Why Customer Reviews Are the Secret Weapon to Grow Your Business

Any successful and growing business depends on acquiring new customers. Businesses that get new customers at a lower cost than competitors are at a huge advantage. When it comes to gaining new customers, particularly online, nothing can be more effective than the number and quality of your reviews. Online reviews allow business owners to put their best foot forward as potential customers research where to spend their money. By successfully leveraging the power of online reviews, you can dramatically increase the number of new customers arriving from the many business review platforms including Yelp!, Google, Facebook, and more.

Why Customers Like Reviews

Most of us are careful about how we spend our money. We want fair value for our dollars. As customers, we are often presented with what seems like an unlimited number of options. Most of us understand that while the internet provides a great source for finding products and services, there is also a lot of garbage and scams online.

Reviews provide an easy way to help customers make purchasing decisions. They help customers decide who they can trust to provide a product or service. Who should earn their hard-earned dollars. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. If you are deciding between two businesses, which one would you trust, the one with dozens of reviews or the one with none?

The New “Word of Mouth” Advertising

Businesses have long understood the power of word of mouth advertising. Consumers are much more likely to purchase a product or service if a friend, colleague, or family member recommends it. While it is great to get more people talking about you, it is limited by the number of loyal customers you have and the size of their network.

Reviews harness the power of a personal referral but combine it with the aggregating qualities of the internet to dramatically increase reach. It’s the next best thing to word of mouth. When potential customers see that others have used your offering and are satisfied, they will be more likely to trust your business.

By solidifying your strategy for acquiring good reviews from happy customers, you are improving your ability to gain new customers by a huge margin. And importantly, leveraging reviews it is free or low cost.

There are two aspects to online reviews to keep in mind, getting reviews and the platforms where your customers post them.

How to Increase Your Online Reviews

With all the benefits of improving your online reviews, the obvious question is how to get them. We’ll deal with where to get reviews next. Regardless of the platform, the steps should be the same, namely convincing customers to positively review you online.

Here are several ways to solicit reviews:

  • Ask in person – As you interact with satisfied customers, ask them straight out to give you a review. People understand that growing a business is hard, and if you ask them for a review and they are satisfied, they’ll often be happy to help.
  • Advertise in-store and online – It helps to have visual reminders, so add signage on your front door and near the register prompting customers to leave a review. You could add a request for reviews to your in-store or online receipt. You should also add links to your website.
  • Ask via email – You should already be collecting as many customer email addresses as you can. You can send an email to every customer you can ask them to leave a review. Email makes it easy because you can link directly to the platform where your customers can leave reviews. If you send emails automatically (i.e. receipt, tracking info, etc.) include a link to how to leave a review. You can even add a link to a review site to your email signature so that every email you send could result in a review.
  • Solicit Reviews on social media – As you grow your social media presence, you can include posts prompting customers to leave reviews. As users leave reviews, make sure you thank them. You should also add a link to leave reviews on your social profiles.

Make it easy to leave a review

It’s often not enough to ask because customers can be confused about how and where to leave the review. Make it simple for customers to leave them. Don’t ask them to leave you a review but make them do the work of how to leave one. Tell them what platform you’d like the review on. You can print out instructions on where and how to write reviews, including the app or web URL.

No matter how you are asking for online reviews, try to ask when they are most likely to help – when they have just completed a purchase and are happy with it.

Where should I get reviews?

The online review space has become saturated, and with so many platforms soliciting reviews, it can be a challenge to decide which sites to focus on. The answer lies in your specific business needs as well as what sites your customers visit. Different sites are better suited to different types of businesses. You’ll have to do some market research to know what sites potential customers use.

Google – If you have a physical location, Google is most likely the best place to start. That is because having reviews will help you in the competitive local business space. They provide massive amounts of traffic and having your presence on Google optimized will likely be the site that pays the most dividends. You are probably aware of the local results for business searches. By having good reviews on Google you increase the chance of customers visiting your location dramatically.

Facebook – People are increasingly turning to the social media giant for recommendations on local businesses. Reviews on Facebook can carry more weight than on other sites because the users will often see when their contacts have left a review. A review gives users an idea about the quality of a business, but a review from a person they know is much more valuable.

Yelp! – For some businesses, particularly restaurants, Yelp! Might be more valuable than either Google or Facebook. Depending on your location, a solid presence on Yelp! can result in new customers at a rate faster than Google or Facebook because users go to Yelp! directly when looking for local recommendations.

There are many more sites to get reviews on than these three. Many verticals have their review sites specifically for their niches. For example, Angie’s List provides reviews of handymen. Groupon and its deals is a hit with shoppers looking for savings. If you are already getting some results from Groupon, then it makes sense to increase the number of reviews on that platform.

To see what platforms are popular in your niche, a good place to start is to do some research on your competitors and see what review platforms they are emphasizing.

Software to help you grow your reviews

As you get handle on Google, Facebook, or Yelp, it might be time to partner with a specific review platform.

As you can imagine, given the value to online reviews there is no shortage of products that can simplify and maximize the process including services like Gatherup, Yext, Trustpilot, and dozens more. They range from free to enterprise solutions.

If you are ready to use a service to manage your reviews, make sure you do some research to find the solution that best suits your needs. Websites that compare different review management or reputation management include  Capterra and G2.

If you want to increase the number of new customers coming to you from online sources, your presence on the biggest platforms must be well optimized. Having as many good reviews as possible is key to that endeavour.

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