Reviews are not a new invention.
I’m sure if you translated Greek scrolls you’d find “Socrates really wows them when he speaks. Highly recommended!”
There are reasons why reviews are a timeless route to more business.
Excuse me if I’m doing this at an idiot-simple level. The most important things are simple.
Reviews are important because they are a form of third-party endorsement.
It’s not you telling the prospective customer how great you are. Someone else (presumably a disinterested party) is saying it, so you can believe them.
As with all sales and marketing, it’s all about the trust.
The most trusted endorsement of all is someone you know and otherwise trust, possibly because they are in the business. That is why many people end up hiring their brother-in-law’s friend to do their websites. Of course, they usually regret it, but that’s another story.
But not everyone has a brother-in-law in the automotive trade. Or lawyering. So reviews are the number one trust builder by survey.
DIGITAL IS DIFFERENT
In one major respect, things are different, have changed. We’re all mainly digital – online now.
That’s a BIG difference-maker. For one thing, reviews can influence search rankings. So for example, having a lot of reviews on your Google My Business page will help that page rank on Search and on Maps.
It also makes a direct, immediate connection between reviews and purchases. We experience this in our business, where we regularly get calls from people who saw our reviews and called us at once. Never even looked at our website.
ON YOUR WEBSITE OR NO?
Should reviews go on your website or third-party sites like Google My Business and Yelp?
The short answer is “yes.” You can’t have too many reviews or have them too widely spread around. Reviews showing on search engine results pages and third-party sites help you to get them to visit your website in the first place or take other action.
Reviews on your website help build confidence and increase the amount of time people spend on your site and especially influence the conversion rate – the number who actually complete an action such as purchase, call, or fill out a form.
Which is better, one REALLY great testimonial or 100 five-star ratings?
One testimonial might be made up, or the exception. 100 5-star, even without reviews, has a big impact. A 4.9-star rating on a large number of reviews is highly trusted. People know things can be faked. They also know there are limits on how far that can go.
By the way, for the same reason, a perfect 5.0 review score on a large number of reviews is also unbelievable. SOMEBODY is going to have something bad to say. Everyone knows there’s always one idiot out there, and discounts it.
BEST REVIEW PLACEMENT
By our own survey, by far the best place for off-site reviews (not on your website) is Google My Business. People read and respond to Google Reviews as much as they do to all others combined, in most industries.
That doesn’t mean others aren’t important or valuable, Yelp in particular. But make sure you’re doing great on GMB.
DO’S AND DON’TS GETTING REVIEWS
Don’t invent reviews yourself. You may think no one will know the difference but they always have an air of inauthenticity.
Don’t pay for reviews. It violates Google’s terms of service. Not worth the trouble. In fact, if you follow their rules strictly, you can’t even send someone a box of chocolates or a discount coupon in exchange for a review.
Do make sure your customers are happy, both with what they bought and with your customer service. It’s kind of hard to get good reviews otherwise, am I right? Do set up a system to solicit reviews from happy customers. Let’s face it. Most customers are never going to bother writing a review no matter how happy they are. You make up for it with quantity – set it up so every happy customer gets asked. AND make it easy for them to do so.
Here are some known successful actions:
We have health care practices with tablets dedicated for reviews, already open the right page. The patient comes out of their visit saying how great it was, the receptionist hands them the tablet and asks for their review.
For contractors, service technicians go on calls with stacks of postcards that solicit reviews and give instructions on how exactly to do so. Any happy customer gets handed a card. The technician doesn’t have to make any pitch. Service technicians aren’t salesmen.
You send follow up emails to every customer, with links to go to Google My Business or other pages where they can do reviews.
There are lots of ways to do this. Any method that asks large numbers of customers for their review and makes it easy as possible for them to do so, will work.
WHEN YOU GET A BAD REVIEW
Face it. You will get bad reviews. The customer just didn’t understand what they were buying. Or they were having a bad day. Some bad reviews are just mistakes – they weren’t a customer of yours at all. And yes, sometimes competitors will as a tactic do fake bad reviews. Unethical? Of course. Contrary to Google’s terms of service? You bet! But knowing they’re wrong doesn’t make them go away.
So what do you do about it? Don’t ignore it. Don’t freak out. Do reply to the review – nicely, asking for a chance to make good on the problem. If you have no record of them as a customer, say so. If it seems clearly malicious, Google has a way to deal with it, but you should know the chances of getting a review removed unless the author removes it, are low.
The basic way of dealing with bad reviews is to bury them in good reviews. One bad review in 50 will bother no one but an idiot.
THE LONG HAUL
Reviews is something you work on, keep working on, and work on some more.
It takes a while to build an impressive quantity of reviews.
So make this a regular part of your business – not something you work on and drop, or work on by fits and starts.
That the winning formula for reviews.