First, the basics: Online reviews impact your business. Your prospects look for reviews in each of the several phases of the purchase funnel. Your current customers are reading reviews prior to making a repeat-purchase decision (we will publish more data on this topic in the future). Search engines use reviews about your business as a key ranking factor.
Who else looks for reviews about your business? Potential partners, resellers, banks, creditors, ….. everyone that is serious about doing business with you. Enough said; reviews matter.
Ask or Wait
The first question in thinking about a review strategy is: should we proactively ask for reviews or just wait for them to come?
Which group do you fall into:
- My business get +5 new reviews per month AND our average star rating is greater than 4.5
- My business gets less than 5 new reviews per month OR our average star rating is less than 4.5
If your business falls into the first group, congratulations…your done with the rest of this blog post! If not, asking for reviews will help you get more reviews more often and help you get a 42% higher rating on the reviews you get.
Start with What You Have
We suggest starting with a goal of getting 2-5 new reviews every month. How do you do it? Start with what you have.
How many customers do you have each month? What contact information do you have for each of them? For guidance, assume that 5-15% of the emails you send requesting a review right after service will result in a review IF you are asking them for a review on a website that doesn’t require an account to be created to write the review. For sites like Google and Yelp that require an account to write a review, assume a conversion rate of less than 1/3 of the guidance above.
Using some basic logic, you can create a plan for your business. For example, if you only have 2-5 new customers per month, your review invitation strategy is relatively straight forward: contact each customer over the phone (your best way to get their attention), ask if the service was OK and ask for a review (offer to send URLs via email if they need help). [Pro Tip: use our Customer Call feature which has the highest conversion rate of "ask" to "completed review" of any method we have tested].
On the other hand, if you have hundreds of customers each month but not that many email addresses, consider handing out a paper form requesting a review when your work is completed [Pro Tip: use our Handwritten Review feature to convert paper-based testimonials into online reviews].
If you get hundreds of new customer emails every month, send an email to each of them asking for a review. In the email (or on to which the landing page on which you send them), offer lots of different review sites so you can capture reviews from those that have an account on Google or Yelp AND those that do not. [Pro Tip: use our Smart Invite feature to request reviews on all of the websites your business targets. For reviews written on Customer Lobby, we syndicate your reviews to multiple sites around the web.].
What ever you decide, focus on creating a repeatable process that will work for you and your team for years to come. Its a long race.