At this point it shouldn’t come as a shock that companies need online reviews. Nearly all companies need to get more reviews. In fact, consumers now consider online search equally or more important than family and friends as an information source in the purchase process, with 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Google).
We also know that a third of smartphone users have purchased from a company or brand other than the one they intended to because of information provided at the moment they wanted it (Micro-Moments). Finally, we know that consumers’ micro-moments—all those little blips of information and reviews along the way to making a purchase decision—are becoming increasingly mobile, rather than human, interactions (Micro-Moments). Consumers are turning to screens to help them decide on everything, from which vehicle to buy next year to which fast food joint to stop at on the way to basketball. The only question left, really, is how do your local business clients measure up? Are they there when potential customers are looking for information? And what is that information saying?
How To Get More Reviews
If they're like a lot of local businesses, consumers aren’t banging down the (digital) door to fill their Yelp page with reviews. They probably need a little push, but don’t worry, we have you covered. Here’s how to start pulling in reviews:
1. Put yourself out there
If customers can’t find a business, they definitely won’t be leaving reviews, so make sure your local business clients are listed on a variety of review sites. The ideal list varies by industry, but Yelp, Facebook and Google are some of the basics for every industry. Make sure consumers can find them where they are looking, not just where you think they should be.
2. Ask (Crazy, I know)
No matter how much they love a business, customers are busy living. If you want reviews, you are going to have to ask. Just be honest and open, and request that they do the same: ““Hey, we are trying to improve Facebook page. We would really appreciate if you would take a few minutes to leave a review.” Done.
3. Find the right people
Realize that you don’t just want reviews. You want good reviews. And no, that doesn’t simply mean 4+ stars. Good reviews, the kind that will influence new customers, come from people who are not only satisfied with their experience, but are engaged in and excited about a company. They have something to say. Does the business have regulars? What about that one guy who sends a different friend in every month? The woman you helped out of that tough spot last week? Those are the people you want to review your business, because their enthusiasm will show.
4. Get the timing right
The right time to ask for a review is not three months after an oil change. Ask when customers are impressed, and while the memory is still fresh. Send an email in a timely fashion, or simply ask while they are on the way out the door.
5. Don’t try to buy a reputation
That includes incentives, discounts, trades and outright bribes. It also includes having employees write reviews. Just don’t do it, for two main reasons. The first is that it is illegal. In October, Bell was fined 1.25 million for having employees review their new app, and other sites that rely on reviews, Yelp for example, have started suing for fake reviews. The second reason is that consumers are smart, and they can tell. Bought reviews are stiff, repetitive and boring. Nobody cares if Joe had a “great meal!” and 200 information-starved posts later, all you have done is damage the trust consumers had for reviews.
6. Help Customers help you
Welcome to 2016: the average American checks her phone 150 times each day, clocking over 177 minutes of phone time per day (remember outside? Yeah, me neither) (Micro-Moments). We also know 40% of consumers leave a page within three seconds if it doesn’t load, let alone provide the exact information they are looking for (Hubspot). Your website, review sites and overall presence need to be mobile-friendly. Yes, need. Customers leaving reviews are already using their valuable time to help you out, so make it easy for them.
7. Save the helicopter for your kids
Providing a station for customers to leave reviews while in store may seem like a good idea: it is convenient, and you can ensure people are actually reviewing you. But let’s be honest, customers already have smart phones, and chances are it’s within reach. No one wants a shop owner looking over her shoulder while trying to formulate a review. In store kiosks don’t promise quality content, and can make customers uncomfortable.
8. Respond to reviews
You appreciate your customers’ time and feedback – show it! This could be simply saying thank you for a kind review, or it could be figuring out how to deal with negative and positive reviews. Whatever it is, make sure customers know how much they mean to the business.
9. Make it a habit
Congratulations - the five star reviews have started rolling in! Just remember that reviews are a continuous process, not a one time gig. Make review promotion and responses a part of your clients’ business practices, and make sure their whole team understands the value of reviews. You’ll make them a review superpower in no time!
Getting reviews is, increasingly, important. Google has given us yet another reason to put our reviews where our mouths are. In Google’s markup of a company or product in search, reviews and ratings can now be included. “When Google finds valid reviews or ratings markup, we may show a rich snippet that includes stars and other summary info from reviews or ratings” (Google Developers). Now not only are reviews important for potential customers, but for Google and other search sites as well. Offer these tips to your local business clients as a way for them to generate reviews. We’ve also created Review Generation to help you get them reviews, and amplify positive ones on social channels.