Customer reviews about their experience with your business determine a lot. They help your business look credible, influence potential customers to make a purchase and even determine where your business shows up in search results. With 90% of customers finding reviews more influential than a pitch from a salesperson, it's important to ensure yours stay fresh and relevant. We've tapped our marketing specialists to drop some tips below.
1. Make leaving a review as easy as possible
Customers are more likely to complete a review that’s short and simple, so keep them that way. It’s also good to have a few platform options because just like, well, with anything these days, people have their preferences.
Many review platforms like Expedia, Facebook Reviews, Yelp, OpenTable and Google Reviews have templates for you to leverage. Just a few taps and customers are on their way, and you’ve upped your credibility.
3. Ask your customers for reviews directly
You likely have the contact information of your loyal regular customers. Reach out to them with a direct link to where you would like them to leave a review, and you can even mention a specific service you’d like them to write about. A review that begins with something like “This company has been opening my swimming pool for 20 years . . .” can be extremely impactful.
Train your employees to ask customers for a review on their service specifically. People are typically more inclined to leave a review for the person who helped them as a way to show their gratitude.
4. Offer discounts or incentives
Writing a review takes time, especially if you want a customer to do more than fill out a five-question survey. Consider showing your customers you value their time and input by providing a percentage off their next purchase.
It could also be as simple as your cashier saying, “I can give you 10% off this purchase if you’re willing to leave a brief Google review of your experience with us in the next couple of days.” Sure, this is a tactic that’s totally based on honor, but putting a little trust in people also says something about your business.
Posting a special incentive on your social media is also a great way to get a few fresh reviews when you hit a lull.
5. Don’t fake reviews or remove all your bad ones
Though you want the majority of your reviews to be good, it’s actually beneficial to have variety (great, average, bad, long and short). Here’s why: Reviews affect your Google ranking (how high up your website appears in someone's search results). But Google actually flags and deletes content that seems disingenuous or fake. And we’re not talking about one or two reviews, oh no. Google has wiped away years of reviews from businesses due to one seemingly unauthentic review.
Have you ever used a template that first asked customers how their experience was and then only asked the people that responded “good” for a review? That’s actually called review gating and is something Google Reviews looks out for. So don’t try to hide the bad or average reviews, they build credibility with Google!
More importantly than what Google thinks, your potential customers can tell the difference between a real review and a skewed one.
6. Harness social media
It’s likely that people are already talking about your brand online. Reshare what you're tagged in on social, even if it’s just a photo of inside your business. Seeing someone enjoying your product or engaging with your space can say a thousand more words than five stars and a sentence.
On Instagram Stories, the polls and questions features allow you to ask about customers’ preferences/recommendations. You can share those responses on your story, generating reviews!
Be mindful of how you write moving forward. For example, say exact dates instead of “last year.” Writing yourself notes or setting alarms for when you need to remove specific dates can help. There’s also nothing worse than a consumer realizing you’re out of stock, so make sure you’re on top of those communications too!
When you are promoting a special, make sure it’s making it onto your website and social media. Some consumers only use one or the other, so it’s important any marketing you’re trying to push ends up on both.