3 Creative Ways to Generate Online Reviews for Your Business
Online Reviews Can Help You Gain New Customers, Fine-Tune Your Business Practices, and Establish Trust with Future Customers.
by Maggie Hopkins
I may just be a product of my generation, but I won’t order a sandwich without looking up a restaurant’s reviews, let alone make major purchase decisions. Last fall, my husband and I put a new stamped concrete patio in our backyard. We’ve been spending more time at home this past year and wanted to turn this space into a real oasis.
Concrete research turned into stonework, outdoor countertops, a gas line to the firepit, and running electricity out to the shed. The number of business reviews I scoured for contractors of all sorts, hardware stores, and landscape companies was staggering. My husband thought I was going a little overboard with this vetting process, but it turns out my review-seeking habits are fairly normal.
According to a 2018 study of online reviews, 97% of consumers are checking a business’s reviews prior to making a purchase decision. This means that nearly all of your prospective customers will be scanning the web for your business’s reviews on platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp.
Why Online Reviews are Important
Reviews are the second most important factor impacting purchase decisions, with price being the #1 factor. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from family or friends! [Source] Building your business’s online reputation through positive reviews is an essential piece to long-term success.
Reviews provide valuable social proof that can change a customer’s perspective of your business, for better or for worse.
Reviews that rave about amazing customer service, friendly staff, and worthwhile experiences are testimonials that encourage prospects to convert into customers. On the flip side, reviews that lament poor communication, late or unqualified staff, and negative encounters can be all that it takes for a prospect to move on to the next business.
Online reviews are also a major factor in your website’s ability to appear in organic local searches. A high number of recent, positive reviews can help improve search engine rankings and increase your business’s online visibility.
If your business doesn’t have positive review content online, you risk losing those customers to businesses that do.
3 Ways to Generate Reviews
To generate positive online reviews, a proactive approach is best. The below suggestions can be utilized altogether or individually. Help from a digital marketing agency can make choosing and implementing the best review strategy simple, especially for busy business owners.
1. Send personalized review requests to happy customers
After a positive customer interaction, send a personalized email or text message requesting an online review. Make sure to include a direct link to where you want them to leave the review, whether this is your Google Business Listing, Facebook page, Yelp, or another industry-specific platform.
Consider the timing of your review request. If a customer is making a one-time purchase or is visiting your store, sending this request soon after this interaction is best. For long-term services, such as home care, tutoring, or personal training, allow a few interactions to occur before requesting their feedback.
Sometimes customers will provide unsolicited feedback to your staff, either in person, on the phone, or in a written note. Train your team to respond to this real-time feedback by requesting an online review.
Regardless of when you are reaching out, make sure your message is friendly, to the point, and clearly branded for your business.
2. Automate follow-up requests using a Review Campaign
Even the happiest of customers may need to be asked more than once before they leave a review. To nudge them in the right direction, consider utilizing a review campaign.
At ChoiceLocal, we have two products that enable our partners to automate the review generation process: Customer Pulse and Review & Retain. Using either an automated email or text message cadence, you can give your customers multiple opportunities to take the next step and leave a review.
A review campaign ensures that you are reaching out consistently without being bothersome to customers. Review campaigns follow the same guidelines as personalized requests in that they are concise, link directly to the desired platform, and are branded for your business. The added benefit is that the process can be fully automated!
3. Give ample opportunities for customers to review
Although actively requesting reviews from customers is going to be the best way to generate these reviews, it’s important to give passive opportunities for reviews as well. This could include adding a review page, including a button to ‘Leave a Review’ on most-visited pages, or embedding a Google review widget to your website.
If you or your staff uses email to correspond with current customers, include review links in your email signatures. You can link an image to help draw more attention to your signature. Make sure to have a simple directive, like, “We’d love to hear about your experience.”
Whether you choose to implement one or all of the methods suggested for generating online reviews, the most important takeaways are that online reviews are essential to your business’s success & that generating positive reviews should be a priority in your overall marketing efforts.
About the Author:
Maggie Hopkins is an Account Director at ChoiceLocal who works to drive amazing results for her partners every day. Outside of the office, she enjoys weekend DIY projects, a glass of wine on the patio, and walks with her pup, Murphy, and husband, Kevin.