Your best marketers are happy customers.
Actually, scratch that. Your best marketers are customers who leave reviews.
That’s what I’ve been thinking since I heard this NPR story about the Amazon Vine Program. In it, spokesperson Julie Law said this to a radio reporter:
Even a product with negative reviews sells better than a product with no reviews at all.
And then there was this quote in Search Engine People’s eBook, How to Supercharge Your SEO Strategy:
Google takes into account customer reviews to determine if a business can best solve a customer’s dilemma.
The comments people leave on review sites and pages like Google+ Local, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Facebook are powerful indeed.
Why Reviews Matter
1. They’re good for skimming
With a growing number of searches occurring on tablets and smart phones, many people never leave the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is especially important for local service providers and retailers. Your customers are less likely to click over to your website than they are to glance at ratings and comments before clicking “call” or “directions:”
2. They serve as word-of-mouth advertising
According to BrightLocal’s 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey:
- 85% of consumers read online customer reviews for local businesses
- 79% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 73% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more (up from 58% in 2012)
Tips For Getting the Most Out of Your Customer Reviews
No, you can’t pose as a customer on Yelp. And it’s not ok to blatantly ask your Facebook followers to give you five stars, or delete all negative feedback on your website.
You can, however, enable, encourage and enhance customer reviews. You can even mark them up so those nifty little ratings stars will appear in the search results. (More on this below.)
How to Encourage and Use Customer Reviews:
6 Real-Life Examples
1. On Your Own Website
Quickfoxes.com, a local restaurant delivery service here in Charleston, S.C., encourages customers to review not just the service itself but specific members of its delivery team. Each reviewer gets a coupon code for their next order—no matter what he or she writes:
Tip: Enabling reviews and ratings on your site? I highly recommend reading Carrie Hill’s Schema Markup for Reviews post on the SEO Copywriting Blog. She shows you exactly how to make those stars stand out in Google and Bing search results.
2. In the Mail
When I needed a good air mattress for hosting Thanksgiving guests, I based my final purchase on reviews. Then, a couple of weeks after delivery, I got this smartly written postcard from the seller:
You can also try encouraging reviews in-store, as long as you’re tactful about it. Here’s an example of print collateral I noticed at the place I have my car washed:
4. With Buttons
People are used to clicking on badges and buttons to connect with brands on social media. Why not use a few image links to encourage reviews as well?
5. Use as Testimonials
Play Garden pulls excerpts and photos from Facebook and Google+ reviews and repurposes them on the testimonials page—a great way to add credibility and prove the quotes are genuine:
6. Respond Appropriately
Don’t ignore negative reviews or low ratings. The best way to handle negative reviews is to respond swiftly, positively and personally. Just like this social media firm did:
HOW ABOUT YOU?
How are you using customer reviews?
Which of these strategies are you using or do you plan to use? Have you found other methods that work for you? I’d love to hear about it!