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How to Start Getting More Reviews for Your Business

As anyone who knows us Geeks would tell you, we’re huge movie fans (as if our multiple posts about Star Wars weren’t enough to make that clear). And we’re from Chicago, home to some of the greatest movie critics ever, including Roger Ebert.

One of the most amazing things about the late, great Ebert was how much power he held with his reviews. His writing could make or break a film’s opening weekend. But more than that, he wielded influence with just his thumb. A simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” could forever cement the reputation of a movie, forever.

Well, today, critics like Ebert are everywhere. And they’re not just professionals reviewing movies - they’re everyday people, turning their texting thumbs to businesses like yours.

Across industries, reviews matter more than ever for the success of your brand. Reviews, rankings, and testimonials are crucial for getting your next batch of customers in the door, and they’re coming from more sources than ever.

So, what can you do to get more online reviews for your business? And how can you help ensure that these reviews are working in your favor? Read on!

The Importance of Reviews

Reviews are nice, right? But are they actually powerful? Effective? How does getting more positive reviews online actually translate directly into more leads, more business, more money in your pocket?

We get questions like these all the time. And the results we’re able to cite sometimes leave business owners speechless. For instance, did you know that…

  • Increasing your online rating by just one star typically translates into a 5-9% increase in revenue for your brand
  • Nearly 90% consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and 39% do so on a regular basis, according to Search Engine Land
  • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (like those from friends or family), according to Bright Local?
  • Per Zendesk, 90% of consumers report that positive reviews have influenced their buying decision - and 86% say that negative reviews may sway their thinking

The bottom line is that today, the very concept of “word of mouth” has evolved. People who are looking for a service are just as likely to whip out their smartphone and head to a review site as they are to ask friends or family for a recommendation.

And from there, it’s simple math. The more positive reviews that consumers see about your business, the more likely they are to come to you, whether that means signing up for your newsletter, reaching out on social media for more information, or even coming into your brick-and-mortar location to make a purchase.

So, what can you do to make sure that your business is well-represented on industry review sites (from Avvo to HomeAdvisor to ZocDoc, to everything in between), social media sites (like Facebook), and search engines (such as Google)?

It’s a multi-step process. Step one? Find a way to generate more reviews overall. Then, take steps to ensure that those reviews are positive, and reflect your business in its best light.   

How You Can Get More Reviews

The first part of that equation is to get more reviews. Think about your own purchasing habits. Are you more likely to do business with a brand that has hundreds of positive reviews, or one with just a handful of reviews (or, worse, no online testimonials or rankings at all)?

If you answered that question the way most shoppers do, then you understand the importance of getting more reviews. But how do you start?

Here are a few proven strategies that can help you generate more reviews on Google, Facebook, and the other listing sites that matter to you:

1.) Reach Out to Your Clients With Text or Email

One of the most effective ways to get more reviews is with good, old fashioned customer service - with a digital twist.

Your clients and customers are much more likely to leave you an online review if you give them some prompting, and then make it as easy as possible for them to seamlessly leave a review without having to make an effort. The best way to do both of these things at once is to reach your clients where they live - in their inboxes and on their phones!

On the one hand, this might mean just building in “follow up for review” into your standard workflow. After a set time, you follow up with your customers, encouraging them to rate and review you online.

But, the more you leave things up to chance, the more likely it is that you’ll let a good opportunity slip through the cracks, right?

That’s where Geek comes in! We offer a reputation management service that will allow you to automate this review process. With just the click of a button, you’ll be able to immediately contact your past customers digitally with a personalized message, encouraging them to leave a review or ranking on the site of your choice.

Even better, we’ll give your customers an out if they want to leave you a negative review - making it far more likely that they’ll bring any complaints directly to you, instead of splashing them online for the whole world to see.

2.) Encourage Your Clients to Leave a Review In Person

Have you ever received exceptional service, and immediately thought about leaving a review? But then, as time went on, and you left and went about your day, the thought faded - so you ended up skipping that chance to let the business know how well they did?

Studies show that one highly effective way to encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews is to just give them a verbal prompt. At the conclusion of your service, mention how much it would mean if they left you a review on a site like Google or Yelp. You could even hand them a card or flyer with this information, as a reminder.

Or, how about this? Why not have a laptop or tablet available in your office, dedicated to reviews? As your customer finishes up their transaction, you direct them to this “review station” to quickly leave a message on the site of their choice. Similarly, if you were to host an event, you could set up a review station.

The goal here is just to make it as easy as possible for a client to leave a review - especially while they’re still basking in the glow of your great customer service! Do any other ideas for in-person review gathering come to mind?

3.) Engage and Be Active on Review Sites

Did you know that customers who reach out on social media with a complaint or question expect a response from a brand within an hour or less?

This is a reminder of an important part of social media and review sites - they are a two-way street. Be active, engaged, and responsive on these sites, and you’re more likely to create an environment where people feel ready to leave reviews and rankings, generating more content overall.

This means responding to the good and the bad! For positive reviews, be sure to comment or message respondents with a “thank you” message; for less-than-stellar comments, follow up humbly, honestly, and in the spirit of a good faith dialogue. The more open and responsive you are, the more that your future customers will feel supported when leaving you reviews.

Here again, our reputation management tool can help! We’ll help you curate all of your online reviews in one convenient online portal, and make sure that you get notified whenever there’s activity. This way, you can keep tabs on the conversation going on around your business, and respond instantly to feedback as it comes up.   

One more thing? Remember that your online audience loves user-generated content - and reviews are a great way to serve it up. Think about the ways that you can repurpose reviews - perhaps as blog posts, or as social media advertisements. Not only will these reviews help encourage new customers to come to you, but they also help show how connected and loyal you are to your current audience. It’s a win-win!

The “Don’ts” of Getting More Reviews

One thing to keep in mind? It’s unethical (and, according to some precedent, bordering on illegal) to incentivize people to leave reviews. Even if you don’t require that the review be positive, it’s a questionable practice (at best) to offer discounts, cash payments, or the chance to be entered into a drawing in exchange for a testimonial. We would encourage you to just stay away from this practice altogether.

Similarly, you won’t get anything positive out of “buying” reviews. Review platforms and social media sites have been cracking down on fake accounts, and it’s usually easier than you’d think for prospective customers to sniff out fake testimonials. Don’t stuff your page with reviews from employees, don’t create “burner” accounts to leave reviews, and don’t contract with any companies that promise to generate hundreds of reviews in a short amount of time.

These are all blackhat tactics that will reflect poorly on your brand’s reputation - and could even leave you open to being banned or penalized by sites that really do matter to your bottom line.

Reputation Management, the Geeky Way

Have any more questions about getting started with reputation and review marketing for your local business? Curious about our success with generating more reviews for small businesses? Want to get a hands-on look at our review management platform?

We’re here and ready to help set you down the right path to success! Drop us a line today to keep the conversation going!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).