How To Get Business Reviews: Back to Basics

Andrew McDermottCustomer Reviews, Reputation Management, Review Funnel, Review Marketing, Review MonitoringLeave a Comment

How To Get Business Reviews

It certainly seems simple.

You provide customers with amazing support and you ask for a review. Customers give you five-stars. Pretty easy to get business reviews, right?

Except that it's not.

There's a right and wrong way to get business reviews. When it's handled well, your conversion rates climb. Your website traffic grows. You attract a disproportionate amount of sales and traffic.

Do you know how to get business reviews?

I know how that sounds.

It sounds like a stupid or condescending question to ask. Of course you know how to get reviews for your business! Here's the problem with this question.

It's deceptively simple.

The question "do you know how to get business reviews" is actually a complex one.

· What inexperienced businesses hear: "Do you know how to ask customers for a review?"

· What savvy businesses hear: "Do you have a review management strategy in place to consistently and systematically attract top reviews from your customers?"

See the difference?

There's a lot to unpack here. Here's the good news. This is really all about the basics. Mastering the basics is an easy and straightforward way to get 80 percent of the results from 20 percent of your efforts.

It starts with your web.

Can you accurately predict customer behavior?

Do you know what a potential customer will do next? Can you tell me where an individual customer will go to authenticate your business?

You can't, can you?

Well you know what? Neither can I. None of us can in fact.

Here's why that matters.

Let's say you've run a brilliant ad campaign. You're getting a significant amount of traffic coming to your business. Your prospects are open to buying, but they're looking for something.

They're looking for reviews.

They want to authenticate your business. Are you too good to be true? Can you, do you deliver on your promises? Are you safe and trustworthy? What's it like to work with you? These are the questions reviews answer.

Here's the problem.

Your customers look for reviews in a wide variety of places. Some rely on general sources (e.g. Google, Facebook or Yelp) while others rely on industry specific sources (e.g. Avvo, TripAdvisor, Angie's List, etc.)

Which ones do customers use?

The obvious answer is all of them. Customers gravitate towards the site that suits them best. What does that have to do with you?

If a review site or platform gives your customers a voice, one they can share with other prospective customers, you need to be there.

I call this a web of validation.

Your web of validation means you're available where your customers are. Additionally, your web needs to serve two distinct groups (a.) search engines which collect, rank and share your business with customers and (b.) customers who are willing and able to buy.

You'll need...

1. Aggregate ratings. Research shows 87% of customers expect an aggregate rating of three or more stars. 48% want a four-star rating or higher. 9% of customers won't touch a business that has anything less than a full five-star rating.

2. Recent reviews. 77% of customers feel a review that's older than three months is irrelevant. 18% of those customers only care about reviews submitted within the last two weeks. Even worse, only 4% of customers actually pay attention to reviews that are older than one year.

Your business should be present wherever your customers are

online review importance of freshness bright local survey

3. Diverse reviews. Niche review sites are just as important as general sites. Why? Because customers use them. Sophisticated customers tend to gravitate towards specialty review sites that are focused on a particular topic or industry. Healthcare patients prefer a niche platform like ZocDoc and HealthGrades. Foodies rely on platforms like Zomato and OpenTable. Savvy businesses use a mix of general and niche review sites, prioritizing the ones that deliver the greatest return on investment.

Zomato restaurant review.

These three areas provide you with a high-level view of the details you'll need for your review management portfolio. That's great and all, but it doesn't really tell you where to start. Okay, where do you start?

Step #1: Audit your review portfolio

Remember the saying "what gets measured gets done?"

That's also true here.

If your review portfolio is less than ideal, you're losing customers. Remember the Moz research I referenced in a previous post about the ROI of online review management?

Here's a quick recap.

Moz found aggregate review listings in search engines had a huge effect on traffic, conversions and revenue. If your business had...

· One negative review listing = 21.9% less customers

· Two negative review listings = 44.1% less customers

· Three negative review listings = 59.2% less customers

· Four negative review listings = 69.9% less customers

The effect that negative (or no) reviews can have on your business is devastating.

You need to know.

Auditing your review portfolio gives you direction, showing you what your first steps should be and how many steps you'll need to take to reverse your problem.

What you'll need to audit your review portfolio:

1. A list of review sites that are relevant to your business and industry

2. A list of the completed business profiles (on each site) claimed by your business

3. Your aggregate star rating (on each site)

4. Whether you're responding to customer feedback (and where)

Advanced (but optional) to-dos:

5. Website conversion rate (segmented by traffic source)

6. Revenue (segmented by traffic source)

7. Average order values (segmented by traffic source)

8. Repeat purchase metrics (segmented by traffic source)

These metrics give you a complete picture of your situation as it stands today. Gathering this information gives you the data you need to set clear goals and objectives.

What if you don't have these?

What if you weren't aware that you needed to track these details at all?

Not to worry.

The first four items should be easy enough to collect. The advanced to-dos are details you can track in the future. At this point, you should have some data to work with.

What do you do with it?

Step #2: Skip the plan, start working instead

You need a shotgun approach, at first.

You should already have a list of review sites that are relevant to your business and industry. This means you're ready to begin working on your review portfolio.

1. Find, create or claim your company profile on each of the review sites on your list

2. Build, fix or edit all of the existing citations in your list

3. Ask customers to write a review for each of the profiles in your list

1. Find, create or claim your company profile on each of the review sites on your list

Review listings give customers a chance to find answers to their questions and objections. That's why it's so important to claim your listings on review sites.

Seems obvious, doesn't it?

You'd be surprised at the number of businesses that don't claim their listings.

peacock inn unclaimed open table listing

The business in our example, The Peacock Inn, has more than 1235 reviews. Most of their customers are happy, but they have a significant amount of one and two-star reviews.

If they claimed their profile they'd have a chance to respond to customers (privately in this case) who've posted negative reviews.

Okay.

What specific profiles are you looking for?

· Mainstream listings. Google, Facebook and Yelp

· Directory listings. CitySearch, YP, Manta, Angie's List

· Local listings. BBB, Tupalo, Judy's Book

· Social listings. LinkedIn, Foursquare, Facebook, Nextdoor

· Niche listings. Avvo, ZocDoc, Zomato, OpenTable, TripAdvisor

The online review site ecosystem has become pretty massive. Just take a look at the many industry specific review sites that can be integrated with Grade.us.

Claim all your listings? Good.

Now you're ready to...

2. Build, fix or edit all of the existing citations in your list

What's a citation and why do you need it? Moz breaks it down for us:

"A local citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms. Citations help Internet users to discover local businesses and can also impact local search engine rankings. Local businesses can actively manage many citations to ensure data accuracy."

peacock inn yelp profile information

Your name, address and phone number (NAP) are the core components of a citation. But there's actually more that's included in your citation:

  • Business categories
  • Hours of operation
  • Driving directions
  • Business description
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Payment methods accepted
  • Geo-coordinates
  • Reviews
  • Owner responses
  • Taglines
  • Links to social media channels
  • Email addresses
  • Fax numbers
  • Alternate phone numbers
  • Attributes
Google My Business listing attributes

You want to make sure that your citations are accurate, updated and consistent. It sounds simple enough but it's often quite difficult to do.

That's difficult when you're dealing with factors like franchises. Or organizations with multiple brands (in the same location). What about organizations with multiple locations or numerous phone numbers?

That complicates things, doesn't it?

Customers expect you to find, fix and manage these citation issues ahead of time.

3. Ask customers to write a review for each of the profiles in your list

It can be difficult to ask for feedback.

Maybe you're not sure how to go about structuring your review request. If customers are just satisfied (instead of delighted) they may not know what to say.

It's still important to ask.

Why?

Because they're more likely to say yes. When asked, 68% of consumers left a local business review out of 74% total.

Okay.

How do you ask and when?

It all depends on you. A face-to-face request is 34 times more effective than an email request. Does that mean your written review requests are ineffective?

Absolutely not.

Research shows asking for a favor boosts customer response. It increases our odds of getting more favors in the future. So how do we approach this?

We use templates.

· If you're making a face-to-face request, these review request scripts can show you how to ask

· If you're sending a written request you can get started with these email review request templates

· Use these templates to convince an unhappy customer to write a five-star review

· Want a review request playbook for your service business? Look no further.

Work to consistently request reviews from your ideal customers. You want to target each of the review sites on your list until you have data. Once you have data you're ready to...

Step #3: Prioritize and plan your reviews

Remember earlier?

When I said you needed diversity in your review portfolio? That's still the case, but diversity needs another component if it's going to work hard for you.

Prioritization.

Thanks to the Pareto distribution, also known as the 80/20 rule, we know that roughly 20% of the review sites in your portfolio will produce 80% of your overall results.

This requires caution.

Does this mean you can focus on the review sites in your top 20% and safely ignore the rest? You can, but that's not a great plan.

Here's why.

Mainstream sites – Google, Facebook, Yelp – these sites attract a massive amount of reviews from mainstream customers. These reviews can be generic or specific, helpful or unhelpful.

It can be hit or miss.

Mainstream sites attract a massive amount of attention and traffic, but they come with a small downside. A longer sales/conversion cycle.

major online review sites

Niche sites are different.

They're focused on a specific industry, topic or specialty.

Even better, the prospects on niche review sites are, more often than not, sales-ready. They're hyper-qualified, sophisticated buyers who know their way around a particular topic, product or service.

This also makes them a bit more demanding.

review sites for the healthcare industry

Zagat, Avvo, HealthGrades, ZocDoc, Houzz and Angie's List are all great examples of niche sites that are focused on a specific industry, topic or specialty.

So which one you choose?

Do you take the mainstream approach and focus on the big three (e.g. Google, Facebook and Yelp)? Or do you focus your attention on niche sites that are specialized, targeted and filled with more sales-ready customers?

Savvy marketers focus on both.

Mainstream review sites give you the attention, traffic and revenue your business needs. You're able to attract the volume of customers you want. With niche review sites, it's easier to attract the quality customers you want.

If you already have a review portfolio and the segmented by traffic source data from step one, you have a clear path to follow. But even if you don't have that data, it's important to create a diverse review portfolio. One that isn't top-heavy (e.g. all your reviews are in Google) or overly dependent on any one particular source.

What about prioritization?

How do you identify the review sites that deserve more of your attention?

You use your metrics.

Initially, you work with all of your target review sites giving each of them an equal amount of airtime. Then, you prioritize using performance metrics (e.g. ROI, ROAS, conversion rate, etc.).

Use the right metrics to identify top performers

Your review management campaign has three components.

1. Attraction. The review sites that attract a consistent or significant amount of customer attention/traffic.

2. Conversion. Reviews and review sites that convert customers, whatever your conversion goal may be. Could be a landing page visit, product purchase, appointments set, etc.

3. Consumption. Review sites that create attraction + conversion + consumption. Consumption, in this case, refers to customers using your product or service. The more they consume, the more they buy.

Once you've identified your top-performing review sites you split your attention accordingly. Divert more of your time and budget to your top performers.

Then rinse and repeat.

You know how to get business reviews, right?

It seems like a silly question to ask.

You provide customers with amazing support. You ask for a review, customers give you five-stars, easy peasy.

As we've seen, there's a right and wrong way to get business reviews. The question "do you know how to get business reviews" is a complex one. Inexperienced businesses think it's all about the ask.

You're a sophisticated marketer.

You know how to get business reviews. You know it's about having a review management strategy in place. An approach that consistently attracts top reviews from happy and satisfied customers.

Because getting business reviews is simple if you have the right strategy in place.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin and the co-author of Hook: Why Websites Fail to Make Money. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.

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