How to Generate Great Online Reviews

As a small business owner, you know from firsthand experience and industry research that customer reviews are one of the most important ways to generate new leads. 85% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and positive reviews have a real impact on where consumers choose to spend their time and money.
The great news is that, while you can’t directly participate in the review process, there are a number of things you can do to facilitate online reviews for your business. These 3 simple steps will help get you started.

1. Ask People to Review Your Business

Even your most loyal customers are likely to forget to write you an online review unless you give them explicit direction to do so. Make it a habit to ask for reviews at various times during a customer’s lifecycle. A few ideas include:

  • Ask for a review after a purchase
  • Prompt readers to review after downloading a piece of content
  • Include links to your review properties in your email signature
  • Send a dedicated email campaign encouraging reviews

2. Give People a Place to Review Your Business

All the reminders in the world won’t generate reviews if it’s difficult for customers to find an outlet to provide them. Make sure to claim your listings on review sites and social media channels so that you can direct patrons to accurate pages for your business. You can also create a review board on your website, which gives you more control over what content gets posted and how it looks.

3. Share Reviews With Potential Leads

Once you’ve built up a solid library of glowing reviews, put that content to use by sharing it with potential leads. There are countless ways to repurpose reviews for your business’s benefit, such as:

  • Compiling reviews into more formal case studies
  • Writing blog posts featuring comments or recommendations from users
  • Featuring reviews in your e-newsletters
  • Sharing quotes from reviews on your social media accounts

The Bottom Line

Although you can’t force customers to write great reviews for your small business, you can encourage your patrons to participate in the process, make it easy for them to share feedback, and use that feedback to generate new leads for your small business—all without spending too much time or effort.

The Power of Customer Testimonials

There’s no better lead generation tool for your business than positive word-of-mouth feedback. At first glance, it may appear that there’s little in your control when it comes to what customers say about your products and services. However, there’s actually a lot you can do to facilitate and share positive feedback. In this article, we’ll discuss why customer testimonials are important, how you can obtain them, and how you can use them to generate leads.
Why Bother with Customer Testimonials?

Consumers are much more inclined to believe feedback from other customers than from a business itself. A recent study found that 79% of consumers trust online feedback as much as personal recommendations, and 73% of consumers are influenced by customer feedback when it comes to trusting a business. Anything you can do to facilitate testimonials and use them in your marketing will help generate new leads.

How Do You Obtain Testimonials?

Customer testimonials can come from both unsolicited and solicited sources:

  • Unsolicited sources include social media comments, emails or calls from customers, and quotes from online reviews
  • Solicited sources include customer surveys, testimonial contests, case studies, and in-store comment boxes (the original, analog way of obtaining customer feedback)

Soliciting feedback can happen in your store, in emails you send to customers, on your social media channels, or as part of the checkout process. Think about what makes sense for your customers and the type of feedback you want to obtain before putting a plan into action.

How Can You Use Testimonials to Generate Leads?

Once you’ve gotten positive customer feedback, what should you do with it? Share it! Consumers are much more likely to become leads if they hear that other people have had great experiences with your business.

A few ideas for sharing testimonials include:

  • Featuring customer quotes on social media
  • Incorporating testimonials in your marketing emails
  • Using feedback in your print or online advertising (with permission, of course)
  • Including a quote carousel or testimonial section on your company’s website
  • Posting customer quotes in your store on a quote board or wall

Once you start getting a regular flow of customer feedback, be sure that you have communication channels in place to share it with prospective leads.

The Bottom Line

Testimonials, whether from close friends or strangers online, are a powerful lead generation tool for small businesses. If you’re not already using testimonials to get new customers in the door, make sure you incorporate this into your business marketing efforts for 2014.

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Reputation – 4 Management Tips

As an entrepreneur, you work hard day in and day out to manage various aspects of your business: inventory, finances, quality, service. But one of the most important factors in success is one that you have limited control over: your reputation.
While you can spend lots of time and energy creating a solid brand image and telling your story to potential customers, the truth is that they’re more likely to listen to their peers—even anonymous peers online—than you when it comes to forming an opinion about your business.

It’s daunting to consider how much influence the public has over your reputation. But although some things are out of your control, you alone have the power to manage your reputation—both the positive and negative aspects.

Here are 4 tips to help you get started with reputation management:

1. Create a Forum for Direct Feedback

Want to avoid seeing rage-filled posts about your business on a public forum? Make sure that it’s easy for customers to come directly to you to share their grievances. If it’s impossible to reach you by phone, email, or social media, a customer may go from mildly dissatisfied to seriously unhappy. And unhappy voices tend to make the most noise.

2. Ask Customers for Feedback Soon After a Purchase

To encourage positive feedback online, ask customers to write a review or share their experience on your social media channels shortly after a purchase. Patrons are more likely to take the time to gush about your business if they have a positive interaction fresh in their minds.

3. Monitor Key Review Sites

Keeping abreast of both positive and negative comments means monitoring the websites where customers are writing reviews. Identify a few top sites to look at on a frequent basis; you can also set up Google Alerts to see where your business name appears on pages across the web.

4. Respond Quickly to Negative Feedback

No matter how great your business is, there will always be some people who write negative comments and reviews. While you can’t prevent them from airing their complaints, you can be proactive in responding to them.

Investigate each piece of negative feedback to see if there’s a real issue that needs to be addressed. If so, contact the customer promptly and take whatever steps needed to rectify the situation. If not, then decide whether or not to engage with the person. Each case is unique, and only you will be able to discern the right response in a given situation.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to reputation management, being proactive is essential. If you help cranky customers resolve their issues quickly, you can turn potentially damaging feedback into a big win. Likewise, if you encourage happy customers to review your business when they’ve recently interacted with you, you’ll be able to build up a collection of positive feedback to offset any negative reviews that others share.