In a digital world, online reviews are not simply an inevitable part of business, they can be critical to your reputation and success.
As individuals, we trust other individuals – far more than we trust companies and traditional advertising. As I point out in our book, Embrace the Space, “in today’s connected, time short, sceptical world, your customers have more marketing power than you do”. Your next customer is out there right now, looking for personal recommendations of your product or service. Even more fundamentally, they want to know if they can trust your brand, particularly if you’re not a big name.
Online reviews can help with both these things. Your digital “word of mouth”, reviews are your chance to inform, persuade, build a reputation – all without being “salesy”. Research shows that reviews and ratings are the most influential factor in purchasing decisions, beating price, returns policy and shipping fees for nearly 90% of consumers.
Online reviews will boost your search engine ranking, especially your Google ranking if you focus on Google reviews. It’s also been shown that they increase social commerce, improving conversion rates on Facebook, LinkedIn and especially Twitter. And taking the time to gather feedback means you can see what you’re doing well and what you can work on.
Depending on your set-up, your customers might be able to leave reviews on the website they completed a transaction on – Amazon, for example. Or you may want to steer them to a dedicated review site like Trustpilot, Yelp, Yell.com or TripAdvisor, or a social media site such as Facebook. Whichever platform you use, make sure all the details about your business are easily available, so people can make the transition from researching to making contact or going ahead with a purchase.
It’s a good idea to create your Google Business Profile to manage your online presence and drive customers to your website. And, once you have plenty of satisfied customers and glowing feedback, this is also the perfect place to showcase your star rating. (Don’t worry about the odd less-than-perfect review, as Google (not to mention real customers!) views a mix of positive and negative reviews as being more authentic and ranks you better as a result.)
Customers will be most motivated to share their great experience of your product or service just after they’ve used it, so don’t delay in sending a follow-up email or SMS inviting them to leave a review. Emphasise that it’s quick and easy to do, and that it helps to improve your offering, but equally, don’t pressure them with repeated reminders.
To make the process as straightforward as possible, create a link to your review profile that you can share in thank you emails, chats or on receipts. Use a short URL of your reviews page for social channels or your email footer.
You can give people free rein or ask them specific questions about their experience. Think about what other customers will want to hear about – what’s important for them? Try to focus on benefits rather than features. You could ask for reviews on social media too, using hashtags like #ReviewUs or #FeedbackFriday to increase visibility.
Once you’ve got some reviews, you’ll want to promote them. Your target audience shouldn’t have to go far to find social proof of the value of what you do. You could share reviews on a testimonials page on your website, through case studies, or by embedding your Google reviews straight into your site. Consider sharing quotes from reviews in your marketing materials and on social media with a link to the review site.
There are plenty of review platforms that could be relevant to your industry or local area, so it’s worth looking for some more niche business listings to target in addition to the more obvious ones. Cast your net widely, because collecting different types of reviews gives your potential customers a range of social proof.
Reviews are powerful because they tap into the power of storytelling, and one of the best mediums to indulge our love of stories is video. So, if possible, get those happy customers on camera. Video reviews are particularly powerful, especially if your product or service has a higher price tag or isn’t likely to be an impulse buy. Ask customers to record videos of themselves using the product or talking about their experience of using your service.
However you gather your reviews, the process should be a two-way street. Thank people for their feedback and attempt to resolve any negative reviews to show your commitment to customer satisfaction.
I hope this blog has given you a few ideas about how to enhance your online presence with customer feedback. If you’d like some more help, you can always get in touch with us via phone, email or social media, or pop in and talk to us in person, and hey – if you like what we do… you could always give us a review 😉