Byline: Saijo George, SEO Strategy Director at Supple, one of Australia’s leading and award-winning digital marketing agencies.
Online reviews are the new “word of mouth” and we trust them.
They’re also one of the top ways customers make their final decision to buy your product.
Getting quality reviews is a prime way of reaching the top of your local organic results and a higher ranking means you are seen by local customers.
So, to ensure your business’s ongoing success, you need to collect your customers’ positive reviews and showcase them online. This will not only improve your local SEO ranking but also influence customer buying decisions.
How? Just follow these 5 key steps to get quality reviews for your business.
- Get more by asking
Ask and ye shall receive… just be careful who and when you ask!
While many people may think their customers will leave a review if they want to, the truth is that many people forget or don’t even think to leave a review.
In fact, offering a satisfying service often means your customer relaxes in the knowledge everything is tied up nicely and just don’t bother with a review. However, a dissatisfied customer is more inclined to rant online and leave a negative review.
The great news is, all you need to do is ask your customer for a review and they’ll be inclined to give you one.
That all sounds easy but there are two key things to consider to ensure you get the most 5-star reviews. They are who you ask, and when you ask.
For example, follow-up with people who are pleased with your service.
Not all reviews are created equal, and for every 1-star it can take many 5-star reviews to drag you back into the 4.5 star Goldilocks zone of just right – well above average but not perfect!
That’s why it’s important to ask the right customers. Most satisfied customers will let you know they’ve appreciated your work in-person, and it’s these customers you should be asking to give a review.
To ask could be as simple as bringing it up in conversation. However, research shows people are more likely to follow through if you make it easy and present them with a link while they’re on their laptop or phone.
Of course, the best time to ask a customer for a review is right after you’ve helped them, as they’ll have a positive experience at the forefront of their minds. Instant gratification is only temporary, so there’s no point asking for reviews long after you’ve assisted the customer.
Depending on the nature of your business, you can ask for a review in person or ask at the end of an email in which you have resolved a customer’s issue. E-commerce website Etsy reported that asking buyers for reviews via a text or email resulted in 25% of purchases having accompanying reviews – so don’t miss the opportunity to ask.
You can also ask for a review by directly emailing your customer.
- Make it easy for your customers
Often, customers won’t leave reviews because of the effort involved or they lack technical know-how, even if they’ve had a positive experience with your business.
You need to make it easy for your customers, and this can be done by providing them with a handy Google Review link.
This is an essential step for getting online reviews, as customers will find the process of leaving a review easier if they have a direct link.
Once you have your unique Google Review link, the best time to send it is right after you’ve successfully provided a service or otherwise had a great interaction.
In addition, it can be valuable to think about creating a custom QR Code that directly links people to review sites from their mobile devices, and then put this in your reception area and on your business cards.
- Getting on the best review platforms
The two key review platforms to target (at least one, ideally both) are Google Reviews and Facebook.
A recent report showed that Google My Business was used by 34.3% of total U.S. traffic & Facebook Reviews used by 29.1% of total U.S. traffic. While there’s less data on Australian internet traffic usage, it’s possible to infer similar results.
Google Reviews, as already discussed, are fantastic because they can positively impact your local search rankings and show up instantly when someone Googles your business.
Just ensure that your business is registered as a business through Google so your reviews appear in map searches.
Facebook Reviews are great because they’re visible and shareable, coming up in someone’s feed when their friend has posted a review. This is one of the best forms of free advertising you’ll get online.
- Forget the generous tip, just give a great review
This is out of left field but it works.
Here goes. Customers may think you’ve done a marvelous job, but don’t necessarily see the value of a glowing review unless you frame it as something that really helps out.
For example, a way to “tip” a particular employee would be to have a system where employees that receive 5-star reviews mentioning their name, get a $10 tip from the business owner.
Employees can mention the tipping system when they’ve finished up, explaining to satisfied customers that showing their appreciation this way, costs them nothing.
Framing a review as a way to reward an individual employee makes it something tangible for your customers to do.
Another example. Have an agreement for your company to donate to a charity for every review received.
- Responding to reviews
Showing you’re engaged with reviews means people are more inclined to leave them.
It’s not enough to ask for reviews and wait for them to flood in. You also need to respond to reviews to show that you are engaged, appreciative and responsive.
For positive reviews, extend a genuine “thank you” to show your appreciation to the customer. Negative reviews also need to be responded to in a graceful, restrained manner.
If a negative review has left you feeling heated and defensive, wait until you simmer down before you respond. In your response, aim to diffuse the situation and be understanding and empathetic in your response. Also, end it on a positive note.
To stay on top of what is being said about your business online, set up Google Alerts so you can respond swiftly and as necessary.
Remember that replying to reviews will leave a positive impression on potential customers and strengthen the affinity existing customers have for your business.