3 Sure-Fire Tactics to Get Reviews

How many times have you looked at reviews to get more information about a product or service" Wait, let me rephrase that. The last time you bought an app for your phone or searched for a restaurant in your area, did you happen to glance at how many stars it had or what people were saying about it" The answer for most is a resounding "YES"!; and sometimes you probably look at ratings and form opinions without even realizing it.

Whenever I'm looking to buy a new app for my iPhone and can't decide which one to get - especially because there seems to be 10 apps for everything nowadays I'm always looking at how many stars they have and how peoples experiences with them have been. And when I finally narrow it down to 2 or 3 that have similar ratings, I usually go with the one that has more of them because it's more trustable.

I've been on both sides of the review game. A few years back during my college days in Madison, WI (Go Badgers!!), I was a server/bartender/self-appointed GM (long story) of a restaurant and lounge, where I found that online reviews brought in a lot of new customers and dramatically increased sales. Now working for GMR Web Team, we are always trying to think of new ways to get our clients' customers to share their (always positive, of course) thoughts on them. And trust me it's not as easy as it sounds. But that aside, here are 3 tactics that have worked very well for me and can be used for virtually any type of business.

RESPOND When's the last time you checked your Yelp or Google Places/Maps listings? How about local review sites to see what people are saying about you? If you have, excellent; if not.... you know the drill.

Whenever you are reviewed you need to respond within a couple of days. This shows your customers (reviewers) and prospects (readers) that you genuinely appreciate their feedback and care enough to take the time and respond. You can simply drop a 'thank you' line, or, preferably, turn it into a conversation by asking them more questions, saying something about the product/service they reviewed, etc.

What you say is important- very important- but if you're unsure exactly what to write, or somehow become enveloped by some unexplainable euphoric haze that clouds your mind and renders you speechless (too much?), just make sure you say something. What will take you 5 minutes can increase your business fivefold. Its that easy.

WHAT YOU REAP IS WHAT YOU SOW
  1. Next to the Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc. icons on your website and blog, you should add new icons that link to all of your review sites.
  2. Include a "Review us on" line in the About sections of each of your social networks.
  3. Every couple of weeks, make a Facebook status update/tweet asking your fan base to review you and provide a link to the site. When wording the content, make sure you are genuinely appreciative of your customers and are always touched when people take the time out of their busy schedules to write a review of you. And when you are reaching out to your Friends and Followers, it is very unlikely that they will post a negative comment about you.
  4. Do the same as above, but in an empathetic and short email to your email list. This is both highly targeted and is a simple process for possible reviewers, as all they have to do is click the links in the email and they will automatically be redirected to the site.
  5. When it's time for them to check out, either online or in-store, feed the information directly to them. If its online, provide customers with links to review their purchase, along with way to connect to your various social media accounts. If its in store, hand them a flyer, look at them in the eye and say something like, Thanks so much for coming in. It would really mean a lot to me if you would write a short review online whenever you have a moment. Its also a good idea to get their email information so you can follow up with it as well. Chances are that they'll probably forget about it by the time they get home.

INCENTIVES

And by incentives, I really mean free samples. Think about it.....
  1. Who doesn't like free stuff?
  2. And
  3. WHO DOESN'T LIKE FREE(!!!) STUFF?!?!

By giving out free samples of your products/services, you are one step closer to making some new friends. And what do friends typically do to other friends" Support them. Exactly. In this case, your support for them was the free sample, and their reciprocation is the review that you so innocently asked them to write when they were paying their bill.

I did this so much when I was a server it was insane. I'd give them a free appetizer for a variety of very random reasons...

"Hey, it's cold outside... Here's some flamin' hot Kasseri (Greek cheese) to warm ya up!" (*cue music from Ferris Bueller* *chika*chikaahh*) -OR- "Happy Friday! Here's a little hummus platter on the house to start your evening off on the wild side." -OR- "You know what? You two seem like really awesome people. Whats your favorite appetizer on the menu? It's on me." Okay I usually said that last one to cute, non-married women; but hey, it's the thought that counts, right? And while those are just examples, you can do the same for your products/services as well. In the grand scheme of things, food costs on appetizers were small and we would usually end up throwing some out every night because they had to be fresh. The opportunity to get a customer for life who will be your word of mouth advocate, bring their friends to their newfound hotspot and increase your list of regulars is priceless. For your business, give out something that doesn't cost a lot but still provides value and encompasses your operations. Also look to give out any new products you're launching, as this will both increase their exposure and encourage people to write about them, with the latter further reinforcing the former. Here's some dessert to end things on a pretty sweet note..
  • Traffic increased 158% last year to the top 10 review sites (Compete.com)90% of consumers who trust recommendations from people they know (Ecoconsultancy, July 2009, Erik Qualman, Socialnomics)
  • 70% of consumers trust recommendations from people they dont know (Ecoconsultancy, July 2009, Erik Qualman, Socialnomics)
  • 92% of people have more confidence in info found online than they do in sales people/other sources (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2009)
  • 70% of people look at reviews/ratings before buying a product/service (BusinessWeek, Oct. 2008)
  • 7/10 who read reviews share them, increasing their reach (Deloitte & Touche, Sept. 2007)
Now take a minute to digest that. Yep, reviews are important folks. What are your experiences with getting reviews? What has worked and what hasn't work" Lets brainstorm!
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Ajay Prasad

Ajay Prasad is the Founder and President of GMR Web Team, a leading healthcare digital marketing agency. He guides small and medium size healthcare practices/businesses in customizing their online marketing strategy, focused on building a loyal base of patients and improving their patient acquisition. Ajay believes in an improved patient experience as the key to successful healthcare business, which can be accomplished with the right marketing plan in place.