How To Get More Online Reviews

Viktor Kis

One of the biggest challenges businesses are facing today is getting online reviews from their customers. I’m sure you as a business owner have witnessed this. Sometimes it can feel like pulling teeth (unless you’re a dentist, in which case let’s just call it difficult), or the fact that no matter how happy the customer was when they left and said “For sure, I’m going to review you”, the post never appears.

Side note: This article details getting reviews for services. Product reviews are a different beast entirely and will be detailed in another post.

Since 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, this topic is one that should be at the top of your online marketing agenda.

There are many reason why online reviews are tough to get. Some of the platforms for posting reviews are cumbersome, requiring registration, or they can be difficult to find. Depending on how much effort it requires, your customer will be exponentially less likely to leave a positive note for you. Just think about the cookie jar, if it’s on the kitchen table the cookies will be gone in an hour, but placed on the top shelf you may have the stash for the whole week (as recommended by Weight Watchers). Another major reason for not leaving a comment online is simply because our lives are so busy that customers simply forget about it.

The good news is that you can address all those pain points one by one or all at once. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to be flooded with reviews, but you’ll have a much higher chance of getting more out of your efforts to solicit them. Let’s dive in!

online reviews

1. The Oh-So-Powerful Email

When business owners mention to me that they have a hard time getting more reviews online, my first question is always “Do you send them a follow-up email with links to your review platforms?” Astonishingly, the answer in most cases is no. This is one of the easiest ways to get more reviews.

Do this today! Tell your staff that whenever a customer is done their treatment, finished their renovation, or had their tooth pulled, to make it part of your client process to send them an email asking them for a review.

IMPORTANT! This email must have links to the platforms where you want them to leave a review. I usually recommend, in order of importance, Google Plus (since this affects your traffic coming from search engines), Yelp, Facebook, RateMDs, Homestars – or any major page that’s relevant to your business. It’s enough to offer 4 different choices. Always test this email first with a friend or staff member first to see how well they navigate reviewing you.

Goodie: I included template text for this email at the bottom of this article, feel free to use it and make it your own! Don’t forget to customize the copy to reflect the tone / brand of your business.

2. Catch Them In The “Purchasing High”

If your treatment requires a healing period, wait until your patient comes back for their first checkup and send the email then. If you just finished landscaping and the customer could barely say goodbye – their knees shaking with joy from the beautiful job you’ve done – hit them right away. Running a restaurant? Ask for Yelp and Urbanspoon reviews with small cards going out with the bill and offer to enter them in a draw for a free dinner. Timing is key for getting reviews, leverage the emotional connection between your business and the customer.

3. Pull Out All The Stops

I love learning new tricks from my clients on how they get more reviews. A few of my favourite moves:

  • Create a page on your website with links to your review platforms. Print small business cards with the link to this page (keep it simple like yourdomainname.com/reviews) and in addition to sending them the email, give the card to them when they leave.
  • One of the best tricks I’ve heard so far for getting more Google Plus reviews was this one. So simple! When a customer/patient registers their information with you before the job is done, check their email address – if it’s a gmail address they already have a Google account, which is necessary to leave a review on Google. This means that it’s going to be very easy for them to leave you a review here, so note this on their file. When you’ve done an amazing job (like you always do), send them the Google Plus link only to review you and watch those 5-stars appear in search engine results.
  • This is a small step but it can make leaving reviews on Google Plus easier too: when creating the link to your Google Plus page (for the oh-so-important email), copy the URL of your page like so:

https://plus.google.com/+SparkMarketingToronto/about?gl=US&hl=en-US

Apply some magic by adding ?review=1 to the end of it like so:

https://plus.google.com/+SparkMarketingToronto/about?gl=US&hl=en-US&review=1

This is going to open the review window without the customer having to click! Mind blown? Mine was.

4. Offer A Gift Certificate

This is a golden one, I get this question all the time: “Can I offer something in return for asking someone to review me?”

Absolutely. As long as you are not soliciting positive reviews, the reward of a gift certificate is offered for the effort of posting an online review. This also gives you an opportunity to wow your client.

Let’s say you are a photographer. After the session or when your customer has received their prints, send them a nice hand-written, branded card (on thick stock paper) thanking them for the session and asking for an online review, offering a gift certificate in exchange.

5. On Negative Reviews

“I am not going to request reviews from my customers because I’m afraid they might be negative.” My very favourite excuse for not wanting to get more business online, because that’s what it does to you. There will always be negative reviews, no matter how well you run your business. The cook has a bad day and the duck confit doesn’t turn out great, some unresolved billing issue leaves a bad impression, etc.

Negative reviews are sometimes more beneficial than positive reviews. Embrace negative reviews and keep #WINning.

It’s true! We are all humans, therefore we all make mistakes. Your customers are humans too (sometimes hard to believe) and understand that you had a bad day. The only important part is that your online reviews will always reflect your service, so if you provide bad service, expect that to be reflected online. There are spammy ways of buying yourself out of bad reviews, but you don’t want to go that route. Just provide amazing service and treat your customers like family and you shall be rewarded with bountiful reviews.

Plus +1: Responding To Reviews

Always respond to online reviews whether they are negative or positive. This shows prospects that you care about your customers and like to build and nurture a personal relationship with them.

If negative:

  • Acknowledge the mistake
  • Apologize
  • Offer a solution
  • Include your contact information
  • Ask them to get in touch
  • NEVER delete a negative review

If positive:

  • Just thank them for leaving a review
  • Mention a detail about the particular job you did

Plus +1 +1: Monitoring Your Reviews

Do you know what people say about you online? Since this affects your bottom line directly, it is essential to keep abreast of the ups-and-downs of your online reputation. There are automated tools out there (like Review Concierge) that can send you alerts (and even allow patients to review you via text messages), or you can check the major platforms periodically for what people say.

Template Email For Requesting Reviews:

“When someone takes the time to recount a positive experience, it speaks volumes. And so I would like to request a small favor – a testimonial that will give others a sense of the experience and services we offer here at YOUR BUSINESS NAME.

Whether it’s a recommendation for a restaurant, a vacation spot or a doctor, we have always felt that the testimonial is a powerful indicator of excellence. We strive to provide you with excellent service and sincerely hope this describes your experience with us.

This testimonial can be as short or as long as you like. Please use the links below to leave us a review on any of the websites:

Google Plus

Yelp

RateMDs

Facebook

I sincerely appreciate your help!”

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you will start actively requesting online reviews! I’d love to learn more about your best practices, feel free to leave a comment or email me at vkis@hellospark.com about your latest idea to get more reviews for your business.


marketing expert


Viktor Kis

Running projects during the day and reports at night (yeah we never sleep), Viktor is a Client Manager who fights it out with numbers to get clients the leads they’re looking for.

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