Online reviews are guiding consumer decisions more than ever
What is the benefit of getting more online reviews? What we’ve seen over the past few years is a big shift toward e-commerce and a growing consumer preference for reading reviews before a purchase. Online sales are continuing to gain market share after experiencing rapid growth in 2020 and 2021 and customer reviews are playing a HUGE role in buying behavior.
Here are some quick stats from a 2021 BrightLocal study that illustrate the trend:
- 77% of study participants indicated that they “always” or “regularly” use online reviews to guide buying decisions. For context, only 60% of respondents fell into this category in a 2020 survey.
- 81% said they use Google reviews when choosing a local business. That’s a big increase from only 63% in 2020. The runners-up were Yelp (53%) and Facebook (48%).
- 89% agreed that they would be “fairly” or “highly” likely to buy from a company that engaged with and replied to all their reviewers. By contrast, 57% stated that they would be less motivated to buy from a company that didn’t respond to any reviews.
— Note: BrightLocal conducted this research with a specific focus on how consumers use reviews to evaluate local businesses, making it especially relevant to small businesses with primarily local clientele.—
So what’s our takeaway here? Simply put, people are paying close attention to what your customers are saying AND how you’re responding. With that in mind, let’s walk through 4 simple strategies to get more online reviews and start generating some positive buzz around your business.
#1 – Engage with your existing reviews (yes, all of them!)
Customer reviews can create anxiety for business owners because any critique feels incredibly personal. But don’t let the fear of negative reviews overshadow the enormous benefits that these little windows into the customer experience offer you! Instead, focus on how you can use those reviews to your advantage.
Got rave reviews? Excellent. Responding to a glowing review with gratitude and appreciation tells new customers that they too will be acknowledged and appreciated if they buy your product and write their own review.
Got a big thumbs down from someone? Those are the tough ones. 😬 But getting an occasional negative review is inevitable. Before you respond defensively, take a minute to read the customer’s complaint as objectively as possible. Is any part of their frustration valid? Criticism is hard to take, but it’s also a great opportunity to possibly win this customer back and signal to new customers that you’re willing to take responsibility for mistakes.
#2 – Add a review page on your website
You probably have dozens of customers who would gladly write a review if you gave them a little nudge. Life is busy and most of us don’t think to write reviews for every product or service we buy – even the ones we really love.
One of the best ways to encourage customers to take action is to add a page on your website that links them directly to your Google or Facebook review page. Reducing the number of clicks and barriers increases your odds of getting more valuable reviews.
Once the review page is ready to go, all you need to do is share the link with your customers via email or social media.
Here’s what that looks like on the Control Yours website:
#3 – Use email to ask for a post-purchase review
Do you send an automated email thanking customers for their purchase? That’s a great place to ask for a review. Just add a line with something like, “We value your feedback! Tell us about your experience working with us.” Add the link or button. Easy peasy. You can use a link management tool like Bitly to convert that long, unwieldy URL into a short, easy-to-read link. Bitly can also create a custom link that includes your business name.
If you’re selling individual products that take time for the customer to use and form an opinion about, consider sending a follow-up email a week or so later asking about their experience and include a link to your review page.
If you need help setting up email automations that track engagement and encourage future sales for your business, we can help! Schedule a call with us >>
#4 – Add a QR code to printed materials
If you’re already using printed materials like brochures, feedback cards, postcards or paper receipts, that’s another opportunity to ask for a review! QR or “quick response” codes can be linked to any URL, including your business review pages. Try adding a QR code to anything you give to the customer post-purchase (i.e. a receipt). If you provide on-site services like cleaning or landscaping, add the QR code to any printed items you leave behind. Customers can scan the code using any mobile device and leave a quick review with very little effort.
Want to learn more about QR codes? Click here!
#5 – Just ask
I know. Groundbreaking strategy here – you’re welcome. 😆 But here’s why the simplest strategy of all deserves a spot on this list. With all the bright, shiny marketing gimmicks and tricks begging for attention out there, we tend to underestimate the power of person-to-person connection.
Start with a customer who you know had a positive experience with your company. Asking them for a review means they get the opportunity to help you in return. And that is incredibly valuable for both you and the customer! It shifts the dynamic from “transactional” to “relational.” And not to keep repeating ourselves here, but loyal customer relationships are the key to long-term business success.
So send a personal email, a text message or go old-school and pick up the phone. Ask for that review!
Get your business the attention it deserves!
Marketing any company is a big job, but it’s especially tough when you’re running a small business and getting pulled in every direction at once. That’s where we come in! In addition to website design, we build comprehensive digital advertising campaigns that are expertly planned and managed to get you real, measurable results. Schedule a meeting with us today to get started!