The Importance of Online Reviews and How to Ask for Them
Acquiring customer reviews is something every business should consider a priority. The power of this kind of ‘word of mouth’ marketing absolutely can’t be overstated in my opinion, because a positive five star review can carry more weight with potential customers than an expensive, high profile marketing campaign.
In a crowded online space it’s vital that your business stands out in the crowd for all the right reasons, and having glowing reviews can help sway customers and give you that edge over the competition. And the truth is that if you want that edge, chances are you’re going to have to ask for it.
One thing I’d like to say right off the bat is that you need to reject the mind-set that seeking reviews (aka coming out and asking for them) is somehow embarrassing or desperate. It’s not. Not only is it reasonable and should be considered an important part of an holistic marketing strategy, the fact of the matter is that for the most part, people actually want to have their opinion heard. Think about it on a personal level – you read online product/service reviews, don’t you? Well, so do an overwhelming number of consumers – a whopping 82%, according to Google stats.
As an online marketing agency, our job is to make sure your customers know you want to know what they think, so I want to share a few of the best ways to do just that. Feel free to leave a review and let me know how I did…
After a Purchase
I see the opportunity to ask for a review from a paid-up customer as two-fold: firstly at the immediate point the transaction is finalised, and then again once the product has been received. This is important because we know potential customers are very interested in not only the product itself, but also how easy and efficient the purchasing experience was, including navigation of the website and how any difficulties or queries are handled.
The beauty of asking for a review immediately after the transaction is finalised is that the experience is fresh in the customer’s mind. It also encourages a return customer to solidify their loyalty and share their satisfaction with a positive review. The call to action asking for a review doesn’t have to be convoluted: simply a message thanking them for their purchase and inviting them to share their positive ‘shopping’ experience with others. If you want to go a step further you can add some branding and target the specific product they purchased. My advice is to make the process as easy as possible – don’t make them work too hard to say good things!
Ok, this may sound a little intimidating, but my guess is you might be quite surprised to know just how many opportunities you have to straight out ask someone for an endorsement in person – and in fact this is one of the most popular and effective ways of generating reviews. For the sake of being succinct, let’s include telephone conversations in this as well.
When you engage with customers in person you have the chance to ask them leading questions about their experience with your service or products. If they’ve had a positive experience, they’re going to want to tell you about it and there’s your chance to thank them for their feedback and ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing an online review. It’s important not to come across as overbearing or disingenuous, though – pay attention to their responses and make a judgement as to whether it is appropriate to ask.
When you’re speaking with someone over the phone you also need to play to the individual situation. But if they’re genuinely satisfied and express their thanks to you for having resolved a query, or provided them with great service, you can tactfully ask them whether they’d like to leave an online review.
On Your Website
There are numerous ways to ask for reviews on your website and in my opinion you’re definitely missing a trick if you don’t take up at least one of them – if not more.
One way is to have a call to action on targeted (or all) landing pages, inviting customers to leave a review and including a link to a range of platforms. (Again, I stress, the key is to make it easy.) For this to be even more effective, it’s a very good idea to include existing reviews to encourage them. I’d recommend doing this in text form rather than images/screenshots so you can maximise the SEO benefits.
Another very common way of encouraging a customer to write their own reviews is to include a dedicated ‘testimonials’ landing page on your site. Depending on your CMS you might feed these in directly from the review platforms, or you can just add them yourself as and when they come in. Having a testimonials page highly visible in your navigation menu is one of the best ways of putting good reviews in front of prospective clients.
If you’ve got a substantial customer database (and you really should have) asking for reviews via a mass email or ‘blast’ is a very good use of this valuable resource. As long as your email blasts are managed effectively, they’re a superb way to keep connected with your customers.
Depending on your strategy you can include a call to action for an online review at the end of some other messaging/news in a longer email, or it could be a dedicated short, sharp request specific to sharing their positive experiences with your company. As always, include a selection of links to a variety of platforms (we find that some people are very loyal to a particular one), make it super simple, and do ensure that your email blast is personalised – nobody wants to see ‘dear customer’, or worse still, ‘dear blank’. My advice would be to be discerning who you send this out to and design the email to instil a sense that you want their opinion as they are a valued or premium client. Everyone likes to feel a little bit special…
Do What’s Best for Your Business
The best method for gathering online reviews will be different for every business – the important thing is that you do it. Customers want to give their opinions and as long as you make the process easy, non-threatening and genuine, you’ll be able to leverage them to benefit not only your reputation but also your website rankings.