If you aren’t aware of just how important customer reviews are for your online business, then allow me to elaborate.
There are three critical reasons why your business needs your customer’s reviews:
- Customer trust.
- Brightlocal claims that like 85% of consumers trust reviews about as much as personal recommendations, and they read an average of 7 reviews before they trust a business. Not having any customer reviews could be keeping people from buying your product until they see what people like them thought of it.
- Good SEO.
- It’s not just how highly rated you are that gets you ranked higher on search engine results pages(SERPs). Moz shows that review signals such as review quantity, velocity, and diversity make up 13% of how Google ranks search results.
- Customer feedback.
- Your goal should be getting honest reviews rather than just blanket positive reviews. Negative reviews, even if they can be critical of you, can reveal things you might be doing wrong and ways you and your company can improve. And besides, nothing looks better than a company reacting positively to constructive criticism.
So now you know why you need reviews. What’s the best way to actually get these reviews?
Honestly? Asking your customers for them.
You’ll be surprised by what you can get from your customers by simply asking.
It may seem a little weird at first, but according to that Brightlocal customer survey linked earlier, 74% of customers were asked to leave reviews for local businesses, and 68% of the whole group left reviews when asked.
Moreover, ReviewTrackers claims that asking for reviews yields more positive ratings than otherwise, since people who have had more negative experiences are more motivated to leave reviews.
Before we get into it, here’s something that bears stressing:
Never ever offer incentives for reviews. You may think that even if you aren’t asking for good reviews, this is fine, but doing this could land you in some serious hot water. By offering incentives like discounts or limited offers, you’re creating a connection to your customer which, according to FTC guidelines, needs to be disclosed, otherwise it could lead to deep trouble and giving your company a disadvantage on platforms like Yelp.
It can’t be stressed enough: trading favors for reviews isn’t worth the risk.
So, what’s the best way to ask?
If you’re an e-commerce business or any sort of business that uses a checkout page or something similar, one of the quickest and most convenient ways to ask for reviews is on the “thank you” page after your customer has completed their purchase.
On your “thank you” page, you can have a single line asking a customer to leave a quick rating and a review, a direct link to where they can leave their reviews, and a widget leading to review sites like Google Plus, Facebook or Yelp.
This way of asking for customer reviews requires very little work on your part, but it can seem a little cold and impersonal to whomever you’re asking.
For this reason, one of the best ways you can reach out to satisfied customers and ask for their feedback and personal recommendations is through email.
We’re not saying that you need to hand-write every single email yourself, but it’s important that the emails that you do send out are as personalized as possible. The idea is to have your correspondence come off as casual, polite, and friendly rather than distant and blunt.
Be sure to include your customer’s name in the salutations and say who the email is from, whether it be the president of the company, the founder, or, if you can, someone who had a direct hand in helping the customer.
And here’s another tip for writing your email: Don’t waste your customer’s time.
Even if your customer’s chomping at the bit to leave a review, you’re ultimately asking for something of little benefit to them in exchange for their time, so make sure not to waste it.
Plainly state how long it would take to leave a review (“60 seconds,” “a moment,” “2 minutes”), provide links directly to your business’s review pages, and have easy fill-out forms to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
The idea is to encourage your customers to leave reviews, not to discourage them by making it a bother.
Here’s an example of a review request email you could send:
Again, you don’t need to write every single letter yourself, and you certainly don’t need to send every email personally, because it’s easy to automate the process with today’s resources.
You can automatically send an email whenever a certain “trigger” is activated.
For example, if a customer makes a handful of purchases within the span of a few days, you might take it as a sign that they prefer your product or service and program your email marketing tool to send a pre-crafted message accordingly.
Also, keep in mind that the timing of your email is critical. For example, you preferably want to send an email a few days after a purchase is made. Remember, your customer’s time is important! Don’t bother them too much by sending a review request immediately after a purchase.
To begin with, you can send a single email to every single customer you have on your database (this tactic is called an “email blast”). Though, after you do this, the next thing you want to do is to segment your customer base and send review requests to only certain customers (say, repeat customers) or to customers who activate “triggers” (like we mentioned earlier).
This ensures that you’re reaching the people you think would be excited to leave good customer reviews, and makes sure that you aren’t annoying everyone else.
The takeaway from all this is: if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. Reviews are one of the most important resources for a business’s online marketing campaign. If you don’t overcome the hurdle of asking for reviews, then you’re not only missing out on the potential customers and admiration and gains that reviews bring, you’re also missing out on the praise and honest feedback you would get from the people who patronize you.
And aren’t those the people you want to please the most?