Get more good reviews in the places that matter
Many business owners don’t think about reviews until they get a bad one. But proactive “white hat” review generation can be a smart way to get ahead of your competition and protect yourself against the occasional sour customer. (And let’s face it; we’ve all had the misfortune of dealing with someone who just won’t be happy).
What are the best places for reviews?
If you’ve worked with us in the past, you know that we strongly recommend focusing your efforts at the top. You can’t be everywhere; be great in the most important 1 or 2 places. Although this varies by industry and marketplace, normally you want good reviews in 1 or 2 of these sites: Google, Yelp, Facebook, Amazon
Before embarking on a strategy to accumulate reviews, you should
– decide which site is most important for you
– perform a quick competitive analysis
– establish your baseline score
– outline a meaningful goal for your page, and a timeline
So which site is most important for you?
For most businesses, the answer is your “Google My Business” page. We might refer to this as your “Maps” page, since you’ll see it as a pin on a Google Map. You can also think of it as simply your Google page.
For certain kinds of businesses such as restaurants, travel-related businesses and retail establishments, Yelp can be more important.
If you are selling a consumer product on Amazon, then you already know that Amazon reviews are where you should start. Similarly, if you market extensively on Facebook, you should prioritize Facebook reviews.
For more detail on review sites and a competitive overview, see the companion article here.
So what is the process for gathering reviews?
We use the terms “review generation” and “review solicitation” almost interchangeably. You can do it yourself or hire a professional, like us. Both are variations on this fundamental: you have to ask, and you should. If you don’t ask, you might have 199 happy customers out of 200 and still have 1 good review and 1 bad one. The unhappy customer, however rare they might be, is more motivated.
First, the DIY options:
Like anything online, you can Google the question: “How can I get more reviews?” Tactics include:
– creating a Standard Operating Procedure that requires each project manager to ask for a review at the conclusion of a project. This can be a phone call, an email with a link, or part of an in-person exchange.
– including a link to your Google or Yelp page in your email signature, and perhaps asking employees to do the same thing.
– if your company provides in-person service, training your employees to ask how they’ve done at the end of the appointment. If it’s favorable, ask for a review and offer to tee up the review page on the customer’s phone. If they use an Android phone, they will already be logged in to their Google account.
– Creating a special URL link such as FredsBedsReviews.com and including it in all of your marketing material. You can forward the URL to your reviews page.
And so on. Each is a version of simply asking for a review and assuming that you’ll get a good one.
In all review solicitations, care needs to be taken not to flood your Google or Yelp page with too many reviews at one time. You should be mindful of this if you are asking for reviews on your own. Don’t send your customers a mass mailing (email or snail mail) asking for reviews. It needs to be done organically, as you go, over time.
It’s also important to set a reasonable goal for the number of reviews and then stop. More is not always better, and you can quickly get to a point of diminishing returns. Years ago, we had a dentist client that wanted more reviews. He was a sole practitioner and, like many, he became aware of reviews when he got a bad one. He hired a national company known for generating lots of reviews quickly (for a lot of money. And maybe some of these reviews were fake? Most?) We advised against it. Pretty soon, like another dentist he knew, he had more than 200 reviews on his Google page. It helped his search rankings, briefly, until Google blacklisted him. He was in the penalty box for a couple of years.
If you have only 1 or 2 reviews, you need to get some more. But if a dentist in our size town has more than 200 reviews, and most of the established reputable practices have between 20 and 50, 200 or more is a problem.
I also know of an IT company that established a good SOP for gathering reviews. They’re at more than 500 reviews and continuing to climb, trying to outpace their competitors. This kind of “arms race” is a waste of time and energy that would be better spent elsewhere.
What if I hire you to do it for me?
As professionals, we add a couple of layers to the process that have important benefits. In addition to adhering to the principles outlined above, we use our own software to streamline the process. Called Review Supernova, our approach
– sends a personal email to the customer from your company email address
– walks the customer through the review process in a step by step fashion
– solicits the customer’s star rating and comments. If the star rating is 3 or lower, the review comes only to you. If the star rating is 4 or 5, the customer is taken to the page we have chosen in advance (Google, Yelp, Facebook, Amazon, or other). Their comments are already on the clipboard and will be pasted in the new location.
Using your list of happy customer email addresses, we can schedule a predetermined number of emails to be sent in advance. We can stop the effort when the goal number of reviews has been achieved. We can also continue the campaign and solicit reviews for the next most relevant review page of your business.
No matter which approach you choose, if you don’t ask for reviews you are missing out. “Social proof” is powerful. Nothing sells your company better than happy customers saying great things about you!
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