Positive reviews are great for your business. After all, whose words are customers more likely to trust—those of the company selling the product, or those of someone who's actually bought the product?
Some 90% of participants in a Zendesk study said positive online reviews influenced their buying decision, while 86% said their decision was influenced by negative reviews.
While a lot of businesses focus only on what to do about the one or two negative reviews they've received, the most effective way to combat adverse feedback is to increase the amount of positive reviews for your product or service.
So how can you get more product reviews?
List yourself on review sites
Do some research to find the sites that are a good fit for reviews of your product. If you're a software company, for example, seek out sites dedicated to reviewing various categories of software. You just need to search for your product name plus "blog," "reviews," "submit my product for review," and so on, and you should come up sites on which you can list your products.
Daniel Lemin, author of ManipuRATED: How Business Owners Can Fight Fraudulent Online Ratings and Reviews, suggests listing your company on Yelp, for example, and then putting a Yelp badge on your website, "to make it clear you're on the site and [to] set up check-in offers to increase your customer's engagement with your business on the site.... [W]hen customers check into your business on Yelp, the next time they log into the Yelp site, they are presented with a reminder to leave you a review."
Make leaving a review as easy as possible
If your customers have to complete 10 steps just to leave a review on your site, they're going to be put off. You need to make the process of leaving a review simple with the least amount of steps possible for the best results.
At Veeqo we use Serchen for this purpose because it allows users to simply login with their LinkedIn account to leave a review, or they can use their email address. The process is short and sweet, it and doesn't take up much of the customer's time.
Make reviews visible on your website
This seems an obvious step, but it's one that is missed a lot. British perfume company Jo Malone does a good job of making reviews visible; each product has a star rating next to it, and if you scroll down you can flick through customer stories about the product.
Sean Carabine Allan, Internet marketing manager for SiamMandalay explains that "for unknown brands, reviews are critical for building social proof...to increase conversion rates and generally build trust from wary consumers. We noticed most sites have a review system, but they were usually located below the fold on the product page—nobody sees them...[which is] problematic for unfamiliar brands, small e-commerce stores, and catalog companies [because] even if you're getting reviews new customers very rarely see them so you don't get tangible value"
So make sure your glowing customer reviews are easily seen on your product pages. You'll also find your product pages rank higher if you feature reviews because they'll have more unique content.
Provide incentive without bribing
Never pay someone to write a review for you; it's pretty immoral and dishonest. It could also backfire: If people find out, you'll be in hot water. Sometimes, a free sample, or a discount for your product, can be incentive enough for customers to write reviews, but never pay for a review.
Patrick Tonks, creative director at Great Bean Bags, tried giving discounts to customers to encourage reviews, but didn't find much success because the effort cheapened the brand.
The discounts didn't really provide the incentive the company thought it would, so it changed tack and instead focused on providing great, friendly, helpful service, quick delivery, and a personal touch.
Tonks explains: "After a product has been delivered, we simply send a personalized email to the customer asking them for feedback. We also go a step further by signing the email off with the customer service adviser who initially dealt with the order/customer query, even mentioning how we're glad we could resolve their specific issue, if applicable. This adds to the personal touch and creates a connection between our customers and our team. The approach really works great for us, and it's obvious our customers appreciate it. Even in the last 24 hours we've received two reviews that comment on our service."
It's all about making your product and service stand out from the competition.
If you don't ask, you don't get
It's a sad truth that unless your product or service is either out of this world or diabolically awful, customers aren't going to be motivated enough to go out of their way to leave a review. Have you ever gone out of your way to write a review for something that's only OK? Probably not.
You really do need to reach out to customers and ask them to leave a review. Simply send an email asking them if they're happy with the goods and provide them with a link to the review page (again, make sure it's quick and easy to leave a review). That email also gives you a good chance to salvage a bad situation if the customer isn't happy with the goods: You could use this opportunity to improve things before they leave negative feedback. You never know... this small act could change their opinion.
PR and marketing consultant Jackson Carpenter suggests reaching out to social media influencers and YouTubers to give reviews: "You'd be amazed at the power YouTubers have to influence buying decisions, particularly in areas like consumer tech. Go on YouTube and search a phrase your potential customer might use to help research a purchase. For example, if you're selling Bluetooth headphones, you might search 'best Bluetooth headphones.' Sift through the search results and pick out the channels you think would be a good match for your product. Under the About section of the YouTube channel page, most YouTubers should have a business contact email. Send them a little information about your product and why you think they'll love it. Be sure to send a review unit if they're interested!"
If you're a larger retailer with lots of customers (or if you're just very busy), it can be time-consuming to keep up with every customer buying from your store to ask how they found the product, but it needs to be done if you want to come across as a reliable, considerate seller.
There are tools tools can help you automate asking for feedback and reviews. Feedback Five and Reply Manager are both good choices. You can use them to automatically send your customers an email asking them to leave you a review and feedback, and Reply Manager is also great for general customer communication.
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Reviews are great for business: They provide customers with the reassurance that they are buying from a reputable seller, they contribute to search engine optimization, and they can make your product pages look much more enticing.
It might take mere minutes to set up automated emails and list yourself on some review sites, so what are you waiting for?