Online reviews are my go-to for everything.
Whether I’m exploring a new city and searching for a good restaurant, looking for reliable home services, or a new ecommerce store to shop from — I browse online reviews before making a decision.
I trust online reviews as much as I trust a recommendation made by a friend or family member.
Recently, I had to hire a plumbing service for my home. I Googled ‘Plumbing services near me’ and, rest assured, a long list of results showed up. I chose one which had a four-star rating with customers raving about the excellent service. What was even more impressive was that the plumbing service had responded to each review, whether it was good or bad.
It does make a difference when I see others reviewing a business, and the business taking the time to thank their customers for a good review, and acknowledging and responding to a bad one.
And it’s not just me.
How important are online reviews?
A Local Consumer Review Survey shows that while 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, 89% of consumers read business’s responses to reviews.
Online reviews help you get more visibility, and in turn, more business. However, many small business owners struggle with either getting more reviews or dealing with negative ones.
Yes, reviews come in all forms — good, bad, and ugly. But one cannot deny the fact that reviews are important. Sometimes negative reviews can be as useful as positive ones.
So, what’s the best way to get great reviews?
To put it simply, the best way to get great reviews is by providing an excellent product or service, and a consistently great experience.
Customers today want to review businesses that offer them an unmatched experience. Whether you are an ecommerce store, a physical store or provide services — customers recognize good service and want to tell others about it.
Using the right way to get more reviews will, in turn, influence the buying and hiring decisions of your customers.
Is the fear of negative reviews holding you back?
A lot of small business owners admit that, while they know reviews are important and get them more visibility, it’s the negative reviews that they are afraid of. Not knowing how to deal with bad online reviews stops them from asking customers to review them.
Negative reviews can be overwhelming, but they’re not necessarily damaging.
Think of them as feedback that helps you improve. Negative reviews only become damaging when you ignore them, don’t acknowledge them, or let them bring you down.
A negative review is an opportunity to engage and communicate with your customers. Let them know that their opinions matter and you’re willing to work harder to improve their experience. Your customers will appreciate it and be able to filter through aggressive reviews because they understand what you really offer.
Take a look at this restaurant’s response to a negative review on Yelp, showcasing that every customer’s opinion matters:
Example of a negative review and response from business.
Different ways to get more reviews
There are multiple platforms where customers can leave reviews. These include social media pages, business listings, directories, and even your website.
Before you start drawing up a plan to get more reviews, it’s important to know and understand the policies of each platform and what their position is regarding soliciting reviews. For example, Yelp advises businesses not to ask for reviews, while Google My Business encourages businesses to grow positive Google reviews.
Make sure you know the policies that apply to your business and adhere to them.
One of the simplest ways to encourage people to leave a review is to demonstrate your presence on different platforms. Online, you can use your website, social media pages, and marketing emails to let customers know which platforms to use.
Offline, you can put up window clings, award certificates, or other printed material to show customers where you are featured. You can use icon buttons of review pages, snippets of reviews from other customers, and even add links for people to go review or read the existing reviews.
Use emails to get more reviews
Email marketing is an effective way to ask your customers for reviews. Sending an email when customers are most engaged — right after a purchase, a visit to your store or service completion — is the best way to get more reviews.
Using email automation you can ensure that customers immediately receive an email asking for a review right after an interaction.
Here are two examples of review emails:
Review request sent via automated email.
Another review request email.
How NOT to get reviews:
When building out your emails to ask for reviews, here are some things you should never do:
- Pay someone to write a review for you
- Force someone to write a review for you
- Give incentives in exchange for a review, like a discount or bonus
- Send a blanket email to your entire list asking for reviews
Get noticed and grow with online reviews
Customers turn to online reviews to make decisions. The more reviews you have, the more visibility and business you will generate.
Delivering excellent customer service is the best way to ensure good reviews. Don’t be afraid of negative reviews, instead use them as an opportunity to engage with your customers and let them know you value their opinions.
Using emails to ask for reviews, when customers are most engaged with you, will help you garner more reviews that are effective.
Ready to get more reviews? Start by reading all your existing reviews, across platforms, and responding to them.