Oh, reviews! They seem to be every client’s least favorite part of online marketing. First, they can be tough to generate. Second, you can have one rotten apple review, taking your whole reputation down a notch.
Unhappy customers are among the biggest obstacles to purchasing a product or service.
My eyebrow place just started having clients use a QR code to open Google Reviews and then encourage them to write a review right there of their service. While I don’t recommend getting reviews right on the spot, I recommend using different strategies to source reviews online, including Google Reviews.
Use Email Marketing
Email marketing is a great place to start with sourcing reviews. You’ve received emails after using a service or purchasing a product requesting a review. Following up with customers after a purchase/service keeps your business top of mind and shows your customers that you care enough to follow up, but it also leads to more reviews by asking directly for them.
Include A CTA In The Packaging
I am a Poshmark addict- it’s true- and I always love to see someone include a card that asks me to leave them a review. I’ve also received these CTA cards in Etsy and Amazon purchases. They give me the little push I need to review the business.
Directly Approach Consumers
1:1 outreach works best. This is out of the question if you are a big brand. Although, you could still handpick several customers and personally reach out to them. Once a customer agrees, I recommend sending links to your Google Reviews, TrustPilot Reviews, and more. Let your customer know they can copy and paste each review to each place. Then be sure to follow up with them and thank them profusely for leaving reviews.
Use A QR Code
QR codes are not my favorite way of collecting reviews because it usually only brings the customer to one review site, and it can be a bit cold, but it can be effective if used correctly.
The convenient part of QR codes is that they can be placed on any marketing material. You can include one in your packing or have one on your testimonials page with a CTA for customers to leave a review. You can even include one in a retargeting campaign to current customers.
Now that you know how to generate reviews, how do you navigate those incredibly negative reviews?
Comment On Bad Reviews, Too
Businesses love to comment on positive reviews but often leave negative reviews hanging or report them to the review service. I do not recommend doing either because 45% of consumers say they are more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews. Responding to bad reviews is vital to a strong customer service team.
Face those comments head-on and with FACTS. Facts are the best armor when it comes to online negativity. If they blatantly lied in their review, pleasantly respond (pleasantly is the key!) with facts. A great way to kindly start this type of comment is “We are sorry that is your perception” or “We are sorry you feel this way, however…”
If they honestly had a bad experience, find a way to make it right. Offer them a gift card, refund part of their service, and publicly offer your olive branch in your comment.
If they just aren’t about your business but aren’t outright lying, continue down the “We are sorry you feel this way” path. Sometimes, someone just needs to feel heard.
While this one will not fix your star rating, it will help customers see how responsive you are and give them more context as to why the customer left the comment in the first place. Your responsiveness to even the brutal reviews helps a prospective customer continue towards a purchase decision, and hopefully, a good one!
Don’t Be Defensive
Defensiveness is tough to avoid because we all feel like an online review is a personal attack against us. The first thing to do is talk with yourself so you don’t take it personally. It’s not about YOU, even if you own the brand.
The moment a customer hints defensiveness in your response, it’s over. Prospective customers will lose trust in the brand because they sense the attitude, and the person who left the review might be incited to leave even more negative reviews across your social media platforms and review sites.
When I receive negative reviews for clients I am working with, I step away from the computer and usually go outside for fresh air. This moment away helps me put the comment into perspective before I respond.
I also will write out what I want to respond and then throw it away. Writing what I can’t use publicly can be incredibly therapeutic.
Seek Out Positive Experiences
You most likely know which customers have had positive experiences with your brand. Use the 1:1 tactic and reach out to those customers, encouraging them to leave reviews. Sometimes, when available, these customers might even comment on the negative reviews, defending your brand so you don’t have to.
Understand Human Nature
While this won’t up your star ranking, it will save your sanity. As someone who works with many business owners, I know reading reviews can be taxing. Regarding customer reviews, it’s good to remember that customers who have a bad experience are twice to three times more likely to write an angry review than customers who had a great experience are to post a happy review.
Negative feedback is hard to read, but you can see why negative reviews are tough to avoid and why proactively encouraging positive reviews is necessary for any business being reviewed online.
Our brain is wired to think negatively, which definitely lends itself to the reviews world. We are more likely to make an effort to leave a review if we are upset than happy. If we are happy, we go merry and assume the business knows we are pleased about the product because we haven’t complained.
Keeping this in mind will help you take the negative reviews less seriously and inspire you to be more proactive in your review strategy.
While I have many recommendations for what you should do, I also have a couple of warnings of what you should not do when it comes to reviews:
Now, I do not recommend hiring a bunch of people to leave fake reviews. I quit a job once because they wanted me to encourage this as the social media director.
It completely went against my values, and it’s illegal. Plus, consumers are internet-savvy enough to recognize fake reviews. Just don’t go there.
I also don’t recommend giving a gift in return for a review. The only way this is legal is if the customer discloses that they received a gift, or free product, to leave the review. Transparency is key and potential customers deserve to know the incentive behind the review.
I wrote a blog where I disclaimed that I did not receive any free product because I wanted my readers to know that I genuinely respected the brand I was writing about.
Hopefully, this list of dos and don’ts helps you gain more positive reviews and strategically manage your negative reviews. Authenticity and transparency are key. Don’t try to get a five-star rating via dirty tricks. You will be exposed, eventually ruining your reputation– reputations are tough to regain.
-Marji J. Sherman