If the past year has taught us anything it’s that all things can be done remotely: job interviews, doctor visits, weddings, and especially making purchases. Though many different industries have adapted to some form of online marketplaces, they all have one thing in common – online reviews.
There’s no doubt that online reviews can make or break how a brand, product, or service is perceived. In fact, almost 90% of consumers around the world take time to read reviews before making a purchase decision. Not only that, but about 80% of people who do read reviews from strangers trust them as much as they would trust a personal recommendation!
Reviews are an invaluable way to understand your customers’ perception of the product or service you provide. And the more positive online reviews you have, the more trust first-time customers have in your brand.
Read on for 4 ways to encourage reviews from your customers, and elevate your company’s overall online reputation.
Follow-up with an email
Simple How’d we do? emails are utilized by businesses ranging from car-share services to doctors’ offices. This kind of email invites users who have actually interacted with your brand to leave genuine feedback. Though negative reviews are somewhat unavoidable, you can try and limit the amount by keeping the first round of feedback internal and direct those with positive sentiments to leave a formal review on public platforms such as Google, Yelp, or Facebook.
Incentivizing your customers to leave a review can be as simple as offering them a discount on future purchases, or as elaborate as a gift card giveaway. Incentives for future purchases may lead to better reviews written by customers who enjoyed their buying experience enough to want to repeat the process.
Don’t sleep on Yelp
Yelp is one of the earliest examples of an online review forum, but it continues to integrate tools that are key for brands looking to boost their digital reputation. According to a recent study, 92% of those visiting Yelp are looking for a business they can return to. More reviews on Yelp can also lead to increased visibility through the search function.
One snag with Yelp: strict rules that prohibit companies from directly requesting reviews. The workaround for this dilemma is to casually direct customers to your brand’s Yelp page without asking for anything in return. Yelp stickers on your shop windows (especially ones with accolades!) or simple “check us out on Yelp!” links at the end of emails are ways to drive traffic to your Yelp page. (Note: our agency is a Yelp Certified Ads Partner and thus can supply these touchpoints to our clients who advertise on Yelp.) The customers know what to do from there–research says that a majority of customers who read reviews are also likely to leave reviews.
Make Online reviews a conversation about your business
For customers to feel motivated enough to take the time to write reviews, they need to have some kind of extreme opinion about your company’s product or service. A vast majority of online reviews are written by people who either had an overwhelmingly positive experience or alternatively, hated the experience they had with a brand, product, or service. These extreme opinions can benefit your business when the majority of them fall on the positive side, but one-star reviews can be detrimental to a company’s digital reputation.
The good news: brands are now able to share their side of the story. Responding to negative Yelp or Google reviews can help other customers understand the full situation that led to someone reacting poorly. Many brands use these responses as an opportunity to call out a customer for their own rude behavior and to stand up for what matters most to the business. They also provide a chance to reach out to someone who had a less than desirable experience to request they give the company another shot. This could lead to the customer having a better experience of the business and updating their review to something more positive.
There are benefits to responding to positive reviews, too. Thanking people for supporting your business reinforces the positive experience they had. Even responding to the middle-of-the-road reviews could lead to increased positive engagement. Encouraging a customer who left a 4-star review to “let us prove to you we are a 5-star business” could be just what that customer needs for increased brand loyalty.
Online reviews are integral to creating trust with prospective customers and for that reason alone they should be prioritized for your business. (Our team is trained to optimize your company’s online performance, and has the skills to utilize built-in review features to boost your brand).
Book a free consultation to find out how we can best help your business.