Did you know the most powerful marketing department in the world has no budget and makes no marketing plans?
Who is this elusive marketing team and how the hell do I employ them?
They’re consumers – and good news, there’s billions of them out there.
Collectively, they make up the world’s largest marketing team and what they have to say about your product, brand or service will likely make up more than two thirds of your marketing efforts (Mark Schaefer).
It therefore pays to spend time listening and working with what your customers are saying about you.
If you haven’t dabbled in the world of online reviews – it’s time you did.
This consumer army are walking megaphones for your brand – and as business owners, it’s your responsibility to funnel some of their thoughts, comments and feelings into a place that you can use to your benefit.
Dip your toe into the world of online reviews with this guide to customer reviews and managing your online reputation.
Why do reviews work
There’s plenty of reasons we know reviews work, but they all boil down to the social proof and endorsement that your product is one worth investing in.
This is a big deal when we know consumers are drowning in the constant firehose of information and advertisements, with reviews turning a position of distrust into confidence.
If there’s one thing you take from this post, it’s that customers only tend to think you’re good when someone else does.
Think about it – do you choose the restaurant that’s empty or the one that’s only got a few tables left?
Our theory is backed by stats, and 92% of consumers read (and are influenced by) online reviews Trust Pilot. And, they’re not satisfied with one review either. 73% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to six reviews (Vendata) – proof you’re going to want to start building that review bank.
How do you encourage reviews?
We get it, asking someone to write reviews is up there on the list of awkward conversations (albeit second to telling a stranger they have food in their teeth), but it doesn’t need to be. Try these sure-fire ways to get the reviews rolling in.
Ask for a review
It might seem obvious, but when was the last time your local coffee shop asked you to leave a review for them? My guess is never.
You don’t have to go on the hard sales approach but an honest “we’re working really hard at the moment to build our online reviews because it helps us attract more business, if you had two minutes, I’d be so grateful for you to tell us what you think online” – will start to clock up more stars than the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Of course, you can be selective with who (and when) you ask for a review to help ensure you’re inviting five-star reviews – but remember – asking is the first step towards receiving.
Tip: Just as a reporter prefers to get quotes and comments from a footballer as the final whistle blows, your best chance of obtaining a review from a customer is the minute they finish their service with you. The minute they’ve finished, they’ve moved onto the next big thing and your moment is hijacked.
Put up signage and links to where people can review you
You’d already know customers are distracted creatures – so it doesn’t hurt to add signs around your physical address asking customers to leave a review on your preferred channel.
Signage will also help keep your reviews partially contained, by funnelling them to where you want. This is important if you’re a time poor business owner, and don’t necessarily want to be community managing Facebook reviews on top of Google ones.
Better than signage, add a link to your eNewsletters to reduce the work for your customer down to a single click. A good time to drop a ‘review me link’ to your customer dialogue is when you’re thanking your customers for their business.
Incentivise your reviews
While offering a free service in return for a five-star review is probably going to have Aus Trade cracking down with a bribery claim, there’s nothing wrong with a little incentive to get the ball rolling on the review-front.
It’s not just the customer you might like to incentivise. Incentivising your staff will go a long way to keeping the reviews rolling in.
Our recent house removalists, although exhausted, took the time to show us how to leave a Google review (and I absolutely humoured them so I could watch this social experiment roll out). When I pressed their urgency to get a review then and there, they disclosed they have a competition back at head office and a carton of beer was on the line for the team with the most reviews. Incentive enough for our two removalists to work their arses off for their five stars, which we happily gave.
Give reviews to other people
Riddle us this, what would Quid Pro Quo be without the Quo? Just a one-sided favour. Try a push/pull principle with your online reviews by dishing out reviews to your favourite businesses yourselves. What you’ll probably find is any review you put out is returned by a review in.
Like anything in life, when you scratch someone’s back, they’re more likely to scratch yours.
Now that you have reviews, what next?
In a world where everyone is faced with not enough content and too many channels, we strongly encourage you to use testimonials as a content opportunity.
We always say every piece of content created for the business should be cut, carved and cooked into more content – like a babushka doll of opportunities.
If you even have as little as one testimonial, you have a world of opportunities. Here’s a few of our favourite ways to create more content magic from a single testimonial:
1. Create quote tiles for your social media accounts using free apps like Canva or custom designed tiles. We made this one recently based on glowing feedback left on Google for us.
2. Add a face to name by filming a video testimonial or a still photo. Here’s one we recently prepared for a client, Active Build.
3. Start a bank of kind words to send with your creds document to potential new clients. This could be developed into a simple document that you send out, or more formalised in a brochure like this one.
4. Add the testimonial to your website – and importantly, update the testimonials on your website regularly.
5. Share kind words in your eNewsletter program as a regular segment.
In case you’re still scared about chasing down reviews in fear of what people will say, we’ll leave this stat here from Social Media Today: 75% of reviews posted on review websites are positive.
We’d love to know, how do you encourage reviews and testimonials about your business?
By Hannah Statham
Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.