Before committing to most purchase decisions—whether that’s buying a new TV or simply trying out a pizza spot that just opened—consumers like to have some sort of social proof. That is, they like to see that other consumers have spent their own hard-earned money on the same product or service and found the transaction to be worthwhile. This social proof can sometimes take the form of a testimonial, but more often it is delivered via online reviews, posted to Google, Facebook, or Yelp.
Reviews matter because they can shape consumer opinion of your brand, either providing the social proof that new customers need to take the plunge, or else scaring new customers away. What’s more, reviews can have a direct impact on local search rankings, affecting your brand’s online visibility.
As such, it’s smart for companies to be intentional about generating reviews. There are right ways and wrong ways to go about this. The days where you could get away with paying money to buy fake reviews are long gone, and in fact, attempting anything shady can do more harm than good. With that said, there are some best practices businesses can follow to help generate online reviews.
How to Generate Online Reviews
Set Up Your Online Profiles
First and foremost, be sure that your business is active and up to date with all relevant online profiles. Having a regularly updated Google Business Profile is especially important. If customers see that your company has invested in an active online presence, and that you care about interacting with customers on the Internet, they’ll be more likely to provide feedback.
Ask for Reviews
You shouldn’t bribe customers into leaving you reviews, and in fact, you really shouldn’t need to. Often, all you have to do is ask. There are a number of ways to do this:
- Consider adding links to some of your most prominent review profiles, including Google Business, on your company website.
- Leave review links at the bottom of digital invoices and receipts, along with a quick call-to-action inviting users to share their feedback.
- Instruct your sales representatives to mention the value of online reviews at the point of purchase, gently reminding customers that their opinions matter to you.
- Your email newsletter is a great tool for prompting reviews. Leave a quick reminder, along with links, on a monthly or semi-monthly basis.
Respond to Reviews
Customers will be much more likely to provide feedback if they see evidence that the business owner actually takes the time to read reviews and respond appropriately. The question is, what’s the best way to respond?
It depends on what type of review you’re looking at. For a favorable review, a simple note of gratitude should be sufficient. Thank the customer for their business and for taking the time to share their comments.
For a negative review, flex your customer service muscles. Apologize that the customer was not fully satisfied and offer to make things better while providing a way for them to connect with you directly. Demonstrate to them, and to other customers who might be observing, that you’re prepared to do anything you can to provide an extraordinary customer experience.
A really good online review can be turned into a valuable piece of creative. For example, you can take the text of a five-star review and turn it into a visual to be shared on Instagram or Facebook.
This isn’t just a way to maximize the value of your social proof. It can also be an incentive for other customers to leave positive reviews, as they’ll see that doing so can earn them some online recognition.
Use Review Management Software
There are plenty of ways for businesses to cultivate online reviews, but ultimately, the most efficient and comprehensive approach is to use review management software. This can automate many of the tasks associated with building a strong online reputation.
At enCOMPASS, we provide our clients with a review generation platform that allows them to experience all the benefits of online reviews with almost no effort required. The platform we use makes it easy to send automated texts or emails to customers who have purchased your products or services.
Additionally, we’ll work with you to determine which review sites will be more useful for building your brand. We can also enable automatic review prompts when a customer “checks in” at your physical store location.
All of these functions are available from a single dashboard, which also offers an easy way to keep track of reviews and monitor your online reputation.
Don’t Leave Your Reviews to Chance
More than 90 percent of customers say they check reviews before making a purchase. As such, online reviews can’t be left to chance. Take charge of your online reviews with the practices we’ve mentioned here, along with our review generation service. Contact enCOMPASS Agency to talk further.
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