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STEP SIX TO SEO: Reviews

Do I have a strategy for gathering reviews from happy customers?

Happy customers leave great reviews.

The number-one, not-so-secret strategy for achieving high customer satisfaction––which causes them to leave positive reviews––is giving them the very best user experience possible.

Let’s assume you’re already doing that (of course you are).

We know your business is awesome. But every once in a while, someone comes along and says something negative about it. And they post it on the web for the whole world to see.

This is both a problem and an asset.

It’s a problem because of what Craig Bloem reports on Inc.com:

“Research shows that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And they make that decision quickly: 68 percent form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews.”

Yikes! (Of course that’s good news in the case of great reviews––which we’re going to help you get).

What people say about your brand can either promote it or destroy it––sorry to be blunt, but research shows we’re more likely to report on a bad experience than a good one. Bad stuff makes better stories, and people love telling stories.

The kicker is that quality beats out quantity when it comes to reviews. One bad review is worth about three good reviews. So even ten incredible, amazing, super-duper reviews are virtually worthless if you have three bad reviews.

This is where most business owners feel a little uneasy because of their inability to control what is said about their product or service offering. Except that’s not entirely true.

Remember I said they’re also an asset?

Reviews are a bit like press exposure: even bad press is good press. Negative reviews are free user-generated content which helps SEO efforts. You might be surprised to learn that once people are on your site, bad reviews have very little to do with how long they stay or how well they engage with your site––keep reading to discover this juicy little stat.

But of course, we don’t want to generate bad reviews just to boost our ranking.

Negative reviews are the insight that helps you improve your already awesome business to make it even more awesome and enhance the customer experience, which organically influences more reviews of the positive variety––and we like those.

You can also take key steps to direct and influence the quality of reviews and ultimately, your business’s reputation. And depending on how you deal with negative feedback, you can transform it into more sales.

The main aim of the game though is to get as many happy customers as possible leaving a review so let’s take a look at how to do that.

How Can I Get Satisfied Customers to Leave a Review?

Give them a voice and let them know you’ve heard it.

Every great business has a solid customer correspondence strategy, whether it’s the people you hire to manage customer feedback or the quality of your email newsletters.

But it’s not a one-sided conversation. You have to give your customers a voice too, so you can gather insight into how to improve and maintain the quality of your product or service.

And when they leave a positive review you want to jump on it, right?

Word.

But why is that so important?

It is a simple psychological truth called positive reinforcement. People like to be acknowledged. When their “good behaviour” is recognized, they are more likely to continue it. This encourages others who are also vying for recognition, to share their experience too (if you’re not convinced, observe a class of kindergarteners for five minutes as the teacher praises one or two students for good behaviour––it’s a teaching strategy, why not a business one?)

via GIPHY

One thing to keep in mind here is that good reviews influence other people to leave good reviews. It’s something the industry calls social proof (I call it snowballing), and it looks like this:

Determine which review websites to use and provide your customers with several options.

Type “[your industry] + reviews” into Google and see what comes up in the SERP to determine which one is best for your business. Some platforms keep reviews exclusive; others syndicate them to other sites. Check out this graphic from Phil Rozek:

Source: MOZ.

Ask your customers to leave a review and make it easy for them.

This is so obvious that many business owners overlook it. If you want something, you have to ask for it. Make sure you ask customers for a review soon after their purchase so their experience doesn’t fall from memory. It’s an act of kindness on their part (though I might argue it’s consumer responsibility), they’re not getting anything out of leaving you a review. Don’t send them through a matrix to help you out. Send them an email with a simple call to action.

But go one step further here. While a good review is great, a story is even better. So, in your invitation, ask your customer to “tell us a story about your experience”. It reads like you’re more interested in them than in getting something out of them––which, of course, you are––and they are more likely to provide more details about what they liked because you prompted them to.

Digital Alchemy: Transform negative feedback into sales

Sounds too good to be true, right? I mean, how do you turn a lump of coal into a pot of gold?

More than 65% of users will read four or more reviews before they trust a brand:

Consumer trust is one of the biggest factors in conversion rates and negative reviews make your brand more trustworthy. One online source reports that 95% of people suspect fake reviews if they don’t see any negative feedback.

Further, less than 1% of consumers will actually leave a site after reading a bad review (there’s that juicy little stat I was telling you about).

A few bad reviews peppered in amongst all the good ones give your potential customers a reason to believe the content in the good reviews––and it prolongs their engagement on your site.

But there is a critical point here––owner response to negative reviews. It is the alchemy that transforms those not-very-nice words into powerful sales pitches. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your superior customer service publicly.

Respond quickly (within 24 hours if possible).

Acknowledge the customer’s concern authentically, sympathetically, and politely.

Offer to make it right.

A few more bonus tidbits of info…

Did You Know?

  • Reviews influence your rankings in local search engines.
  • GMB (Google My Business) pages that have reviews mentioning a keyword or a city name tend to have higher rankings in Google’s local three-pack.
  • Yelp, Google, and Facebook are three major review platforms that customers can use to join an online discussion about your business.