When deciding whether or not to buy a product from a brand online, do you take their boasting statements seriously? Or, do you sift through online reviews from fellow peers and ask friends about their experience before making a decision?

Chances are, you chose the latter option, and statistics agree.
Since consumers’ trust in brands is diminishing, they’re turning to family members, friends and peers to help them make purchasing decisions. In fact, a recent study by Bright Local found 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses, with that number jumping to 95 percent for those ages 18-34. And, people read an average of 10 online reviews before deciding to trust a local business. So, what does all this mean? Consumers now have more power than ever to decide the fate of your business—and in today’s digitally savvy world, that means consumer reviews can make or break you.
Not only do 86% of consumers read #reviews for local #businesses, they also read an average of 10 online reviews BEFORE deciding to trust them. Click To Tweet

To push past the competition, get in consumers’ good graces and grow your company, we’ve rounded up four strategies to help you gain some solid reviews!

1. Be Where Your Customers Are  

Before customers can leave reviews or form an opinion, they have to be able to find your business. However, we want them to find you without having to go to your actual website. You need to show up on sites, where people can recommend your services, like Yelp, Google and Facebook.

If you haven’t already, create business accounts on each of these three sites, and that’ll allow others to find and review your services. Yelp and Google should allow online reviews for your business automatically, however, with Facebook you’ll need to enable that option. Additionally, consider adding a “reviews” option to any product listings on your website.

If the review process is simple and accessible (think mobile-friendly), your customers will feel more inclined to give feedback.

2. Follow Up Post Purchase

If you want your customers to leave reviews, ask! Simply follow up, post purchase, to request a review. Generally, the best way to do this is via email. Keep it simple—thank them for their purchase, and mention the value of customer feedback to your business.

It’s important to note, you should never ask a customer for a positive review outright. Instead, ask how the product worked for their needs and how the overall shopping experience went. Then, include a link (or a few) to where they can write something up.

Pro Tip: You’ll want to send the review request soon enough that the experience is still fresh in their minds. However, try to also give your customers just enough time for them to use, experience, and form an opinion about your products or services. Typically, two weeks to a month after purchase is a good time frame to work within.

3. Get the Word Out on Social

Beyond following up post-purchase with recent customers, use your social media channels to spread the word. It’s easy, and can be a powerful driver for letting those who have purchased from you in the past know how they can review your brand as well.

Add an image of your company, and create compelling copy, including links to where they can review your business. If posting on Facebook, you can ask them to review you directly on the platform.

To go further, consider adding a blurb to your social bios about reviewing, along with links to all the review platforms your business is on. In addition, you can pin a post to the top of your Facebook timeline so it’s one of the first things new customers see when visiting your page.

Pro Tip: Put some money behind paid social ads encouraging reviews or boost a few of the posts you made.

4. Respond to Every Review

As reviews start trickling in (or if you already have a few), make sure to respond to each one—even the negative ones (because negative reviews are inevitable). As Harvard Business Review found, it pays off in the end, and has an overall positive effect on brand reputation. This can lead to new potential customers, which means opportunities for even more reviews to come your way.

When it comes to positive reviews, leave a personal and thoughtful note showing your appreciation.

For negative reviews, it’s important to be swift and understanding. Remember, your customers are human beings. Ask for contact information to try and move the conversation to a more personal setting, and see if you can dig deeper into their experience.

Today, because customer reviews are more than just brand awareness opportunities and potential sales drivers, you should be monitoring any kind of feedback on a consistent basis. If several customers mention the same issue, take time to investigate and come up with a solution to fix the problem.

Have you had success with a review generating technique we missed? Share in the comments below!

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