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Reviews 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.
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:
Amazon has incorporated a simple rating form into their triggered 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.
Apart from above mentioned review sites you can also use your Social Media profiles to get reviews or testimonials.
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’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 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.
Before you start collecting testimonials, make sure your LinkedIn company profile is up to date and complete.
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:
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.