us, you see that little disclaimer and think, “Did you actually like that product, or is it just that you’d feel bad for leaving a negative review for the nice people who sent you the free stuff?”
You want the reviews you receive to look authentic. Yelp even has recommendation software that “actively tries to identify and not recommend [or publish] reviews prompted or encouraged by the business.” Eek.
We still recommend that you ask for reviews, but do so in a way that encourages all customer feedback—not just feedback from happy customers.
Offering a small incentive is one way to show your customers you appreciate hearing from them. “You just need to make sure your offer is for writing a review, and not for writing a good review,” writes Forbes contributor Nellie Akalp. “Monthly giveaways, where you choose one reviewer at random, are effective ways to encourage reviews, and there’s no semblance of a transaction where you are paying for a review.”
Remember, 68 percent of consumers trust a business more when they see both good and bad reviews. So go out there and ask everyone to review you!
Make it easy.
Quick! Before you keep reading, answer this: What percentage of customers do you think leave online reviews?
It’s tough to say for sure, but a 2014 study of a private apparel retailer’s website “found that only about 1.5 percent of customers, or 15 out of 1,000, write reviews.” What’s a poor business owner to do about this dismal statistic?
For starters, you can make it easy for your customers to leave a review. Put Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review site buttons on your website so customers don’t have to go searching for a place to review you. Set up profiles on multiple review sites. This will let your customers leave a review where they’re comfortable reviewing, and it will also make you more visible online.
Ask for reviews at the right time.
Did you know that “70% of consumers will leave a review for a business when asked”? When we compare that number to the 1.5 percent in the last tip, you know it’s worth it to ask for reviews.
But what about the 30 percent who don’t leave reviews when asked?
As they say, timing is everything. To increase responses to review requests, ask your customers when they are most engaged. “This is usually after they’ve received their service or product.” Makes sense. Keep in mind that “feedback collected immediately after an event is on average 40% more accurate than feedback collected 24 hours later.”
Of course, certain products and services—mattresses, for example—can’t be properly reviewed until the customer has engaged with the product or service for much longer than 24 hours. Ask for reviews when it makes sense for your company: when the customer has had enough time to engage, but not too much time that the product or service is in the past for them.
Use an online reputation service.
Keeping track of your online reputation while running a business is a ton of work! Whether you’re a social media novice or expert, using an online reputation service like SocialClimb is a great idea.
As soon as customers leave your business, SocialClimb automatically sends a personalized text asking them about their experience. (Remember the 70 percent of customers who will leave a review when asked? It turns out that personalized invitations get four times the response of non-personalized invitations, and SocialClimb gets 15 to 20 times the responses of other platforms.)
If a customer’s response to SocialClimb’s text is positive, he or she will be directed to a review platform like Google, Facebook, and Yelp to leave a review. If the customer’s response to the text is negative, you are notified instantly. This way you can respond and fix problems as quickly as they arise.
Following these tips can increase your number of reviews significantly. When you make reviews an everyday thing, incentivize them, make it easy to review your business, ask for reviews at the right time, and use an online reputation service, customers will happily leave you reviews, and you’ll happily watch the success that follows.