Most of us heard at some point not to care what others think. This advice is sound for your self-esteem. But, if you’re running a business, you might not want to brush it aside.
Entrepreneurs SHOULD care about what others think. More specifically, they should care about getting people to share what they feel by posting online reviews.
In 2020, online reviews are changing the landscape of businesses across all industries. Read on to learn why they matter and the best ways to get them.
Why Online Reviews Are So Important
As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. Learning how to get online reviews might’ve never even crossed your mind.
However, if you’re looking to give your business a competitive edge, you’ll want to make room for this strategy.
Getting online reviews is relatively simple and provides benefits such as:
Building Your Credibility
Before buying a product/service, most people research it. They shop around to see which business is worthy of their hard-earned money.
Positive reviews help establish your credibility. They show consumers that real people are using your products/services. When online users realize that others like what you have to offer, they’ll be more willing to jump on board.
Positive reviews also build credibility by setting you apart from the competition. They show off what makes your business unique. When you have more/better reviews than your competitors, that may be reason enough for customers to choose you.
Boosting Your SEO
What on earth do online reviews have to do with SEO? More than you might think.
Search engines sift through lots of content and display the most relevant, reputable businesses. Reviews show search engines that your site has customer trust.
Lots of reviews will boost your SEO, thus driving more relevant traffic to your site. Read our other article on Increasing Your Site Traffic in 2020.
Receiving Real Feedback
When you’re running a business, it can be easy to forget that you’re serving real customers. You might lose sight of their needs and the best way to help them.
Reviews allow you to receive feedback. You can figure out what you might need to work on and make the appropriate adjustments.
Feedback is also great for validation. And, if we’re honest, we could all use a little validation now and then. Customers saying you’re doing well might be the motivation you need!
Establishing Relationships with Customers
Reviews are an excellent way to build relationships with your customers. Leaving feedback allows them to feel heard, and they’ll feel even more heard when you respond.
How to Get Online Reviews
Now you realize how important reviews are to your business. The question is, how do you get them?
Many business owners think wishfully. They believe that as long they provide great service, people will leave reviews on their own accord.
This mindset isn’t wrong. After all, you should always strive to exceed your customers’ expectations.
But, the truth is, providing excellent service isn’t enough to score reviews. Not everyone will feel compelled to jump on Yelp and tell the world how great your company is.
If you want reviews, you have to ask for them.
How to Ask for Online Reviews
Asking for online reviews can seem intimidating. You don’t want to bother your customers or come off as pushy.
But as long as you are respectful about asking, customers are often more than willing to comply! People love sharing their opinions and may even want to help out your business through a positive review.
Put Your Email List to Work
If you have an email list, it’s time to put it to good use! Sending out a crafted email campaign is an easy and effective way to solicit feedback.
Choose a handful of your customers (maybe 30 or so) for your email campaign. If possible, choose people who have been with you for a while and will provide thoughtful, constructive feedback about your business.
Not sure how to ask for reviews from customers via email? The key is to keep it short and sweet. Make it easy for them to do what you’re asking by being direct. Also, make sure to provide a link to the platform where you want them to leave the review.
Use this free template as a starting point:
Subject Line: We want to hear from you!
Dear valued customer,
At [insert business name], we value your opinion! Your feedback helps us provide the best [insert product/service] possible. If you could take a minute to review us on [insert platform link], we would greatly appreciate it! Thank you so much, and, as always, it’s a pleasure serving you.
While this is a good starting point, keep in mind that this is just a template. Tailor it to fit your business’s needs and unique brand persona.
Talk to Your Customers Directly
It’s relatively common for customers to let you know how you’re doing in-person.
If you receive in-person feedback, strike up a conversation! Let them know how much you appreciate their comments. At the end of the conversation, casually suggest that it would be awesome and helpful if they left an online review.
Use Thank-You Pages
After your customer downloads something, buys a product, etc., hit them with a thank-you page! Tell them you appreciate their business and would love to hear back from them—then link customers to the review platform of your choice.
This method works well because a person’s experience with your company is still fresh in their mind. They’ll have plenty to say and be more willing to engage.
Review the Rules
Facebook, Yelp, Google—there are lots of places where your customers can leave reviews. Google should be at the top of your list for review platforms.
You want reviews on every platform possible. This coverage will ensure that potential customers see how great your business is, no matter where they’re looking.
But, you need to be careful about soliciting reviews as different platforms have different rules. Yelp forbids the practice altogether. Google states that you can’t selectively solicit positive feedback.
So, before soliciting, make sure you familiarize yourself with each platform’s rules. This research will protect your business’s reputation.
Don’t Get an Influx of Reviews
Lots of reviews are good. But, if you get them all at once, it can look fishy. Customers might become suspicious if you have reviews all dated within a few days of each other.
Do your best to avoid getting an influx of reviews. This point is why we suggested choosing only 30 customers for your first email campaign. Only a handful will likely comply.
When you send out another campaign in the future, choose 30 different customers. Another handful might comply, allowing you to spread out the dates of your reviews.
Sending eBlasts in small batches is also preferable because it’s respectful to your customers. You won’t be bombarding them with requests, and you can ask different people to review you on different platforms.
How to Respond to Reviews
Your customers took time out of their day to leave feedback. The least you can do is respond!
Responding will show that you genuinely care about their opinions. Plus, when others see that you answered, they’ll recognize your business values its customers.
Not sure how to respond to reviews? Consider the following tips:
Address Them by Name
Very few people leave anonymous reviews. So, you have no excuse not to address your customer by name!
Starting your reply with their name will grab their attention. It also will convey that your response is genuine.
Use the Right Tone
This point might seem obvious, but it’s essential to use the right tone. Remain enthusiastic and professional.
In some cases, it might be appropriate to match your customer’s tone. This awareness will show that you’re a real person who cares about what they have to say.
Don’t let their feedback go unappreciated.
Thank them for their feedback and express how much you appreciate their business.
Offer Additional Value
Telling a customer that you’re grateful is one thing. Showing them that you’re thankful by offering additional value is even better.
The additional value doesn’t have to be anything grand. Let the person know about any upcoming specials you have. Or, even if they leave positive feedback, ask if there’s anything you can improve.
Ask Them to Spread the Word
In your reply, invite them to spread the word about your business.
You can also ask to share their feedback on social media. They’ll probably feel honored that they are helping you reach new customers.
Keep It Short
You want to be authentic, but this doesn’t mean you have to write a page-long response. Keep it genuine and personal yet short; trust us, your customers will thank you.
Sign Your Name
Conclude your response on a friendly note and sign your name. This personal touch helps to foster relationships with your customers.
Check Reviews Often
You never want your customers to feel ignored. Replying to reviews months later won’t do you any good.
You want to reply as soon as you can. Make a habit of checking reviews every week. Spend 15 minutes or so going through new reviews on all platforms (Facebook, Google, Yelp, etc.). After reading and reflecting, come up with a thoughtful response for each one.
Negative vs. Positive Reviews
Reviews come in all shapes and sizes. Everything from the nasty 1-star rating to the glowing 5-star testimonial can show up on your profile. You should know how to handle each one correctly.
The truth is, you can’t please everyone. No matter how excellent your products/services are, you will encounter negative reviews.
Negative reviews might seem like the end of the world. It’s normal to fear them as they might scare off potential customers.
Negative reviews can be disheartening, but don’t let them bring down your enthusiasm. Instead, embrace them!
For starters, they can actually add credibility to your business. A page full of only 5-star reviews might look suspicious to customers.
Negative reviews also help you improve.
When you reply to them, use the same tips we mentioned earlier. Be sure to also:
- Publicly respond. Don’t try to hide the review or reply privately. Instead, respond publicly. Your customers will see that you care. Also, it allows you to address a problem that others might be having with your company.
- Be upfront about your mistakes. This reply isn’t the time to make excuses or play the blame game. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s important to own up to yours. Being upfront and taking responsibility will go a long way to earning back trust.
- Empathize and apologize. Some people are just jerks. Most, however, just want to feel heard. They may even really like your company and feel disappointed with only one experience. Empathize with their feelings and apologize for any inconvenience.
- Ask questions. When people leave a negative review, they aren’t always the most eloquent. They might focus more on leaving a bad rating than explaining the problem. If the problem isn’t clear, ask for clarification. This request will help you effectively solve the issue.
- Offer solutions. Win the distressed customer back by offering solutions. Show that you recognize the problem and are willing to make it right.
- Thank them. It might sound weird, but thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention. The feedback can help you improve your business.
It’s easy to get caught up in negative reviews and doing damage control. But, you should make sure to give positive reviews the same attention!
Don’t just “thumbs up” a positive review and move on to the next one. Take the time to craft a thoughtful reply. Let your customers know how much you appreciate them.
Now that you know how to ask for reviews (and how to respond to them), get out there! Start building your credibility and see your ratings soar in 2020.