Every satisfied customer of yours should bring you more customers, right? Ideally, word-of-mouth would do all the work for you – your happy customers would refer their friends and family to you, who in turn become customers themselves.
If that’s not happening as much as you would like then you need to get our current customers working for you. You need every happy customer to influence other potential customers.
More specifically, short of having your customers actually deliver more customers to your door, the best thing is for your current customers to sway potential ones by writing great reviews about your business.
Without online reviews, it’s harder for people to decide that they should to business with you over your competitors. Plus, without reviews, you’re far less likely to outrank your competitors in Google.
The bottom line is you need to ask each and every happy customer for a online review. But how?
This is where even the smartest business owners — the ones who know how important online reviews are to potential customers — often get stuck. They’re not sure how to ask customers or how to show them what to do, so the reviews simply never happen.
Fortunately, you’ve got options – 14 of them. I know of 14 ways you can get reviews.
It doesn’t matter how much time you have, or how many customers you have, or how computer-savvy they are. At least some of these methods will work for you.
Here are 14 ways to get online reviews (in no particular order):
- Organic method — Make sure your business is listed on as many third-party sites as possible, so that customers can find you if they feel like writing reviews spontaneously.
- Links or clickable images to the review sites on your website — Make it easy for customers who return to your site to to directly to the place where they can write you a review.
- Personal email — Write a simple email with a polite request and include a link directly to the review page. But please, personalize it: none of that “Dear Valued Customer” garbage.
- Email signature – At the bottom of your emails, include a little link to the page where customers can write a quick review.
- Autoresponder email — If you have your customers on an email list through an autoresponder service, you can create an review request email that goes out automatically.
- Single-page handouts — Create a simple set of instructions that you can simply hand to customers, which shows them exactly how to post a review.
- Snail-mail request/instructions — People generally pay more attention to snail-mail, especially if it’s personalized and from a business they know and like. This method is more work, but you’ll probably get a good response if you go to the trouble of doing it.
- QR code on a postcard — Hand or send your customers a little postcard that asks them to review you by scanning a QR code with their smartphones. The QR code would just contain a link to your Google Places page, or a link to your Yelp listing, etc.
- Video explanation — Create a short walk-through, for customers who you think would just rather watch a quick video than follow other types of easy instruction.
- Social media — Ask your business’ Facebook fans to write a review for you. As an added bonus, customers can write CitySearch reviews using their Facebook username, which makes it that much easier.
- QR code as a sticker or decal — The sticker or decal could go anywhere in your office or store, and customers could scan it with their smartphones to review you on the spot.
- Phone call — This is a bit old-fashioned, but it’s still effective with the right kind of customer.
- Part of a little gift that you send customers – This could be a free notepad with your logo and phone number on it, or a fridge magnet, or a coffee mug, plus a request to leave you a quick review. Make sure that the gift is something that people will actually use, keep on their desk or kitchen table, and see every day. You want it to be a subtle, but persistent reminder.
- Asking your reviewers to write through a variety of sites – In other words, if you know for a fact a given customer wrote you a Yelp review, ask that person to write you an InsiderPages review, too. There are no rules against it. In fact, the review sites themselves share reviews: I’ve seen CitySearch reviews show up on Bing, Judysbook, Kudzu, MerchantCircle, Switchboard, Yahoo, YellowBot, and YP. You may only want do this with really close, really loyal customers who don’t mind helping spread the good word.