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How To Get Great Online Reviews

Great online reviews are important to consumers and businesses. With today’s fast pace and the ubiquity of internet access, consumers consult online reviews before making purchasing decisions. Reviews can literally sway you towards or away from a product or service. Whether these reviews are on Amazon, Google, Yelp, or a medical doctor review site doesn’t really matter. What is important for businesses is understanding that buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. People trust online reviews almost as much as personal recommendations.

No matter how hard you try, you will get some bad reviews. They are inevitable. Somewhere along the line, a customer will have a bad experience and will voice their displeasure to the world. While you can’t stop this from happening, it’s not the bad reviews themselves, but how you deal with them that has the biggest impact on future buying decisions.

The most effective way of reducing the negative impact of negative reviews is to increase the number of positive reviews.

Getting your customers to give you good reviews can be tricky.

The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Get Great Online Reviews

When it comes to getting good reviews, there’s one thing that makes a huge difference. Deliver an exceptional customer experience. Happy customers will help you grow your business.

Ways To Get Positive Online Reviews

Here are five legitimate and effective ways to get positive online reviews.

Ask The Right Customers

Your customers might love you and be thrilled to be doing business with you, but you’re not at the center of their world; they are. They aren’t spending their free time coming up with ways to help your business. If you want that help, you need to ask for it.

But if positive online reviews are what you’re looking for, then you need to be asking the right customers. The right customers are the ones who are getting the most value out of your product.

If you know some of your customers are referring other customers, then first reach out to the referrers for a review.

Ask at The Right Time

The best time to ask for an online review is when the value that you’ve delivered to the customer is at the top of their mind, making it easy for them to recall what happened and write an honest review.

Ask the Right Way

Want to lose your credibility as a business with a single word?

Send an email asking for “good” reviews. Or “positive” ones. Or any other adjective that suggests that you might be trying to tell your customers what to write, even if it isn’t true.

How to ask for a review (in an email)

Hi _________,

Thanks for coming in the other day. I appreciate your making time to see us.

If it’s not too much trouble, I have a quick request: could you please leave an honest review on (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, blog, etc…) Here’s a link.

Even a sentence or two would be hugely appreciated. If it helps us get more awesome customers like you, it’ll let us keep making (your business) better for you.  J

Thanks, and if there’s anything I can do to help you, don’t hesitate to let me know.

If You Get Ignored, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Again

If your request for a review didn’t even get opened, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a customer doesn’t want to help you. You may have caught them at a bad time, or your email might simply have gotten lost in the fray of the average bulging inbox. Remember that ultimately customers with great experiences will want to give you a good review. It’s just a matter of timing. So don’t be afraid to ask your great clients two or three times if you get ignored.

Make It Easy for the Reviewer

Perhaps the most important step in getting great online reviews is making it easy for your reviewer to give you a great online review. Make sure your directions and expectations are clear and concise and if possible be sure to include a link directly to the online review form.

 

How To Deal With Negative Online Reviews

Online reviews are important to consumers and businesses. With today’s fast pace and the ubiquity of internet access, consumers consult online reviews before making purchasing decisions. Reviews can literally sway you towards or away from a product or service. Whether these reviews are on Amazon, Google, Yelp, or a medical doctor review site doesn’t really matter. What is important for businesses is understanding that buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. People trust online reviews almost as much as personal recommendations. Online reviews are critical in getting customers to research a product or service.

Just look at some of these statistics about online reviews:

  • 88% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • 70% of consumers say business service reviews (recruiting services, agencies) are as or more important than reviews of personal services (home contractors, babysitters). (Source: Capterra)
  • Customers spend 31% more with a business that has “excellent” reviews. (Source: Invesp)
  • 40% of buyers form an opinion of a business after reading just 1-3 reviews. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • 72% of buyers will take action only after reading a positive review. (Source: BrightLocal)

So what should you do when you get a negative review?

Respond Promptly

Promptly responding to a negative review shows the customer that you care and value their opinion. A prompt and personal response may also help you get a second chance from the customer that had an initial negative experience with your company, service, or product.

Take the Issue Offline

If it’s possible, try to replay via email or phone. For example, Yelp gives business page owners the opportunity to respond via email. If you are able to resolve the matter to the customer’s satisfaction, leave a brief comment in the public timeline.

Be Polite and Don’t Take the Review Personally

A negative review might piss you off and lead you to respond with harsher words than are necessary. Take time to collect your thoughts and respond by saying something like “Thank you for your valuable feedback. I would love the opportunity to speak with you about your experience. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.”

It’s more important for a business or service provider to take the high road and appear conciliatory to customer concerns than it is to establish its side of the story. The customer will always win any argument about their experience.

If, after talking to the person, you find there is a valid reason for his comments, take proactive steps to remedy the situation. When warranted, provide restitution in the form of a coupon or discount.

Monitor Your Online Presence

In order to respond to reviews, you need to know what customers are saying and where they are saying it. Either do this yourself, or hire an expert to monitor for you.

Understand How Rating and Review Sites Work

Each customer rating and review site has a unique algorithm that filters and ranks reviews.

Yelp recommends reviews it think will be most helpful to the Yelp community based on three factors: quality, reliability, and the reviewer’s activity on the site.

Tripadvisor ranks businesses based on star ratings.

Take Negative Reviews Seriously

In most cases, people who leave negative reviews aren’t out to defame you. They merely want to express their opinion about the experience. Take these reviews seriously because they may reveal an area of your business that could benefit from an improvement.

Encourage Customer Reviews

To offset the impact of a negative customer review, encourage customers to leave reviews.

Put signs or table toppers in your place of business for review sites you want to promote. Add a note to invoices or receipts asking customers to leave a review. If you email customers, ask them to share their feedback. These are subtle ways to encourage reviews from good customers.

Share Reviews with Your Employees

Make sure everyone in your company is aware of the reviews you’ve received, both positive and negative. Not only will that help you prevent a negative review in the future, but it will also build a customer-centric mindset among your employees.

Get Automatic Reviews With A System

Systems help simplify complicated things. In this case, getting automatic reviews shouldn’t be something that you try to do periodically. It should be something that you do with every single customer or client.

To maximize the number of positive reviews you get, you need a foolproof system.

Amazon’s system is fairly straightforward:

You buy a product
You get the product
You get a request to leave a review on Amazon a few days after

Amazon has done their own internal testing and determined that this particular timing worked best for the majority of their customers. However, your customers may be different, so it is important to always test.

Timing is important

Why are customers different when it comes to this? Most of it comes down to the type of customer you have and the product.

First, certain people expect online shipping to be faster. They want their product right away so they can start using it. This is typically true if you have a young demographic.

Secondly, some products take longer than others to test thoroughly enough to leave a good review. A frying pan only takes a few minutes to test, but a large book can take weeks to read.

If your product takes a longer time to test properly, give your customers a bit more time.

How to get consistent results

The only way to ensure that your customer gets your review request “X days” after they’ve purchased something is with an autoresponder.

After they buy something, add them to a new list just for customers.

Then, set up your autoresponder to send out an email asking if everything went well.

Finally, send your review request sometime after that first message.

I recommend trying different time delays to discover which one produces the most reviews.

The best way to get great reviews if you’re starting from scratch

Every business faces its own unique challenges when it comes to getting online reviews. The hardest stage is right at the beginning when you have no reviews.

When you have no reviews (or very few), potential buyers are hesitant to be the first buyers. They want to see that other people have bought your product and liked it.

To make things worse, people often don’t want to leave the first review. Unless they are an expert on your product, they don’t want to leave an opinion and look stupid if they’re wrong.

Instead, they’d rather look at other reviews first, get a general consensus, and then leave a review if their own opinion matches everyone else’s. This is also why it’s important to get off to a good start with a few glowing reviews.

Do not get fake reviews: Incentivizing reviews is a gray area, but buying fake reviews is clearly over the line. If you go on Fiverr or Google phrases like “buy 5 star review”, you’ll find a ton of people willing to write you a five-star review without even seeing your product.

Even without considering the ethics of doing this, it’s obvious that these reviews won’t be very useful.

Sure, you’ll get five-star reviews, but they’ll include no actual information that your potential buyers will care about. In addition, most fake reviews are extremely easy to spot. And if a potential buyer sees multiple fake reviews, their warning bells will go off and cause them to buy someone else’s product instead.

So although you could buy reviews, you are better off focusing on earning them.

To do so, follow these steps.

Step #1 – Pick a site to focus on

There are tons of third-party sites that aggregate reviews on products or businesses. For example, both Google and Yelp focus on local businesses, while Amazon obviously focuses on physical products and e-books.

To start with, pick just one review site to focus on. You can always expand to other sites once you’ve gotten some traction.

Step #2 – Offer a free sample or product

As I said, you need to earn your reviews, which means getting them from actual customers. This is where it’s a good idea to offer a discount, sample, or even free product in exchange for a review.

Wait, what? “Didn’t you just say NOT to offer incentives?”

If you remembered that, well done. That means you’re paying attention.

Incentivizing reviews is murky territory, but only if you don’t disclose it. If you do, they are perfectly compliant with the law and just about anyone’s ethical code. And when you need those first few reviews to get the ball rolling, a few reviews that aren’t perfect are still extremely valuable. Additionally, just because your customer needs to disclose that you offered them something doesn’t mean the review will suck.

Here’s an example of what one might look like:

As one of the first customers to buy (product name), I was lucky enough to be offered a free sample to try.

I received the product after 3 days in perfect condition. Since then, it’s worked exactly as expected.

In particular, the (feature) is better than every other (type of product) I’ve tried.

I’ll definitely be buying more in the future.

Obviously it’s not a perfect review (since I’m talking about a product that doesn’t exist), but if you could get started with 5-10 reviews like that, you’d be set.

The disclosure reads naturally and doesn’t really take away from the rest of the review as long as the reviewer is being honest.

Step #3 – Provide instructions

Figuring out how to leave a review is easy for you and me. However, for the non-tech-savvy person, leaving a review might be a head-scratcher.

To make sure that customers have no problems leaving a review, provide detailed instructions on how to leave a review. Even if they shop on a well-known platform like Amazon, most people have never left a review before. You need to walk them through it.

Step #4 – Make sure their experience is amazing

This is something we’ve already noted, but I want to re-iterate it because the only way you are going to earn a great review is if you provide a superlative experience.

The buying experience is composed of many different parts:

the branding
the packaging
the shipping process
the product itself
follow-up/customer service

Too many businesses make a great product but ignore the rest of the buying experience. Then, they get three-star reviews saying the product was fine, but the shipping sucked, or they couldn’t get fast replies from the company when they needed help. It’s not hard to make sure these other parts of the buying experience are great, but you need to spend some time and effort making sure that they are.

If you do that, the quality of the reviews will take care of itself.

How to Get More Online Reviews

Everywhere you go, you see reviews. Whether it’s a physical product, food, or some type of service, if it’s worth talking about (in good or bad ways), it has reviews.

Some of this feedback is simply comments on blogs and forums. But mostly, reviews exist on large e-commerce sites where companies sell their products.

The most important thing about reviews is that people are passionate about them.

According to Venturebeat.com, 30% of Internet users check out reviews on Amazon before buying a product. And that’s just Amazon.

This digital bathroom scale on Amazon has nearly 12,000 reviews and 143 questions and answers about the product. The fact that it’s nearly half-off will help drive sales, but the reviews and customer interaction have a huge impact. Before, people would ask their friends about products. But now, they increasingly rely on online reviews.

People trust reviews to inform them about their decisions, and reviews play a huge role in final purchasing decisions – whether it’s to buy a particular product or choose a specific doctor. 

Although there’s no way to definitively say that reviews are good for business, just about every study or anecdotal case suggests that they are. You don’t have to be a big e-commerce site to add reviews to your personal website store.

Potential customers trust reviews for a few reasons:

  • They represent a real use situation
  • They are less likely to be biased (than a sales page)
  • They give visitors confidence to buy, proving there won’t be any issues with the purchase

Getting reviews is hard: If you’ve been selling online, you’ve probably noticed that it is difficult to get customers to leave reviews. People want to buy things, but they don’t really want to do any extra work. Writing a good review can take 5 to 15 minutes without providing much of a benefit to the reviewer.

That’s why people typically leave a review for one of three reasons:

  • They hate the product
  • They love the product
  • They’re somewhere in-between but would like to clear up any confusion around the product for other potential buyers (essentially just doing something nice)

The first two reasons are pretty self-explanatory.

Obviously, you don’t want people leaving reviews if they hate the product. That’s how you get negative reviews and one-star reviews that actually decrease your conversion rates.

So, how do you prevent it? Simple: have a great product along with great customer service.

If you create a product that everyone loves, you’ll get tons of reviews. In reality, most products have customers that fall into all three camps. What you need to do is focus on the people who already love your product and the ones that like it. A solid three- or four-star review can still help your conversion rate.

The Best Ways to Get the Most Reviews from Your Happy Customers

Most business owners love to create products. But not all business owners love to sell their products or services. Selling often feels like you’re doing something wrong and imposing on the people you genuinely care about. It’s hard to ask for anything but it needs to be done.

You need to start by realizing that selling doesn’t have to be underhanded. If you create a truly valuable product, sales is simply letting people know about it. If your product is great, people will buy your product and thank you for the opportunity.

After you make the sale, however, you need to ask customers to review it.

If you don’t ask, most will never even think of doing it, even if they don’t mind. Although it might seem like you’re imposing on them—asking for something without giving something in return—you aren’t. Most happy customers are glad to help you spread the word of your product so that other people will also give it a shot.

So, stop thinking that you’re taking advantage of your customers and realize that you’re helping each other. Ideally, you want to ask for reviews as soon as you can after the purchase is made and your buyer had the time to receive and test the product. If you ask too early, customers can’t review the product because they haven’t had the chance to use it. If you ask too late, they’ll have forgotten about it and are less likely to review it (although late is better than early). You could do what Amazon does. Amazon typically sends an email reminder asking you to review a recent purchase a few days after you’ve received it.

What’s the right approach? How to ask for a review

It’s important to carefully approach the subject of reviews with your customers.

First, you want them to receive the product and be happy with it. The more satisfied they are, the more likely they are to not only leave a review but leave a positive one. Before asking for a review, I recommend contacting customers and asking them if they had any problems with their order. If they have had problems, they’ll let you know, and you’ll have the chance to fix them. If they haven’t had any problems, some will let you know, but the others just won’t reply. It’s safe to ask any of these customers for reviews.

Finally, the way in which you ask for reviews is important. Being persuasive with your request can double or triple the number of reviews you end up getting.

Tip #1 – Be appreciative:

Reviewers don’t get much out of the process. It’s just a nice thing they can do for other people reading reviews in the future. That said, many reviewers will give you reviews if they know that the reviews are important to you.

The online doctor review site – Real Self – does a good job of this. There are two parts of the email in particular that make it work so well:

  1. “…would love for you to share your experience…” – They don’t just ask you to leave a review for the fun of it. They’re making it clear that they appreciate it and value it.
  2. “…will also help others make informed decisions” – Since the customer was just in the tough situation of trying to make a good decision, they are likely to be empathetic to other people in the same situation. Some customers will leave a review just to help others.

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Tip #2 – Make it simple:

Most reviewers leave reviews because it’s a nice thing to do. There is, of course, a limit to how much most people are willing to give just by being nice. Make leaving a review as easy as possible.

First, if you’re asking for a review on any third-party sites, always link directly to the review forms on the specific sites:

Alternatively, if you’re asking customers to leave a review on your site, let them start the process by clicking on a star rating within an email. All the biggest sites do this for a reason. It works.

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The other benefit is that it makes it really clear that you’re looking for the customer to leave a review (they know what stars represent).

Tip #3 – Do NOT offer an incentive:

I think this is unethical and there are obvious moral issues because you’re essentially bribing your customer for a good review.

Even if you don’t intend your incentive to be a bribe, most people feel compelled to provide good reviews if they’re being compensated for it (without any other potential buyers being aware of it).

If you are going to offer an incentive, you should ask your reviewers to disclose that fact in their reviews. If the review discloses the incentive, not only is there no moral argument, but it’s also not violating any laws.

Tip #4 – Be clear about what you’re looking for:

If you just have one textbox that says “your review,” customers could write about anything, even irrelevant things.

However, if you break down the review into descriptive fields, your reviewers will have a much better idea of what to include:

You can prompt the customer to talk about certain aspects of the product that you believe influence buying decisions (shipping, packaging quality, durability, etc.).

Speaking of great reviews…here’s what’s in them

You can dictate the contents of a review by prompting your customers to think about certain topics.

This is important because most people don’t know what a good review consists of. They’ll often leave reviews like “great product” even though that’s not really very useful.

Instead, you want to prompt them with any (or all) of the following:

  • including their background situation
  • any special features of the product or buying process
  • their overall impression
  • would they buy again?

When you send your review request, just tell your customers that they can include any information they’d like. However, they should consider things like…(pick from the above list).

Part #1 – A quick background:

Not everyone buys a product for the same reason or knows as much about a specific type of product as others.

The best reviews include a quick statement about why a customer bought a product. If another potential buyer is in a similar situation, they will automatically become more interested (it resonates with them).

Additionally, any mention of expertise also makes the review more credible (e.g., “I have purchased x types of product”).

 

Part #2 (optional) – A brief description of product and buying process:

Unless you’re selling your products through a well-known fulfillment service like Amazon, shipping speed and safety are still big concerns for online shoppers.You should obviously make your shipping information very clear on your sales pages.

But people also want to know how fast and secure your shipping is in real life, not just in theory.

If a potential buyer sees multiple reviews praising your shipping process, they’ll feel assured.

Part #3 – The overall result:

The most important part of any purchase is how good the product is. That’s going to be the focal point of any review.

Part #4 – Would you buy again? 

Customers can often find at least a few good things to say about a product. Nice people leave nice reviews—it’s that simple.

However, the ultimate test of a great product is if it earns the loyalty of a customer. When customers say that they will definitely buy from you again in the future, anyone reading the review will know that the reviewer is serious when they praise the product:

Conclusion

If you sell anything online, remember that reviews are one of the biggest factors that affect your sales, so don’t ignore them.

First, come up with a plan of attack to determine what type of reviews you need.

Next, optimize your sales funnel to maximize the number of customers who leave you reviews—and not just any reviews, great ones.