7 Tips to Encourage Online Reviews

If you’re a local business owner who still has a relatively small customer base, you know the importance of word of mouth marketing. Your new business depends on what your customers have to say about you, and (as if that pressure isn’t enough) so does your local SEO. Off-page factors have an immense impact on your local SEO success; you need to claim as many local listings as possible, and more importantly, you need reviews—lots of them. The first part is relatively easy, but what about the latter? As business owners, it’s hard to control what other people say (if they say anything at all) about your product or offering. Here are ways you can encourage reviews:

1. The Obvious – Ask them directly
This can be very effective if you’ve just provided excellent customer service. People are more likely to remember you if you directly ask them for their feedback. My hair stylist pulled this trick on me and it was very successful. I felt inclined to help her out and leave a review because she took the time to ask me in person, and because she just gave me a great haircut. It’s simple; at the end of a customer transaction simply ask “Do you have a Yelp or Google+ account?” If they respond with yes, reply with “I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave your feedback.” If they reply with no, do not ask them to create an account. This will only inconvenience them and encourage them to write a negative review.

2. Create an Email Campaign
If your business collects emails and sends out regular newsletters, try dedicating an email campaign to existing customers for reviews. Make it as easy as possible. Thank them for their business and leave a link or two to your local listings. Ask them to please leave feedback about their experience, and make sure to emphasize that you value them as a customer.

3. Social Media
fourquare check in logoDon’t underestimate your social media fans. They already “like” and “follow” you, so they will most likely be inclined to leave a review—and a positive one at that. Create a Facebook post or send out a tweet asking them to leave a review. Include a link to the platform that you are focusing on (Yelp, Google local, etc) to make it easy for them.

4. Link to Your Listings from Your Website
Again, it’s all about making it as easy as possible for your customers. Make it so that returning customers can go to your website to find your local listings. Collect image logos for Yelp, Yellow Pages, Manta, Google Places, Bing or whichever platforms you prefer, and create image links out of these. When users click on these logos, they should be directed straight to your review page. Creating image links can be incredibly easy depending on which content management system you use, but here’s the html code that you can add to your site:

5. QR Codes
Person using a smartphone to scan in a QR codeQuick response codes are perhaps the easiest way to direct your customers to your review pages (especially if your clientele is technologically savvy). If you’re unfamiliar with QR codes, they’re just like barcodes that retailers use to scan prices, except that these codes can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters. QR codes can link to content on the web so that when your customers scan the code they are taken directly to your review site. Customers with QR code scanner apps (such as i-nigma and barcode scanner) can easily scan the code and leave a review with their phone. To generate and customize your code, visit myQR.co. If you’d like more details on how to use QR codes for your business, read this article by Social Media Examiner.

6. Leave Messages on Receipts
receipt with social media linksThe key to getting reviews is promptly asking your customers for them. Once a transaction is complete, your customers go on with their daily lives and aren’t likely to think of you again. Print a message on your receipts, invoices, or business cards that reminds your customers to leave a review. On their way out, you should verbally remind them to leave a review, and then reinforce that request with a textual reminder on the receipt. You can even leave QR codes on receipts to make it even easier!

7. Use Foursquare and Twitter to Monitor Check-ins
Foursquare alone is a great tool to keep your customers engaged and talking about your business, but used with Twitter, it can be a great way to see who checks in. Because Twitter and Facebook are integrated with Foursquare, users have the option of publically announcing their check-in on the platform of their choice. Then, set up “twilert” so that every time someone mentions your business name, a notification is sent to your inbox. Using this information, you can personally respond to these tweets and thank them for their business and request a review. Leave a shortened link to your review page in your response to make it easy for the user. Thanks to Search Engine Journal for the great idea!

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