If you own a business, you probably like it when a customer posts a good review online, but you might not think it’s all that important. That’s especially true if you get most of your business through referrals—after all, referrals don’t care about reviews, right?
Wrong—they might not care how many positive reviews there are about your business, but they could care a great deal about a few negative ones. The fact that you don’t have a strategy to encourage positive reviews doesn’t mean customers who had a bad experience with your company won’t want to tell the world about it—and if those negative reviews are among the first search results for your business, your referrals could dry up, and fast.
Consumers Care about Online Reviews of Your Business
According to data collected by Capterra:
- 88% of consumers trust customer reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Consumers on average spend 31% more on businesses with “excellent reviews”
- Buyers tend to consult reviews early in their search process, with 68% reading reviews while compiling their shortlist
- 97% of B2B customers say customer reviews are more credible than any other type of content
Still think it doesn’t matter to get strong customer reviews? Then consider this: positive reviews can improve a business’s search engine rankings by as much as 10%.
Now you’re coming around. The only remaining question is how to increase the number of positive reviews your business generates, and how to make that work for your business. Here are 4 smart strategies to do just that:
Appeal to Your Customers’ Altruism
Some customers will generate reviews on their own, but others you need to ask. The best way to ask is to appeal to their altruism. According to research from Robert Cialdini (author of the groundbreaking book, Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion), you should ask customers one question before you ask them to write a review.
That question is, “Do you consider yourself a helpful person?” Believe it or not, prefacing your request for a review with that simple question will increase compliance by more than 77%. When a customer answers “yes” (as most will), tell them you’d like to send them an invitation to share an honest opinion of their experience with your business (be sure to tell them you want honesty—that increases trust and credibility). The result? A lot more positive reviews for your business.
Invest in Reputation Marketing Software
Yes, there’s software to automate the generation of customer reviews. What the software does is make it as easy as possible for customers to provide feedback. For example, there’s software that includes a tablet kiosk which automatically generates texts and emails inviting customers to share their opinions.
Writing for Entrepreneur, Eric Christopher (founder and CEO of branding agency, BizFamous) notes that one of his clients increased Google reviews from 27 to 70 in the space of one month by using reputation marketing software. He also reports that same client saw a dramatic increase in both customers and revenues over the same period.
Share the Good News
When it comes to positive reviews, it’s not smart to hide your light under a bushel. For example, you’ll want to share the positive reviews you generate on all your social media channels. This will make it more likely for people to “like” your page or follow your company on Twitter. That means they’re also more likely to become fans and, eventually, customers.
You should also post positive reviews on multiple pages of your website. It’s especially effective to include reviews on opt-in and checkout pages. Positioning them close to your calls-to-action will increase click-through rates and conversions.
Add to Authenticity with Video Reviews
Which would you find more compelling, and more credible: a text review or a video review? Think about it—with a text review, you might wonder if it was really written by a customer. It’s a lot harder to question the authenticity of a video review. What’s more, video adds nuance and emotion that text simply can’t convey. There are even cheap online tools (like Vidrack) which make it easy for you to create your video reviews.
What it really comes down to is trust. Consumers have changed—bombarded by TV ads, promotional emails and direct mail pieces, and hounded by pesky telemarketers, they’ve become more discerning, and more skeptical. The reason inbound marketing is so effective, for example, is that it works to build trust before engaging in “sales talk.” Generating and sharing positive customer reviews to demonstrate that current customers and clients have had good experiences with your business is among the most effective ways to build trust and, by extension, to drive sales and grow your business.
About David Officen
David is the Founder and Managing Director of proCFO. David combines an accounting and consulting background with commercial experience both as a manager for large commercial businesses and as the owner of private and family businesses.