Reviews on review sites are great. They provide social proof. They help you build your business. There are a ton of creative review marketing tactics that are surprisingly underutilized.
Your great reviews could be working a lot harder for you. Here's how several small business owners are making the most of their reviews.
Review Marketing Tactic 1: Showcase reviews on your website
Put them front and center, right where potential customers or clients can see them.
Photographer Vince Griff wants customers to trust him right away. So he uses his reviews on his homepage.
"I put my 5 best reviews in a slider on my homepage, and the rest of my reviews on a page of its own. When I meet with potential clients, they say they knew right away that I was the photographer for them."
Remember, there's nothing stopping you from republishing your reviews on your own webpage.
There's no evidence Google will penalize you for doing it. When you publish your own reviews, you get to make sure potential customers stick around. You gain some ownership of them that you don't have when they're on the review site alone. It's like your email list, your website is your turf.
Don't want to go through all the trouble of adding the reviews to your site? Use a review stream to automate the job.
You can also use the reviews on specific service pages by finding a review that corresponds to the service, and publishing it.
Review Marketing Tactic 2: Use them to create social media content
Running a little short on ideas for your social media account? Your reviews can help.
Josh Matteson is the Online Marketing Manager for Lula Life, an "Uber for home services" company. He says when he's running low on content ideas, he pastes a review over an image, then posts it on social media.
"It's a good way to get a little extra content out on your social media in a short amount of time."
You don't have to restrict posts to Facebook. You can use them on Instagram and Twitter, too.
Review Marketing Tactic 3: Use them to create a "Voice of the Customer" feedback loop
Almost every article about reviews mentions using them to improve your business. Jacob Beckstead, Director of Marketing at Bailey's Moving and Storage, does more.
"We monitor trends. I manage several branches, so I use word analysis but read through each review too. I make notes of trends to change up ads and operations processes when needed.
Many times, I will use points that customers didn't like to change our business process. Then I create ads talking about how we have changed our process. I think of it like a Voice of the Customer feedback loop.
Other times, if I notice customers keep mentioning they liked something, I'll be sure to make ads emphasizing that point."
Few articles talk about taking that extra step, but the technique is powerful. Like closing a circuit.
Take the extra step the next time you make a change, and see how it impacts your lead generation.
Review Marketing Tactic 4: Use them with schema friendly markup
This one was one of the more surprising answers I received. One of the most interesting, because schema's been coming up a lot lately. Bill Slawski spent a great deal of time talking about it in our interview.
Adding schema markup is becoming essential for small business websites, and using an automation tool like the Grade.us WordPress review stream plugin can take some of the pain out of having to hire a developer and doing it your self.
Beckstead knew all about it, and I heard the tip from a few other sources, too.
Once I started digging on the how I realized this topic needed it's own blog post, so I won't get too crazy with this tip here. The Cliff's Notes are there is a Schema option called "aggregateRating" you can use. It displays your GMB star rating and review count under certain pages.
Like any SEO-based tactics, there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
Review Marketing Tactic 5: Use them to create case study content
For B2B companies, case studies are solid gold. And they might help some B2C businesses, too.
But getting those case studies created isn't always easy. Unless, of course, you use your reviews to get a foot in the door.
That's what Tony Mastri, Marketing Specialist at MARION Marketing, tells his clients to do.
"Once you know a customer or client thinks highly of your services, you can nurture them as an evangelist for your business. Contact those customers who left positive reviews, and see if you can develop a case study about how your services improved their lives.
You can publish these case studies on your public site as further evidence you have the right expertise, authority, and trustworthiness potential clients are looking for!"
It's a step past simply publishing the reviews on your site. Case studies are awesome because they give prospects a chance to look at how you do things. The how can be fascinating and impressive. Sometimes, people really do want to know how the sausage gets made.
Sometimes, knowing makes more of an impact than reading someone's glowing praises of the end results.
Review Marketing Tactic 6: Use them in sales emails
"I've had immense success using reviews in my marketing and outreach emails. I include the most relevant soundbites from customer reviews as a footer, like a quote of the week.
And whenever I send my initial consultation email, I include a review or two from a comp business. That way, my new customer can see how my methods work for someone in a similar space to them."
Placing them in the footer is a nice way to keep this technique from coming across as too "salesy." And while it might feel awkward, remember: comp reviews are relevant. Everybody wants to know what the competition is doing, and everybody wants to know you can get results for someone like them.
Review Marketing Tactic 7: Use them offline
It's easy to forget printed materials and face-to-face sales presentations still matter. But they do, and you can leverage your reviews to strengthen your offline interactions.
Austin Evans, Owner of Lean Kitchen Company, does it all the time.
"We put them on brochures we hand out at marketing booths. We reference them in our sales presentations at the coolers."
Laura Smith of All Star Cleaning Services says she even uses some on her company vehicle wraps!
Demonstrating social proof is demonstrating social proof. Even if there aren't any screens involved.
Get a short, clever 5-star review and you could even turn it into a billboard ad.
5 Stars for Coloring Outside the Lines
You're hardly restricted by the 7 techniques outlined here. Use them, but don't stop there. As new marketing technologies and techniques emerge, it's smart to think about how you can wed them to your reviews.
Who knows? One day you might be adding them to AR displays of your building, or to VR billboards, or using them with some technology nobody's even thought about yet.
If you keep an open mind there's no telling what opportunities you might uncover.
Did I miss a technique? Did you love an idea? Drop us a line in the comments below, and let us know, or reach out to me via @CarmenRane, or to Grade.us, via @GradeUs, on Twitter.