10 Ways to Encourage Customer Reviews Online

10 Ways to Encourage Customer Reviews Online

According to a recent survey by Bright Local, 88% of people read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business. The importance of customer reviews cannot be emphasized enough! Online customer reviews resemble the traditional word-of-mouth effect in that they can sway potential customers into buying your products. They are free and highly credible advertisement for your business.

The following infographic provides more statistics from the survey:

Customer Reviews Stats

But how do we get customers to write reviews?

The survey by Bright Local also reveals that most people recommend businesses through personal conversations. They seldom take the time to write reviews online, even though they read reviews before making purchase decisions. The challenge is: How can you scale the word-of-mouth effect online?This post will teach you 10 best practices to encourage customers to review your business online. (Of course, being pushy is not one of them.)

1. Display reviews/testimonials on your website or category page
Showing reviews on your website tells customers that their reviews matter and will be featured online. It’s also a way to show your potential customers that their reviews are welcomed.

2. Send a follow up email to your customers after purchase
Kindly remind your customers to review your business when they are still excited about their new purchases. I would suggest waiting until a week after their products arrive or the transaction closes.

3. Create monthly sweepstakes to incentivize the process
People want recognition and rewards. Pick a top reviewer every month and give him/her a shout-out on your website and social media. Put a star right next to his/her profile picture or even embed the review at the top of your website. People love that kind of recognition! This is a great way to ensure that you have fresh reviews every month.

Tips: make sure you clearly lay out the rules for wining before you start a sweepstake.

4. Offer small discounts or free gifts in a subtle way
The emphasis is on subtle because you don’t want to cheapen your brand by giving out too many discounts. Many customers are willing to write reviews for free! You can give them a coupon, such as buy one get one free, or a free sample, after they submit their reviews. This way, you can give them a little surprise without advertising your discounts or free gifts all over the website.

5. Have a presence on every major online review platform
Make the review process easy for your customers. Create a business page in every major review platform, including Yelp, Google+, Foursquare, Yahoo Review, Yellow Pages, and local directories. This way, your customers can easily find you online whenever they want to write a review.

6. Include a slip in your package
Many business owners feel embarrassed when they ask for reviews. Don’t be! If you don’t ask, your customers will never know you want one. You can include a slip in your package or a few lines at the bottom of your website, together with a friendly instruction to help them with the process!

7. Leverage your social media
Same as above. If you have built a loyal online community, don’t be afraid to ask them to write a review for you! Following is an example:

“Hey awesome customers, enjoying your [product name]? We’d be so happy if you could spare a few minutes to write a review for us! Let us know how we did! [Insert a link here].

8. Move everyday comments to online platforms
Do you get much verbal feedback but not enough online reviews? If so, ask your customers’ permission to put it online.

9. Publish both good and bad reviews
Although bad reviews might not look as good, they convey the authenticity of your reviews. Savvy consumers can easily spot a fake 5-star review right away. Therefore, it’s better to stay true to all your reviews, be they good or bad. Additionally, you are also showing the reviewers that their reviews count.

10. Respond to your customer reviews
Take the time to respond to reviews. It’s an opportunity to thank your happy customers as well as dealing with unhappy customers. Sincerely ask your unhappy customers what’s wrong and what you can do to fix the problem. They might appreciate it and change their bad reviews later!

No matter which method you use, remember to always provide instruction for your customers so that the review process is a piece of cake for them! Also, keep your reviews as fresh and positive as possible. As the survey indicates, people seldom read more than the first 10 reviews.

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