This is a guest post by Megan Wenzl, Associate Editor for Review Trackers.
Today, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from someone they know. With all the options out there, consumers count on each others’ opinions to make educated purchase decisions and avoid bad experiences. For those same reasons and more, online reviews are critical to businesses. They’re a source of new business, a validation tool, and a key channel for customer feedback. However, if businesses don’t make a consistent effort to generate new reviews, then they won’t reap the full benefits.
Why Consistent Online Reviews Are Important
When consumers start running local searches to find a product or service provider, they usually act quickly. ReviewTrackers found that 53% of searchers visit a business within 48 hours of running a search. Online reviews often play a role in that research phase. If consumers see positive feedback from customers online, they’re more likely to buy, plain and simple. But if a company’s reviews are negative or inconsistent, consumers may hesitate to click Purchase.
How often people review your business matters almost as much as what they say. Search Engine Land found that 69% of consumers consider reviews irrelevant if they’re more than 3 months old. That means if your reviews are outdated, you’re probably losing business. Consumers want to see fresh reviews about recent experiences, which are more likely to predict their own.
Search engines agree with consumers on that one. According to Moz, online reviews are one of 8 major factors that determine local search rankings, and review recency is a key piece of that. The more reviews you have and the more recent they are, the more likely your business is to crawl up the search rankings.
4 Ways to Boost Online Reviews Quickly
If you sit around and wait for customers to review your products or services, you probably won’t see the results you want. In order to generate positive online reviews on a regular basis, you need to go out and get them.
Here are a few simple ways to start asking for reviews proactively.
1. Send personalized review requests after purchases.
The best time to ask for online reviews is soon after customers make a purchase or visit a location. Get in the habit of sending follow-up emails with polite asks that center around the specific experience they had. Here’s an example:
I hoped you enjoyed your weekend visit to our Seattle location! We’re committed to meeting the needs of our customers and value honest feedback. Would you be up for writing a brief review about your experience? If so, please click the link below to post your public review.
Friendly and to the point, this message tells the customer why you’re asking for a review and emphasizes the value of their feedback.
2. Add a review page or widget to your website.
If your website is your primary marketing channel, why not use it to generate quality reviews? Customers cross your site daily and interact with your brand, products, and employees. Creating a dedicated landing page or embedding a widget on your website is a great way to generate online reviews and showcase customer testimonials. Online review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google make it pretty easy to integrate reviews.
3. Include review links in your email signatures.
Your team communicates with customers daily over email. Adding review links to your standard email signatures is a straightforward way to encourage reviews after these interactions. Try adding a linked image or a regular hyperlink to your email signatures with a quick directive, like Share your experience with other customers.
4. Run an review campaign.
Although the post-purchase period is the best time to ask for reviews, you don’t have to limit your asks to specific customers at specific times. Many of companies run periodic review campaigns to generate lots of reviews at once. If you go this route, make sure to personalize your review invitation as much as possible and only contact customers who are fairly engaged with your company. It’s also best to send the invitations from a real human, like a customer success or customer support manager, instead of using a generic company email.
If your business cares about honest customer feedback, then prioritizing online reviews is key. Public feedback gives your team critical insights on the quality of your customer experience. Plus, a healthy amount of online reviews validates your business, increases brand awareness, and ultimately earns you more customers.
As Megan Garber, staff writer for The Atlantic, writes, “Whether we’re communicating via clay tablets or telegraph wires or fiber-optic cables, our deceptions are kept in check by an overarching fact that has little to do with technology and everything to do with community: we want other people to trust us.” Amplifying the voice of your customers is the most positive way to build trust in your brand and show your audience their voices are heard.
About the Author
Megan Wenzl is the associate editor for ReviewTrackers, an award-winning customer feedback software that helps businesses transform the customer experience. Megan is a dedicated storyteller who loves helping businesses succeed.