Online reviews are vastly and increasingly important.
As a source for those published testimonials that really bump up your conversion numbers to their increasing importance for SEO and rankings, you really can’t afford to ignore getting some reviews. When you figure in the truly damaging effect that a single negative review can have on your business, it’s vital that you collect a few positive reviews every month, and keep them coming in. If nothing else, at least they’ll bump down or muffle the effects of any naysayers.
But getting reviews isn’t as simple as setting up a couple of Social Media profiles and then sitting back to wait on them coming on. This article is really intended as your quickest, easiest guide to getting regular reviews on a continual, organic basis.
1) Identify Happy Customers – and Ask Them.
Most business owners know who these people are. The true fans are loyal, hard to beat, and probably already recommending you. If you really don’t know who they are, work with your sales people or your customer service people to identify them. Not every business can do this, but most will require looking in and figuring out exactly whom these people are. Directly asking can be a lot like asking for a business reference or a letter of recommendation. You want to use the same tact and respect, but make it a little bit easier for customers to figure out how to do it. That’s really the gist of everything else below.
2) Work on “Wow!”
“Wow!” has become something of a cliché since Zappos headed to Nevada, but it’s still a cliché for a reason. You need to be sure that your actual business reputation bears some trumpeting and if not, work on it. Again, identifying what made happy customers happy is the key. “Wow” will mean making those same, already happy people truly ecstatic. It’s good if you can do that for 95% of customers, but more realistically, we’re talking about truly exceeding the expectations of 20% of your loyal customers.
3) Optimize your Point of Sale for Reviews
If you’re selling from a counter, make a sign or a stack of cards with a few, important review site URLs. If you’re selling mostly from email, just include some links and a polite request. If you’ve got sales personnel on the floor, hand them the cards you printed for the counter. “Nothing makes us happier than hearing from you. Please take a moment to tell others about your experience today.” It’s as simple as that. Getting the person behind the counter to actually hand out a few cards can work wonders too.
4) Review Links work just like Social Links
So, you’ll want to include them in your email signature, in any signatures you’re using online, and on your website. Very often a testimonial page will also lead to a page with links to your most important review listing profiles – so adding a full page explaining how you listen to customers here and all over the internet is important. Importantly, even if you have signed up for a lot of review media, you don’t want to overwhelm potential reviewers with too many links. Google+/Maps is among the most important, and your Yelp! profile is likely the second most important.
5) Auto-Reply Emails
Not every business is set up to automatically follow up, but many of them should be. These emails very often include simply a phone number or email address. Reconsider your follow-up to really capture testimonials or reviews from potentially happy customers. Include the links, and voila! If you’re doing a good job, this should be not only the ticket to regular good reviews, but also to repeat business and referrals.
It’s still a newsflash to some, but most people know why businesses are on Facebook. They don’t want you acting like a business every day, but sometimes is ok. And as otherwise cool as we hope you are, in Social Media, actually soliciting reviews from recent guests is acceptable. Being social is preferred and you shouldn’t do it every week, but once or twice a month is not at all out of line. “Have you visited us recently? Click here and let us know about your experience.”
As a general rule, you don’t want to offer incentives for reviews through any electronic media. The risk of being penalized is just too great. That said, offering an incentive for an unbiased and honest review at your point of sale, or in your Bricks and Mortar establishment is not a bad idea. Offering a kiosk with a live computer might be pushing it a little far, but along with your Wi-Fi and easy access to your important profiles, it’s still a good idea.
Remember, read all those reviews. The angry negative reviews need a quick reply anyway. The positive reviews, at least in Social Media (if not on Yelp!), should get a thank you. But most important of all, look at what people like. Think about how what they like fits in with how you’re imagining that happy customer, in #1 above. Really exceeding what you offer to the people in #1 is the best way to get to #2, above. And that’s a guaranteed “Wow!”
About the Author:
This article was written by James T. James is a writer working out of Mexico City. He is an avid blogger on all things inbound marketing, SEO, and social media.