If your business uses a tablet or computer setup onsite for customers to post online reviews, you are playing with fire.

All business owners have been fervently pursuing the seemingly ubiquitous online review since this whole social media, local search, and mobile connectivity train took off several years ago. It seems like everywhere we search online, reviews are front and center, whether we’re searching for a pair of new running shoes or a Proctologist.
 

No On-site Review Generation

 
To be certain, online reviews are a major selling point to prospective consumers…regardless of the product or service we are researching.

But does it make sense for your local Carlsbad business to have an on-site review kiosk, tablet, or in-office station setup to capture the oh so precious online review?
 

Should Carlsbad Businesses Capture Reviews Onsite?

NOT EVEN CLOSE, BUD!

Here are 2 reasons why…

  1. It’s in poor taste.
  2. The review you worked so hard to capture, in all likelihood will never actually get published.

 

Yelp Reviews Will Get Filtered Out Quicker Than You Can Say G’Day

 
If you’re one of those lucky Carlsbad businesses that has dealt with Yelp at all beyond anything but a free business listing, then you should already be familiar with their business friendly tactics. But, sarcastic digital marketing diatribe aside, Yelp explicitly warns businesses not to EVEN ASK FOR REVIEWS – and considers such a bold act a blatant violation of their exalted terms & conditions.

Simply stated, this is how they view the request:

You shouldn’t ask your customers to post reviews on Yelp.

For one thing, most businesses tend to ask their happiest customers to write reviews, not the unhappy ones. These self-selected reviews tell only part of the story, and we don’t think that’s fair to consumers. We would much rather hear from members of the Yelp community who are inspired to talk about their experiences without a business owner’s encouragement.

As a result, you shouldn’t be surprised if our software fails to recommend the reviews that you’ve asked your customers to write. Your best bet to get high quality and unbiased reviews about your business is to provide a memorable and amazing customer experience – it has nothing to do with asking your customers to post on Yelp.
 

Google Knows Where The Review Comes From…Your Carlsbad Business

 
Even though Google has flip-flopped on this exact topic of on-site review gathering, where back in 2011 they had no problem with it, in the now-now it’s a no-no.

THEY can track our IP (much like they do with local social search), and sniff you out faster than it takes that cemented crown to cure.

According to the Google Gods:

  • Don’t set up a computer or tablet device in your place of business for customers to leave reviews on site. Consider sending a reminder e-mail so customers can review on their own time.
  • Remember, we don’t allow you to give customers free gifts or discounts for leaving reviews.

Too many reviews emanating from your Carlsbad business IP & its lights out for your digital word of mouth!

Now those are just two of the most popular online review portals – for businesses and customers alike. Of course there are Healthgrades, Angieslist, Judysbook, Vitals, & DoctorBase to name a few of the healthcare related review portals, in addition to the internet yellow pages sites like YP.com, Superpages, Insiderpages, or MerchantCircle.

Each one has their own terms & conditions business owners or customers take the time to read or even care about, but the point isn’t so much due diligence as it is diversification!

When it comes to organically collecting online reviews for your Carlsbad business it’s best to not put all of your eggs in one basket – Google or Yelp included. That’s just a recipe for disaster…coming in the form of lost reviews drifting about the ether never to see the light of day for that person searching for your products or services in our neighborhood.
 

So If You Shouldn’t Ask For Reviews On-site, How Can You Amplify Your Digital Word of Mouth?

 
Simple, use email or a QR code to present options to your customers.

Instead of trying to strong-arm customers into dialing up Google directly from the not so comfortable confines of your business, take the time to construct a simple review generation plan – using email and an on-site QR code as the conduit.

If you send out a monthly newsletter, devote a section to capturing reviews by adding some call to action buttons linking off to a few of the most popular social media or local search portals.
 

Use Email To Capture Reviews

 
You do know that Facebook Recommendations are pretty visible these days with recent page updates?

Wait, is that Yelp button in violation of their terms and conditions?

Carlsbad businesses seeking more online review love could also take some steps on-site to connect to the online world – not with a tablet or review station, but with good ‘ol fashioned paper and print…and a QR code that will serve them up your review site du jour…or perhaps even a super stealthy online review portal like some of our Social Local 360 customers do.

Take a couple of those dollar store stand-up display stands and place your written not-so-much-of-a-request-but-offer for customers to spread the good word…and arm them with something like this simple handout directing them how to leave a review on Google. (Get your customized one here – http://www.whitespark.ca/review-handout-generator/)
 

Use QR code to capture onsite reviews

 
Splatter your custom QR code that is implanted with your review link and have them snap a pic of it…IF they fancy. Here’s where a little nuance and a lot of that pressing the flesh inside your business will pay dividends.

Digitally savvy business owners can also take all of the online review generation effort out of their hands and put it into ours with a custom review generation portal that comes standard with every Social Local 360 membership.
 

Got any other ideas for Carlsbad business owners looking to amplify their digital word of mouth via online reviews?