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If you've got a website for your business, it’s vital that ask for feedback from your customers or clients. Why are online reviews so important?
For starters, it’s important to know what your customers actually think of your products. But also, many potential clients and customers use the words of previous customers as guidance in their buying decisions. Customer reviews matter.
So, while you’ll for sure get a few customers that rack up some initial purchases, most will come to depend on reviews and testimonials. Word of mouth, too. But in the online space, reviews are truly where it’s at. And without them, you’ll find yourself struggling to build a consistent customer base.
Building up a healthy stable of customer reviews for your business involves a bit more than giving people the option to leave a review. But it’s not all that complicated either. You just have to go about it the right way and be highly persuasive.
We’ll walk you through all the tips and tricks of using Podium to get customer reviews in a moment. But first, let’s talk about why online business reviews are so beneficial.
Benefits of Getting More Customer Reviews Online
The benefits of increasing the number of customer reviews you get are many. The most obvious benefit of more reviews means your potential customers have more information to work with when making a buying decision. But many other benefits are worth mentioning as well. Here's a few benefits you can expect:
1. Improved Brand Reputation
The reviews you receive will likely be posted beside whatever product or service was purchased directly on your website. They’ll also be posted on online review sites.
When someone searches for your company, they’ll see reviews that previous customers left on sites like Yelp and Facebook aggregated and collected in a convenient box to the right of the search results. If your review average is good, you’ll be much more likely to get new customers.
Even if we’re just talking about the customer experience from within your site, if people see 4 or 5-star ratings and glowing reviews, they’re more likely to buy. Your positive brand reputation will precede you.
2. Increased Sales
This is linked to the above but merits a call-out. If more people review your products or services, more customers will see this praise and want to buy your stuff. Plain and simple.
3. Improved Search Engine Rankings
We touched on the fact that reviews are aggregated from many sources and presented in search results when people search for your company. But what you may not know is that the average of all reviews Google can find about your business will be posted next to your site’s search result as well.
So even if someone looks for a keyword related to your company (and not the company name itself) they’ll see your product or service’s average rating. This can inform a prospect’s likelihood to click and view more. Plus, sites with more reviews tend to rank higher in search engine results on the whole, as they’ll be viewed as more trustworthy by Google.
4. Serves as Free Advertising
Having a healthy number of online business reviews can also serve as fantastic advertising for your products, services and/or company. These reviews act as testimonials from your most pleased customers. And since they live on your site as well as external review sites, they function as free advertising.
Let’s say someone searches for plumbers in NYC. They’ll see standard search results but reviews for companies as well. And a highly positive review is certain to act as an ad of sorts.
5. Quick Way to Receive Feedback and Improve Customer Service
We’ve been focusing on the benefits of positive reviews, but all reviews can be beneficial. They serve as a way to ask for feedback from your customers. And if something is wrong, a negative review doesn’t have to be a downer.
In fact, negative reviews serve as the perfect opportunity to put your excellent customer service on display. By publicly responding to a negative review, you let future customers see how your customer service functions. Even a bad situation can be turned positive if you deal with negative feedback professionally and courteously.
Strategies for Getting More Online Reviews
So, you know the benefits of getting customer reviews. But what can you do to get more of them on your site and build a better brand reputation? Let’s dive into the details of how to get more online reviews for your company with thorough strategies built for success:
1. Ask for More Reviews
One of the best ways to get more online reviews is to, quite simply, ask for them. You can do this in many different ways. A request directly on your website works, as does including it in email newsletters. Any request you make should be heartfelt and emphasize how helpful their reviews are for your business. Here are just a few ways to put out a request:
- Email marketing. When putting out email newsletters or email blasts to old customers, be sure to straight up ask if they’d be willing to leave you a review. You can use a variety of automated techniques that can prompt the customer with a direct link to the product they bought plus an image of it. E-Commerce platforms plus email marketing services like Mailchimp allow you to do this. This visual cue can help to remind the customer of what they bought before and inspire them to click the link you provide to leave a quick review.
- Social media. You should be posting to social media frequently for your business anyway so adding in a quick call for reviews shouldn’t be too big of a deal. Primarily, you want to remind those who follow you who have also made a purchase to leave a review. State how much it helps your company. Those who really appreciate your product or service will likely take the moment that’s needed to leave a review.
- Text messages. Another thing you can do is to reach out to past customers using text messaging. Podium offers this feature seamlessly alongside its web chat services. This makes it so you can send a request for a review via text message all from a single dashboard.
2. Choose the Right Platforms
Getting reviews on the right platforms is another important piece of the puzzle here. You've got to ask for reviews where the people are! Google Reviews, Facebook Reviews, and Yelp are top spots you’ll want reviews of your business to appear. But others should be on your radar, too, depending on your industry and area of focus. For instance, you may wish to seek out reviews on sites like Better Business Bureau, Amazon, or Angie’s List as well.
3. Make It Convenient
Always place your request for a review at a convenient spot in the buyer’s journey. Your best bet for getting more business reviews is to ask right after you’ve made the customer very happy. For example, if they’ve received a product from you and your online store sends out an automated “your item has been delivered” email, that’s the perfect time to ask for a review. Make sure the process is as easy as possible by including a link to do so right in these automated messages.
How to Get More Positive Reviews
Once the reviews start coming in, you’ll definitely want to do some work to ensure you’re getting primarily positive reviews. Of course, the first step to doing that is to provide fantastic products and equally great customer service. But outside of that, there are a few things you can do to help guide the review-giving process to shake out in your favor:
1. Encourage Positive Reviews: A Step-by-Step Walkthrough
Your first step for getting more positive business reviews is to request them in a polite and considerate way. Though you can reach out via email after the customer makes a purchase, and this can be very effective, sometimes a more direct approach is what’s needed.
One way to reach out to customers directly is to use text messaging. As we mentioned earlier, Podium is a fantastic way to facilitate this. This service allows you to send out requests for reviews to your customers. And the best part is you can send this request out to an entire list of past customers at once—minimal fuss required.
To do this with Podium, after setting up an account, you’ll need to link your Podium account to review sites. In the free version you can add the ability to collect both Facebook and Google reviews. Here, I’m adding Facebook by first going to my business Facebook page and copying the page ID from the About section of my profile. Once copied, you can paste this ID into the provided box:
After saving these settings, I can connect my Facebook account to my Podium account:
After clicking Connect, you're given this prompt, which asks to connect to Facebook:
If all goes well, you should see this:
Next, you can go to your account's inbox. This will show any email conversations or web chat conversations you’ve had with customers and prospects in the past. In each of these conversations, you can select an option to send a Review Invite. Once clicked, this will populate the text box with a pre-written message that invites a customer to leave a review for your business.
Should the customer accept this invitation, they’ll be prompted to leave a review on one of the sites you’ve linked to your account. Since I’ve connected Facebook to Podium, this is what the customer would see when clicking on the review invitation link:
Once the customer clicks Yes, they’ll be taken to your Facebook Business page. But not just that. They’ll be specifically directed to the area for leaving reviews. Customers will be asked if they’d recommend your business here.
With Podium texting and web chat tie together. That means your customer service experiences can translate directly into positive reviews. Acting while a customer has a positive impression of you is often the best way to get both more online reviews and positive ones, at that.
2. Deal With Negative Reviews
Though our primary focus here has been on how to get positive reviews, negative ones are bound to happen occasionally. No company is perfect. Something is going to happen to make a customer upset at some point. This makes it even more important to have an action plan in place should a negative review come in:
- Respond as quickly as possible. This is really so essential. The longer a negative review sits without a response, the more time it has to generate bad buzz about your company. Use reputation monitoring to keep tabs on the reviews published about your business so you can respond with haste.
- Keep your ego out of the way. Sometimes it can be tempting to reply to a negative review with a snarky response, especially if you feel like the reviewer’s feedback is unfair. But this will never turn out well for a business. Instead, respond with a level head and always try to show empathy, even if you disagree with the reviewer’s comments. Kindness, compassion, and patience will always serve you well.
- Consider offering a discount or deal. If a customer leaves a review where they're upset, try to make it as right as you can. Some options include fixing the issue if possible or offering a discount on a future purchase, a coupon, or some other kind of deal for their trouble.
- View it as a learning opportunity. At the end of the day, negative feedback is an opportunity for growth. If you’re not learning something from a bad situation, you’re wasting a valuable opportunity to grow, improve, and upgrade your business.
Get More Online Business Reviews and Boost Your Business
Online customer reviews serve many purposes. They’re valuable tools for potential customers in their buyer’s journey. Plus, they’re indispensable for brand reputation building.
Getting more customer reviews is good for everyone involved. Podium can help. Use the tips and strategies we shared above to guide your efforts toward building a better relationship with your customers in 2020 and beyond.
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