I don’t mean to startle you but at least 9 out of every 10 of your customers are influenced by online reviews.
For example, according to a Dimensional Research survey, 90% of the respondents who had read online reviews prior to purchase claimed to have been influenced by positive reviews.
Now, I don’t know if you have a review acquisition strategy in place but I’m going to try to convince you why you need to get reviews, tell you where to get those reviews and even show you how to get them.
OK, I admit it. Maybe I did mean to startle you. 🙂
But in case you’re still not convinced that you need reviews for your business, let’s look at a few reasons why reviews are important and a step by step plan for you to get more of them.
The Benefits Of Getting Reviews
Before we start let’s consider a very important question: Why do you need reviews?
Well, there are at least five good reasons…
Good Reason #1: Most People are Reading Reviews Before Purchasing
A lot of customers want to know what others in a similar situation are doing before they can make a purchase so they turn to online reviews.
According to BrightLocal’s 2015 Local Consumer Review Survey, up to 92% of consumers usually read online reviews whenever they are searching for local businesses. 33% and 59% of them read reviews “regularly” and “occasionally”, respectively.
While this statistic alone doesn’t show the effect of those reviews to the searcher’s opinion, it should tell you that if you have online business reviews, a lot of people are reading them.
Good Reason #2: Potential Customers are Forming an Opinion from Those Reviews
More important is the kind of brand image that they give to a potential customer. Potential customers don’t necessarily have to interact with your business in order to form an opinion. Just by reading reviews, a customer can start looking at your business in a certain way.
Now that might not seem fair to you but that’s the current state of digital marketing. What might even be more unfair is that the said customer doesn’t even have to read a lot of reviews.
The BrightLocal study suggests that, just by reading 1 – 3 reviews, potential customers can form an opinion about your company, positive or negative.
Good Reason #3: Positive Reviews Influence Trust
It’s not easy to earn the trust of potential customers nowadays. Things like spam and misleading ads have resulted in a more sceptical consumer.
But they still believe their peers. So, reviews work very well as a source of proof to those potential customers that you really can do what you claim.
The BrightLocal survey went further to find that 68% of consumers will trust a local business more if they see positive reviews.
At the same time, however, 21% of the respondents said, while they read reviews, they “don’t let them influence their decisions.”
This shows that there’s still a proportion of consumers who’re wary of spam reviews and other misleading online sources.
But the key takeaway is that positive reviews will get you far.
Good Reason #4: Reviews Can Affect Local SEO
Search engines aim to provide the most relevant results to their users and as fast as possible. It’s therefore logical that they’d turn to online reviews – seeing how much consumers love them – to get reliable signals on the best answers to a particular query.
A Moz survey seeking to understand how search engines rank local websites found that review signals account for almost 10%.
So just by having positive reviews, you could be boosting your search ranking by close to 10%. It’s these little advantages that set you apart from your competitors.
But on top of the general 10% improvement, Google Reviews stand out in a class of their own.
These are the Google reviews which help you help your business appear on a local “Map Pack” – which is a group of businesses that are given priority on the Google search results.
In fact recent research we conducted on over 540 UK B2B (Business to Business) websites showed that the number of Google reviews was one of four main factors that set the ‘Best in Class’ (i.e. top 3 ranking) from lower ranked websites.
Now, with the Google’s Local 7-Pack being reduced to 3-Pack, it becomes increasingly important to get a high position because your business gets a chance to compete with just two others in that specific location, boosting your online exposure.
Businesses listed on the 3-Pack also get a link to the website and the physical address, increasing both website and walk-in visitors.
Good Reason #5: Reviews Offer a Feedback Channel Between You and Your Customers
If you still aren’t convinced by reviews, at least see them as a source of feedback on what your customers like and/or dislike about your business.
Every positive review is a thumbs up to keep doing what you’re doing. Every negative review should offer you an opportunity to reflect on what you’re doing wrong.
In some cases you may choose to dismiss if you realise you’re dealing with a bitter customer or re-evaluate whether you are targeting the right type of customer for your business.
Also, make an effort to respond to reviews whenever you can. It’s the only way to keep the feedback loop alive.
Where to Get Reviews
So now you understand the importance of reviews let’s look at where to get them.
While not every review site will count enough on search engines to boost your search rankings, there are several that are worth the effort.
With that said, here are 6 of the best places to get reviews – in no particular order.
(Oh, and did I mention – most of them are free!)
1. Google My Business
First it was Google+ Local, then it transitioned to Google Places. And now the best Google-affiliated site that allows local business reviews is Google My Business.
Google combined Google+ and Google Places and presented you with the best features of each in a dashboard that ensures you spend the least time managing your listing and the most time actually running your business.
The dashboard allows you to manage your listing, content such as comments and pictures posted across Google sites and reviews from a single place.
Not only that, but the service is also free of charge.
All you have to do is claim your Google My Business listing and you’re set to go.
Boasting 140+ million unique monthly visitors, Yelp is a review site that lets consumers rate any business on a five-star scale for free.
As a business owner, you’re free to set up a Yelp profile to allow consumers on the site to review and rate your business. You’re also free to respond to reviews – enhancing the feedback loop.
Your profile will include information such as the location and opening and closing hours.
To increase your visibility, you can also get paid ads after which the site features you in a community.
3. Yahoo! Local Listings
Just like Google My Business and Yelp, Yahoo! Local lets users review and rate businesses on a five-star scale.
While you might not want to try and figure out Yahoo!’s algorithm like you do Google’s, the former still receives about a tenth of all the search traffic.
It doesn’t hurt to go after that 10%. Especially when you consider that it’s free.
MerchantCircle aims to be a platform on which customers and local business link up for business. Consumers on the site are offered advice, deals and price quotes from the local
businesses on the site – making it a win-win for both parties.
Its functions are grouped into city and business category to make it easy for the consumer to search. By default, there’s a list of the best – which means the most frequently reviewed and highest rated – merchants in a particular location.
There are plenty of resources at the MerchantCircle Help Centre to help you set up and make the best use of the site.
Through its popular “Check In” feature that lets users post their locations on social media, Foursquare has grown to become a household name in the review space.
By claiming your Foursquare for Business listing, you allow your customers to not only “Check In” but also “tip” (review) and rate your business so other potential customers can see.
Foursquare also lets you add tips, reward customers as well as access user analytics.
Trustpilot is one of the most transparent review sites in the market. While some sites have been accused of charging their members a fee to have fake reviews posted, Trustpilot has even helped expose some of its members. You have been warned!
With seamless integration with Facebook and Twitter, the site allows you to also tweet reviews. This notifies your customers that your company is getting reviews and effectively encourages them to read your reviews.
Also, Trustpilot is one of the review platforms that offer you a badge that you can display on your website to help get visitors to read and review.
How to Get Reviews
We’ve established that without a doubt you need reviews.
We’ve also looked at some of the best places to get reviews.
But reviews won’t just come and knock on your door even when you’re listed with the right sites.
At least, not at the rate you want them. Remember, you need as many reviews as you can get – the more the better.
So, how do you get customers to review your business?
Let’s look at some of the best ways:
1. Just Ask For Them Face To Face
One of the most effective (yet surprisingly underutilized) ways to get customer reviews is by simply asking.
Most small business owners shy away from asking for reviews from customers because they think it will appear that they’re abusing the relationship and break the trust.
Going back to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey, 70% of the respondents said they’d leave a review if they were asked to. Now I don’t know about you but 70% is a number too big to pass on.
In short, you’ll find that you’re pushing at an open door.
But you have to “ask the right way”, so to say. Not asking for reviews the right way could in fact turn off your customers and break any established trust.
One of the best times to ask for a review is when you’ve got a happy customer in front of you – when you’re certain that they see the value you’ve just provided.
Some customers might even send a note thanking you for the service. Take that moment and ask them to provide a review.
You could also reach out to a customer asking if they were satisfied with your service and the kind of experience they had. If positive, they’ll be glad to provide a review.
2. Automate The Process
Automation is really powerful and there are tools that can automate the process of asking for reviews from your existing clients.
It’s as easy as entering their name and email address & the system send a simple email to asking them to provide feedback on your business. If they give positive feedback, it then asks them to leave a Google, Yelp or Facebook review.
Also, do you have an invoicing system that emails invoices? If so you just need to add a simple note on the invoice where you ask the clients to leave a review. If you work with receipts instead of invoices, you can add the note on that too.
Another way to ask for reviews is through live chat. Just like you would in person, you can use the convenience of the live chat to know when it’s a good time to ask for that review.
The opportunities for asking for reviews are, one might say, endless.
3. Respond to Existing Reviews
As much as you want customers to leave reviews, you should also make an effort to exclusively respond to reviews.
When the review is positive, thank the reviewer and show intent to keep offering a great service. If the review is negative, address it diplomatically and if it’s too sensitive, ask the reviewer to contact you directly, offline. Potential customers want to see that you’re responsive.
On that note, it’s important to respond to both the positive and negative reviews.
You don’t want to appear impolite when someone leaves a positive review and you want to avoid getting into an online slanging match in the case of a negative review.
But most important of all, use your response as an opportunity to market your business.
4. Link to Review Sites
Most of the popular review sites let you add easy-to-use widgets and badges to your website. All you have to do is copy the assigned HTML code to a page (say, a location page or the homepage) on your website.
Some companies such as TripAdvisor and Yelp even feature a review count on the badge.
So, how does this help you get reviews?
It acts as an incentive to your customers. By seeing that people are already reviewing your business, potential and existing customers are more likely to read the existing ones and also leave their own.
Besides, it’s also a way of saying, “Hey, we accept reviews of all sizes.”
5. Share Reviews on Social Media
This works like posting badges on your website. In a similar way, consider letting your social media followers know about the many positive reviews you’re getting by posting links to your business’s social media accounts.
If your other customers see that you’re getting great reviews then it won’t come as such a surprise when you ask them.
Remember – people want to help you and they want to leave reviews.
6. Provide Great Service to Your Customers
We saved the best for last.
The bottom line is: There’s no amount of listings or emails asking for reviews that will save your business if your service is poor. The worst case scenario would be getting reviews, but only negative ones.
The bottom line is; if you want raving reviews for your business, provide a great service to your customers.
Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth.
I’m not just saying that. Studies show that 84% of consumers value online reviews as much as they’d value personal recommendations. This means that review acquisition must be among your top marketing strategies.
You just have to get in the habit of asking for them.
Do you get reviews? Have you considered creating a review acquisition strategy? What challenges have you faced in the process? Talk to us in the comments. We read and promise to respond to all comments.