Does Your Business Really Need Reviews?
In today’s digital world business owners must incorporate some type of online review strategy in order to effectively communicate and amplify the all-important digital word of mouth communication that drives their new customer acquisition efforts.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a mobile dog walking business, local Mom & Pop retailer, or a multi-national franchise, your business NEEDS a constant stream of authentic customer reviews, particularly on Google.
Because reviews are a local ranking signal Google uses in determining your prominence & authenticity.
Eliciting, capturing and broadcasting online reviews for the average business is not rocket science…and it’s not expensive.
10 DOs & DON’Ts to Get More Reviews for Your Business
For those unfortunate businesses desperately seeking the necessary strategies and tactics to amplify their digital word of mouth but unwilling to put in the work to implement the system, there certainly seems to be a boatload of ready and willing online reputation management companies (read: money-grubbing scams…most of ‘em at least) near and far willing to help you out – for an arm and a leg…and possibly a sprinkling of legal action.
For an example of what I’m talking about check out this story about an undercover NY Attorney General investigation cracking down on businesses purchasing online reviews.
Who doesn’t need more of that, right?
5 DOs to Get More Reviews
With that caveat in mind, let’s examine some obvious and not so obvious – because some clueless ego-driven business owners out there still aren’t getting the digital word of mouth message – dos and don’ts of online review generation for the average business – online or off, e-commerce or brick & mortar.
1. DO ask customers to leave you a review. This is probably the most important factor for businesses looking to up their online review street cred. If you don’t ask, you won’t get what you want!
2. DO make it easy for customers to leave you an online review on a wide variety of social media communities, local search portals, search engine environments, and any applicable…apps.
Ex: You probably send a newsletter every month; add links on there to 5 of your most frequented social media sites, local search engine listings, or internet yellow pages profiles – and ASK FOR A KIND WORD OR TWO! Better yet, send a specially crafted email message immediately following their visit or purchase.
3. DO reward customers that take the time to leave your business a stellar online review…with a good ‘ol fashioned heartfelt sincere “THANK YOU.”
4. DO setup an internal and external system of eliciting, capturing and publishing online reviews about your business.
5. DO keep asking…do you know how many times it takes to ask the average person to publish an online review about their favorite products or services before they actually do it? Me neither, but surely someone has skewed those statistics to match their point of view. The point here is most humans probably need a good swift kick in the ass before we’ll share an online review…so keep asking!
Sounds pretty simple right?
So why would ANY business out there pay upwards of $200-500 per month to have some unscrupulous online reputation management (read: overseas child labor) publish false positive reviews about their business?
My guess is ego, but really I don’t have an answer.
What I do know is that if I ever found out my favorite gin mill or sandwich shop was publishing fake reviews, I would think what else are they doing to dupe customers.
5 DONT’s to Get More Reviews
1. DON’T buy online reviews. Full stop: It’s not worth it, you’re better than that, act like you’ve been there, have a little self-respect, respect your team, don’t be so gullible, and put down the pipe. There is no shortcut to online review success; positive digital word of mouth needs to organically come from your customers and local community. Are you that desperate for recognition? Take your ball and go home if so, the savvy customers will find another business like yours to play with.
2. DON’T limit yourself, your customers, or your business to only asking for online reviews in one or two online environments. Google is a great place to showcase reviews, and those gold stars look great next to your listing (psst…you need 5 reviews in order to have those stars show up on search results) but to increase your local rankings you should build additional citations…and Google loves it when those additional citations include REAL online reviews.
3. DON’T bribe your customers to leave online reviews about your business. Aside from being incredibly tacky, this type of pay to play rewards system (hello, Medicare scams anyone?) borders on illegal depending on where you are in the country – or world. Besides, wouldn’t you rather have people speak highly of your business without the greasy palm?
4. DON’T try to capture all of your reviews with a kiosk, or iPad, or laptop AT YOUR LOCATION. We have a few clients that have been successful in generating online reviews at their location by having happy customers post them while they are in the store… But this tactic is actually a violation of Google’s and Yelp’s terms with respect to online reviews. They will know your reviews are originating from your business IP address and put the smack down on your digital word of mouth before it even has a chance to pass through the system into the wild. You could plead ignorance is bliss, but at the very least diversify your efforts – remember to THINK ORGANICALLY!
PS – Recommendations on Facebook, and reviews on other sites are free game for this game-changing digital word of mouth amplification tactic.
5. DON’T fall victim to thinking you won’t be able to generate enough online reviews for your business to make a difference. A few well-crafted thoughtfully presented honest reviews of your products or services can go a long way with new customer acquisition. The grass is always greener but sometimes it stinks like $h*t too…your local competitor may have a running ledger of online reviews numbering in the dozens but that doesn’t mean you need to keep up with the Jonses. Besides, customers are pretty savvy these days, they can sniff out a fake review faster than your chargeback request to the online reputation management company you mistakenly contracted with gets denied – and remember, the other local small businesses they buy from aren’t so scrupulous with their online review generation tactics…but you’re better than that!
Get MORE 5-Star Reviews for Your Business