Free advertising. Wouldn’t you like some of that? Encourage customers to give you an on-line review and that’s exactly what you can get.
As a business owner you’ll know the value of word-of mouth referrals. Some say it’s better value than any advertising dollar can buy. What is changing about word-of mouth referrals is that more and more they are happening on-line. We are moving from the Yellow Pages to search engines to find local businesses on-line. When we find them, we compare by reading feedback from people who have already used the business. Do you ever compare reviews before purchasing? If you are then your potential customers are too. It’s vital then that you at least start thinking about how you can get reviews.
So how do you encourage customers to give you a review? You don’t want to leave it to chance, so before you start, develop a plan that at minimum answers these questions:
- Where should you place your reviews?
- What do you have to do to set that up
- How can you encourage your customers to leave a review
Remember that not all reviews you get will be solicited by you, and not all of them will be good, so part of your plan must be how you manage negative feedback – but that’s a whole separate topic.
Where to Place On-line Reviews?
Now that you’re aware of how important they are, you need to decide where you would like people to put reviews. Your website, on-line directories and Facebook are places that immediately spring to mind, so let’s take a quick look at each of these.
- By all means use your website to display testimonials. A testimonials page is a great way to establish your credibility. However, if your website is the ONLY place you have reviews, then you’re probably missing out as people may be comparing businesses long before they even get near your website.
- On-line directories are another option. These are not as important as they once were, and not all directories allow reviews either. There are free and paid directories and as long as the directory doesn’t look spammy, free ones are fine to use. But beware, you may get calls trying to up sell you to a paid listing.
- Facebook is another place you could look at, but you’d have to work really hard at getting reviews there. “Like” me on Facebook just won’t do it, and for your reviews to be any value to your business, you’d need to work on developing a community on your Facebook page. The reality is that most small business owners just don’t have the time for that.
How to Get Reviews
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to ask for reviews.
- Ask at the right time: The ideal time to ask is immediately after the purchase, or when you’ve supplied the service – while the experience is fresh in your customer’s minds. There’s no substitute for a phone call and you might be surprised how people appreciate a quick follow-up call. Obviously this doesn’t work for every type of business, so you might have to figure out what will work for your customers.
- Make it simple for your customers: Giving you a review is not likely to be uppermost in your customer’s mind. So it’s up to you to make it easy for them.If phoning works for your business, you still absolutely must follow up with an email that has a direct link to where you want them to place the review. Give them a link to the exact page so they don’t have to think about it. Beware: If you’re choosing directories to list in, and the directory has a complicated form, or one that asks lot of unnecessary questions, it will probably frighten people away. Create simple guidelines so they know that they don’t have to write a book about you, and they know exactly what you want. For example ask them to include an example of your customer service in the review.
And don’t forget to thank them for the review.
A few positive on-line business reviews can be incredibly valuable to you by increasing awareness of your business. A little bit of effort up-front can bring long-term rewards. If you are stuck on what you have to do to make that happen, we are here to help, so give us a call.
Finally, here’s something you might not know: On-line reviews are gaining importance in determining search engine ranking. We’ll a take a closer look at that in the next issue in a couple of weeks. So stay tuned.
The Caped Crusader of Anyware Web Marketing