Anyone working in local SEO knows that reviews are vital for businesses hoping to rank in local search. Not only are online reviews a local ranking factor, but they can also help to build trust with consumers, and convert visitors or searchers into paying customers.
Did you know that, according to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey:
- 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses?
- 76% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from friends or family?
- Businesses without 5 stars risk losing 12% of their customers?
Basically, if you want to stand out in a competitive market, you’ll need a solid review profile. In this article, I’ll walk you through the best way to ask for reviews, so you can grow your online reputation and stand out from the crowd.
When to ask for reviews
When it comes to timing, you’re going to want to ask customers for reviews when they’ve just received a great customer experience. That’s not to say you should be review gating (i.e. only asking happy customers), but naturally, if you think you or a team member has just delivered a great piece of service — now is the time to strike, while the iron’s hot!
For example, has a customer just reached out via email to request some help with their purchase or upcoming service booking? If you’ve solved their problem seamlessly, why not say something like the following:
“We’re so pleased to have been able to help you today! If there’s anything else we can assist with please do let us know.
If you were happy with our service today, please consider taking a few moments to leave us a review on Google.”
Where the bold text is, that’s where you can link directly to your Google Reviews page (or the review site of your choice).
Given that great customer service and experiences can take place both online and in-store, I’m going to walk you through the best methods to ask for reviews, wherever your preferred domain.
How to ask for reviews
• Ask for reviews via email
One of the most effective channels to perform review outreach on is, without a doubt, email. Whether you’re performing review outreach manually or using an online reputation management tool, email is a simple and effective way to contact customers and request reviews.
Firstly, you’ll want an effective and personalized email template. Depending on your vertical, something like the below should work well:
“Hi [Customer’s First Name],
We hope you enjoyed visiting us at [Your Business Name] recently.
While your experience is still fresh in your mind, we’d really appreciate it if you could spare a moment to let us know what you thought of it by clicking the link below.
[Link to review site of your choice]
We’re always trying to do right by our customers, and knowing how we’re performing helps us to continue to improve.
Depending on your audience and industry you may want to adapt the tone and language. You’ll also want to ensure you’re directing the customer to the review site of your choice based on previous research, (e.g. does a competitor have hundreds of reviews on TripAdvisor? Then you need reviews there, too!)
You can take things to the next level by tailoring your outreach based on the customer’s experience. For example, if they visited a long time ago, you’ll want to adapt the above message to account for that.
• Ask for reviews via SMS
Asking for reviews via SMS can be a great way to boost your review profile. Given that SMSes benefit from a 98% open rate (yes, really!), you’re likely to get more responses from this channel.
This is especially true for those working in industries where you’re already likely to communicate with customers via SMS. For example, service-area businesses (SABs) such as contractors, plumbers, and so on, often contact customers via text to begin with. Reaching out in this way to ask for a review is only natural.
• Ask for reviews in person
Sometimes traditional tactics really do triumph. If you prefer a face-to-face approach, why not try asking for reviews in person?
Asking for reviews in person can be done in a variety of ways, from offering full-on review handouts to leaving a BitlyURL on your business card.
Additionally, Google My Business has a bunch of free resources to encourage reviews in-store. Showcasing reviews in-store not only works as social proof to help with conversions, but will also encourage other visitors to leave a review. After all, wouldn’t you want to see your words up in your favorite store’s window?
• Leave a link in your email signature
Do you email customers on a regular basis? A super simple way to encourage more reviews is by leaving a link in your email signature.
Want more Google reviews? Simply add something like this to the emails of any customer-facing team members:
This also means you’re not limiting who can give you reviews. Even if you’re emailing an unhappy customer, they’re going to have an equal opportunity to leave you some feedback. (Letting all customers air their feedback is part of the process – but worry not, even if you do get a negative review, it could help your listing look more legit).
• Train your staff
It may sound obvious, but making sure your entire team is equipped to ask for reviews will boost your review game tenfold.
If everyone is aware of the importance of generating reviews, it’s going to make your life much easier. This way, if one of your team has a positive experience with a customer, they’ll know right away how to action it and encourage them to leave feedback, meaning no opportunities are missed.
Reviews are a vital component of local SEO. But how to generate them successfully will largely depend on your business, industry, and audience. As with all forms of marketing, it’s best to consider an omnichannel approach, meaning SMS, email, and in-person tactics should all operate in harmony.
From email outreach to good old fashioned in-store communication, asking for reviews doesn’t have to take a village (though it sure helps if you’ve got one!) What’s your favorite way to generate reviews? Join in the discussion of all things local marketing on our LMI Connect Facebook group, and let us know!