How to generate positive reviews for your business

I have quite a few friends who own or operate businesses. Sometimes they ask me for marketing advice. That’s something I am always happy to give – free marketing advice 🙂

So, they ask me: “How can I increase conversions on my website? Should I optimize it for SEO? Should I pay someone to do the SEO thing for me?” I say “OK, hold your money, sit back, let me check this out!”

And when I google them, I see 1 or 2.5 stars on Yelp. The latter being more harmful because it is more believable: 2 detailed, slathering reviews and one neutral (“it was OK, got my money’s worth, I still need to type another 25 characters to submit this review” kind of message).

Assuming you are doing B2C, to consistently generate a flow of new customers with 2.5 star reviews, your everything else needs to be like, stellar. It definitely puts a brake on your business. Customers got to do extra work to justify the risk to themselves, to avoid the mental anguish down the road. Someone must have done solid psychological research on this, but you can surely image that if customers come in suspicious, they will find flaws to confirm their beliefs.


You got to have good reviews!

Nowadays, most people buying online are pretty savvy and rightly curious. No one wants to be that guy or a girl that fell for a dud, or worse – a scam. And so most people google before they buy. Don’t you?

The higher the price, the more you google, but even things like LR41 batteries on Amazon… One pack costs $1.82, the other $3.94. Are they the same? Which one do I need? Can LR41 batteries be different?

So, assume they will google. And when they go, what will they see?


Few, poor reviews by default

Most companies by default get few reviews, and those they get are negative. I say the above is true even when your customer satisfaction rating is as high as 95%.

That is because most happy people have satisfied their need, told their friends about it and moved on. Reviews take time to write, you got to find out where to publish them, and really, they are not the customers’ responsibility.

That 1% of angry, pissed-off clients, on the other hand, will take their time to warn the world that their mistake should never be repeated. They will find the outlets and they will compose a good message. Partly, they might even do this to get more leverage out of you, as they try to negotiate a settlement to make things even.
It used to be easier to take someone’s money and then tell them to go away, but it is not so anymore. People expect quality service or they expect refunds. And, maybe that’s a good thing – how else would you weed our your competition?

You got to ask for it

So, to maintain a positive image online, you do 2 things:

1. You ask for good reviews.

A good strategy is ask all of your customers to review you. Provide a link! If the results are slow, provide a low-value incentive (but know people might mention it in their review)

A better strategy is to separate satisfied customers from those not quite so, and only actively encourage the first group to review. You could do a mini-survey, that forks off into “Review us” and “Let us contact you to make this right”. Heck, if you see customers face to face, you probably have an understanding of how they feel, so give the “review us” pamphlet only to those who smile.

2. You work with people who post bad ones. 

Most of them will update their review if you help them out. Lose a little money for a better PR. If the system allows it, post a company reply – those earn good karma points.

One last thing. Don’t fake good reviews by publishing your own from free email accounts or by paying someone to mass-generate them for you. It might backfire, or it might not. The point is, it is not worth it. You are trying to build a self-sustaining system here, and your time/money investment in doing the right thing is pretty minimal.


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