It’s human nature to be a bit judgy. Everyone has an opinion and most people are not afraid to give it whether they’re asked for it or not. Which is why more and more people are resorting to the internet to leave online reviews.
There are millions of online reviews for just about everything. Reviews for movies, electronics, books, restaurants, sports gear, cars, spas, barbershops, holidays, hotels, whale watching companies… Basically, if you have a business that has customers or if you have a product or service that people engage with, there could be reviews online about your business.
And in the past, people would have to wait their turn to have a rant on the soapbox under public scrutiny, but today you just jump online and hide behind a nameless, faceless star rating and let rip, so “results may vary”.
But what roles do reviews (good and bad) play in your digital marketing strategy? Their function is two-fold.
First, reviews impact ranking on search engines. The purpose of search engines is to serve up relevant search results that users will most likely click on. Relevant search results make users happy and happy users tend to keep using that search engine. Positive reviews tell search engines that the content is relevant, so reviews have become a major ranking factor that influences search engine optimisation (SEO).
Second, reviews influence customer engagement. Online reviews tell new potential customers that what you’re selling is worth buying. This social proof instils trust and confidence in your business and removes the purchase anxiety. Why’s this important? Because 87% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase. 90% of consumers are influenced to make a purchase based on positive reviews, and conversely, as many as 86% will be turned off the purchase by negative reviews. It’s time to realise that reviews are part of the purchase decision-making process and you need to start gathering some reviews to help grow your customer base.
Ideally, you’ve been doing such a wonderful job so far that you already have some glowing reviews from your customers. If you want to check the quality of your reviews and whether they’re performing for you, or if you’re worried about any other aspects of your digital marketing or website, we highly recommend running a site audit to see how you’re doing:
If you don’t have many reviews, here are a few ideas and “rules” about how to get reviews.
How to gather reviews
- First things first, do an incredible job. Do the very best you can to satisfy your customers’ needs and you’ll retain your customers. Happy customers also tend to talk about good experiences, so are most likely to write reviews, and they’ll probably tell all their friends and we all know word-of-mouth advertising is the holy grail of free advertising. If you’re going to get crappy reviews, there’s really no point in asking for them, and there’s not much we can do to help you with that.
- Never pay for reviews and never create fake reviews for yourself. It’s not ok, so just don’t.
- The good news is that a recent survey from BrightLocal reveals that 70% of consumers will leave a review for a business when asked. So don’t be afraid to ask, either in person or on social media or on email. Obviously, you have to be aware of timing when asking. It can’t be random and ideally, it’s soon enough after the customer has engaged with your business so that they haven’t forgotten the good details, but also leave it long enough that your product or service has had time to work – don’t ask for a review on your organic sunscreen a customer bought for their holiday before they’ve even left.
- Asking without asking, or passive review collecting is a thing. You might feel a little embarrassed or weird asking for a review at first (not forgetting that you could be missing out on 70% of your customers leaving a review), so a good way to get reviews without asking is to give customers hints, like leaving a link in your email signature, or if you’re a business that takes bookings maybe include a link in confirmation emails, or just leave a button in plain sight on your website so people know that they can leave a review.
- But the most important thing to consider if you’re going to ask for a review is that you have to make it as easy as possible for the customer. Don’t just say please leave a review, give them a link to follow so it only takes a few clicks and minutes to leave a review. See how to get a unique link to your Google My Business review page below.
Your unique link to make it easy for customers to give reviews
We’re going to show you how to get reviews on Google. Google is still the dominant search engine so a very good place to start gathering reviews, but there are obviously lots of other places you can get reviewed as well.
Search for your company by name (and location if necessary) on Google.
Click on the “Write a review” button.
Copy the URL from the address bar once the Google review box has popped up.
Your Unique Google My Business review URL should look something like this
The important part about this is the digit 3 at the end of the URL. This prompts the review box to pop open. Play around with the last numbers for different functionality, like changing it to a 1 will give you a full list of your reviews. This is not overly important, but there’s no harm in trying right?
Now you can send your link to your customers.
As a cheeky extra, pop the number 5 at the end of this URL and it will pre-populate a 5-star rating in the review box!