How to Get More 5-Star Online Reviews
You want more online reviews, because you know they'll bring you more referrals, customers, and leads. The problem is you're always fighting for customers' attention, and it's tough to both cut through the noise and get them to take action.
We can help.
We know what makes online reviews so powerful, how they can be more valuable than as just positive word of mouth, and—most importantly—how to actually earn more online reviews. And we're going to show you all of it.
This guide is your ticket to earning more 5-star online views, driving leads and sales, and creating the thriving business you want. Best of all, you can implement these tips and tactics today. Are you ready?
How important are online reviews?
I can talk about how great word of mouth is all day, but it'll be easier to just let you see the research.
- People read 10 reviews they feel they can trust you
- Products with 5 reviews are 270% more likely to be purchased than those with 0
- Reviews control about 15% of local search results (the local pack)
- 82% read online reviews for local businesses
- 91% say positive reviews make them more likely to buy from or work with a business
- A 5-star rating will earn you 25% more clicks than a 3-star rating
- 80% of all B2B & B2C sales involve word of mouth recommendations during the sales process
- 82% of small business owners have said referrals are their #1 source of new customers
Where should you focus your online review efforts?
It's nearly always best to spend the bulk of resources (time and money) where your customers and potential customers are most likely to interact with you.
If they spend all their time on Facebook, start there. If they always turn to Google before making it to your website, pick Google. If they evaluate you and others on TripAdvisor before making a decision, focus there.
But to make this decision, you have to know who your target customers are, what they care about, and where they spend their time. In other words, you need a solid understanding of your target customer persona and the customer buying journey.
For help, review our guides to creating and targeting custom buyer personas and customer journey mapping. If you have any doubts about where it's most important to earn online reviews, pick Google. It's a good default.
Before you get started...
Claim your listing.
You need a verified listing on a platform before you can start earning reviews on it. A verified listing tells people you’re a legitimate company, and that [this] is a legitimate place to learn more about you.
If you'd like help getting your verified listing (or profile), here are guides and registration pages for 12 major review platforms.
- Angie’s List
- Better Business Bureau
- Google My Business
- Yellow Pages
Get your custom review link.
Once you’ve verified your listing, you just need to get your review link so you can start sending people to your reviews page and collecting feedback.
For most platforms, your review link will be the same URL as your business listing, or it might be a specific review page under your listing (e.g. website.com/yourbiz or website.com/yourbiz/reviews).
- Go to your review page
- Copy the URL
- Paste it into the message you send to customers when you ask them to give you a review
For requesting through text message specifically, we recommend you shorten your link using a free service like Bitly.
A few platforms like Google and Amazon handle review links differently. Here are specific guides for creating your review link on these each.
Once you have your review link, you're ready to start asking customers for reviews! But how should you ask, and what can you do to ensure they actually leave you a review?
Related: How to Get Your Business Review Link
How to Get More 5-Star Online Reviews
Step 1: Provide something amazing.
If you want people to say good things about you, you have to give them a reason. The most straightforward way is to create incredible customer experiences that makes customers think “Oh! I really like that.”
You can do this by building the best product in the market, by providing the best service in your industry, and by taking small extra steps to make sure customers are better off after they've worked with you.
You can do this with friendly customer service, and by making your website easy to navigate and find helpful answers on.
There are lots of ways you can create great customer experiences, but it ultimately comes down to doing things better than expected. When you do that, asking for and earning reviews becomes natural.
Step 2: Actually ask for the review.
70% of people are willing to leave you a review if you just ask. And 76% of the people you ask will go on to do it. So if you ask 100 happy customers for reviews the right way, you can expect to earn about 53 online reviews.
Not bad, eh?
So how should you ask?
I’ll show you examples of what to say in the next section, but here's a good template for asking through any channel.
1. Be appreciative.
A good heart goes a long way. Tell your customers genuinely how thankful you are for their business, and, if applicable, how much you enjoyed working with them.
2. Explain why it matters.
What do reviews do for your business? You and I both know reviews help your business get found online and bring in more customers. But do your customers know that?
If they enjoyed working with you or buying your products, they'll be happy to help you succeed. So tell customers how reviews help you succeed.
3. Keep it simple.
The more straightforward your request, the better. Most people will give you 10-15 seconds before deciding to tune out, so keep your ask short and sweet.
4. Disclose any incentives.
Sometimes offering a few dollars or a small gift will encourage more customers to give you reviews. But if you offer anything other than a thank-you, that information needs to be fully disclosed with each customer and on your reviews platform. You can read more about disclosures here.
5. Include the link!
Happy customers aren't going to search for your business on a particular platform to leave you a review (only vengeful customers will do that). So be sure you include to the link to leave you a review, along with a clear call-to-action.
Step 3: Choose your communications channel.
Customers choose to communicate in different ways through different channels, and you’ll be able to get more 5-star online reviews by being just as flexible.
We typically recommend that you send a text asking for a review, and follow it up with an email. This gives you good coverage in the two places customers are most likely to look. If you have a physical store, you can also ask for reviews at the counter (offering a discount for reviews and check-ins is effective).
Fun fact: Organizations who ask for reviews and feedback through text tend to see 600% more completed reviews than through the next best channel (email).
Automation vs. Personal Outreach
You have two basic options when asking for reviews:
- Automate review requests to every customer based on some behavior (like a payment)
- Manually send requests to hand-picked happy customers
The decision is yours to make. Automating the process will allow you to bring in more reviews without having to put any time or brain power to it. There's a chance your reviews will be less than 5-stars, but the rating will generally come down to how great and consistent your customer experiences are.
Manually asking for reviews will almost guarantee that each review you get is great (5-stars), but it will take time and intention to ensure customers are asked and complete reviews.
Which would you prefer? Start with that, you can make changes later. The important thing is to put a process in place for earning more reviews.
A Couple of Examples
You need to ask for reviews in a way that feels natural for your brand and includes the five characteristics we talked about above. Here are a couple of examples to help guide you.
The Quick Reply
We're always following up with our Text Request customers to see how they're enjoying the service, and if there's anything else we can do for them.
When things are going well, we ask them to share it on Google. These requests are often impromptu, keep the conversation personal, show our appreciation, and make it easy for customers to take the next step.
Emailing your customers (or top customers) is easy, and lets you include more info, like in the image below. You can send these emails out in a "blast," or hand select who to send them to.
Just be sure not to include too much info, or no one will read it. You might also need to send these emails multiple times to get a response.
Step 4: Monitor feedback.
Your job doesn’t end when you ask someone for a review. Follow-through is key to getting 5-stars again and again. Every time you get a new review, do these three things.
1. Thank the person for their review.
Whether the review is good or bad, always thank the person for their feedback. It shows appreciation, and strengthens the relationship they have with you and your business. Plus, of people who read reviews, 97% will read your response.
2. Address their feedback (good or bad).
You want the public to know that you're listening, and you can do that by engaging in reviews like any other conversation.
If you get a great, 5-star review (which is the goal), you can reply with "Thanks and I'm glad you're enjoying!" I’ll cover how to handle bad reviews in the next section.
3. Keep your promise.
If you told customers you’d give them something for leaving a review, you need to actually give it to them! Otherwise, you’ve broken a promise, which can and will backfire for everyone to see.
As an added tip, you can take all the 5-star reviews you get, and show them off on your website, in your ads, or anywhere else people might find you.
For instance, I took a screenshot of our Google reviews, and included it in this blog post (above).
This allows you to take advantage of “social proof” everywhere people find your business, without necessarily having to put resources towards getting reviews everywhere.
Turn bad reviews into good ones.
At some point, no matter what you do, you’re going to get a bad review. That’s okay! What really matters is how you handle it.
Should you get mad and retaliate?
Instead, follow these simple steps:
1. Thank the person for their feedback, preferably by replying to their review, so everyone can see how you respond to customer complaints.
2. Tell them you’ll do everything you can to fix or improve the situation.
3. Actually do everything you can to fix or improve the situation.
4. Follow up with that person when an update or solution is available (by replying to their review and by reaching out privately).
5. Compensate the person for their troubles (e.g. replace a defunct product with an upgraded one, give them a discount, etc.).
6. After you've resolved the issue, privately ask the person if they’d consider updating their review, perhaps from “I have this problem,” to “I had this problem, and here’s what they did to fix it.” This will better represent the situation, and will likely make everyone look better.
Bonus: Be active and engaging all the time.
When you’re active online and communicating with customers regularly, you’re fostering engagement and building relationships with them.
The more you do, the easier it will be to get reviews, and the better those reviews will be. It'll also affect your search engine rankings, which affect your inbound sales and marketing.
Keep all this up, and you'll be sure to get more 5-star online reviews for your business.