5 Great Ways to Generate Online Customer Review for Your Local Listings

July 1, 2010
Written by: FPDominator

Question: “I’m trying to get my customers to post positive reviews of my business online and I’m having limited luck.

What tips can you give me to best motivate my own customer base to leave me the reviews I need to push me to the top of sites like Yelp, CitySearch, and Google Maps?”

Answer: Customer reviews are one of the most powerful tools available to online merchants and you are right to want to embrace and encourage them. While major brands have the benefit of widespread exposure across a variety of media channels, most small businesses don’t have the same resources. Leveraging online customer reviews to make your business stand out is both successful and cost-effective.

The creation of customer reviews is usually out of your direct hands. Instead, you have to employ sound strategies to encourage your customers to leave reviews on your behalf without paying for them in some way (which review sites frown upon).

But all is not lost… Here are 5 fantastic ways to obtain reviews from your clients:
  • Use your invoices and packing sheets: If you have physical products that you ship to your customers, you can include a printed request for a review on your invoices. Make sure that the buyers know how important online reviews are to the growth of your business and include the name of each major review site (Google, Bing, Local.com, CitySearch, Yelp, InsiderPages, EZLocal, etc.).
  • Request reviews on your Web site: You can create a special review page that links customers from your site to various review sites. Link customers directly to your profile and include brief instructions on how to fill out the review form. Many customers intend to submit reviews and then forget. By including links directly from your Web site to your review profiles, and reminding people of the review page on your homepage, you can easily generate more reviews going forward.
  • Generate reviews by email: Most online businesses already use email marketing to stay in touch with prospects and let them know about specials and important information. We recommend expanding these efforts by including reminders about review sites in your messages. Encouraging your customers to rate your performance on review sites via emails they are already receiving is a no-brainer. Make sure to review our email best practices byte to keep your mailers from tripping spam filters.
  • Use discounts and incentives to increase reviews: Recently, Seattle-based outdoor gear retailer EvoGear.com ran a contest to encourage its existing customer base to leave reviews on one of its specific review accounts. It offered all those who left a review (good or bad) a chance at winning $1000. Full details on the very successful promotion can be found here. Shoppers are busy these days and most need an incentive to leave a review for a retailer. Don’t hesitate to run a contest, offer a coupon or provide some incentive to get your existing customer base to leave reviews. Just do so with care as some review sites do not like paid reviews.
  • Just ask: Many business owners lament that they don’t receive reviews, but then admit they rarely remember to ask for them. If a customer is satisfied, they may refer a friend to you, but they likely won’t go out of their way to leave you a review. Be proactive. Send a message to your email list or use a personalized follow-up email after someone has made a purchase to request a review. Put requests for reviews on flyers and business cards on your front desk. You’ll be surprised how quickly the number of company reviews will increase. Need some template samples? Check out this list from Kudzu.com.

Building customer reviews for your company on the major online review sites deserves your time and attention. By implementing these five quick simple tips you’ll be able to do it effectively and as part of your natural every day marketing plan.

Finally, don’t fear negative reviews. Negative reviews help you improve by uncovering weaknesses to which you may not have been privy. It’s good to know how your customers feel and a negative review can give you insight into a particular problem that you may not be aware of. At the very least you can reach out to your customer and solve the issue - thus, potentially turning a negative review into a positive. Embrace them and take your customer service to new heights in 2010 and b.

Happy Hunting!



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