The power of online customer reviews is undeniable. They can be the difference between a thriving business and one that continues to struggle.
The Internet Marketing blog Search Engine Land[1. Search Engine Land Study], reported in 2013 that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. That’s up from 72% in 2012. An April, 2013 Marketing Land study[2. Marketing Land Study]?determined that 90% of consumers’ buying decisions were influenced by online customer reviews. Burt Hurt, CEO of Bazaarvoice, a leading ratings and reviews software company, says that the number one reason people write reviews is altruism.[3. Bazaarvoice on ZMOT] Consumers want to help and provide a positive impact for the businesses they like.
It’s no wonder that Google and the other search engines continue to provide more and more authority to businesses with strong review profiles. This is a trend that most online marketing consultants[4. Moz Ranking Factors] believe will become more significant over the next few years.
My own clients who have initiated a regular customer review campaign, have seen dramatic increases in sales conversions, some as much as 50%. But getting a customer to write a review for you isn’t as easy as it may seem. You actually have to ask them to do it and even then, customers are more than willing to help, but seldom do. Their intentions are usually good, but if they are not familiar with the Google or Yelp review platforms, the experience can be a little intimidating for them.
The good news is that writing reviews is actually an easy process. The difficult part is setting up an account. Both Yelp and Google require consumers to have an account before they can write a review for your business. So how do we make the process easier for them? Here are a few ideas that have helped my clients in the past.
Step 1: Show Them How to Do It
Have a link on your website that takes the customer directly to your review page. Make sure the link is clearly displayed. You can even create a page on your website that explains how to leave a review for you in Google, Yelp and any other platform where you want to build your authority. Make sure the description is a step-by-step process, not just on how to write the review, but how to set up the account. Provide screenshots and plenty of links to your review pages. You can even make a video tutorial and place it on your description page.
Step 2: Hand it to Them
I suggest making postcards with detailed descriptions on how to leave a review. Or, you can print a description on the back of your business card that says something like:
If you were happy with our service, please leave us a review in Yelp or Google. A complete description on how to rate our service can be found at www.yoursite.com/rate-us.
All your service technicians or account representatives should never close a service order without leaving this card with the customer.
Step 3: Ask
You have to ask. This is where most businesses stumble. They just forget to ask for the review or, more likely, they are afraid to ask. “What if the customer writes something bad,” they complain. Don’t be afraid of negative reviews. They happen. Everybody gets a few eventually. Negative reviews can actually be a huge asset and bring you even more business. I’ll explain why in my next blog post.
You can’t just hand them your review card. Take a moment to explain to the customer why their review so important for your business and how they will be doing you a huge favor by taking the time to write about their experience. Most customers are more than happy to comply. You’ll be surprised. People like doing good things for others. I find that consumers often take the time to write thoughtful reviews. They’re proud of the impact their review has on other consumers and most of them really believe their rating and review of your business matters. They’re right. It does.
Step 4: Make it Fun
It’s also important not to make the rating and review process a chore. It shouldn’t be work. Writing reviews can actually be fun so try to communicate this to your customers. If they’re new at it, you’ll need to encourage them to write reviews of several other businesses or their review can get filtered. I’ll explain ways to keep reviews from getting filtered in a later blog post.
Step 5: Keep at It
Most of all, make ratings and reviews a part of your company culture. Some of my clients have become review junkies, always looking for their next review. Some of them obsess over their ratings. These clients have become so good at getting reviews of their business that it has become the number one source of lead generation for them. That’s the objective, isn’t it?
Collecting reviews is not a task to be checked off your to-do list. It’s a long-term marketing strategy designed to generate more inbound leads for your business. Keep at it and you will see a significant difference in the amount of inbound traffic to your business.