If you aren’t making an effort to drive customers to leave reviews, you’re missing out on valuable conversion opportunities.
But don’t take my word for it.
Ample research affirms the value of testimonials. For example, a study from BrightLocal found that 91 percent of consumers read online reviews for businesses on a regular basis, and 86 percent wouldn’t even consider using a business if its rating was two stars or less. This is largely because reviews provide the ever-important “social proof,” or evidence that other people have entrusted your brand with their money and personal data — and been satisfied with the result.
Reviews can also boost your site’s SEO and increase traffic. Best of all, some research suggests this traffic tends to stay longer and visit more pages on your site than traffic coming from other sources.
Now that you know why you should make customer testimonials a priority, here’s the good news: The BrightLocal study found that 70 percent of customers will leave a review for a business — provided they’re encouraged to do so in an effective way.
5 ways to encourage customers to leave reviews
Make reviews visible.
Meet customers where they are.
Follow up when customers leave reviews.
Claim your listing in local search directories.
Reward customers who leave reviews.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these tips for encouraging customers to leave reviews of your business …
1. Make reviews visible
The more visible you make your reviews, the more likely you are to generate them (the phrase, “out of sight, out of mind” applies here). Customers aren’t going to know that you want them to review your products if they never come across reviews on your site.
If you prominently display reviews for all of your products, that will normalize testimonials on your site. This is a good thing.
It plants the idea of sharing reviews in customers’ minds and helps them feel like they’re in good company if they want to leave one (instead of feeling like the odd man out).
2. Meet customers where they are
The easier you make it for customers to leave reviews, the more likely they will do so. That means taking the time to understand your audience so you can provide them with opportunities to review your products on the platforms they most prefer to use. For example:
- If you regularly interact with customers in person, ask them for testimonials face to face.
- If your customers are expecting an email confirmation for their purchase, use that opportunity to solicit a review within the email.
- If your customers spend a lot of time on Facebook, make the Reviews tab visible and ask for reviews via posts and comments.
- If your customers love using Yelp or another online review site, encourage them to leave reviews there (more on this point below)
Since more and more customers are making purchases from various devices, also make sure your communications and review forms are mobile-friendly.
No matter how you solicit reviews, make sure you don’t overwhelm customers with a never-ending form. Keep questions short, simple and to the point if you want customers to follow through.
3. Follow up when customers leave reviews
If you’ve asked for a review in person or via email and the customer hasn’t responded, consider following up after a reasonable amount of time has passed (typically a week or just a bit longer). Thank them again for their purchase, communicate why reviews matter to you (they allow you to ensure you’re providing the best possible experience to your customers), ask them if they’re still willing to share a testimonial, and provide the link to your reviews page so it’s easy for them to do so.
4. Claim your listing in local search directories
While on-site reviews are ideal, it’s also worth monitoring and encouraging reviews on third-party sites. The most popular dedicated review sites include Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Local, Yahoo Local, LinkedIn or TrustLink. Claiming these listings (and keeping them up to date) will help you maintain an active presence on platforms that may already be used by your customers and makes it incredibly easy for them to leave reviews.
Pro tip: Use a tool like GoDaddy’s Local Business Listings to get your business listed everywhere, all from one convenient dashboard.
You can repurpose feedback from customers who leave reviews on your website and other platforms.
5. Reward customers who leave reviews
Note: Rewarding customers is not the same as buying reviews, which is unethical and can backfire (if consumers are presented with a steady stream of glowing, five-star reviews, they tend to get suspicious).
But rewarding customers who leave reviews of their own accord is perfectly ethical — and it can also net you additional reviews because it will show customers other people are enjoying rewards for their reviews (and they’re likely to want a piece of the pie). These rewards could take several forms:
- A simple “thank you.” Never underestimate the power of personalized and heartfelt appreciation to inspire goodwill toward your company.
- Promotion of stellar reviews. Consider featuring high-quality reviews on your social media profiles or elevating their visibility on your website. This can boost the ego of the reviewer and inspire other people to crave the same spotlight.
- Points or discounts, which provide a financial incentive for reviewing your products.
As you can see, generating high-quality reviews requires a fair amount of effort and strategic thinking. But the energy you invest in encouraging people to leave reviews is well worth it. It will pay off in the form of greater visibility and customers who are more willing to move purchases through to fruition.