Word of mouth might be the oldest marketing tactic out there, and its power has not tarnished in the slightest.
Think about it: what would drive you to choose one business over another—a TV commercial or a personal recommendation from a friend? Our guess is you’d trust your friend over any ad you see or hear. Studies show that 92% of people trust recommendations over any other type of advertisin
While the importance of word of mouth hasn’t changed, its form has changed drastically over the years. Like many things, what started as a genuine face-to-face conversation in the old days has pivoted to digital in the form of online reviews.
The stats don’t lie; online reviews carry a lot of weight for businesses, and collecting them needs to be a part of your marketing strategy. It might seem like a big task, but it will be as easy as pie with these tactics.
Choose the Right Places for Your Reviews
A good first place to start with your reputation management strategy is to decide where you would like your customers to leave reviews. While there are a handful of “default” places every business should keep in mind (such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook), there are some other niche sites to consider based on your industry.
For example, if you are a plumber, you would want to make sure you point your customers to places where users will search for your services, such as Houzz, Home Advisor, and Angie’s List. It’s also worth noting that these kinds of websites will serve your business well in getting local exposure if you are a local business.
Request Reviews Via Email
If you’ve acquired customers’ email addresses at the time of purchase or after they signed a contract with you, you can absolutely reach out to them via email for an honest review.
If someone is willing to share their personal contact details with you, they are likely willing to share their experience with your business through an online review.
Depending on your business and how you acquired their email, plan to send a friendly follow-up email within a week of the completed service or purchase. This email should be short and ask them to write a review about their experience with your business.
You should also include links to your preferred places for reviews to make it that much easier for them to take action (spoiler alert: you’re going to hear this a lot through this post).
Make it Clear You’d Like a Review in Your Store/Business
If you own a brick-and-mortar store, you should treat it as the hub for any new customer reviews.
A great place to start is by training your employees to mention how much an online review would be greatly appreciated, especially if you’re dealing with a happy customer.
Something to keep in mind with this approach: an in-person request for a review should sound genuine and not pushy. As long as it sounds casual and heartfelt, it should be well received by the customer. Think of it as an invitation to share their feedback with others, because their perspective matters.
You can also create in-store signage to encourage customer reviews.
Whether you choose to prompt this through banners, flyers, window clings, or even hinting to do it on customer receipts, make it loud and clear that you welcome reviews. You can even take this one step further by creating QR codes that point to a list of review profile links for them to choose which platform they want to share their experience.
These are examples of clear cues to customers that you care about their opinions and strive to improve your products/services.
Make Leaving Reviews Easier With Your Website
As mentioned earlier, the easier you make it for your customers to leave you an online review, the more likely they will take the time to write one.
You can make this process just as easy (if not easier) on your website.
The beauty of your website is that you can test the placement of these review links/buttons, track metrics, and pivot your efforts however needed. You can explore using calls-to-action (CTA) on your contact page, adding pop-ups (as long as they’re not annoying), or creating a custom landing page to allow users to leave a review on all your platforms.
No matter which direction you choose to go, just remember: make it stupid simple for users to give you a review. They’re doing you a favor by leaving a review, so remove all barriers inhibiting them from doing so.
Have a Plan to Respond to Reviews
You’ve done the hard work and put your “leave us a review” call-to-action out into the universe, and guess what: you now have solid reviews from your customers!
However, getting the reviews is just half of the process. You also need to have a plan to respond to them. If someone took time out of their day to review your business, the least you could do is respond and confirm that you heard their words.
Ideally, every review would receive a personalized response that addresses the customer by name (if it’s not anonymous) to avoid sounding robotic. While they should be customized responses, all of them should thank the customer for their review and sound conversational and friendly.
By responding to each of these reviews, it shows that your business truly cares about customer feedback and you’re continuously trying to improve your operations.
If you do receive a negative review, don’t take it personally and immediately point fingers. Bad reviews are not the end of the world; in fact, perfect, five-star reviews across the board comes off a little phishy to some.
Here are some general tips on how to handle these reviews:
- Respond ASAP.
- Acknowledge you made a mistake.
- Sincerely write your perception of the situation.
- No matter if you feel you are in the wrong or not, apologize to the customer.
- Offer an immediate resolution (refund, discount, etc.).
- If things escalate, offer to take the discussion offline and through email or a phone call.
When in doubt, just remember to handle this professionally (as the whole world will see how you respond to this) and try to see it as constructive feedback.
Online customer reviews serve as one of the best ways to build your authority and reputation to new customers. Now is time to focus on “digital word of mouth” and get more valuable reviews for your business.
To learn more about the power of online reviews and reputation management, contact GreenMellen today. We can help your business grow its word of mouth marketing.