What CAN I Do to Generate Online Reviews?

We all know how important online reviews are to a business, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to build a review base if you don’t already have one established. With Google’s ranking punishment for duplicated/syndicated content or unnaturally high review rates, Yelp’s extreme review filters and the recommendation that owners NOT ASK for customer feedback, and the overall discouragement of purchasing or incentivizing reviews, how, exactly, are you supposed to get started?

Here are a few things you CAN do to ethically generate new reviews and avoid negative reviews.

Make your review listings known:

Put your review sites on display EVERYWHERE. Intentionally bringing attention to your business’s review site listing indirectly lets customers know that you want to be reviewed. Include links to review sites on your website, in thank you emails, in newsletters and in social media posts. If the review site offers stickers, window clings, etc, display them around your business or on a business vehicle. Print flyers or postcards that let customers know what review sites you’re listed on.

Provide direct customer service and interaction:

If you are at all able, try to interact with your customers face to face; this will significantly decrease the chance that they’ll post a bad review. They may not necessarily be inclined to leave a positive review, but good word of mouth and no review is infinitely better than a bad online review. If your business doesn’t allow face to face interaction, just do everything you can to be sure you’re offering the most direct customer interaction and the best customer service possible. If you are given a compliment in person or in writing, let the customer know where it can be posted online and kindly ask if they would mind posting it there.

Send thank you and follow up emails:

An email thanking a customer for their business is the perfect place to include links to your review site listings. You don’t need to ask outright for a review, just include the links or maybe a simple, “Find us on Yelp” at the end of the email. The most important thing is to get the reader to open the email, and an inviting subject line will increase the open rate, in effect, leading to more reviews. Make sure you act fast; customers are much more likely to give reviews right away.

Use social media:

Social media is a great place to thank a specific customer for a positive review or to thank your reviewer base as a whole. Be sure to include links back to your reviews. These tweets and posts will show your appreciation of reviews, expose your positive reviews to the public and let people know where you’re listed.

Respond to ALL reviews:

Responding to all reviews, good and bad, lets others see that you truly appreciate take all feedback into consideration, which may encourage additional reviews.

These steps may seem small and indirect, but if they are put into regular practice, they will play a significant role in your business’s long term reputation. Natural review acquisition requires a little more time, but is worth so much more than the forced or phony reviews that search engines and consumers are able to see through. You can do it; we can help. Give us a call or read this article to learn more about how to manage your online reputation.