One of the more powerful ways to market your business is through customer reviews, yet many small business owners have a difficult timing asking clients for reviews. This article talks about using customer reviews to market your business, including why they’re so effective, how to ask for reviews, how to leverage reviews, and what to do if you get a less than stellar customer review.

Why reviews are effective

People trust the words of a customer who received nothing for giving their opinion of your business. No salesman or marketing is going to be as trusted or as persuasive as a real-life customer’s review. Your online reviews may help potential clients make the decision of whether they go with you, or go with a competitor. Here are a few facts according to

  • 72% of buyers will take action only after reading a positive review
  • 44% of consumers say a review must be written within one month to be considered relevant
  • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

How to ask customers for reviews

There are two basic ways you can ask for reviews: proactively or passively. The more passive method is to simply make the ability for clients to review you available in your communications to them. This might include adding a link to review sites in your email signature, including a link with something like “We love reviews!” in your newsletter, or adding a note to a client invoice that says, “if you’re happy with our service, feel free to review us!” and include a link. Many small business owners who try to get reviews start with this more passive approach which is just fine. But what do you do if you’ve tried these and they don’t work?  Then you need to reach out and ASK FOR A REVIEW. It may seem awkward at first, but after a while, you should make it second nature. Five Star Review Systems provides a few templates on how to ask someone for a review. If you’re using a review platform like theirs, they give tips on how to set the expectation for completing a review. However, most companies are just looking for good customer reviews on their social channels like Facebook, Yelp or Google Plus. If that’s the case, simply ask them if they’d be willing to write a review, and provide the link(s) to where you’d like them to leave a review. In most cases, once it’s up, only they can edit it, so of course, you want to ask your happy customers and brand evangelists!

customer feedbackHow to leverage reviews

As mentioned before, reviews are great on your social channels, but of course you should have them on your website as well! Once you get a fair number of reviews, create a “reviews”, “testimonials”, “what our customers say” or other similarly labeled page on your site and list those reviews! You can add a link to your main navigation, or use a website feature that allows those testimonials to continually scroll on your home page or wherever it makes sense on your site. Make them visible! And don’t forget to tout those great reviews on your social channels so people can go read them. Your small business marketing strategy should include leveraging these reviews!

What happens when your review is less than amazing

Sometimes when you ask someone to write a review about your company and what they think, that’s exactly what you get. You may get 4 stars out of 5, or they may say mostly kind things but one not so positive comment. If the comment is legit, leave it (remember, you usually can’t take these down anyway, depending on where they’re posted). People are after honest, candid reviews, so even if someone gives you a less than perfect review, don’t be dishearten about it. No company is perfect, and your small business is no exception. Of course, if someone leaves an inflammatory and false review, you have the right to dispute it with that website. And perhaps that less than positive review is a way to open the door to a conversation to address the issue with the client.

Using customer reviews to market your business is a smart move. If you’re unsure how to start asking for reviews, engage the help of a small business marketing professional to help guide you through the process.

Patty Hughes
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