How To Build & Leverage Online Reviews For Your Small Business

Scaling / November 1, 2016 / JD

Online reviews are just about as old as the Internet itself and are more popular than ever., Apple’s App Store, and have provided millions of potential customers vital information before a purchase is ever made.

You can’t go too far without being asked to rate a company’s product or service and there is a reason– they work.

Melissa McCormack, Research Manager at SoftwareAdvice, where Daylite recently placed on their FrontRunners for Customer Relationship Management writes:

“According to our research, 3/4 of software buyers consulted online reviews before making their most recent purchase — and those buyers reported greater levels of satisfaction with their purchase than buyers who did not consult reviews.”


How online reviews help your business

Your customers are talking about your business. Like right now. They are sharing their experience with friends, family, and colleagues, informing your potential future customers. If you don’t have a way for your customers to record feedback about your business, you are missing out on an excellent opportunity to bring in new customers searching for you online.

According to BrightLocal’s annual survey on online customer reviews, most customers trust online reviews  as much as a personal recommendation. Instead of relying on your customers to pass on recommendations to who they know, when you use online reviews you can expand their influence online.

You may think that online reviews are important only for companies on national or international stage, but online reviews can even help if you’re a local business. 91% of customers use online reviews to see if their local businesses are reputable. If you don’t include online reviews, you may be missing out showing off how awesome your business is.

This trend has been on the increase every year they have run this survey and it doesn’t show any sign of stopping. As time goes on, you run the chance of missing more and more sales opportunities.

How to add reviews for your small business

Google likely has already created a listing for your business. Anyone with a Google account can leave a review on this listing. You may even have reviews already. You can add value to these reviews by claiming your business listing including having the ability to respond to reviews as the company.

In addition to Google’s business listing, there is a myriad of industry-specific websites dedicated to online reviews. RateMDsLawyerRating, and Rankmyagent are all examples of industry specific online reviews. By claiming your listing, or adding your listing to industry specific site, you can have customers leave reviews targeted to your industry.

When customers do research before a purchase, they expect to see online reviews and when you don’t have them, they may simply move on to your competitor.

How to get customers to leave online reviews

It’s time to start encouraging your customers to write them. Reach out to your top customers and invite them to leave a review. Make it simple by emailing them a link for where they can write a review. You can even ask a few questions in the email to give them ideas of what to write about in the review.

For example:

  • How has our product/service helped you or your business?
  • What factors led to you choosing our product/service over a competitor?
  • How does our customer service compare to competitors you researched?

You can even entice customers to leave a review by offering incentives such as a gift card for leaving a review. The easier you make it for customers to leave a review, the more likely they’ll be to leave one.

It’s also important to ask at the right time for a review. For example, you can send a follow up email after you’ve completed a project for a client and received positive feedback. Or a follow up email after a customer has received your product. Catching your customers at the right time also helps increase the chance of getting a review.

Other ways you can build awareness about customer reviews is by putting up stickers on your windows asking customers to leave a review if they’ve been happy with your service. You could add a URL for a review site in your email signature to entice a customer to leave reviews. The more places, the better.

Don’t be scared to ask your customers to leave reviews. Your loyal customers want your business to succeed and love bragging about how awesome you are.

How to leverage online reviews

Once you have built up customer reviews, you can start to leverage these to improve your business and gain new customers.

Listen to the feedback given from customers in your reviews. Not all reviews will be pleasant. Use the negative feedback to identify areas of your business or products/services that need improvement.

Leverage the positive customer reviews to identify key aspects of your business or products/services that are doing really well. Make an effort to use the insight from these comments to highlight those things in your marketing materials. You can also use online reviews as testimonials on your website and other marketing materials to build trust with potential customers.

If someone leaves a particularly positive review, you can leverage that review to contact the person for a case study.

Make a conscious effort to build your online customer reviews so you can build trust and attract new clients. Leverage both positive and negative customer reviews to improve and grow your business.

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