Online reviews are hugely important to modern businesses. It, therefore, makes sense to work, actively, on getting your customers to review you. With that in mind, here is a quick guide on how to get and increase online reviews.
There are three steps you need to take to get and increase online reviews. Firstly, you need to meet, if not exceed, your customer’s expectations of your product(s) and/or service(s). Secondly, you need to ask your customers proactively for reviews. Thirdly, you need to respond to reviews, particularly negative ones.
Why Online Reviews are Important for your Business
If potential customers find your business through an online search, reviews may be served up to them with the search results. Even if they’re not, a lot of modern customers will check for them anyway before they decide whether or not to give you their money. The more positive reviews you have the more reassured potential customers feel about doing business with you.
What Online Review Sites to Use
It’s best to stick to a single online review site. That way all your online reviews will be gathered in one place rather than scattered all over the internet. Your review site needs to be trusted, secure, and easy to use. It’s also, generally, preferable if it’s well-established. You don’t want to go to the effort of gathering reviews only to lose them if the review site disappears.
Currently, the top choices for standalone review sites are Best of the Web, Google Reviews, Trustpilot, and Yelp. If you make sales through a major third-party platform there is a good chance it will allow reviews. Amazon, eBay, and Etsy all (currently) do. These can have value outside of the site.
It may also be worth looking at niche review sites. In certain business sectors, these can have a lot more value than mainstream review sites. You should, however, still assess them carefully for trust, security, ease of use, and potential longevity.
How to Maximize Your Chances of Getting Positive Online Reviews
When businesses talk about how to get and increase online reviews, what they really mean is how to get and increase positive online reviews. Just meeting customers’ expectations may be enough to score you neutral to mildly positive reviews. If, however, you want the very top-rated reviews, you need to do more to impress. Here are five tips to help.
1. Keep looking for ways to improve your business
Always be on the lookout for ways to improve your business. In particular, stay alert to developments in technology that could help improve your operations. Ask for feedback from both your customers and your staff. Be receptive to it. You don’t have to implement every idea but you should make time to consider it.
2. Work on your business’ image as a whole
If your customers see your businesses working to help other people and/or the environment, they are more likely to want to help you by leaving a positive online review. Consider picking a cause that’s relevant to your business in some way and committing to supporting it over the long term. Use your website and social media to let people know what you’re doing. As a bonus, this is often really engaging content.
3. Review/thank your customer promptly
If you’re using a site that allows you to review your customer, always review them promptly. Do not try to use a policy of only leaving positive feedback for customers who leave positive feedback for you. Leaving aside the ethics, it’s counterproductive.
Humans typically want to reciprocate kindness. If you leave positive feedback for your customer, there’s a good chance they’ll do the same for you. If you’re not able to give official feedback, then reach out and thank them for their custom. Tell them you’d very much appreciate a review and explain to them how they can leave you one.
4. Use small touches to make a big difference
Most people today are only too well aware of the fact that a lot of business is conducted using automated systems. In general, they understand that this is necessary. At the same time, they want to feel like they are more than just a number (or a $) to you.
This means that you want to take every opportunity to add small touches to make your service more special. Ideally, these should be personalized touches. Here are some options to consider.
- Send a personalized thank-you note with orders.
- Send the customer samples or small gifts with orders. If you’re on a tight budget, consider gifts like downloadable printables.
- Send the customer a personalized note and discount code on their birthday.
5. Offer incentives for leaving a review
You cannot buy reviews but you can offer incentives for leaving them. You must, however, make them available to everyone on an equal basis. For example, you can run a monthly prize draw for people who have left you a review. You must, however, be prepared to give the prize to someone who left a negative review.
When and How to Ask Customers for Online Reviews
Ideally, you want to ask customers for online reviews as soon as possible after the relevant interaction. Often the best way to do this is to reach out to them as soon as you believe the interaction is complete. Thank them for their custom and ask them either to reach out to you if they need anything else or to leave an online review.
Alternatively, ask them to complete a customer satisfaction survey. Then act on the results. If you get a negative score, reach out to them and try to resolve their issue. If you can, then ask them to leave an online review. If you get a high rating, then ask the customer to leave an online review.
You can also use your marketing communications to remind people that you appreciate them leaving reviews and, potentially, incentivize them to do so. People who have signed up for your newsletter and/or who follow you on social media are very likely to have a positive opinion of you. You should therefore do everything possible to convert this into positive online reviews.
How to Respond to Fake Online Reviews
There are two main ways you can respond to reviews that are clearly fake. One is to approach the site and ask for them to be taken down. If you are going to take this approach, you need to be very clear about why you think it’s fake. It’s even better if you can provide solid proof that it’s fake. Realistically, however, this is not always possible.
Up until now, it has often been effectively impossible to get online review sites to take down reviews. Even if it seemed blatantly obvious that they had to be faked, sites typically gave them the benefit of the doubt. Now, however, online review sites are under a lot more pressure to deal with fake reviews. What’s more, the signs are that this pressure is only going to increase. This approach can, therefore, definitely be worth trying.
The other approach is to treat it as a genuine negative review. This effectively means that you’re calling out the poster but politely. The chances are that the original poster is not going to respond at all. In fact, there’s a very strong possibility that they were a bot anyway. If they do, then either they were genuine after all or they will not be able to keep up their story.
Depending on what happens, you might want to try approaching the online review site (again) to see if the review can be removed. Even if it can’t, however, you will have done a lot to neutralize it.
How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews
It’s preferable to respond to all online reviews. It’s vital to respond to negative online reviews. No matter how unfair you think they are (or if you suspect they’re fake), you must treat them seriously. Essentially, you treat them in much the same way as any other complaint. The public nature of review sites does, however, call for some minor differences in your approach. Here are three key points you should note.
1. Always respond promptly
Most online review sites will allow you to receive a notification when you receive a review meeting certain criteria. If you’re using this to keep track of negative reviews, make sure that you safelist the sending domain. It can be advisable to log on regularly to double-check for negative reviews just to be on the safe side.
2. Be careful about how much you say publicly
You can and should acknowledge the customer’s issue. If the issue is non-specific (e.g. a general delivery problem), you can explain and apologize publicly. If the issue is specific to them, you will almost certainly need to divert them to a private channel.
You can and should, however, explain what actions you intend to take. You can also advise what information you will need from them. That serves two purposes. It lets them see that you’re taking their issue seriously. This encourages them to go to the next step and contact you to resolve it. It also lets other people see that you take complaints seriously.
3. Be very careful about your tone
This is true for any complaint but at least doubly true when it comes to making comments on the public internet. Your tone needs to be professional and attentive, even caring.
Resist any temptation to use humor, let alone deliberate sarcasm. Also, be very careful to avoid writing anything that could be read to imply that you are only dealing with the issue to avoid a bad online review.
How to Maximize the Value of Your Online Reviews
If you’ve got them, make sure to flaunt them. Never rely on potential customers finding your reviews by themselves. Make sure that your own website has your reviews clearly highlighted. You may be able to show at least some of the content on the review site directly on your own site. If you can’t, you can at least link to them.
You should also link to them on your socials except for Instagram. Currently, Instagram only allows you to have one link on your profile page. You should almost always use this to link to your website. There are third-party tools you can use to add extra links (e.g. Linktree). This does, however, increase complexity for the user. It may therefore be better just to reference your reviews.
Similarly, mention your reviews on any printed materials you create for your business, including and especially business cards. These are still highly valuable even in the 21st century. Also, remember to highlight it in all marketing and advertising collateral you create. If you’re using radio adverts, make sure to emphasize them.
3 Steps to Generating, Collecting, and Displaying Reviews on Best of the Web
Best of the Web offers Reputation Management tools to small businesses and enterprises to assist in growing your reviews online, set it up and let the reviews start rolling in! The Listing Reviews section in your account is the place to handle your reviews. Here are the three quick steps to take to generate, collect and display reviews on Best of the Web (and beyond).
1. Manage the reviews you already have
Click into the reviews area to respond to them. You can reply, respond or share. You can also embed your reviews on your website.
2. Use widgets to expand your website’s review-collecting abilities
Use widgets on your website to collect and display star ratings, feedback, and reviews.
3. Click into settings for review sources and forms
Use review sources to link to other review platforms. Use review forms (a premium feature) to make it easier for customers to leave you meaningful reviews on your own website.
Learn more about the wide array of review widgets and tools Best of the Web offers (some for free) to help you beat your competition and increase your customers satisfaction!