Why You Need Reviews And How To Get Them

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Business Marketing

Why Online Reviews Matter

When it comes to influencing customer purchase decisions, word-of-mouth is the ultimate persuasion tool. How powerful is it? One Nielsen study revealed that 92% of buyers trust the recommendations of family and friends above all other forms of advertising.

That study was conducted in 2012. Since then, paranoia about fake news and misinformation has taken hold in the American public, resulting in buyers being more skeptical than ever to trust any information, let alone marketing messages. 

With trust in advertising at an all-time low, consumer reliance on the opinions of their peers is stronger than ever before, and marketers everywhere are facing their toughest challenge to date – how can businesses win over consumers if they don’t believe a word they say?

The answer is online reviews, the internet equivalent of offline word-of-mouth marketing. Today more than 99% of consumers say they read reviews when shopping online, and 50% of them trust online reviews as much as they would trust recommendations from their own friends and family. 

Considering these staggering statistics, reviews are no longer an optional part of your business strategy.

To evaluate if you’re doing enough, consider the following questions about your business’s online reviews:

  • How many online reviews does your business currently have? What platforms are they on?
  • What is your average review rating on a scale of 1 to 5?
  • When was the last time you responded to a review? How many have you not responded to?
  • What percentage of your customers do you ask to leave a review? 

If you didn’t already know most of these answers without checking, you have very few and/or low-quality reviews, you don’t respond to all reviews you receive, or you don’t have an established strategy for soliciting them from customers, it’s time to start investing more time and resources in your business’s online reputation.

In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into how online reviews contribute to your brand’s visibility and credibility, methods for soliciting reviews from your customers, and best practices for responding to both positive and negative reviews.  

How Online Reviews Influence Local SEO Rankings

When potential customers come across glowing reviews of a product or service, they naturally lean towards trusting that they too will have a positive experience. This phenomenon, known as social proof, plays a crucial role in making your business appear credible online. 

In addition to positively influencing the consumers who read your reviews, investing in your online reputation also helps boost your business’s local SEO rankings so new customers can easily find you. 

When a user searches for a term that suggests they are looking for a local business, Google typically selects 3 businesses to feature prominently in the local search results. We in the marketing biz call this the “Google 3-Pack”. 

For example, consider my query below for “BBQ restaurants near me”.

To recommend the three restaurants above, Google used a combination of the following ranking factors:

  1. Relevance – How well does the restaurant’s business profile match what I searched for?
  2. Distance – How close is the restaurant to the location I’m searching from? If instead of “near me” I had searched for a particular location, such as “Tuscon, AZ BBQ restaurants”, the distance ranking factor would have been based on the specified location instead of my physical location.
  3. Prominence – How well-known or reputable is the restaurant? This is the ranking factor that reviews play a role in.

Both quantity and quality are important to satisfying the prominence ranking factor. In my results above, notice that although the #1 ranked restaurant, Longhorn Outpost, has a higher quantity of reviews, it also has the lowest aggregate rating of the businesses listed. 

While reviews are not the only necessary ingredient to help you rank high in local SEO, they are a critical component that business owners cannot afford to neglect.

Top Online Review Platforms

There are a lot of online review sites out there, and which ones are most important can vary depending on your specific industry and target audience. However, here are a few of the most widely recognized and influential review platforms across various sectors:

  • Google Business Profile: Essential for local businesses, Google reviews have a significant impact on search visibility and local SEO. If you are only going to focus on growing reviews on one platform, make it this one. 
  • Facebook: With its large user base, Facebook reviews are valuable for businesses across industries, particularly those with an active social media presence.
  • Trip Advisor: Vital for businesses in the travel, hospitality, and tourism sectors, TripAdvisor reviews heavily influence travelers’ decisions.
  • Amazon: Crucial for e-commerce businesses, Amazon is one of the world’s largest retailers. More shoppers start their product searches on Amazon as opposed to Google. 
  • Angi: Formerly called Angie’s List, Angi focuses on contractor and service provider reviews and is especially important for home service professionals.
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB): Trusted for its accreditation and rating system, BBB reviews are important for businesses seeking to build trust and credibility. BBB is especially helpful for businesses whose target audience is age 55+, 30% of which value BBB ratings over any other online rating source. 
  • Yellow Pages: Particularly relevant for local businesses, Yellow Pages reviews contribute to online visibility and reputation management. Like BBB, Yellow Pages is most relevant for older demographics.
  • G2: Formerly called G2 Crowd, G2 is an online review platform for software businesses.
  • OpenTable: Essential for restaurants, OpenTable allows diners to make reservations and leave reviews, influencing other potential customers’ dining decisions.

Yelp

You might have noticed that Yelp is missing from the list above. 

While Yelp is a popular platform for reviews, it is against Yelp’s terms and conditions to directly ask for reviews from customers.

Luckily, there are a few creative strategies you can use to nudge customers to interact with your Yelp listing that won’t get you in trouble with Yelp.

Check-Ins

Rather than asking for a review, ask customers to “Check-in” on Yelp, ideally including a photo. During the check-in process, the customer is asked if they’d like to leave a review. Additionally, Yelp will often email them later, encouraging them to review their experience.

Share Or Embed Reviews

By sharing your Yelp reviews on social media or embedding them on your website, you highlight that feedback and also create a direct link to your Yelp listing. These options can be found on each review.

Website Badges

Yelp offers a badge for your website that features your current review count and links to your listing. Even if you don’t have any reviews yet, it’s still a great way to drive traffic to your listing. 

Source: Yelp 

To implement your badge on your website, visit the Review Badges section of your Yelp for Business account. After that, copy and paste the code snippet onto your website.

“Find Us On Yelp” Sticker

If your business has an offline presence, a “Find Us On Yelp” sticker on your storefront or service vehicle is the ideal way to let customers know about your presence on Yelp.

You can complete this form to request a free “Find Us On Yelp” sticker for your business. 

If your business is Asian-, Black-, Latinx-, LGBTQ-, veteran-, and/or woman-owned, Yelp offers special stickers that you can request here

Source: Yelp 

The Dos And Don’ts Of Asking For Reviews

DO

Ask the customer at the time they are happiest:

This could be right after a service is performed, a few days after a shipped product is delivered, immediately after a positive customer service interaction, etc.

While the best time to ask for a review will usually be as soon as possible after a customer transaction, use your best judgment depending on the circumstances and industry.

For example, let’s say you operate a concert venue. The customer transaction, purchasing tickets, might take place several months before the show takes place. 

Unless you only want feedback about the purchase process, it won’t serve you to send review requests immediately after the purchase. Instead, the customer will generally be much happier and more willing to leave feedback after having the great experience they paid for. Plan to send a review request 1-2 days after the event.

Create an email marketing system that automatically asks customers for feedback.

If you’re in an industry where you only serve a handful of customers each month, it’s best to reach out to them personally by phone, email, or, if possible, in person. If you serve too many customers for this to be feasible, an automated email can be a big time saver. 

In your email marketing platform (Mailchimp, HubSpot, etc.), create an automation to send a review request email template to each user after a certain time. Even better, create a drip campaign that will automatically send a series of reminder emails if the recipient doesn’t leave a review after receiving the first.

If you choose to implement a drip campaign, be sure to limit it to no more than 3 total emails, over the course of no fewer than 10 days. Otherwise, you risk the customer feeling bombarded, which could seriously backfire.

Keep the template simple and straightforward. This article from CoSchedule has some great review request email examples.

Make it easy for the user.

Do what you can to minimize friction and make leaving a review as quick and easy as possible. 

If you want a review on Google Business Profile, provide a link or a QR code to your Google listing. If you want a product review, link to the product page and show where to leave the review. Let them know they can email you back directly with feedback as well. 

Some customers are more comfortable with one platform over another. By including links to multiple review sites, you increase the chances of receiving feedback. 

Personalize the request.

You’re asking your customer to go out of their way to help your business by sharing their personal experience – the least you can do is make the request personal. 

Avoid sending a generic request that could be used verbatim for any other customer. Instead, introduce yourself, address the customer by name, and highlight a particular interaction or aspect of the experience. 

Personalization increases the likelihood of receiving a review because it makes the customer feel remembered and valued for their unique experience with your business. 

For example, instead of:

“Hello. Thank you for your recent appointment. Please consider leaving us a Google review.”

Try this:

In the long run, going the extra mile to personalize your review requests can make an enormous difference in your online reputation and your SEO rankings. 

As mentioned above, this is a perfect example of an email that could be automated in an email marketing platform, such as Mailchimp, HubSpot, or Constant Contact.

DON’T

Send lengthy emails.

If you only have a few moments of your customer’s attention, do you want them to spend it reading your email or leaving you a review?

While you should write enough to include the personal touches mentioned above, don’t write a novel. A few sentences are enough to get to the point and direct your customer to your desired review page. 

Fail to include a clear call-to-action.

Without an obvious CTA, your review request might just look like a thank-you message. Although it can feel uncomfortable asking for feedback, that’s the point of your message and you need that to be clear to the reader. 

Make sure your message clearly states what you are asking them to do and the steps they should follow to do it. 

Be pushy.

The last time I bought a car, I lost count of the number of times the salesman contacted me afterward, literally begging me to leave him a review. He went as far as to tell me that his formal performance review was dependent on receiving a certain number of customer reviews.

Regardless of my initial opinion of my car-buying experience, the salesman’s excessive contact and undue pressure ultimately soured my opinion of both the sales experience and the company as a whole.

There is a fine line between politely nudging your customers for feedback and harassing them about it. Find the line and don’t cross it. 

Incentivize reviews.

At first glance, offering a discount, gift, or other incentive in exchange for an online review might sound like a smart idea, especially because it’s quite common to see businesses offer promotions like this. 

However, what many business owners don’t realize is that incentivizing reviews is considered deceptive behavior and violates Google’s policies. If you get caught, it could result in reviews being removed or even a suspension of your Google listing.

Even if no formal penalty is enacted, having incentivized reviews is bad practice and could cost you serious credibility points if readers start suspecting your reviews are anything less than perfectly genuine. 

Best Practices For Responding To Reviews

Responding to reviews, whether positive or negative, is an essential aspect of managing your online reputation and fostering customer loyalty. It shows that you value feedback and are committed to addressing customers’ concerns. 

Here are some best practices for responding to reviews effectively:

Positive Reviews

If you’re running an ethical business and serving customers appropriately, you should receive substantially more positive than negative reviews over time. The best way you can make that positive social proof benefit your business as much as possible is to respond to every review you receive. 

Here are a few tips for responding to positive reviews:

Respond Quickly

Studies have shown that 53% of consumers expect a business to respond to their review within 7 days, with 1 out of 3 of them expecting a response within 3 days. Make it a habit to check for new reviews regularly and post a response as soon as possible. 

Thank The Reviewer

Your customer just took time out of their day to leave you feedback, something that doesn’t benefit them much but sure as heck benefits your business. Be grateful and thank them!

Be Genuine

Your responses should reflect sincerity and authenticity. Avoid canned responses and strive to personalize each reply based on the specific feedback provided by the customer.

Share the Review

By sharing your positive reviews on your website or social media pages, you can showcase your customers’ positive experiences with others who might otherwise never come across them. As a bonus, it might make the reviewer feel extra appreciated to see their feedback highlighted.

Negative Reviews

Negative reviews are a business owner’s nightmare, but they’re an occasional reality for even the best businesses. The good news is that even negative reviews can have a positive effect if they are resolved promptly and in a positive way.

Here are a few strategies for effectively responding to negative reviews:

Respond Quickly, But Not Too Quickly

Whether positive or negative, you should respond to all reviews as soon as possible 

In the case of negative reviews, you might find yourself feeling some big feelings immediately upon reading the feedback. Before responding, take enough time to calm yourself down and craft a response worthy of representing your brand. 

Show Empathy

No matter the circumstances, you surely never intend for anyone to have a negative experience with your business. Even if you don’t agree with the feedback, acknowledge the customer’s experience and empathize with their concerns. 

By expressing understanding and genuine regret for any inconvenience or dissatisfaction they may have experienced, you make the reviewer feel heard. Sometimes, a little empathy is all it takes to de-escalate the situation. 

Maintain Professionalism

While it’s important to convey empathy, ensure your responses maintain a professional tone. Avoid getting defensive or engaging in arguments. Instead, focus on finding solutions and resolving the issue positively. 

Remember, your response isn’t just for the reviewer – it’s for everyone who will read it later and judge you accordingly. 

Take It Offline

After a negative review is posted, your first move should be to reach out to the customer offline to try to resolve the issue. While you shouldn’t directly ask them to, the best-case scenario is that your quick response and willingness to make it right impress the customer enough that they take their negative review down. 

If you have the customer’s contact information, call them directly. If you don’t, leave a response to their review with instructions on how to contact you and a polite request to do so as soon as possible. 

Even if you ultimately can’t satisfy every negative reviewer, a compassionate response will still mean something to prospective customers who read your response later. For sample responses for both positive and negative reviews, check out this guide from LocalClarity

Elevate Your Online Reputation With Intuitive Digital 

Every aspect of the review process plays a pivotal role in shaping a brand’s reputation. By implementing an effective review solicitation strategy in your organization and committing to responding promptly and professionally to feedback, you can leverage the power of social proof and take control of your online reputation. 

At Intuitive Digital, our team of enthusiastic, data-driven strategists work closely with ours partners to take ownership of their online visibility and meet their year-round goals.

If you still have questions about how best to manage your online review presence, drop us a line. We’re here to help!

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