As a review platform featuring thousands of companies, we often see messages like these:
Customer Review: Christina Culver from Ketchum, Idaho
“I did a thorough review of companies and chose byte because of price and great reviews.”
Positive reviews earn more customers, who in turn can leave their own positive reviews. This cycle continues because customers consider reviews to be one of the most trusted recommendations for a brand, second only to word-of-mouth referrals.
Knowing this, how can you create a snowball of positive reviews for your company and gather more leads through your reputation?
This guide includes several techniques for gathering reviews, as well as suggestions on what methods to avoid.
Control your brand’s image on as many review sites as you can. You have several sites to choose from, and most review platforms allow you the chance to claim your company's profile and verify its accuracy, or to set up a new profile of your own.
Being on as many review platforms as possible allows you to respond to customer complaints on each platform and gather reviews in the most common places consumers go looking for them.
This list contains some of the most prominent platforms:
But it doesn’t always bode well to go with only the most popular sites. Research the keyword “[your brand name] + reviews.” The review sites appearing in the first couple pages of Google might already have an overview or customer ratings for your company — you could be sending your reviewers their way to take control of the conversation.
Your industry likely has several niche sites appearing for your review keywords, like HomeAdvisor for house maintenance or BroadbandNow for internet service. If they host customer reviews, these niche platforms can be ideal places to send reviewers; a site’s niche expertise can be a draw to users researching your industry.
Another option is hosting reviews on your own site. This can be ideal if you’re in the eCommerce industry where each individual product needs its own rave reviews. You also have freedom to provide long-form customer testimonials, or include reviews in whichever format you prefer — video, audio, and so on.
You’ll be responsible for navigating the legal waters of customer reviews, such as gaining written permission to publish the customer review and creating review guidelines.
And while this is a great choice, be warned that many consumers will look at a few review sites before purchasing. Your site’s reviews can’t be the only source of customer sentiment, otherwise customers may think you are stifling feedback.
When you give customers several platforms for reviews rather than only your site, they’re more likely to find the ideal space to leave their own feedback.
It’s simple: just ask. Most customers will leave a review if you ask them.
But before you make your request, be aware of some practices to avoid. Targeting your requests to customers who only had positive experiences will earn you penalties on many popular review platforms (Yelp and Google included), so the safest practice across all sites is to ask for honest reviews.
You also need to avoid soliciting reviews in bulk (in other words, prompting all customers at one time to leave a review). Review platforms that don’t have a screening process for each review typically won’t allow you to solicit reviews en masse because they can lead to thin and unhelpful responses.
If you want genuine feedback that's helpful for you and your customers, here are some ideas of when and how you can ask for a review.
If you’re in a service-based industry, customers may be able to leave reviews right after paying. Your employees can ask customers for reviews in person, or you may have a checkout page or email receipt with a review link.
Not everyone can ask for a review right after purchase. The timing for asking after a sale will depend on your product or service. A customer may need days, weeks, or months to use your tool before they feel ready to give it a review. Find the sweet spot after a sale to follow up for feedback.
Did a loyal customer renew their subscription? This is a perfect point in the customer journey to add an email asking for their review.
Your client is already doing the work of word-of-mouth referrals — perhaps they’re also interested in reviewing your company for a wider audience. When you notice a customer has made a referral, this is a good time to pitch writing a review.
Your team is working hard to resolve customers’ issues. Why not get some credit?
Once you’ve resolved a support ticket, ask customers for their experience.
Are you already struggling to keep on top of sending customer newsletters and transaction updates? Manually sending emails at each point of the customer journey sounds unfeasible. Find a product to automate the work.
You can schedule texts or emails when customers take certain actions, which will take the burden of asking for reviews off you. Popular email marketing software like HubSpot and MailChimp can do this for you.
Include pop-ups or review links on a checkout page to target customers who make a purchase. This way, you don’t have to personally follow up for feedback.
Or, work with a company that will collect reviews from paying customers in your database. Best Company Business Suite users can work with our reviews team to collect verified reviews from their customers.
Just mind our warning: indiscriminately emailing or texting all your clients at once looks bad to review readers and can land you in trouble on some big-name review platforms. When choosing products and companies to solicit reviews for you, be sure they help you focus on quality, honest reviews at relevant points of the customer journey. A review platform with a moderation process before each review goes live can filter out thin and irrelevant reviews.
When you receive positive feedback, make sure current and future customers know.
Share positive reviews on your platforms, and provide CTAs to leave a review. This is an effective way to invite readers to offer their own experiences.
You can share your reviews several ways — but be careful. Some review platforms don’t allow you to share the reviews you gathered on their domain. Read the terms and conditions first.
Some review platforms allow you to share their reviews directly to social media. You can also dress up your customer reviews and testimonials yourself, like this Tweet from pet food company Nom Nom Now:
If a customer leaves your landing page to look up reviews on their own, you’ve lost an opportunity to close a sale. That’s why it’s ideal to include testimonials on your landing page, like these reviews from Lexington Law:
Reviews can be powerful signals of trust to include in your marketing materials. You can include them before your CTA like this whitepaper from Solar Optimum:
You’ve probably asked for reviews over email, but have you included your published reviews in newsletters? This social proof is perfect for marketing your products, like this example of a jewelry subscription box from Local Eclectic:
You may have taken the hint from some of the review-sharing examples above, but here's a tip that can help you generate more reviews: give your customers publicity when they write a positive review.
Tagging happy customers in your social media posts, interviewing them for a video testimonial, and sharing clients’ success in case studies are ways to magnify a positive experience. As always, ensure you have permission first!
Divvy does an excellent job of giving clients the limelight with an entire library of detailed case studies. And if a client is happy enough with your service to share their success, surely an honest review to top it off isn’t a big ask.
Responding to your reviews is best practice. Customers want to see timely responses to their feedback and complaints.
Take time to respond to negative reviews. You can consider a negative review to be more than a nuisance: it’s an opportunity. You should respond accordingly.
Negative reviews give you the chance to
Not every review platform allows customers to update a review, but review sites that do present you a chance to turn that 1-star rating into a 5.
For example, on Best Company, you can easily respond to your customer reviews. If you work with a reviewer to solve their issue, you can then request a rescore. The customer is emailed the rescore request and has the opportunity to update their review. With this technique, you can transform your ratings and create loyal customers.
Don’t let untruthful reviews bog down your score. Most platforms have review guidelines that prevent people from leaving false reviews — after all, spammy and fake reviews can reflect badly on their site.
If reviewers are mentioning services you don’t offer, several reviews all come from sock puppet accounts with the same bio, or any other telltale sign of fake feedback, take your concerns to the review platform.
Most review companies have a dispute process and outline their review guidelines. By working to get fake reviews removed, you can increase the ratio of positive reviews (and helpful neutral reviews) on your profile.
Fake reviews typically trend negative — but if you’re finding fake positive reviews, it’s also in your best interest to report them. Allowing fake reviews to slip through the cracks in your favor can result in penalties from a review site.
If you want honest, positive reviews, there’s no real secret. You need a customer-centric business model.
Learn from your negative feedback and improve your product. Implement the customer feedback loop to iterate on what you learn.
As your service and products improve, so should your reviews.
Best Company offers reviewers the chance to rate your business on sentiment criteria: value for your money, quality of the product, customer service, and company trustworthiness.
If you’re lacking in one area, that’s a clear indicator of where to reassess your services.
Maybe some of your favorite techniques didn’t make the list. That’s because some experts recommend strategies that can penalize you on review platforms.
For example, incentivization, review-gating, and paying for reviews are all review gathering methods that can land you in serious trouble.
Have you ever been told to offer a coupon code in exchange for an honest review? Popular review sites like Google and Yelp don’t allow this — and some companies have been de-listed for ignoring this policy.
We here at Best Company don’t allow incentivization either. Incentives prime customers to leave positive reviews, but they don’t prime customers to leave honest reviews. Incentives can also lead to spammy, low-quality reviews from customers who want your gift card or coupon. You shouldn’t expect valuable feedback from an incentivized review.
You’ve likely seen companies guilty of review-gating. A pop-up may appear on their site asking you about your experience. Click a thumbs up, and the pop-up offers a review link. Click a thumbs down, and you’re directed to a private feedback form that is delivered to customer support.
Review-gating is an attempt to filter for customers you think will give you a positive review.
Again, most review sites denounce this practice. Reviews are only valuable if all customers are allowed to review.
Research has found that review-gating doesn’t lead to more positive ratings anyway.
Seems obvious, right? No review platform wants to be associated with fake reviews that inflate company scores.
But you can also be penalized for leaving fake reviews on competitor profiles. The best way to beat your competition is to improve your services, not smear other companies.
Sometimes, a review-buying scheme is blatant: A service claims that every five dollars you give them will transform into a 5-star Google review for your business.
At other times, review-buying schemes can seem reputable on the surface. A company may offer “reputation management” services that promise consistent, 5-star results. Then, they direct their team to write the reviews themselves instead of helping you gather reviews from paying customers.
If you want to outsource reputation management, be sure you know how your pick will gather reviews.
The road to a bank of honest, positive reviews is paved with effort. Thankfully, the payoff is significant.
Because most customers research your company online, you can’t afford to ignore your reputation. There aren’t shortcuts to positive reviews, but you can take the above steps to improve your star ratings and strengthen inbound marketing.
If you’re interested in building a database of honest reviews moderated by real people, work with Best Company and claim your profile to get started.
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