To-Do List: Encouraging Reviews of Your Business

Kris Skavish

October 27, 2010

To-Do List: Encouraging Reviews of Your Business

Note: This article was originally published in October of 2010. How Google displays reviews has changed a bit since then, so this article was updated April 2012.

Online reviews help prospective customers make decisions about which companies with which to do business. Reviews are essential for companies selling to consumers, but they’re also helpful for B2B enterprises. Here are a few of the reasons getting continuous online reviews is great for your business:

  • Online recommendations strongly influence people who are making purchasing or vendor decisions.
  • The number and quality of reviews of your business factors into your Google local ranking.
  • It’s a helpful way to get feedback about your business. You’ll see how your customers view your business so you can identify and address problem areas.
  • Having a proactive strategy of consistently asking customers for reviews is a great way to hedge against the few who complain about the service they got. A lot of positive reviews will drown out a few bad ones.
  • Positive reviews can be used in your own marketing efforts. Prospective customers want to hear why other customers think you’re great.

With all these benefits, it makes sense to have a proactive strategy to always be encouraging new reviews.

To-Do List

    1. Identify the best 4-6 places to get reviews.

Arguably the most important place to get reviews is your Google Place Page, because having reviews on Google–regardless of whether they’re positive or negative–increases your local ranking. So getting reviews on Google should definitely be on your list.

Beyond that, get an idea for where consumers are already publishing reviews in your category. Do a Google search for your business category and location. Click to view the Google Place Page for some of the businesses listed. At the bottom of the page, under any Google reviews they have, you’ll see “Reviews from around the web:” with links to other sites.

If you serve consumers, the best review sources are likely to be CitySearch.com, Yelp.com, InsiderPages.com, YellowPages.com, and SuperPages.com. Look out for any vertical review sites for your business category, for example Zagat.com for restaurants, GreatSchools.org for schools, HealthGrades.com for doctors, and DoctorOoogle.com for dentists.

If you serve businesses, focus on YellowPages.com and SuperPages.com. Then check for vertical review sites for your business category, for example Avvo.com for lawyers.

Also, check for review sites specific to your city (from a local newspaper or magazine, for example). Your goal is to get fair coverage across several different review sites, so you get the most exposure to potential customers.

    1. Ask customers for reviews.

      When to ask:

      • Think about when the customer feels the value of what they’ve purchased, and when they are in a position to evaluate. In the case of a caramel apple, it’s pretty close to when they purchased. If you’re selling gym memberships, though, customers might better see the value in a few months.

      Where to ask:

      • In person, when they complete their purchase with you
      • On invoices or sales receipts
      • In email newsletters
      • On your website
      • On the checkout counter
      • On the door as customers leave

      How to ask:

      • “Reviews help our business grow. Please take a moment to review us on your favorite review site, like Yelp.com or CitySearch.com.” (Rotate the sites you mention every few months.)
      • “We’d love your opinion. Please post a review on a site like YellowPages.com or you favorite review site.”
      • “We love reviews! Review us on Yelp!”

      Don’t:

      • Pay for reviews
      • Add a review yourself
      • Ask a family member or colleague to add a review.
      • Trade reviews with another business. (“I’ll write one for you if you write one for me.”)
      • In general, avoid tactics that result in fake or artificially biased reviews. Review sites want impartial opinions, and they’re getting pretty smart about identifying when any of the above happens

      The goal is to remind people that reviews are helpful for your business. Most people who had good experiences are happy to share those experiences. Be careful not to badger customers, though. Work with all of your customer-facing staff trained to ask for reviews.

    2. Monitor reviews

Of course, you’re also really interested in hearing what your customers have to say about your business. To keep track of this, use a monitoring tool which will let you know when you’ve been reviewed and alert you to other mentions of your business (say, in the press).

Additional Resources

How Businesses Can Respond to Criticism on Yelp (Inc. Magazine)

Responding to Negative Reviews – Your Prospects are the Real Audience

What strategies have you found helpful for getting more customer reviews? Tell us in the comments below.