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Put Your Trust in Online Reviews

They say you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet—but try telling that to online consumers. A recent study shows that nearly 80% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That’s why our blog covers the topic of customer reviews so heavily. With the vast majority of consumers making decisions based on the reviews that they read, it’s clear that reviews are an extremely valuable asset to any business, no matter what industry you’re part of.  

Why Should You Care?

If the above statistic doesn’t impress you, consider this: We’ve seen firsthand what collecting customer reviews has done for our own clients. The below examples illustrate an increase in leads over time as each client’s online advertising campaign continued. These particular clients are prime examples of what can happen when you persist in populating your business listings with customer reviews. Client A: performance graph - c+e-appl This graph shows the slow and steady trajectory of one client’s leads per month. Their leads dipped in March 2014, due to a glitch that caused their listing to all but vanish from Google, but you’ll notice that their number of monthly leads has already climbed back up and exceeded the previous peak. How did they manage that? Simply by cultivating a significant number of reviews on Google+, Bing, Yelp, Facebook, and other platforms. Client B: performance graph - conner This client shows a similar upward trajectory. Again, the success of their campaign is significantly generated by their high volume of customer reviews on various listings. Take a look at the numbers in both of the above examples. Client A received close to 400 calls in June 2014, while Client B received roughly 280. Wouldn’t you like to see those kinds of results? The best way to do that is to get your customers to leave you reviews online.

How to Get Reviews

The next logical question is, “How do you get customers to leave reviews?” The honest answer is that it’s not easy. It takes a lot of persistence. But if you keep your nose down, work hard, and satisfy your customers, then you’ll get better responses when you do ask them for reviews. You might think, I’m not getting any reviews because people only write reviews when they have something to complain about. That’s what conventional wisdom tells us, but the facts actually show the opposite: 75% of reviews posted on review sites are positive. We suggest a tactical approach when soliciting customer reviews so you can be sure that you have reviews on only the most valuable platforms. Get a minimum of 10 reviews on the following platforms, in the following order, for the best results:

  1. Google+ — Obviously, Google+ has the most value in the eyes of Google. Reviews from your company’s Google+ page could appear right on Google’s search results pages, so prospects can see right away what previous customers think.
  2. Yelp — Yelp is a popular tool among local consumers who are actively looking for a specific service. Although it better serves brick-and-mortar businesses, it holds a lot of weight in both Google and Bing’s algorithms. Bing even pulls Yelp pages directly when compiling search results.
  3. Facebook — The vast majority of U.S. adults have a Facebook profile, so it should be the default choice for customers who aren’t as tech savvy as others. And while it doesn’t hold as much SEO value as Google+ or Yelp, it does influence Bing’s search results, and that counts for something.

ASK DIRECTLY As soon as you complete a job, e-mail that customer and ask for a review. In the e-mail, include a link to your Google+, Yelp, or Facebook page (or all three and let the customer choose) so the process is as convenient as possible for them. You can even add short URLs or reminders on business cards, invoices, and newsletters—anything that you distribute to your customers. It’s also a good idea to send along instructions so less savvy individuals don’t get lost. ASK THE SKEPTICS Steve Young, author of “5 Clever Ways to Get Customer Reviews That Convert,” offers an important tip: “Rather than asking for testimonials from your customers who immediately fall in love with your offering, try to look for those that were first skeptical.” Doing this will address and soothe prospective customers’ concerns and lead to higher conversion rates. WRITE YOUR OWN Young also recommends drafting a detailed review (full of specifics about the solutions you provided) on behalf of your customers and sending it to them. If they approve, they can just copy and post it, making their lives a heck of a lot easier. Plus, reviews that contain measurable results pack a lot more punch when prospects read them. BE STRAIGHTFORWARD Even casual Internet users these days will recognize that reviewing and sharing experiences is what drives most online activity. And, as we’re all consumers, we know that we like to read reviews and do our research before purchasing a product or committing to a contractor. So just be frank with your customers: You need reviews for your business. They’ll understand. Nellie Akalp, a contributing writer at Mashable.com, gives the following recommendation:

You can say something as simple as, “Your opinion matters to us and to other customers, so we’d be really appreciative if you take a few moments to review your experience,” or “Do you read online reviews? We do, and so do other customers. That’s why we’d love it if you take a few moments to review your experience.”

Don’t Get Discouraged

Most importantly, don’t get discouraged if customers don’t immediately flood your pages with reviews. It takes time to get an impressive number, but you’ll be all the better for it when they finally do come in. We at Prospect Genius, in our own efforts to collect customer reviews, have to regularly remind ourselves that a page full of reviews doesn’t happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient, be persistent, and keep going the extra mile for your customers. Eventually, your business will have the reviews it deserves.