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The battle for online visibility is relentless. You need allies, advocates and supporters. The good news is if you run a business online, those allies and supporters are already out there. But how can you show their feedback to the rest of the world? Even just trying to get reviews can be tricky and fraught with issues. How can you get them without begging, bribery or attracting untoward hatred?
Let’s take a look.
I recently made my Koozai TV debut with a talk on getting feedback from your customers – the importance of doing so, the channels available to you and how to deal with criticism:
In short any feedback you receive should be greeted with open arms – it’s a window into what your customers think of your business. Finding out your failures and revelling in your successes are really important ways to improve your business and to boost confidence.
While customer feedback can be done privately between business and consumer, reviews are public – and this poses some challenges. But in the interests of transparency, ethics and self-preservation, there are a few things that should be adhered to.
In this post, I’m going to look at how you can get more reviews that count – but in a safe and ethical manner
Anybody that’s used your service or product is a potential reviewer. All of their experiences, be they positive, negative or indifferent, are perfectly valid. So “invite” everyone to score you – be confident in what you do, don’t be afraid of negativity. Not doing so means you’re hand picking people because you believe they will score you higher. Not very ethical. Not very honest.
There’s always going to be the desire for perfect scores every time. But (unfortunately at times) we live in the real world – and things don’t always go great. And that’s okay! Honest reviews are how you find your problems and get them fixed. They also give you an opportunity to respond to them directly in the public domain.
That in turn gives you an opportunity to turn a damning reviewer into a happy customer, or to defend your corner against somebody who’s trying to damage your reputation. This kind of activity can be seen on Amazon reviews and on Trip Advisor. It works well and sometimes it can make you (internet) famous! But maybe tone it down a bit from this Trip Advisor response that went viral.
There are plenty of review platforms open to the public – you’ve got Google Places, Trip Advisor, Facebook pages and all manner of rating systems. You shouldn’t badger everyone to use them. Pestering people to leave reviews is a sure–fire way of getting some bad ones. You certainly shouldn’t bribe users into writing reviews or worse, pay for fake ones.
If you’re looking for advice on getting reviews online, you’re more than likely to discover services during your quest that will offer you reviews online for a price. Avoid them like you would fake Twitter followers and Facebook fans. All you’re going to create is a false image of yourself. A sham that nobody will be able to trust if they dig just deep enough to find out you’re deceiving them. Not to mention the risk that one of those companies may later expose you.
You never need to pay to get reviews – they are already out there, just not yet documented. You want people to see the reality, not to create the illusion of perfection. So the first step (as always) should be amazing service every time. That way, you can be confident that you have done everything in your power to usher in those good reviews.
One method you could try for an ecommerce site is to set your site up with a courier service that provides notifications for completed deliveries. Once you know a customer has completed the journey from search to product in their hands, you can send a thank you email asking how their experience was. If they left a mobile number as a contact detail, why not send them a thank you text with a link to a review page?
If they’re a returning customer, don’t send the same review request every time! You could say something along the lines of “you’ve bought from us a few times now! What do you think of [insert site/product here]?”
I stand by this one – reviewing should be as easy as stars and comments. If you send a review request by email, make it easy. Don’t send them a dull link to a dull form on a dull page. You can automate most of the process for them. Here’s an idea you could try:
It couldn’t be much easier than that! Also, this method ensures that those leaving the review have actually used your services – so it’s unlikely that a competitor or malevolent force will be submitting forged reviews. Safe, ethical and super effective!
Using Schema markup for reviews can help them appear as rich snippets in search results. Any reviews made with your own system on your own site can be marked up in such a way, and any of your reviews on third-party sites will be marked up – all adding up to create a star-laden search engine results page for your brand, product or service:
But the true value of reviews isn’t just in the snippets and positive mentions. There’s so much value in knowing what people think of your business. Even a negative reaction in the public domain can present you with an opportunity to make it right and turn it into a positive.
So don’t be afraid – dive in to reviews. Your advocates are already waiting.
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