Online Reviews: How To Encourage People To Review Your Business

Online Reviews: How To Encourage People To Review Your Business

By: Katy Ryan Schamberger
October 26, 2011

Image via Engadget

Positive online reviews for your product or service are powerful tools in encouraging others to sample your wares and build brand loyalty. Need proof? Consider recent news that online review giant Yelp may actually be killing chain restaurants as users instead opt to support and review local, independently owned establishments.

In the same study, Michael Luca of Harvard Business School reported that “ ‘a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue,’” as written by The Washington Post.

And after all, this logic makes perfect sense. Let’s forget the social media part of the equation for just a minute and consider a hypothetical scenario. You’re searching for a certain product and decide to ask a few friends and family members for recommendations. You get a few positive referrals, but also hear from people who had a bad experience with one of your product options. Naturally, you’ll steer clear of the product that comes with negative reviews and will instead opt for another choice.

When you combine the power of a positive review with the global reach of the Internet, the possibilities can mean more customers and more revenue. Online reviews act as SEO boosters, increasing your online visibility and subsequent reach. And in this day and age, higher visibility in the fast-moving digital stream can only mean good things for your business.

That leaves the million-dollar question: how do you get more reviews? Consider these tips:

*Use email. Follow in the footsteps of business giants like Amazon and Sephora and send customers an email after each purchase inviting them to write a review. By sending an email with information on how to write a review, you give your customer the flexibility to complete a review when it’s convenient. You’re also letting them know that you hope your customer enjoys the purchase and that you’re invested in each person’s experience with your company.

*Put your website to work. Just as you’d integrate your blog into your website to create one information-packed portal, consider building review functionality directly into your website. Not only does this make for a better user experience, but you’ll also increase your site’s content and number of indexed pages, two critical factors when it comes to creating and maintaining an effective, optimized website. And even if you decide to incorporate reviews into your website, be sure to also include links to external review sites like Yelp and Google Places. Think of it as creating a testimonial portfolio that will give current and prospective customers a wider overview of your business and experiences that others have had.

*Make it stick. Speaking of review sites, many of them offer stickers and/or window clings that you can display in your business. Pick a prominent place such as the door or near the cash register to let customers know where they can find you online and write a review.

*Consider—and implement—feedback. Let’s say several customers leave reviews on a product and offer similar feedback on how it can be improved. Or, perhaps they share thoughts on something they’d like to see that you don’t currently offer. You may want to modify an existing product based on that feedback, or even create something new. You don’t necessarily need to revamp your whole product line.

We’ve seen a great example of this kind of thing locally – one of our favorite Kansas City sandwich shops named a breakfast sandwich after a regular customer. Those sorts of actions signal to your customers that you truly value their opinions and their business, which will likely inspire more reviews. Plus, this will also boost your word-of-mouth marketing—the customers whose feedback you incorporate into your product or service will spread the word among their own networks, increasing your reach–both online and off.

A word to the wise? Whatever idea you employ to help get more customer reviews, just make sure you don’t revert to spammy tactics in order to entice business. You can offer product samples to help educate prospective reviewers, but don’t try to buy them off with merchandise, gift certificates or money. Building a solid network of reviews make take some time, but if you approach the initiative with honest intentions and an ongoing dedication to customer service, your results will be much more powerful in the long run.

How have you encouraged your customers to write online reviews? We’d love to know what’s proven effective for your business. And if you opt to use any of the aforementioned tips, let us know how they work!