5 Ways to Generate Organic Online Reviews

You’ve heard all about why your business needs to be on social media. In the grand scheme of things, it’s still the new kid on the block in the neighborhood of marketing. But just because so much attention has been focused on the shiny and new does not mean that you should lose sight of what has come before. Heck, vintage is the new trend, is it not?

Vintage Store

Just look at all these trendy vintage goods.

Ok, it’s not quite “vintage,” but the art of the online review is still a marketing tactic that you should keep in your back pocket. Whether you have a brick and mortar business or a digital storefront, what people are saying about your products and/or services is where it’s at for consumers.

Consumers Rely On Reviews

Think about the last time you purchased a pair of new shoes online. You probably Googled a few key phrases, clicked on a few websites, and read what other people were saying about the shoes before “Ordering Now.” Who wants to spend their hard-earned cash on something that will just give them blisters and bromodosis? Certainly not the 77% of people that have taken the time to read reviews before deciding whether or not to pull out their wallet. Liked that statistic? Here, have some more:

Reviews have the highest effectiveness rating (89%) when it comes to content marketing

90% of consumers admit that they have made their purchasing decisions based on online reviews

Online reviews may not be a shiny and new marketing tactic, but they are still as relevant as ever. I’ve pulled together 5 tips to get you started on your path to online review fame.

Get Listed

In order for people to leave a review about your business, you need to be listed on review sites. This typically means Yelp, Foursquare, Google+, Angie’s List, or if you really want to get serious, the Better Business Bureau.

But don’t just leave it at these. A good way to determine which websites you should be listed on, do a quick Google search for your industry + reviews. This will bring up plenty of niche websites that you should consider when getting listed.

Make It Sincere

Cute GrandmaPeople aren’t dummies. They can tell when a review is paid for, incentivized, or worse, written by your grandmother. The worst thing you can do is be too pushy about asking for reviews. Stray away from asking too aggressively or frequently on social media sites, through email, and on your website itself. In fact, Yelp watches you like a hawk — if it sees fishy behavior, it may revoke your privileges altogether. When signing up for listings sites, make sure to read their guidelines before soliciting reviews.

The best thing you can do is be human about it. Think of it from another angle. Would you want to engage with a company that is begging for people to say nice things about it? Probably not. No one likes a compliment fisher. Instead, ask your account managers to send personalized emails to their clients showing their appreciation and asking for some back. Make it easy for them by sending a simple link directing them straight to the review website. If your employees recognize that a customer is particularly happy about their service and/or product, make sure that they ask them to leave a review of their experience before parting ways.

Recognize Good Reviews

Customers love to feel appreciated by the companies they choose to do business with. If you’re asking for appreciation, it’s only natural to give some back. Pick some of the particularly kind reviews left and showcase them on your social media sites. On the listings that allow you to engage with users, reply to them. Thank them for taking the time to talk about their experience. If people recognize that you actively engage with your customers, they will be more likely to want to share their stories.

Recognize Bad Reviews

This is the part where most business people will roll their eyes and scoff. “Someone wrote some bad reviews about us on this site. I would like them removed.” I’ll put it bluntly: ignoring your customers is probably the reason you’re receiving bad reviews in the first place. Every company has its bad and good moments. Every customer isn’t going to be 5-star satisfied every time. When your company slips up, own up to it, apologize, and find a way to remedy the situation. Others will see that you genuinely care about righting your wrong  and this goes a long way.

Focus on Customer Service

Bottom line: always focus on giving your customers the best service possible. They’ve chosen your company over all others — show them why. You can’t expect good reviews to fall out of the sky, you have to deserve them. Aren’t you more likely to leave a review when you’ve had a great experience?

You wouldn’t buy a skirt without asking your friends first if it looks good on you. Would you hire a company without asking if they’re worth your time and money? Just remember, 77% of people wouldn’t. Don’t force your customers into that uninformed 23%.