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Improve your business profile with 10 tips for gaining online reviews

“Welcome to a new era of marketing and service, in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.” - Brian Solis, social-media expert

online-customer-reviews

How often are you trying to choose a book to read, or a movie to watch, and you find yourself perusing the reviews to help you make up your mind? We rely on reviews to help us gauge popular opinion on media, goods and services. After all, if 100 people all like something, chances are high we’re going to like it too.

When it comes to your business, reviews are an important part of your marketing. Reviews lend legitimacy to your company, as people see that others are enjoying your products/serivces, they will want to experience them. Adding text from reviews to your website or product packaging also helps demonstrate the awesomeness of your product.

But how do you get these mysterious reviews? Unlike other forms of advertising, it’s not as simple as paying some money to buy an ad. You have to wait for your customers to decide to review you … or do you?

Here are 10 tips to help you jumpstart the process of getting reviews.

1. Make Sure Your Profile is Updated on Multiple Review Sites

Every customer who uses online reviews has their preferred websites. For restuarant reviews, they could go to Trip Advisor or Menus or Yelp. The best way to ensure you capture all possible reviews is to ensure your business appears on all relevant sites.

Give one person in your company the job of updating your profile at all relevant review sites. The sites you choose will depend on your industry (for example, app reviews, consumer products, hospitality and tourism). Keep these profiles up-to-date and a list of your profile links handy for customer interactions.

2. Get your reviews on Google

If you want reviews to be visible to customers, then get your business verified, so you can accept Google Reviews. These reviews appear on the right of the screen and in the search results when your business is search on Google - an invaluable way to let potential customers know how awesome you are.

Trustpilot is a general review site for Europe catering to a huge variety of small businesses. Trustpilot reviews will show up on your Google listings, so customers searching for your company will instantly see your rating in search results.

3. Ask for the review

Like anything good in life, you can’t just wait around for good reviews - you have to ask for them!

After your customer has had a positive experience, you should find a way to ask for a review - this might be a note and a link on your checkout confirmation page on your website, or at the bottom of your receipt. Or it could be a personal note in an email exchange.

Keep it short and friendly, such as, “Do you ever use online review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor? If you had a positive experience with us, consider adding a review to one of these sites. Thanks!’

4. Make it Easy

When you ask for the review, make it as easy as possible for your customers to complete the task. Link directly to the review sites - list your preferred site first, as this will usually get the most attention. You can always change the order of these links around depending on which site you want to target.

Add the review links to relevant sections of your website. Don’t forget to add choice phrases from your reviews on your site, too - so potential clients can see what others think of your company.

Bonus tip: If you have clients you’ve used as case studies on your website, write up sample reviews for them based on their case study transcript. Then email them a copy of this sample review and ask them if they wouldn’t mind posting it to your preferred site. You couldn’t make things any simpler than that.

5. Schmooze power reviewers

Power reviewers are customers or professional reviews who write hundreds or thousands of reviews per year. Power reviewers might post reviews on one particular site, on their own blog, or across a huge variety of sites. For example, many Amazon top reviewers are part of Amazon Vine, where companies send them free products based on their preferences for review. Top Amazon reviewers are recognised with special symbols next to their reviews.

Getting a positive review from a power reviewer is worth major kudos - it might be more valuable than ten reviews from ordinary customers, simply because the reviewer carries name recognition or is recognised as an authority

There is nothing wrong with contacting power reviewers privately and sending out free products or offering free service in exchange for a review. This only becomes ethically sticky if you’re asking for a positive review - the reviewer needs to be free to leave an honest review. If you find any power reviewers in your industry, consider sending them out some free swag and encouraging them to become supporters of your company.

6. Educate staff on the importance of gaining reviews

All of your staff have a role to play in helping you gather reviews. Make sure your staff understand the importance of reviews in your industry, and have them brainstorm ways they can help gather these reviews. You might be pleasantly surprised with their ideas!

Bonus tip: instruct staff to encourage reviews after positive customer interactions. Get them to point out the profile links on the website or social media and ask happy customers to take a minute to leave a review.

7. Put a sign up on your counter

If you have a retail location, you could place a sign near the counter inviting customers to review their experience online. You could even include a QR code so customers can type their review into their phone right there in the store.

8. Add a link in your email signature

Do you do a lot of emailing to clients and customers? You could include a line in your email signature inviting clients to post a review on your preferred site.

Your signature could say something like “Did we solve your problem? Let others know by leaving a review HERE.” or “Happy with our Service? Let others know with a quick review: HERE” and add a link.

Once this is set up, you’ll be putting this review message in front of the hundreds of customers you work with every month - for the client, clicking over the leave a review is quick and easy.

9. Request Reviews on Social Media

Does your company has a strong social media presence? If so, you can send out a request for reviews. You can also directly reach out to influencers on social media who’ve used your services/products and ask them to leave a review.

10.  Should you thank reviewers?

Many companies will jump on review sites and leave a “thank you” note after every review left. It’s a nice gesture, making those customers who took the time to leave a review feel their efforts were appreciated. But is this a good idea?

Personally, I don’t believe you should make open contact with reviewers through the review sites. Why? Well, the purpose of reviews is for customers to give honest feedback to help other consumers make up their minds. You, as the company, should not be part of the process. It feels intrusive. Instead, if a reviewer leaves their email address, thank them privately. You can also repost review content on social media and offer your thanks there - but it look unprofessional when you

Plus, it sets a dangerous precedent. What if you reply to 15 positive reviews and then you receive a negative review. Do you reply? The reviewer can see you are monitoring the review page from your previous page, and he/she will take your failure to reply as an admission that you are guilty or whatever infraction warrented the negative reivew.

You certainly don’t want to end up like author Kathleen Hale, who stalked one of her negative reviewers and has ended up in the limelight about it.

It is far better to remain absent from the review sites and allow customers to express themselves without your input.

Reviews are a form of “social proof” - a way for potential customers to gauge your awesomeness through the opinions of others who’ve used your company in the past. The more reviews published, the more customers want to try your product or service, as they feel safe investing in something they know will be good. So what are you waiting for? Start hunting down those reviews!