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How To Start Getting Reviews From Your Customers

Lenka Istvanova

by Lenka Istvanova on 7th March 2013

Customer reviewsReviews offer customers a way to find whether a product or service is worth buying or not. I personally always check for reviews online before purchasing a product or service, especially if it’s an expensive one and research confirm that I’m not alone; A Local Consumer Review (2012) study showed that for a staggering 72% of people, online reviews are as valuable as personal recommendations.

In addition, over half of respondents (52%) are more likely to purchase from a local company if it has positive reviews. It’s fair to say that more and more of us pay close attention to online reviews and they play an important part in our purchase decision-making process.

Reviews or testimonials are as important (if not more) for businesses as for customers. It’s not a secret that reviews are one of the top positive local search ranking factors and therefore can have a positive effect on your local SEO rankings.

How To Encourage Your Customers To Review Your Business

Google likes online reviews and you should do too. If a potential customer sees two businesses one of which has positive reviews and better ratings than the other one, which one do you think they will chose?  So it’s vital you get your customers to leave reviews. If you are unsure where to start then have a look at the following steps:

1. Come up with a strategy

It doesn’t have to have a hundreds of pages, a simple plan or an outline will be enough. Your strategy for increasing the number of reviews or testimonials you receive should always include achievable goals. So write down and review all touch points with customers as these will play a major role in collecting reviews.

2. Diversify but pick only good review sources

Quantity and diversity is the key when it comes to reviews, therefore it’s important that you select your review sites carefully and avoid any spam-looking third party sites.  Google+ is a no-brainer when it comes to gaining reviews, however you should also focus on gaining reviews from the following third-party sites:

3. Make it simple and ask at the right time

Before you ask them to review your business bear in mind people have no time to bother clicking and going through many pages just to leave a review and make you happy. You need to make it easy and quick for customers to write a review of their last purchase so forget about over-complicated and ‘too long’ forms or processes.

The right timing is crucial and the ideal time to ask is when your customers have made a purchase or you have supplied the service.

Don’t forget about triggered emails, also called autoresponders which allow you to automatically send emails to your customers based on a specific event (e.g. purchase). The main advantage of an autoresponder is that once you’ve set it up it can run itself in the background. Services such as Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor have simple and easy-to-follow set up process for autoresponders.

Big players such as eBay and Amazon have effectively embraced triggered emails.

eBay’s autoresponders include a link where you can leave complete a survey after you use their survey:

ebay review
Amazon
has incorporated a simple rating form into their triggered email

amazon review email
4. Embed it in to your process

To make sure you don’t miss any opportunity of getting reviews you should embed review collection in to your process with every customer. Be prepared and create a couple of short email templates with links to places where your clients can leave a review.

5. Start off with your ‘A grade’ customers

If you have no idea where to start go through the list of your best clients / customers. The majority of them already like your company and will therefore be more likely to provide a testimonial for you.

Use your Social Media profiles to collect reviews

Apart from above mentioned review sites you can also use your Social Media profiles to get reviews or testimonials.

Google+

Many of you already know that the most important place where you should obtain reviews is on your Google+ local page.  There is no doubt that encouraging your customers to leave reviews on your Google+ profiles needs to be on the top of your ‘Review Strategy’. These reviews are very valuable and will strengthen your local profile. However, providing a review may be for some of your clients tricky as all reviewers need to be logged into their Google account.

Facebook

Facebook’s Review Tab allows anyone who visits your company page to see recommendations from others or they can leave also their own review. However to get this feature you need to be a local business, list your address and check ‘show this map on the page’.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has its own feature for recommendations; you can ask for them via both a personal profile as well as a company page.  This feature allows you to request recommendations for the products and services you feature on your company profile. However, you will need to be connected to those clients from whom you want to ask for recommendation.

LinkedIn - request recommendation feature

Before you start collecting testimonials, make sure your LinkedIn company profile is up to date and complete.

Twitter & Pinterest

Both Pinterest and Twitter don’t have (not yet) a special feature that would enable your customers to leave a review; however you can still use these profiles to showcase your customer testimonials. This will help you spread the word about your business as well as encourage others to review your business.

Use your creativity! The sky really is the limit here. For example here’s how a company used a customer’s testimonial and tweeted about it:

Twitter - Testimonial  letter

Another option with Twitter is to enhance the ‘favourite tweets’ feature so anytime you receive positive words from your customers you can press the star and favourite the tweet. You can then embed and display those tweets on your website.

Learn more about Twitter embedded timelines and how to set them up from Twitter’s website.

With Pinterest you can consider building a dedicated pin board which could display your customers’ stories, testimonials or video reviews. For example you can set up a board called ‘Happy Customers’ and add a photo of your product together with positive words from your customer. Visual testimonials can help to create a strong message and increase your credibility.

If you have no idea where to start and need some inspiration take a look at the following examples:

Now it’s your time!

How do you encourage your clients to leave a review about you? Do you have any top tips on how to increase the number of reviews? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

Image Credits

Customer reviews in speech clouds or bubbles for people sharing their review of products or services from Bigstock

Lenka Istvanova

Lenka Istvanova

Lenka is a Digital Marketing enthusiast with hands-on experience in Social Media, Website Management and Email Marketing. She has a strong passion for all things digital and is currently studying towards a CIM Diploma in Digital Marketing.

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16 Comments

  • Fotomedia 7th March 2013

    These are very helpful tips, thanks a lot for sharing. I have never seen the importance of having customer reviews before but after reading this post, it really changed my mind and now I am starting to find good strategies in encouraging customers to leave reviews.

    Reply to this comment

    • Lenka Istvanova

      Lenka Istvanova 7th March 2013

      Thanks a lot, glad you’ve liked it and found it helpful. As I mentioned earlier reviews are important for both your business as well as your customers/clients. If you come across some interesting ideas for gaining reviews feel free to share them.

      Reply to this comment

  • Steve 7th March 2013

    How do you feel about incentivizing for positive reviews?

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 8th March 2013

      Hi Steve. It’s certainly a grey area. Sending products out and asking for reviews is generally seen as ok, so long as you accept that the reviewer has complete freedom to write what they want – good or bad – and that they must disclose that they were sent the product.

      Reply to this comment

  • Cady Haren 7th March 2013

    For local businesses, reviews have become so very important. One of the things that you can do is that once you have offered a customer good service, shoot them a mail (in case they provide they you) and ask for a review.

    For hotels, if the diner has had a good experience you could ask them if they could review your website. When they do ask you the website link, have a visiting card ready at hand with maybe the QR code of your review pages.

    The trick here is to get your customer to review in the earliest possible time because the more time goes on, the customer would be less inclined to review.

    Reply to this comment

    • Lenka Istvanova

      Lenka Istvanova 8th March 2013

      Hi Cady, many thanks for your comment and ideas. You’re right getting the time right is crucial when it comes to gaining reviews. I think it’s about to be prepared and react immediately.

      Reply to this comment

  • Susan Baird 7th March 2013

    We’re always looking for more ways to showcase our customer’s stories, so thank you for this great overview!

    We’re a B2B software company and we’ve recently started doing Skype video interviews with customers who we know really like our managed file transfer software. We record the videos, edit them, submit them back to the customer for approval, and then host them with Wistia and embed them on our website so we’re not sending traffic off our site to YouTube.

    You can see how we’re handling it here: http://www.GoAnywhereMFT.com/products/success-stories We found that interviewing them allowed us to control the direction of the comments, and also got the job done more efficiently than sending them a camera and/or asking them to do it themselves. Even though the quality isn’t highly polished, we think they look authentic because they are.

    We also did a huge push to get recommendations on LinkedIn, and we’ve built quite a few for our products on our company page: http://www.linkedin.com/company/linoma-software/products

    Hoping others post their success stories in the comments, too, so we can learn from each other!

    Reply to this comment

    • Lenka Istvanova

      Lenka Istvanova 8th March 2013

      Hi Susan, thank you for your comment and tips. I’ve checked your Skype videos and I must say they do look really original and very convincing. What a great idea!
      I’ve also noticed that the recommendations on LinkedIn are really powerful as even the first two or three endorsements have positive impact on traffic.

      Reply to this comment

      • Susan Baird 12th March 2013

        Thanks, Lenka! The next hurdle I’m trying to leap is to figure out how we can use Google’s rich snippets to help promote some of our product reviews. Hoping maybe you’ll do a blog post on this topic soon! Thanks for helping the rest of us become better marketers!

  • TheeDesign 11th March 2013

    Google + reviews should definitely be the number one priority as far as reviews go. Yelp, Facebook and LinkedIn should also be taken seriously.

    For companies that receive negative reviews, responding to the review is also a great idea. It can show prospective clients that are willing to go the extra mile and genuinely care about their satisfaction.

    Reply to this comment

    • Lenka Istvanova

      Lenka Istvanova 12th March 2013

      Thanks for your comment. Google+ is one of the most important to focus on when it comes to gaining reviews. Bad or negative reviews don’t always have to be seen as bad; businesses can learn from them and actually improve the services or products. I think that in the end every (bad or good) review counts.

      Reply to this comment

  • Phil Smith 12th March 2013

    I agree Google+ local should be the first point of focus followed by the major directories like Yelp and Qype. However, in my experience submitting to lower quality directories or too many directories can do more harm than good. Two issues I believe limits some businesses are the embarrassment factor in asking for a review face to face and the time taken to manage the process. The system we use http://www.irun-morpeth.co.uk/collecting-publishing-customer-feedback attempts to address these issues.

    Reply to this comment

    • Lenka Istvanova

      Lenka Istvanova 13th March 2013

      Thanks Phil! That’s a great idea.
      I’ve also come across this solution and it worked really well; especially if your target are people who are not so internet-savvy.

      Reply to this comment

  • Thomas Brodbeck 25th March 2013

    We have a lot of customers that we have are going to use some of these tips to help improve their local SEO. They are very important, not only for credibility, but to help their local SEO.

    I also wanted to let you know that we also used your article in a recent episode of Edge of the Web Radio. You can listen to the podcast here: It is in the last segment, about 35 minutes in or so: http://edgeofthewebradio.com/show-42-client-showcase-sarah-fisher-hartman-racing/

    Thanks,
    Tom

    Reply to this comment

  • Tim Bishop 3rd September 2013

    Great article – but I have one question. Is it okay for one person to write more than one review of my business using different review sites? Or should we make ask that each person keeps it to just one review. I’m sure the dozens of reviews from one person would be a bad thing – but is say two, three or four reviews acceptable as far as Google is concerned?

    Tim

    Reply to this comment

  • Lynn Carlton 25th October 2013

    This post was super helpful! I just started out with a company and am finding that they have the most loyal customers and a drawer full of fantastic customer reviews, looking to get those reviews actually working for them!

    Thanks for all who replied, helped a ton!

    Reply to this comment

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