Running a small business is a lot of work and often times finding time to grow it can seem almost impossible. While you may have thought about getting more online reviews for your business, it probably seemed like a complex task that you simply didn’t have the time to take on. It’s understanding, following up with past customers, asking them to write reviews on not only one site but oftentimes many. How do you keep track of it all? Here are five simple ways to bring in more online reviews across Google, Facebook, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Avvo, Healthgrades and so many more.
First, before we dive into the actual steps to increase your review count, let’s make sure we understand the importance of reviews. What customers say about your business online is powerful. Reviews give your business credibility and help new customers find you online. Over 84% of people trust reviews as much as they trust word of mouth recommendations from friends or family. This makes reviews the single most effective piece of marketing you can have for your business. It also means that once you have a review generation plan in place, you can utilize your existing customers as a marketing engine to power your business.
#1 – Incorporate Getting Reviews Into Your Business Process
Every successful business has processes. Processes that allow it to run smoothly and achieve maximum growth. Review collection shouldn’t be any different. Creating a process for collecting reviews is the first step towards creating that marketing engine that runs off your happy customers. Your review collection process may include handing out a business card with your business profile links and asking the customer to take the time to write a review. It may involve collecting email addresses or phone numbers to follow-up at a later date. It may involve having your employees add each past customer into a review collection tool that helps automate the process. Determine the review collection process that would work best for your type of business and then set recurring steps in place to ensure it gets completed. If after implementing your process, you’re not seeing the results you expect, consider incentivizing your employees:
- Offering a quarterly bonus for the top review collector.
- Running a 2-3 week contest and offering a cash bonus to the top review collector
#2 – Make It Fast & Easy
Your customers value their time and to be perfectly upfront, most will not go out of their way to review your business. You have to make it as simple as possible. I was talking to a business owner last week who provided me this outline that he sends to customers to ask for their review on Google:
- Go to google.com and type in my business name
- Find the Google My Business profile on the right and double-check that it is my correct address
- Click the write a review button
- If you are not logged into your Google account, it will prompt you to login
- Complete the stars and write your review
Whew! That is about 4 steps too long. No wonder this business owner was struggling to bring in new reviews. The goal with review collection should be to provide your customer a direct link so they can immediately write a review. Also, give them multiple options, not everybody might have a Facebook account but they may have a Yelp account, make sure you have a business profile created on both so you can ensure your customer has a way to write a review without needing to create an account.
Use tools available such as a Google Handout Generator or Google Review Link Generator to create links that take your customer directly to where they write a review for you. These services are especially helpful since they can properly redirect your visitor based on whether they are coming from a mobile device or laptop.
Overall, just make the process as simple as possible.
#3 – Incentivize (but don’t buy) Reviews
Sometimes your customers need a little something extra to get them to take a couple minutes of their precious time and share a review. While buying reviews can get you in big trouble and cause your review profiles to be deleted completely, incentivizing in a non-monetary gain way can have big results. Our favorite recommendation here is offering a charitable donation in exchange for reviews you receive. Tell the customer that you’re donating $1 or $2 or even $5 to a charity (tell them the charity) for every review you receive. Add a little asterisk to the email and in fine print say that you’ll donate to charity whether the review written is 1-star or 5-stars. This will keep you in compliance with most review sites since you won’t be providing the incentive for only positive reviews.
The review collection service Arrivala offers automated donations to charity in exchange for reviews. Would highly recommend checking out the plans here.
#4 – Respond & Thank Your Reviewers
It takes seconds to do and the effects will surprise you. Take a few minutes every week and respond to every review you’ve received, both positive and negative. Positive review responses can be a simple ‘Thanks’, or a more personal message if you have the time. Responses to negative reviews should include your side of the story, make it known what you did to try to rectify the problem with the customer that had a bad experience.
Responding to reviews does three important things:
- Increases the chances of more reviews – if you respond to reviews it shows you value them and increases the likelihood that they will take the time to write a review for you.
- Improves your ranking in Google Map results – Businesses that are ‘active’ in their Google My Business listing will rank higher in map results. Responding to reviews is a great way to establish that activeness.
- Improves your websites search ranking – Similar to the above, having an active Google My Business profile that corresponds to a website improves the websites’ search ranking
#5 – Automate Your Review Collection
While everything above can be done manually, it’s going to be a lot of work. If you’re anything like me, if I can automate something for an affordable cost, I’m going to do it. There are great review collection tools out there that do exactly that. They’ll reach out to your past customers by email or text to ask for reviews. They’ll provide direct links straight to your business profiles, some offer the ability to incentivize with features such as charitable donations. The cost for these services range anywhere from free to $500+ per month but most small-medium size businesses can find a great service in the $30-$50/month range packed with features.
Some tools like Arrivala even have an API that can connect directly with your CRM or e-commerce platform which can literally make your review collection 100% hands-off and running in the background.
As I mentioned at the start, reviews are likely the single most effective piece of marketing you can have for your business. They allow you to reach new customers, share insight into what customers can expect, dictate how your business is found in search results and are trusted by over 84% of people as much as a recommendation from a friend or family member.
Reviews are also permanent. Once you’ve collected them, they are there for life and continue to stack on top of one another indefinitely. If you don’t currently have a review collection plan in place, make it a priority today! I can guarantee that one of your competitors has one or is in the process of creating one.
If you have a question about Arrivala or would like our assistance in automating your review collection, get in touch with us at [email protected], call us at 904-755-0091 or sign-up for one of our awesome review collection plans.