When you’re planning a meal out for a special birthday or anniversary, how do you decide where to eat? You might go with an old favorite that you know you can rely on. But if you want to try something new, you’ll probably seek a recommendation.
This recommendation could come from a friend or family member. But if you’re like most people, you’ll also check the restaurant’s online reviews. In fact, 97% of consumers say they read reviews for local businesses.
Leaving your testimonials and client feedback on review aggregators like Yelp makes them a passive resource. The customer has to search for the information. And if you don’t have a brick and mortar location, you may not be on any of those sites to begin with.
That’s why you need a robust customer review strategy that brings your reviews to your own turf. Put them to work on your website and in your marketing efforts, to let potential customers hear from people they trust — their peers.
Customer Reviews on Your Website
The most obvious place to include your existing customer reviews is on your website. Major companies like Amazon and Target know how eager we are to hear about other customer experiences. That’s why they put reviews right at the bottom of each product page.
Your web developer can help you add a review integration, allowing your customers to share their reviews directly to your site. If you want to tackle it yourself it's pretty easy - we recommend and use a service called Reviews On My Website.
For service-based businesses without product pages, you may need to add reviews and testimonials manually. Don’t make the mistake of gathering them all in one “Reviews” page that users may or may not click on. Instead, scatter them throughout your website to get as many eyes on them as possible.
The Homepage, About Us page, Services pages — add two or three testimonials to cast a wide net with your customers’ praise.
Customer Reviews on Social Media
Think outside your website with your customer review strategy, and repurpose them for your social media marketing.
Some brands simply take a screenshot straight from the review sites. While this can help to demonstrate the review’s authenticity, it’s not very attractive. Instead, use an app like Canva to create a custom graphic with the review content that fits with your brand aesthetic. If you're not that creative or want to take the time to design your own graphics, we recommend the team over at No Limit Creatives.
Post the graphic to Facebook, Instagram, and any other social platforms to share it with your followers. On Instagram, you can also share your reviews as a Story. Then collect those Stories in an Instagram Highlight feed where people can check out your reviews all in one place!
You can also tag the customer or client in your post if you know their social handle. People love to see themselves tagged in brand content! This also proves to anyone reading the quote that it came from a real person. We know you would never fake a testimonial, but there are some shady marketers out there.
One warning — don’t overdo it. A social media feed that posts its own accolades over and over will see a drop in engagement, and that’s not what we want. Just one every week or two will be plenty.
Customer Reviews in Email Marketing
Your business probably has a lot of touch points. Your customer reviews should appear in all of them!
Email is one of the strongest marketing tools in your arsenal. Estimates for the return on investment (ROI) of email marketing range from $38 for every $1 spent, all the way up to a whopping $122 for every $1 spent!
A review shouldn’t be the focus of an email marketing blast. But tucked at the end of one of your emails, a review can give your brand a little boost in the minds of the reader.
How to Ask Customers for Reviews
Gathering reviews to use in marketing can be a sticking point. The trick is to ask! 76% of customers asked to leave a review report that they do. So you need an automated method of requesting reviews from your customers and clients.
For service-based businesses that work one-on-one with clients, you can send a review request as part of their off-boarding process. This could include sending final deliverables, providing a next steps guide for the client, and sending a thank you. And of course, ask them to share their feedback. You could include a Google Form to make it easy to keep reviews in one place.
If you sell a physical product, you can set up an email automation to request a review a week or two after they’ve received their product. You could encourage them to post the review on your company website, or on your review platforms like Facebook and Google My Business.
Another option is to include a small card or flyer in the product packaging, asking customers to leave reviews. Or print the request on a receipt.
You could also provide an incentive! While the big review sites discourage this, there’s no reason you can’t provide a reward for those who leave reviews on your own website or by email. It could be 10% off their next purchase, an entry into a monthly contest, or a free PDF.
There are tons of ways you can ask for reviews. But make sure you’re asking every happy client or customer!
If you have a Yelp or Google My Business profile, you may find a treasure trove of reviews. But remember that this content is the intellectual property of the reviewers. So it’s always a good idea to get their permission before using them in your marketing strategy. You can send a quick DM to make sure it’s okay before posting.
For reviews you request, include a disclaimer letting the client know that you may use testimonials in future marketing materials. That way, they won’t be caught off guard.
Follow these tips, and you’ll have a wealth of customer-generated accolades that you can use to improve your sales and your bottom line.
*For informational purposes only. Not intended to be legal advice.
Sean M. Fitzgerald - Local Marketing Strategist
Gung Ho Local, LLC
PS. I help launch a new small businesses almost every month. Contact Gung Ho Local for help with your Website, Branding, Printing and Apparel.