Online Reviews, Part 1: Why You Need Them & Who to Ask

Online Reviews for Businesses

Online reviews are one of the more subtle arts of inbound marketing. Business owners are often confused and disappointed about the lack of reviews they receive from happy clients. Many times the initial reaction is simply to just shrug and move on, assuming that there isn’t anything that can be done to bolster their online reviews.

But it’s not true! We've compiled some useful rules to help you understand why you need to work on getting online reviews and who are the best customers to ask.

Why Do I Need Reviews?

 If your business is so used to receiving referrals via word-of-mouth, you might not even think online reviews are important to your sales. But with today’s reliance on the media for accurate information, online reviews have become a strategic sales tool. Here are just a few stats from Vendasta to really drive home the importance of online reviews for the growing success of your business:

  • 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. That means if you don’t have any online reviews to show for your business, you’re losing out a massive pool of potential clients.
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. So, for those of you that think your business will continue to do just fine with word-of-mouth referrals, keep in mind you are only reaching a small percentage of consumers by relying solely on that.
  • 72% of consumers say that positive reviews result in them trusting a business more. Trust is crucial in sales, as the customer needs to be confident that their needs will be fulfilled to a high expectation of quality. If they don’t trust you, they won’t support your business. It’s that simple.
  • Consumers are likely to spend 31% more with businesses that have “excellent” reviews. In any industry, this is a great number. By showcasing awesome reviews, customers are more confident in your services, encouraging them to spend more for a higher caliber of work.

In case we haven’t made it clear enough, you need good reviews for your business - plain and simple. They provide reasons for consumers to trust you and incentivize them to support your business and spend more with you.

Who

It’s crucial you ask the right kinds of customers when asking for reviews. Presumably, you have provided quality services to multitudes of customers by this point. So, how can you know which pool of customers to tap into for the best possible reviews. Here are the some of the dos and don'ts of who to ask for reviews:

Do: Happy Customers

One general rule, and most important to cover, is to only ask happy customers. This should go without saying, we know. But oftentimes companies are so bogged down with clients, that they forget which customers had a great experience and which had just an okay experience. Asking customers who were not exactly thrilled with your services to do you a favor by leaving a review could likely make them even less thrilled, driving them to leave a negative review. So, make sure you focus your energy on only asking customers for reviews who have been satisfied with your services.

Do: Customers Who Are Emotionally Invested

Emotions are one of the strongest incentives for leaving online reviews, whether they be positive or negative. People who had a negative experience with a company have a very high tendency to act on those negative emotions and leave a bad review. It’s much harder, however, to generate enough positive emotions to motivate a positive review. This is why the customers with whom you’ve developed an emotional connection are the best ones to ask for reviews.

Do: Customers Who Were Skeptical at First

We love these customers. What better way to convince prospective clients who are skeptical than to hear from happy clients who were once just like them? These customers unlock a way to connect with potential customers that you will never have – your customers can assuage the fears of new customers by discussing their personal experiences with your business.

Don’t: Customers Who Have Forgotten About You

Asking a long-time customer for an online review is a good idea. However, this is not the same as asking a customer who used your company a long time ago. Asking a client that has forgotten about you for a review is the same as asking someone who has never heard of you. Even if they do take the time to leave a review, it will appear generic and forced. Focus your energy on long-time customers with whom you generated a memorable experience and recent customers whose experience with you in fresh in their minds.

Don’t: Every Customer You’ve Ever Had

When you come to the conclusion that you need to start generating multitudes of reviews to stand up to the competition, your first instinct might be to just send a mass email to every client that has ever worked with you begging for reviews. This is a bad idea. In order for customers to feel passionate enough to leave you a positive review, they need to know that you care. How can they know that you care about their opinion with an inauthentic, copied-and-pasted request that was clearly sent to your entire client list? Be strategic about the clients that you ask for reviews, ensuring that you not only get the amount of reviews you need, but also get personal, encouraging reviews that will help you get the future clients you’re looking for.

In Conclusion…

The ‘why’ and ‘who’ of online reviews are crucial to gaining the precious reviews your business needs. If you don’t understand why you need them, like because nearly all consumers check online reviews before using a company, then you’ll feel silly asking for them. And if you don’t know which clients are the best to ask for online reviews, you won’t get the volume you need, and the ones you get won’t be convincing. Don’t disregard online reviews – they can be an amazing sales tool. Don’t forget that you do have power in the reviews your business receives. But also, don’t throw everything but the kitchen sink at your customers to get reviews; strategize around each individual client to get your business the convincing, emotional, selling reviews your business will thrive on.

Caitlin Weiner