Over the last few years, businesses have become aware of the importance of reviews in search rankings, brand strength, and trust. Consumers have also found reviews increasingly helpful.
Yelp published a survey on December 8, 2021, after collecting responses from 1,500 people who read reviews in the US. Most people say they check reviews before visiting a new business, while 3 in 4 say they read more online reviews now than before. People value quality reviews over the quantity of reviews, and they appreciate unbiased and transparent reviews. (Note: Neither Boomtown Internet Group nor I are affiliated with Yelp, and we do not encourage you to use Yelp services.)
Here Is What the Yelp Survey Found About the Best Reviews. They:
- Include a description of someone’s experience
- Have a star rating and a written review – although many Google reviews only have stars
- Are more trustworthy if the review has more than 16 words.
Here Is What the Yelp Post Says About the Most Unhelpful Reviews. They:
- Are usually one 1 star reviews without any text, and they provide no context for either consumer who wants to know if a business or product is trustworthy, or for business customer service professionals who want to make a negative experience “right” for customers.
- If customers know that the business will ask them for a review they do not trust the reviews completely because when asked, people generally write a more positive review.
What Motivates a Person to Write an Online Review?
The dilemma about asking for a review without influencing the review outcome is hard to circumvent for any business, particularly small, local businesses. However many reviewers really want to help local businesses by providing reviews. Most people want the opportunity to support local businesses. The Yelp survey found that more than half of respondents who have written reviews in the past are likely to write a review for a local business if they couldn’t find many reviews, especially if they were very satisfied with the service.
Should You Incentivize a Review Request?
When asked if they would write a review in exchange for a discount, gift, or other incentives, 71% said yes. Most regulatory agencies and review sites do not want to show these incentivized reviews.
Additionally, Yelp, Amazon, and Google all use automated algorithms to detect reviews that seem like a business asked or paid for them. Most people surveyed want to know the criteria that the review site uses to show reviews or determine whether reviews are fake. Some things that flag algorithms and result in suppressed fake reviews include:
- Review date and time
- Review IP address – especially if many are the same or from a location that does not make sense for a local review
- Mention of an incentive for the review
How to Ask For a Review Locally?
People want to provide reviews for local services, but in what ways can a business request a review?
- The most popular way to ask for a review is in person, especially if the customer says they were happy with your service, found everything they needed, and don’t seem like they are in a big rush. You can tell that person there are several ways to leave a review, and that the biggest compliment they can pay you is a text review on the business’s Google listing. If the customer does not seem tech-savvy or says they have never set up a Google account, this can be problematic. In that case, you can ask them to write their review with their full name and the area where they reside, and you can post their review on your website at a later date.
- You can ask for a review over the phone or use text messaging if that makes sense. For instance, you may have been on a customer service call with a positive outcome, a follow-up phone call indicating that a package is shipping, another appointment is pending, or you will be in the area again at a certain date. If this occurs, you can also ask for a review in the same manner as you would in person.
- You can subscribe to a review service like Clutch or G2, that displays a review page for your business. The service will ask for reviews via phone or email after verifying that the person used your service or bought products from your company. Because your company did not ask for the review, customers, and search engines value these reviews for their transparency and lack of bias. (Note: Neither Boomtown Internet Group nor I are affiliated with Clutch or G2.)
- Another tactic is to ask for a review using a personal email after a customer has completed your service or purchased your product and had time to use it. Again, point them to a review source such as Google or Yelp. You may even be able to automate this email from your order fulfillment system or sales CRM.
- Some businesses, like restaurants, have active social media channels making it the best place for your patrons to add reviews. Reviews with images, stars, and text descriptions are best for future customers and for establishing trust.
- When a customer has completed a chat or transaction with your company online, you may consider adding a link to your review pages on your checkout thank you page or at the end of every chat session.
- Some businesses create a card they can put in their packaging that encourages online reviews. Be careful not to include an incentive as this can leak out to review sites, and violates their guidelines.
- Finally, if you send out an email, postal mail, or print receipts and invoices, this can also be an opportunity to ask for a review.
Things to Keep In Mind When Asking for a Review
The more personal, conversational, and helpful you can be, the better your review success.
- Many customers respond to ways to help future customers when shopping at your store, eating at your restaurant, or using your services. When you ask for a review you may remind them to help others have a great experience at your business.
- When you ask for a review, never apologize, but do ensure that the customer knows how much you value reviews, particularly ones that will help other people, rather than only clicking a star.
- Try to make adding a review as easy for customers as possible with short links to your review pages.
How to Respond to an Online Review?
If you do receive a poor review, it is very important to respond with a personal message within 24 hours. Another Yelp survey found that users are 33% more likely to upgrade their critical review if the business follows these steps.
On the other hand, only respond publicly to a positive review when you feel you have beneficial information to add to the review, such as an upcoming sale. If you just want to say thank you for the review, send your customer a direct message.
For help creating and implementing a review strategy, contact the digital marketing experts at Boomtown Internet Group. With over 15 years of experience, we worked with many types of businesses to improve their online reputation and taught them how to ask for reviews from their customers.