Why reviews can propel your profits far quicker than any activity you do yourself (but DON’T jack in your marketing activity…)
If you’ve been running your business longer than five minutes you’ll already know how important word of mouth is when it comes to marketing.
If your mate Mike’s had a bad experience with one particular company, you’re hardly going to put yourself next in line to buy.
Combine the power of word of mouth with that little thing called the Internet and suddenly you find yourself in a world where people trust online reviews just as much as their friends.
I’m not sure if it’s a result of Amazon asking users to rate their experience out of 5 way back when, or simply because the Internet means reviews are just so accessible these days, but if one thing’s for certain, it’s that people want to know they can trust one company over another before they buy.
So why aren’t more small businesses harnessing the power of reviews?
Getting over the fear of asking for reviews
Something I’ve heard thrown around from time to time is that it’s too risky to invite customers to review you, or the old classic, “I’d rather have no reviews at all than a few bad numbers among the good”.
But here’s the truth: if you believe in your product, you’re not going to have a problem.
Sure, you might receive the odd negative review, or- heaven forbid - less than 4 out of 5 stars. But that’s not a bad thing!
These days on Amazon at least, there are many hawkers giving away freebies in exchange for good reviews or finding other ways to cheat the system. They create the visage of a 100% positive experience history with their customers. But buyers are cottoning on.
A higher number of reviews at an average of 4 stars out of 5 is going to go down a heck of a lot better than a mighty 5* with no lower ratings at all – guaranteed.
Wouldn’t that make you suspicious?!
Building trust and increasing conversion rates
When you’re selling, it’s always a good idea to look at the buyer’s perspective – you know that.
Because you can do all the best marketing and write the most fantastic copy in the world, but if you can’t prove that what you’re saying about your product or service is actually true, then you’re going to fall short of your competitors pretty quickly.
This is the 21st century. Your buyers are savvy people. They’ll look elsewhere if you can’t show them that they’re not the first person to trust and buy from you.
Let me quickly run you through some stats to show you just how true and important this is.
According to Spiegel, around 95% of customers read reviews online before making a purchase, while Testimonial Engine found that 72% won’t take a buying action at all unless they’ve read reviews. And at the same time, 92% of B2B buyers become more likely to buy once they’ve read a trusted review (that’s according to research by G2 and Heinz Marketing).
But here are my favourites…
The December 2019 Harvard Business Review found that businesses see a 5-9% increase in revenue for every one star increase they receive on Yelp. AND those clever people at Spiegel also found that when a product receives just five reviews, its likelihood of being purchased goes up by 270%. Two hundred and seventy per cent.
Are you hearing what I’m saying? These things are bloody important.
Doesn’t matter what industry your business sits in – you’ve got to get them. Your customers and prospects will expect to see them, want to read them, and wonder why you don’t have them if they’re not readily available.
It’s not just customers who love reviews, Google does too
When Google ranks a website, it takes everything into consideration – including reviews.
Contrary to what you might expect, that doesn’t mean you have to go out and get a bunch of Google My Business reviews before the search engine giant will take notice of you, they’re not quite so biased as that.
They’ll like you for getting reviews from any third party sites, including the obvious ones, like Amazon, Trustpilot, Which?, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Yahoo, Facebook, Foursquare and even Twitter.
The more reviews you have integrated into your website, or linked to on a third party site (and the higher the ratings), the more likely Google is to prioritise you and point people in your direction.
But that doesn’t mean for one second that you need to rely solely on these websites to create the sort of trust that’s going to make your product or service sell.
Smart businesses collect their own!
You can do it in a form on your website, on social media, by email, text, even over the phone. And here’s the beautiful bit: you get more control, as you can then use those testimonials wherever and however you like. You can even influence what your customers say in them to a certain extent.
So what’s the best way to collect reviews?
If you don’t ask you don’t get, so ask.
Even your best customer isn’t going to wake up tomorrow morning thinking, “Today I MUST leave David at Exela a review.” It’s just never going to happen.
Never underestimate how busy people are either. I can’t think of many people who’ve got the time or patience to sit down and spend much more than a minute or two writing something that’s for your benefit.
Nor are these people particularly likely to want to pause the things they’re so busy doing in order to spend time and effort thinking about your business instead.
So you’ve got to make leaving a review the easiest thing in the world for them to do.
Sending review emails
The simplest way to do that? Send them a link with a short line of copy wrapped around it.
Even something as short as this sent to all your recent customer database will work better than any waffly message about “the favour you’ll be doing us” sent to your best customers only…
You link the stars to then take those who are happy to click to a review site or a relevant form on your website, where the user’s got the opportunity to leave a longer review or simply click away from the page.
It’s quick to build in Keap and can be sent to your whole list in one click, or incorporated into the post sales automation process. Pretty easy stuff.
Using texts and social media to collect reviews
In this day and age it’s easy to do it with text messages too, with a similar message that lets customers reply with a number from 1-5 that corresponds to their rating. You can even ask those who respond if they’d like to leave a longer review too.
And if you’ve built a decent following on social media then, by all means, leverage it!
A simple post on Twitter or Facebook pointing customers to a place where they can submit a review can go down wonders. You could even encourage customers to write reviews directly on your Facebook page.
Sharing your best reviews on your social media platforms is a failsafe way to get reasons for trusting your brand in front of more people. It often prompts more customers to share their own thoughts in response, in the hope of being featured themselves too.
Pushing reviews further through testimonials
You can push reviews so much further than a simple “purlease rate me on Google” email or social media post – through customer testimonials.
You’re probably wondering what’s the difference, so I’ll tell you.
Reviews are more of a numbers game, simply there to give prospects an idea of how many people have been happy with your service in the past or trust you enough to leave you some stars.
On the other hand, testimonials go into more depth. They’re more of a personal reflection or statement about your business and the service you deliver. They give you the opportunity to create some great content to share too.
There’s any number of ways you can use testimonials to your advantage, but here a few of my favourites:
1. Checkout questionnaires
Depending on your product or service, asking customers to fill in a short questionnaire in store could work well. Whenever your staff identify a customer who’s having a positive experience – and who doesn’t seem to be in a rush to leave – just ask if they’d be willing to help you out with a few words on paper.
2. Phone conversations
If you’ve got the capability to record calls and the manpower to make them, have a staff member spend a day ringing your best customers. Let them know they’re being recorded and ask if they’d mind sharing a few words about their experience with your business. Ask pre-planned questions about particular aspects of their sales journey and you can subtly (and ethically!) control what they say too.
3. Written testimonials
Not everyone does, but you might have some clients who do have the time and are willing to write a longer piece for you. Warming them up to it with a friendly call or a few emails will be in your best interest here. And if it’s someone who’s already told you in casual conversation how impressed they are with your business, you could even jot down what they said, fire it over to them and ask if they’re happy for you to put the testimonial out into the ether with their name on it. Just don’t make anything up that isn’t true.
4. Testimonial videos
This takes time, strong organisation and money, but it’s most definitely worth it for the return on investment. A recent study by VocalVideo found that 78% of enterprise organisations realise an ROI of at least 100% from testimonial videos.
Find five happy customers who are prepared to give you twenty minutes of their time and send a videographer to ask some questions and film the answers. Create something upbeat and enjoyable to watch, pop it on your website, in your email footer, onto social media and watch as the views rack up.
Up for collecting some reviews and testimonials quickly and easily?
Tools like Keap can take a heck of a lot of time, stress and money out of the process of collecting reviews and testimonials. It’s easy to work review requests into your automations and store the data you collect in one easily-accessible, shareable place, which is good news for publicising the great things your customers are saying about you.
If you’d like help strategizing to collect more, better reviews, or need a hand putting the mechanisms in place to make it happen – just ask. Pop your details in the form below, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 01242 375000.