The other day a friend asked me, “I have all these hand-written reviews – how can I get them online?” Great question! We know the value of reviews, because most of us use them before making any purchase – from movie tickets to cars, restaurant choices to caregiving services for our children or elderly relatives. Research shows that listings with reviews (and the more the better) get more clicks than those without.
Don’t Fake It
Resist the urge to set up fake accounts on review sites and post the reviews yourself. Ditto for asking friends and relatives to do the same. A quick review of the Terms of Service for any review site will reveal that is totally against the rules. You could find the reviews filtered out, or you could lose your listing entirely. Read about Yelp’s new crack-down on fake reviews.
Don’t Pay for Reviews, Just Ask Nicely
Offering incentives for reviews is usually against Terms of Service, and any incentive requires the recipient to reveal the gift in their review. Seriously, the FTC says if you receive compensation as a reviewer, you must reveal that in any kind of review. They won’t, and you’ll be on the hook. Besides, some will be happy to leave reviews without incentive, and if they find out you’ve been paying others – well, you know.
Just like your mother taught you – “Please” is the magic word!
The best policy is to be honest. Tell them you’re trying to improve/increase your online reviews and you would really appreciate their help. It’s this easy, “Mrs. Smith, did we do a good job cleaning your windows today? Would you be willing to help us out by leaving a review on Google for us, please? We’d really appreciate it. You can get to the review site by clicking on the image in the sidebar of our website.” If you can hand them a card with your website address on it, or point out the website address on their invoice, that makes it even easier.
Do Pay For Reviews, AND Ask Nicely
OK, don’t pay the reviewers, but set up an incentive in the office. Offer a prize and give employees who successfully solicit reviews one entry per review. Hopefully you’ll have so many that it will be difficult to tell who was responsible for what, but more likely, you’ll get a handful of them and will easily be able to tell who is responsible by the names left on the reviews, and isn’t that what you really wanted?
Ask for a Review Right Away, and Then Again, and Maybe Even Before
Try not to wait more than a few days to ask for the review. You want the experience to be fresh in mind. Some customers are more comfortable leaving a review after they have had a chance to use your product for a while, or have repeat service. So, a little while later, remind them how much you would really appreciate it if they left a review.
Mentioning reviews before you start the job or sell the product can be an effective way to “prime” the customer to leave a review when you’re done. It may not work for everyone, but give it some thought.
Yelp is a great site for reviews, but unless your customers are avid Yelpers, their reviews are likely to be filtered out. Posting only one review makes a user look suspicious, so they don’t display their reviews. No need to discourage reviews, but there’s no sense actively soliciting for reviews here.
Make it Easy
Link to your profile on review sites from your website. Enough said.
Do you communicate with your customers via Email? Can you create a list of only customers with Gmail addresses? Great, then send only those customers a link to your Google listing. How about a list of only customers with Yahoo! email addresses? Send a link to your Yahoo! profile to them. Otherwise, you’ll be asking customers to create a Google or Yahoo! account first, and trust me, most of them aren’t going to do it!
Use Receipts and Snail Mail
At the bottom of invoices, receipts or other correspondence, include an invitation to leave their opinion. Then include a link to your website, which already contains obvious links to your listings on review sites, right?
Use Email Signatures
In your Email signatures, you can ask people to leave a review for you. Make sure you link right to your listing on each site so they don’t have to search.
Get High Tech
If your audience is technology-savvy, consider putting a QR code on printed material or on a sticker on your door that will take them right to your review listing.
Get Low Tech
Post “please review us on…” signs or stickers up at your business location.
Don’t Give Up – Or Hide
Then you have people on the other end of the spectrum. Last week, I saw a new doctor for the first time. When I told her she had excellent online reviews, she cringed and said, “Oh, I hate to hear that!”. “Wait,” I said, “You had EXCELLENT reviews…” This only seemed to distress her more. Her fear is that someone, someday is going to write something negative. Well, sure, I said, but if they are just crazy spammers, everyone is going to know it. And, if they have a legitimate complaint, wouldn’t you rather know about it so you can respond? Nope, she prefers the head-in-the-sand approach, and that’s her call.
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- Five Tips to Get More Online Customer Reviews – Search Engine Land
- A Marketer’s Guide to Accumulating Awesome Online Reviews – HubSpot