14 Effective Ways to Generate Positive Online Reviews for Your Business
If you’ve looked for any business or service online, chances are you’ve noticed the stars (or lack thereof) next to their name. Whether posted on Yelp, uploaded as a quick live video on Instagram, or etched on the eternal stone wall of a company’s Facebook page, reviews are proof that people are excited about your service or product and want to spread the news. But they don’t pop up all by themselves — you’ll need a strategy to generate and respond to them. Here are 14 effective ways to do just that.
1. It all starts with service
People who have a negative experience are more likely to leave a review than those who are satisfied. And that matters because 86% of people read online reviews (and need to see ten positive reviews) before they trust a local business.
So before you do anything, make sure even your home-based business delivers impeccable service. You might be setting your own hours and calling the shots, but providing exceptional service and products is still critical.
2. Don’t be shy
Many people don’t review a business simply because they were not asked. Ask customers directly if they could take a minute to leave a review. Most people understand that they can influence a business’s success (or failure). They won’t be annoyed by your request.
3. Make it easy
If you ask for a review and a customer enthusiastically agrees, make it easy on them. Set up profiles on multiple general review sites (i.e., Google, Yelp, and Facebook), and be sure to create a separate profile if your industry has a specialized review platform. Provide direct links to the page, with clear instructions on how to leave a review.
4. Follow up
Sometimes, customers want to leave a review but continue with their day and forget about it. Following up on a lead is key. Wait a few days, then email a reminder and all the links. Short code texting is one of the best ways to do this if you can afford it.
5. Automate the ask
Better yet, automate the entire process of asking for reviews. Utilize review generation sites or apps to send a series of emails, starting with one thanking the customer for their business and another a few days later, asking for a review. This removes an administrative task that you might forget to follow up on otherwise.
6. Get your timing right
The best time to ask for a review is when customer satisfaction is at its highest. This might be when the deal closes or when you solve a previously unsolvable problem.
And the worst time? After conflict or when something happens that a customer or client wasn’t expecting. If you can’t solve the issue, it’s best not to ask for a review until you can.
7. Post across social media platforms
The majority of people are on social media, and the biggest swath of potential customers these days — millennials and boomers — turn to a variety of platforms to get reviews and recommendations from friends and their “For You” pages.
When you’re clear on your customer base, you can tailor posts encouraging them to leave reviews on the social media they use most often. If you don’t serve just one demographic, share these posts widely for more traction and exposure.
8. Incentivize ethically
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has stated explicitly that buying reviews violates consumer protection policies, but that doesn’t stop some unscrupulous folks from doing it anyway. Don’t be that person. Buying reviews can be punishable by fines or removal from the platform on which the fake reviews are posted.
But that doesn’t mean you cannot incentivize people to leave a review. You might offer a discount on future services or hold a drawing for a prize. This encourages participation, is open about the incentive, and doesn’t specifically reward a good review. It’s an ethical move that can help build up goodwill.
9. Accentuate the positive
Just because you can’t pay for positive reviews doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate them when they come in — show off the most glowing praise on your website or social media.
And don’t just post the written words. Consider reading the review on a video to attract more attention (and garner more reviews).
10. Don’t ignore the negative
It happens. Everyone has an off day or comes across a client who isn’t happy with the service or product. So, what do you do when a negative review comes in?
First, what not to do: Don’t ignore it. Nearly 90% of people read how a company responds to negative reviews and makes decisions about how (or if) a company addresses any issues. Take the time to respond, but don’t argue. Offer your regret about their experience, and provide contact information to discuss the issue offline. The unhappy customer may not respond, but others can see that you reached out.
11. Make sure everyone is on board
When stress levels rise, staff may forget to ask for reviews. Train all staff to ask for reviews during their regular customer interaction.
But it happens: people forget. If you’ve implemented automated review requests, you’re covered.
12. Get involved
For new businesses, the main issue with reviews is that your community might not know about you yet. If your advertising budget is low (or non-existent), consider getting more involved in your local community by hosting events, sponsoring teams, and volunteering to set up a table at local fairs and events. This can spread the word about what you offer and get the ball rolling on reviews.
13. Take a survey
Another strategy for gathering reviews as a new business is designing a survey to deliver to current and potential customers. This could cover products or services you already offer, with space to include suggestions for more in the future. People appreciate the opportunity to be heard, but there’s another plus: You can use these surveys to ask for reviews from those who offer the most positive feedback. You could even ask the customer to use their survey comments on your website and social media. That is another way to build positive relationships and trust in your community.
14. Be diligent
Even if you have automated the review request process and are confident reviews are coming in, you must continue to monitor and analyze what people are saying. This feedback doesn’t just affect your bottom line — it can also be instructive about how you can better meet your community’s needs — now and into the future.