Nobody likes receiving harsh criticism, and that certainly includes business owners. Receiving adverse comments or bad reviews from customers can feel personal; it can feel hurtful. It can bruise the ego—and yet, online reviews aren’t merely a matter of personal vanity.
Consider this: Reviews from sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp are critical parts of the consumer journey. As a buyer weighs a major purchase, he or she will almost certainly pay attention to Google star ratings, or to feedback left from other consumers. These online reviews inevitably play a role in consumer decision-making, which means they impact the perceptions of your brand and your bottom-line revenues.
Online reviews are significant for other reasons, too. Did you know, for example, that Google reviews are key ranking factors for local SEO? The point here is simply that having online reviews is important—and having favorable reviews is ideal. You can’t simply ignore or opt out of online feedback, but rather, you have to proactively seek strong reviews.
How to Get Positive Online Reviews
So how can your business ensure that it’s receiving positive online feedback? The best and simplest thing we can say is that you should focus on providing excellent products and services. That’s possibly something that goes without saying, yet it’s important for us to underscore this central fact: You can’t fake your way into good reviews. Your efforts to court positive feedback have to start with actually earning those five-star ratings.
A related point: We don’t recommend trying to buy reviews, or to bribe people into leaving feedback. This is a poor strategy for far too many reasons for us to list, but basically: It can backfire spectacularly, leading to both SEO penalties as well as a PR crisis for your brand.
With that said, there are some recommended strategies for getting customers to leave feedback:
Make Your Review Platforms Easy to Access
Links to your Google review profile, Facebook page, and Yelp profile should all be clearly visible to your customers. Place links on your website, but also in email signatures, on invoices and receipts, etc. And don’t just include links, but calls to action, as well. Ask your customers to provide feedback, and provide them with an easy way to do so.
Ask for Reviews
Along those lines, send follow-up emails to your customers, thanking them for their purchase and expressing how much you’d love them to provide you with honest feedback. (Don’t forget to provide them with the relevant link!) Another approach: Go into your contact database and identify some of your best, most loyal customers. Send each of them a frank, personalized email, explaining to them how valuable online reviews are to your brand, and asking them to take a minute to leave you one.
While we do not recommend attempting to buy or bully your way into reviews, we do think it can be effective to have contests or drawings. Let your customers know that everyone who submits a review, within a given span of time, will be entered to win a $25 gift card to Starbucks, or simply a credit for your own products and services.
Finally, we’d certainly recommend keeping an eye on the online reviews you receive—thanking people for their positive feedback and acknowledging constructive criticisms. This isn’t just about ticking off a requirement on your online digital marketing checklist. It’s also to show that you’re willing to engage with your customers and clients; to listen and take them seriously.
Remember: Reviews Matter
Reviews shouldn’t be seen as “extras” within the context of your marketing efforts. They’re really indispensable—and if you need help managing your reviews, we’d love to provide it. Talk with us today. Reach out to the team at Driven2020.