Online reviews are a great tool for motivating prospective customers to learn more about your business. This user-generated content has incredible potential in helping you gain new customers.
Encouraging online reviews can be a laborious, but necessary, part of a business owner’s life. In the world of B2B services, customers don’t automatically think about reviews unless they had some sort of negative experience. Many review sites including Yelp and Google+ don’t want you to offer incentives for reviews.
How can you generate more online reviews without getting penalized for doing it the wrong way?
Ask For Reviews
This tactic is not easy, and can be uncomfortable, but is the best way to build reviews on various sites. Approach the customers you know well – the customers who have used your products or services and with whom you have built a professional relationship. Let them know you would appreciate their feedback about your business on sites like Google+ and Yelp. Your businesses vertical may utilize different review sites; make a list of those that are relevant and build a strategy based on highest business impact.
Make it easy on your customer. Include easily accessible links to your target pages in your requests to your customer. Print up an easy to distribute card with the specific pages or websites you want your review from. Pair your request with a contract signing or renewal. E-Commerce sites often send out emails after a purchase is made and the consumer has had time to engage with the product.
If you feel comfortable doing so, build your customer’s loyalty and give them a token of appreciation such as $25 gift card to Starbucks or Amazon once they’ve left a review.
With smartphones continuing their takeover of our daily lives, it is said that email is now checked and monitored more than 7 times per day. Email is the most utilized application on a smartphone and 60% of smartphone users read email when they first wake up and before they go to bed. With this in mind, sending an email with a personalized message including links to your Google listing, Facebook page and/or Yelp listing will go along way to helping you grow your reach through reviews.
Again, if a customer does leave a review, give them a small gratitude of thanks.
The younger generation (under 30) may be less amenable to outright requests to leave reviews, or even emailed requests. However, they are more likely to engage with Facebook and Twitter. Creating a Twitter and Facebook account and engaging with customers via these channels can help generate reviews without prompting.
When you do receive online reviews or mentions from these channels, acknowledging the review is recommended.
Respond To Online Reviews
Once you start getting some reviews, it is important to respond to them -all of them -just thanking customers for their feedback. Potential customers will be able to see that you care about feedback from current customers, and that kind of care makes a positive impact on prospects.
One important thing to keep in mind when responding to a review is that you do not want to come across as defensive or, even worse, cruel in your reply. It is hard when a customer leaves a critical review of your business not to immediately justify what happened or even attack the customer leaving a negative review. If you have no way of contacting the customer directly, leaving a response apologizing for the experience and assurances that you are working on getting better is recommended.
Check in With Customers
Are your current customers happy? Checking in with them regularly, listening to their feedback and making changes based on customer feedback are all ways to make sure your customers are happy with the service they are getting from your organization. Once you have made specific changes, make sure you let the clients who requested the change know. This kind of activity can also help generate online reviews without you asking outright for reviews.
Garnering online reviews is a slow process that will be very rewarding long-term. While not all of these tactics may work for you, giving them a try and adopting them as business practices moving forward will help your business continue to extend it’s reach and drive incremental growth through digital channels.