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Developing a Reviews Strategy for Your Small Business

Online reviews are a vital part of the customer engagement process and carry a lot of weight with your customers and prospects.

Reviews from your customers are a vital part of your business, and people that follow your Google My Business page will likely include your customers and prospective customers.

If someone posts a less than flattering review about your business, it is important to acknowledge them by demonstrating that you are listening to what they are saying.

When your customers and prospects acknowledge that you’re listening, you immediately strengthen your relationships with them. It makes them feel heard, which makes them feel more connected to your business.

It also keeps them engaged and emotionally connected to your brand, and this may prompt some people to change their review based on your relationship with them.

Every way in which you can communicate with your customers presents an opportunity to ask customers to share their experience of using your service. Google enables you to ask for online reviews, but offering money or any other incentives in exchange for positive reviews is strictly forbidden.

Note that reviews must come directly from your customers’ Google accounts. Never hire a third party marketer to pose as a customer and post fake reviews or post reviews on behalf of real customers.

If you are in the finance industry, there are specific regulations that govern how you go about collecting reviews online, especially if you belong to a professional organisation. There will be certain things you’re allowed to do and not allowed to do. It is in your own interest to find out what those regulations are before you go about developing a reviews strategy to ensure that you remain within those regulations.

Your Reviews Process

Create an internal process in your company for requesting reviews either at the time of service or shortly thereafter. Remember, a slow, steady acquisition of reviews is the goal here, so that you are gradually building a great online reputation, over time.

The easiest way to get reviews from customers is to add a review button to your website. Link the button to the review site. When people click on the button, they can leave reviews on the page.

You’ll have no control over the reviews, and that is exactly how it should be. This way you get authentic reviews and a good understanding of the service you are delivering to your customers. Linking to a review site where your customers can go and leave independent reviews will not go unnoticed by the search engines.

There are a lot of other ways you can encourage your customers to write honest reviews about your services or products.

Here are some quick tips that will help you get more reviews from your customers:

Make it easy for your customers to write reviews.

To encourage your customers to leave reviews about their experience with your business, you will need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. For instance, on your website, you can provide prominent links to your review listings on popular review sites like Yelp.

This way, your customers can easily go directly from your website to your review pages and leave their reviews. It is not recommended to collect all of reviews at your place of business.

This is because Google will look at the IP address of the person making the review. If all of your reviews are coming from your establishment, Google will have no way of confirming that you’re not actually manufacturing the reviews yourself.

You can even help your customers out by giving them some tips on how to write customer reviews and where they can post them. Explain in as much detail what you would like them to talk about. Give them as much guidance as possible. This is the perfect way to get them started.

You can also show the actual reviews and testimonials on your official website, which can also help to encourage others to leave a review. Not only that, but this will also lead to more conversions for your business.

Show your customers what reviews mean to your business.

Consumers today are extremely busy; so much so that many of them will not take the time out to leave reviews even if they’ve had a really positive experience with your business.

Not only that, some consumers just don’t want to go through the trouble of figuring out where to leave reviews and how to submit them. If you don’t show what reviews mean to you, the happy customer is not going to go through the trouble of giving you a review.

If you want to get your customers to leave reviews, let them know what reviews mean to you and tell them how they can leave one. For example, let them know that you have a business listing on Google+ and Yelp, and that you take the opinions and feedback from your customers very seriously.

Ask for customer reviews in your email and direct mail.

If you send out emails via an autoresponder to your customer list, you could ask them to leave reviews for your company from time to time. Many customers may intend to do so, but neglect to do it for some reason or another.

So a friendly reminder every now and then is just what you need to get your customers engaged with your business and tell the world how much they love you.

The same applies for your direct mail campaigns. Simply reminding consumers that you exist could be enough to urge them to leave a review for your company – especially if you ask them to do so.

Utilize the power of social media. 

Since you’re already connecting with some of your customers via social media, it is the perfect place to ask for reviews and feedback. Customers who are involved in social media like to “socialize” with the businesses they follow. On sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others, it is fairly simple to shoot a message to your audience and many are likely to respond. Therefore, take advantage of this opportunity by asking them for reviews and feedback often.

Encourage them to put their reviews on multiple sites.

Some of your customers probably leave reviews on one review site, whether it’s Google+ Local, Yahoo Local, Yelp or others. However, it always works in your business’s favor to have as many reviews across multiple review platforms as possible.

Not only will this increase your online visibility, it should increase the number of customers coming through your doors because there will be more opportunities for people to find your business. If consumers find that your business has a lot of great feedback on multiple review sites, it will boost your trust and credibility tremendously.

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