You’d like more people saying good things about your business, right?
I think we all would. But getting people to speak well of you is bigger than just something that’d be nice. In fact, it’s crucial to any business wanting to grow.
Nowadays, people do most of their talking online. People do most of their listening and research online, too. That’s why 5-star online reviews are so helpful, and why bad reviews can be so hurtful.
Below I’ll cover some of the research showing why online reviews matter, what it takes to get more online reviews, and what you can do (starting today) to get more 5-star online reviews for your business.
Why do online reviews matter?
Check out this research on how online reviews influence potential customers.
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (BrightLocal)
- 68% of consumers turn to social media for product reviews (Vocus)
- 90% of consumers say that positive online reviews influence their buying decisions, and 86% say negative online reviews influence their decisions (Dimensional Research)
- Customers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business (BrightLocal)
- Positve word-of-mouth generates 2X as many sales as paid ads (Referral Candy)
- Brands with 10+ online reviews have conversion rates 50% higher (or more) than those with 0 reviews (Capterra, Revoo)
- 22% of people decide not to buy after reading one bad review (Moz)
It’s clear than online reviews matter. But why do they make such a difference?
The answer is fairly simple.
Most of us are hesitant to try new things, because we want to protect ourselves from potentially bad experiences. So we turn to others to help us make good choices.
A good review confirms that your business is okay to work with, while a bad review tells people to find another option. Not everyone listens, but most do.
Good reviews also help you rank higher in search results (both on search engines and specific platforms), while bad reviews will make it harder for people to find you.
So, where should you get reviews?
Between the millions of websites and platforms out there, how can you possibly get people saying good things about you on each one?
Well, you probably can’t, and that’s okay. In fact, the number of review options doesn’t matter.
The best thing for you to do is to get as many reviews as possible on the one website where your targets are most likely to find you.
So, where is that?
You’ve probably learned whether customers find you through Google search, browsing on Facebook, Amazon, referrals, or another channel. If you don’t know, just ask your customers.
Find out where most of your customers come from, and focus on getting reviews there first. (If you’re really not sure, just start with Google or Faceboook.)
After you get enough reviews on that one platform to make you happy (say, 50), then you can move on to another, and so on.
How to Get Started
Claim Your Listing
In order to get reviews on a particular platform, you need a verified listing. A verified listing just tells people you’re a legitimate company, and that [this] is a legitimate place to learn more about you.
If you don’t already have a verified listing (or profile), here are guides and registration pages for 12 major platforms.
- Angie’s List
- Better Business Bureau
- G2 Crowd
- Google My Business
- Yellow Pages
Get Your Review Link
Once you’ve verified your listing on a platform, you can start getting reviews there. You just need to get your review link.
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).
You can just go to that page, copy the URL from your browser, and paste it into the message you send to customers when you ask them to give you a review.
However, a few places handle things differently, notably Google My Business and Amazon. Here are specific guides for creating your review link on these each.
In some cases, there’s an option to create a review link that pre-fills 5-stars. This guide wouldn’t be complete without me mentioning this option, but I also wouldn’t recommend it.
Pre-filling a review for customers defeats the purpose of a review, which is to share useful feedback. It also falls into a moral grey area, and could backfire if people catch on (which they will).
What we want to do is foster genuine feedback that tells everyone you’re good to work with. The steps below will help you do this.
How to Get More 5-Star Online Reviews
Step 1: Provide something amazing.
If you want people to say good things about you, you first have to give them something good to talk about. And if you want to get 5-star online reviews, then you have to give them something great.
Whatever industry you’re in, you need to create experiences that makes customers think “Oh! I really like that.”
You can do this by building the best product on the market, or by providing the best service in your industry.
You can do this through fast, empathetic, and friendly customer service, or by making your website easy to find and easy to navigate.
For more ideas, view these tips to providing a great customer experience.
When you create experiences that make customers think “I really like that,” they’ll have no problem telling others about it. All you have to do is ask.
Step 2: Actually ask for the review.
When you need a friend to do a favor for you, do you ask them? You know there’s a small chance (if any) that they’ll guess what you need and volunteer to do it, so you bring it up yourself.
Reviews work the same way.
Sometimes people will talk about you just because they want to, but usually you need to give them a little nudge. You need to ask customers for reviews.
How should you ask?
I’ll show you examples of what to say in the next section, but it’s good to do five things when you ask a customer to review your business.
1. Be appreciative.
You’re asking someone to help you out, so share how thankful you are to have them as a customer. Also thank them for their feedback after they give you a review (whether it’s good or bad).
2. Show them how their review helps.
What do reviews do for your business? We know they at least help you be found, and probably help you get more customers.
Reviews can also give you the feedback you need to make customers’ experiences better. Share how important all of this is to you. (Many will want to help!)
3. Keep it simple.
The more straightforward your messaging, 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. You can read more about disclosures here.
5. Include the link!
Always include the link where people can leave a review. You want customers to see your message, click the link, and leave a review without having to take any unnecessary steps.
Which communications channel should you use to ask?
People communicate in many different ways, and you’ll be able to get more 5-star online reviews by being just as flexible.
For instance, some people prefer to communicate via text, while some prefer Twitter, others prefer email, and some even prefer postcards or being asked in person.
(Fun fact: Texts normally get ~36% click-through rate.)
Since people communicate in so many different ways, you’ll get more reviews by reaching out to customers through multiple channels. If a customer doesn’t pay attention to one channel, it’s okay, because you’re reaching out through others, too.
It’s also helpful to reach out two or three times (if they don’t give you a review after you ask the first time). People won’t always do something the first time they’re asked, and an extra nudge can go a long way.
Automation vs. Personal Outreach
Many businesses like to automate anything they can to save time, energy, and money.
Asking for reviews is certainly something that can be automated (through email drip campaigns, triggered text messages, and other options), but these automations will not be as effective for getting 5-star reviews as sending a personal text or asking in person.
When you ask someone to review your business, you’re asking them to give you their stamp of approval – and to show it off to the world. If you want people to personally recommend you, it helps to first be personal with them.
Automations might work for you just by being more efficient, but the chances of you getting more 5-star reviews increases significantly when you personally communicate with customers and build relationships with them.
A Couple of Examples
As long as you include the five characteristics above, you can ask for reviews in whatever way fits your business and your voice. Here are a couple of examples to help guide you.
Ex. #1: 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, like in the image below. These messages keep the conversation personal, show our appreciation, and make it easy for customers to take the next step.
Ex. #2: Mass Outreach
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 3: 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.
2. Reply to their review.
You can thank the person privately, but it’s also good to reply publicly. Most platforms will let you reply to or comment on reviews.
If you get a great, 5-star review (which is the goal), you can reply with thanks, which also shows potential customers that you care. 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 a Google review, and included it in this blog post (above).
This allows you to take advantage of “social proof” everywhere people find your business, without having to put time and effort into getting reviews everywhere.
How to Turn a Bad Review Into a Good One
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 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. 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.
Additional Tip: 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. For more info, view this guide to engaging customers better.
Let’s wrap this up.
You probably want more customers saying good things to other people about your business. Research also shows that reviews play a leading role in a company’s ability to get new customers.
Leverage great experiences and customer relationships to get more 5-star online reviews, and focus on getting those reviews on the one platform where potential customers are most likely to find you.
As you get more reviews, it will be easier to get even more reviews and more customers. What more could you want?