Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Social proof is a powerful thing. When potential customers see that people are having a positive experience with your business, they’re more likely to trust that they’ll have a positive experience, too, and will be more likely to engage with your business. This builds customer trust…and when it comes to generating social proof, there are few things more powerful than online business reviews.
Business reviews are an extremely effective way to connect with potential customers online—and convince them that your business is one they want to engage with. If you’re wondering just how powerful online reviews can be, check out these findings from the 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey:
- 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.
- 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year—with 34 percent searching every day.
- 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends.
- Positive reviews make 94% of consumers more likely to use a business—while 92% would be less likely to use a business if it had negative reviews.
If you’re wondering how you can get more online reviews, follow these five steps to boost your word-of-mouth marketing and take your small business to the next level:
- Make sure customers can leave online business reviews…easily.
- Ask your customers to leave a review online.
- Handle negative reviews appropriately.
- Leverage online reviews to improve your business.
- Incorporate positive reviews into your marketing.
1. Make sure your customers can leave online business reviews… easily.
To start getting reviews for your business, make sure you’re set up on review platforms – a Google Business Profile is a great place to start. Begin by adding or claiming your business on Google, then fill in your profile with essential information about your business. Include the basics, like your phone number, address and hours of operation, as well as branded elements like your logo.
Once your Google Business Profile is up and running, customers will find it when they search for your business online—and they can easily leave a review right there. You can also respond to reviews and interact with customers directly from your Google Business Profile, so it’s easy to manage your reviews and make sure your customers feel heard.
Now, Google is definitely the most popular review platform, but depending on your business, you may want to set up additional profiles like Yelp, Facebook or industry-specific review platforms.
Your logo should feature front and center on your Google Business Profile. If your logo is in need of a refresh, try 99designs by Vista, where there are thousands of high-quality designers waiting to bring your logo design to life.
2. Ask your customers to leave a review online.
According to the Local Consumer Review Survey, the average consumer needs to read through 10 positive reviews before they feel ready to trust a business. So, it’s important to get as many positive reviews as possible—and that means asking your customers to help you out.
There are plenty of ways to ask your customers for reviews. If you have a particularly positive interaction with a customer, you can ask them directly if they’d be willing to write a review about their experience—and then direct them to where and how to leave a review. You can also include online review requests on your marketing materials, packaging, in-store displays, business website, or whatever other customer touchpoints you may have. And if you really want to increase the likelihood that they’ll follow through and leave a review? Offer them an incentive, like a special coupon or discount on their next purchase.
It’s also important to make sure to ask your customers to leave reviews regularly. According to the Local Consumer Review Survey, 73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month. So it’s not just the more reviews the better, it’s the more recent reviews, the better!
Make it especially easy for customers to leave an online review with a QR code displayed on your check-out counter, printed at the bottom of an invoice or displayed on a postcard. The QR code should direct to Google Reviews so they can quickly and easily write you a review.
3. Handle negative reviews appropriately.
It doesn’t matter how incredible your business is or how vigilant you are in creating a positive experience for your customers. At some point, you’ll likely have a customer who’s less than impressed…and they may write a negative review in response.
But the occasional less-than-stellar review doesn’t have to sink your business—as long as you understand how to respond to negative reviews. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when tackling negative reviews online.
- Acknowledge and apologize. The best way to respond to a negative review is head-on. Acknowledge the issue and apologize to the customer for the challenging experience.
- Remedy the situation if possible. If you can offer a solution to the customer, do so in your response. For example, if the review says they were overcharged during their visit to your business, offer to process a refund for any overpayment.
- Ask for another shot. After you apologize and remedy the situation, ask the customer for an opportunity to provide a better experience—and see if they’re willing to give you another shot. Then, offer them an incentive to re-engage with your business, whether it’s a discount on their next purchase or a complimentary remedial service.
4. Leverage online reviews to improve your business.
You can’t please everyone, so it’s important to take the occasional negative review with a grain of salt. But if you’re consistently getting negative online reviews, it’s important to really dig into what your customers are saying—and use their feedback to improve your business.
For example, if you receive multiple reviews saying that the customer service in your business is lacking, you might invest in additional training for your employees to create a more positive customer experience. If multiple people are noting that your shop is always closed when they stop by, maybe you can reevaluate your operating hours.
It’s never fun to receive negative business reviews, but you can look at them as feedback for your business. From there, you might have an opportunity to identify areas of your business that can be improved—and then actually make those improvements.
5. Incorporate positive reviews intoyour marketing.
Getting more online reviews is one part of the equation. But once you have those positive reviews, you’ll want to get as much use out of them as possible. So, why not use them in your marketing efforts?
Get permission from your customers to reuse their reviews in marketing flyers, as testimonials on your website or as highlights on your social media channels. Showcasing the authentic experiences of real clients is a great way to build trust with new customers and boost your credibility as a small business.