One of the biggest challenges in online representation is getting your company to have a lot of (positive) reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other websites attached to your brand’s image. It can also be challenging because sites like Yelp actually choose which reviews are “good enough” to stay on your company profile, and so even when you are getting positive reviews, it is possible that not all of them will even show on your company profile.
So what does this mean for your review building strategy?
If you don’t start asking for reviews from the very beginning, it is likely that the best thing you can do is reach out to past customers and clients to review your business. As a Miami based marketing firm, we think these are some of the best practices that can help:
1. Design a Personal Email Template
One of the best places to start is by emailing your past clients and customers with a polite and friendly email simply asking for their review. Hopefully you have a master client or customer list that you’ve build, but if not, this will definitely be step one.
Working off your master client list, go through an email each person individually. Try your very best not to do this as a mass-email format. Use individual names, and if you are a smaller business and remember something specific about their interaction, mention that as well.
You can definitely design a “template” where you just alter a couple aspects depending on the customer (and possibly the notes you have on them). The point is that if it is more personal they are going to be far more likely to follow the link and write a review. Take the example I designed below as a guide:
As you can see in the email template above, the headline reads “We wanted to say thanks again.” Since the email address is recognizable, the past customer is going to be pretty likely to open this. The first sentences express gratitude and mention the specific event/purchase that the customer made.
The second portion provides a link so that the individual can go directly to Yelp (or whatever site you choose; more on that in #5) and write a review. The email is short, sweet and to the point. It does not need crazy formatting or design as it is not an advertisement. It is truly just meant to be an email, reaching out in a personal way to a past client.
2. Post to Social Media
Another way you can drive reviews is to occasionally post the link to your review site, with a quick note on social media. If people are following your social media account, then they are very likely interested in your brand and business as a whole. It is possible that the client had a positive experience with your company and decided to follow on social media, but it didn’t occur to them to post a review.
You do not need to come across as desperate to do this. You can simply say something like:
The post is short, sweet and to the point. Attaching a screenshot of where people can go to write a review on your page also helps out with getting people where they need to go!
3. Offer Incentives
Reviews are something that should hopefully come from organically good interactions with your brand. However, you may want to consider offering incentives in some cases. For example, if people are physically in your store and already seem happy with the service they purchased, you could offer them a slight discount or a coupon to use for future purchases if they are willing to write you a review on their site. If you don’t feel like having store staff constantly gauge asking this, you can also put a sign near your register with the information.
4. Treat it like a Referral Program
It is common practice for businesses to ask for referrals from their customers, either via email, social media, phone calls, or face-to-face. Many times businesses design a “referral reward” program to offer some kind of reward to the people putting in effort to tell their friends and family. Well a review is like telling a ton of people outside one’s own network at the same time, and people should feel like they are doing the same service as telling a close friend. Design a “review rewards” program where if people offer 3 reviews (Yelp, Google, and Facebook for example) they can be eligible for certain promotions or services for promoting your brand.
5. Decide on which Sites You Want Reviews
While you can consolidate all reviews across all platforms on your company’s website, some people prefer to look directly on Yelp and others will solely look at Google reviews. To divide and conquer you may want to divide who you are asking for what review. For example, possibly ask 1/2 of your personal emails to review on Yelp, and the other 1/2 to review on Google. Maybe restrict social media reviews to social media postings. In any case, you want to be sure that you have reviews on all of the sites that people might go to look.
6. Actually Give People a Call
It never hurts to give a good old fashioned phone call. If you are finding that some people are just not being responsive via email, you may want to try to give those particular individuals a phone call (with some time in-between as not to annoy them).
You can treat this exactly as you would a personalized email—be as specific as you can about the interaction they had with you and kindly ask them to share their experience with the rest of the world! This particular strategy takes a lot more effort than most, but it can really be worth it long-term. Plus, people are starting to realize how important reviews are for a business. If you got a call from a small business you recently purchased from, wouldn’t you want to help them out?
7. Start Planting Review Seeds Earlier
Of course, all of this effort is pretty worthless if you do not start asking for reviews sooner! Inform new customers that they will be receiving a personalized email from you in the next couple of weeks, and that it will contain a link to the review site. If they know to look out for this, they already have the review seed planted and will be more likely to help you out. Just do not forget to send that personalized email – otherwise a prospective good review will be out the window!
8. Website Reviews and Call-to-Action Buttons
Remember that any review that is posted on an online site can be used on your website. All you have to do is copy and paste into the format/tab you design on your website and you can consolidate reviews from across multiple platforms; this is great for people who land on your website directly. You can also have CTA buttons at the end of a purchase page or in a follow-up email generated from your eCommerce site (kind of like Amazon does) so that people can write a review as soon as they interact with your website.
9. Use Your Reviews
You can also use your reviews in content development. If people are all raving about the same facet of a product or service, or if people are having a particular struggle, actually use these reviews to address the needs and praises of your client base. This will show people that their words were valuable to you and that they did not go unnoticed.
10. If at First You Don’t Succeed…
Getting reviews can be a challenge. Many people don’t ever ask for reviews because it is a marketing task that takes effort, work, and determination to succeed. Yet, giving up prematurely is certainly not the answer. Go through your client list once every six months and reach out to those who have yet to write a review. After two years you may want to stop asking them because it might be too far away from their experience with your company. Persistence is really key here, and as this list indicates, trying different approaches to the same task can really be helpful in getting more reviews.
Do you have any “best practices” to ask previous clients for reviews? Let us know in the comments section below!