With the internet at our fingertips, maintaining your business’s reputation online is paramount. Many of us flock to trusted third party review websites like Yell, Facebook, and TripAdvisor to see what others have to say before we part with our cash or plan an outing.
However, simply providing the option to leave reviews won’t mean they’ll automatically start rolling in. You need to make your customers aware that they can share their thoughts online. This is where a review acquisition strategy comes in handy!
Review Acquisition Strategy – What Is It and Why Do I Need One?
“91% of consumers take action as a result of reading positive reviews online.
84% of consumers say it’s important to read reviews before buying products and services.
(Source: Critical Research Ltd, 2017)”
If you’re here, chances are you’re aware that online reviews are essential for any modern business. But the recency of reviews is also important. Let’s look at a few more stats:
“56% of consumers who have read reviews expect the most recent review to have been posted within the last month. (Critical Research Ltd, 2017)
77% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant. (Source: BrightLocal, 2017)”
Businesses, therefore, stand to benefit from encouraging a constant stream of fresh reviews to keep their presence updated in the eyes of their consumers. After all – we want to know what a company is like to work with now, not 6 months ago!
Your plan of action to keep new reviews pouring in is called a “review acquisition strategy”.
Reviews help give your prospects an at-a-glance idea of what you’re like to work with, give your audience another avenue to engage with you, and can also help with local SEO too.
So without further ado, let’s look at how you can create a review acquisition strategy that works for you.
Building Your Review Acquisition Strategy
What your review acquisition strategy looks like will vary wildly depending on what your business does, how it serves its customers, and how you engage with them. But whatever line of work you’re in, you need to start by thinking long and hard about your average sales process – starting from your customer’s initial interest all the way through to a completed purchase. Where in that process would it make most sense/be most appropriate for you to ask for a review?
It might help you to write down your sales process. Make sure you’ve got a really good idea of what working with you looks like from the customer’s perspective – from start to finish.
Now you’re crystal clear on your sales process, you need to consider the following five points to develop your plan of attack:
How are you going to broach the subject of reviews with your customers? What would be the best way to ask the question – face-to-face, by email, through social media, or something else entirely? Remember your practicalities here – if you don’t generally collect customer email addresses, planning to ask for reviews by email probably wouldn’t be overly fruitful. Also, remember to communicate with your customer-facing staff if you want them to start prompting customers for online reviews.
The timing of your request is just as important as how you ask for it. B2Cs, like retailers or barbers, for example, may benefit most from asking for a review directly at point of sale; but other businesses who work with clients on longer-term, collaborative projects may want to leave a bit of breathing room first, wherein they let the client go away and reflect on how working together has been beneficial.
However, asking the question too late can also be an issue – if the customer has forgotten about you, they’re unlikely to remember how the purchase made them feel. Also consider whether you intend to chase those who haven’t responded to review requests, and how frequently you could do so without being annoying!
Think carefully about which review sites would be most appropriate for your business. Some review sites are good “all-rounders”, appropriate for most industries – Yell and Google My Business are great examples. However, there are certain review sites that lend themselves to certain sectors; for example, those in hospitality may rely on TripAdvisor. Be aware that you don’t have to pick just the one review site – letting your customers use whichever site suits them best can help encourage them to leave a review.
Think carefully about who you’re going to ask for reviews. Are you going to ask all customers? Or maybe only those who are particularly pleased with your business? Do you want to approach regular customers who spend a little each time? Or will you only ask those who’ve made larger purchases? Perhaps you could approach clients who engaged you for a particular kind of project that you’d like to highlight to future prospects?
BrightLocal also found in their above study that it’s a case of “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” in terms of reviews – 68% of consumers left a review after a local business asked them to. (Source: BrightLocal, 2017)
When you ask your clients to give a review, it helps to give them a good reason why they should. You could politely remind customers of their purchase and state that reviews help you out, and even negative reviews help you ensure that mistakes don’t happen again. Make sure it’s easy for them to leave a review online, providing a direct link to your review profile wherever possible.
There are no right or wrong answers for any of these steps – only you know which approach is likely to work for you.
We should also mention that you should never directly incentivise reviews – paying for fake reviews is a big no-no and is likely to get you booted from any review site. Don’t do it.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of how small businesses might implement a review acquisition strategy:
- An owner of a retail shop may include a link to their review profiles on all receipts and ask customers who spend over a certain amount to leave a review at one of the links shown.
- A tradesperson may mention their review profile as final payment changes hands. They may also follow up in a few weeks to make sure the customer is satisfied and to remind them to place a review if they haven’t already.
- A professional services agency may email their client upon completion of the project, asking for a review; or could alternatively ask a few weeks later once the client has put the work into practice and seen the results.
So reader, how do you encourage your customers to leave reviews? How does your industry generally ask previous customers for reviews? What review sites are most useful in your sector? We’d love to hear from you – please share your thoughts down in the comments!
Maintaining your business’s online reputation can be hard work. To make it easy, our Reputation Manager tool can help.