Asking Customers for Reviews
Asking a friend for feedback on a product they purchased from a store at the Ala Moana Mall or the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet is a natural thing to do. Nowadays, it isn’t uncommon to seek this feedback by running a simple Google search. Think about the number of times you’ve been on the fence about making a purchase and only followed through because other customers’ glowing reviews gave you the confidence to do so. To say that customer reviews are powerful is an understatement. Reviews are among the biggest factors in your local business search visibility. These testimonials build your brand reputation, bring a lot of credibility to your company and provide a sort of social proof needed to influence consumer behavior.
The fact of the matter is, what other people have to say about your business carries more weight than what you have to say about your business, even if they are complete strangers.
Here are some interesting numbers:
- An astounding 4 in every 5 American consumers seek reviews before making a purchase decision.
- 79 percent do so to make sure the product or service is good, 61 percent read reviews to make sure the product or service works, and 53 percent read reviews to make sure that they don’t get ripped off.
- 83 percent of shoppers discover new products every month through online customer reviews. 7 percent of consumers need to read at least 20 reviews before they feel they should engage with a business.
- 69 percent of consumers believe that only reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant.
Asking for reviews can feel awkward or self-serving, but the truth is that people generally love to share their opinions; most of them just don’t know the opportunity is there. If you’re already delivering experiences that customers love, they won’t hesitate to vouch for you. From this perspective, it simply makes business sense to have a steady stream of more and better reviews.
Benefits of Asking for Reviews
Word of mouth is important for any business. How do you choose between a chain or a local business brand? Given our unique demographic makeup, the limited advertising alternatives and reduced operating cash-flow, it comes as no surprise that word of mouth is imperative for any small business to thrive in Honolulu. Residents of the Hawaiian islands seek to foster close ties and a deep sense of community. There’s a strong current in favor of building, promoting and maintaining small local businesses as these provide jobs for the local people, have less environmental impact and often enhance the welfare of society.
Here are some other general reasons to asking for online reviews:
REPUTATION BOOST: A stream of 5-star reviews from existing customers will quickly help showcase your business and create powerful social proof for prospect customers generating more confidence and driving sales.
HIGHER RATINGS: The average rating of reviews generated from review requests (firms asking customers for testimonials) is 4.34 stars out of 5: higher than the average rating of unprompted testimonials (3.89 stars out of 5).
INSTANT OUTREACH: Proactively asking for testimonial helps strengthen customer relationships — and connects your business to the voices that matter the most.
AMPLIFIED SEARCH PRESENCE: Google and several other industry experts all say that a business’ review signals — such as review count, ratings, and review text — have impact on organic and local search rankings. This means: more reviews will help you rank higher in search results.
LONGER SHELF LIFE: Much like Instagram images and Facebook posts, public business feedback provide by real customers can be used as data assets for your marketing efforts. Unlike images, tweets and posts, reviews have a much longer shelf life. Did you know that 18 minutes is the median lifespan of a tweet and that 75 percent of engagement with a Facebook post occurs within the first 5 hours of its existence? As for reviews, it’s around 3 months.
How to Ask for a Review
So, what’s the best way to reach out to your customers and ask for feedback on their experience dealing with your business product or service? There are many ways to ask customers for but we’ll list the channels we’ve found that translate into a higher rate of response, according to our experience over the years. These include:
- Via email campaigns
- Through the business website
- On receipts and invoices
Email Campaigns — The Most Active Approach
One of the most effective ways to generate a new review is through a review request email campaigns such as customer feedback surveys (or along with it).
Requesting reviews via email is very effective on receiving positive feedback because it also means you get to tie your reviews to transactions that actually happened — lending valuable authenticity to your reviews. Also, email requests for reviews allows you to evaluate customer loyalty and satisfaction levels (even in the event of constructive criticism), as well as identify customers who are likely to recommend your business to others versus those who aren’t.
Best practices to conducting review request email campaign would include creating a personalized message, keeping it as short as possible, clearly asking exactly what you want from them and responding immediately if necessary (in the event of negative comments). Here are some examples:
- “Hi (First Name of Customer)! Thank you for visiting (Business Name)! It was our pleasure helping (service you provide). Reviews help our business build an online presence and helps others learn about us. Would you be willing to take a few minutes to leave us a review? You can click this link (direct URL to your review website profile) to leave us a review. Thank you so much in advance for taking time to share your experience. We appreciate your business!”
- “Hello there, (First Name of Customer)! I hope that your recent visit to (Business Name) exceeded your expectations. We would very much appreciate it if you would please take a few minutes today or the next few days to share your experience on one of the review websites linked to in this email. This feedback helps us improve our ability to provide you with the best service possible. To write a review, click one of the links below and you will be sent directly to the correct page for posting your review. Thank you again for your support. (direct URLs to your review website profiles)”
- “Hi (First Name of Customer)! Thank you again for choosing (Business Name). It’s our priority to continue providing top-notch service to customers like you. Please leave us a review on our profile on (review site, with direct URL to review website profile). It will only take a minute, but your valuable feedback will help us improve and make a huge difference to our company. Thank you!”
We’d also suggest friendly email subject lines like:
- “How did we do?”
- “We’d love to hear your feedback!”
- “Got a minute to share your experience with (Business Name)?”
- “We want your feedback.”
Receipts and Invoices
Whether the purchase confirmation is cashier’s receipt, email or thank you page, asking for a review immediately after purchase might seem too soon, since the customer most likely hasn’t had the chance to try out your product or service just yet. However, they can still provide feedback on what it was like to navigate your website, interact with your staff and/or sales team and go through the purchase process — and these are 3 extremely important factors that consumers take into account when considering a business. This is when the process is fresh on their mind. Also, for many customers, it may not be their first purchase, so if this is their 3rd time purchasing a product from you (or the same product), they might be more inclined to give their positive feedback.
Here are two short and sweet ways to request reviews or feedback in your after-purchase thank you pages:
- “Thank you for your purchase! If you enjoyed your experience, tell us (and others) about it!”
- “Thank you for your purchase! If you are happy with your [new product], please take a minute to review it here [link to review platform].”
Website Survey Form
You can include a CTA (call-to-action button) to leave a testimonial in various places on your website, but many businesses benefit from having a dedicated reviews or testimonials page accessible via their main navigation menu (as this is one of the first things a potential customer seeks out when considering a business).
An alternative way to do this is to simply have a page that provides links to one or more platforms for which you have listings, such as Yelp, Google or Facebook.
KNOW YOUR GOALS: Remember that customers are willing to leave reviews. What do you want to achieve apart from generating new reviews? Are you trying to measure loyalty? Or do you want to get feedback on how you’re doing with customer service?
KEEP IT SHORT: When was the last time you took a 30-minute survey? Probably never. Make it as easy as possible for the customer to leave a review. Be genuine and don’t force it.
How NOT to Ask for a Review
There are certainly right and wrong ways to go about requesting feedback from your customers. Here are the approaches you should absolutely avoid.
INCENTIVIZING WITH DISCOUNTS AND GIFTS: You should not, under any circumstances, offer a discount or free gift in exchange for leaving reviews. This is against the terms and conditions of many review platforms like Yelp and Google and often lead to a high volume of low-quality reviews. Remember, the purpose of reviews is not primarily to benefit the business but to empower prospective customers to make informed decisions and that’s what search engines will be on the lookout for.
BUYING REVIEWS: This is an attempt to game the system. These will almost certainly do your business more harm than good. Besides the risk of having FTC and regulators coming after your business, popular review platforms already use some form of AI technology to filter out low quality content. This policy is in place to keep review platforms honest and accurate and what normally happens is that purchased feedback are easily detected and marked as spam.
ASKING APOLOGETICALLY: Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews. People are generally willing to provide feedback. People like being heard and will be willing to lend their voice to a company they feel has met their expectations. Plus, you are empowering them to give other consumers just like them the confidence to make an informed decision.
Last but not Least…
DON’T FORGET TO RESPOND TO REVIEWS: This is a way of acknowledging and showing appreciation for the customer taking the time to write about their experience with your business. By responding to feedback, you also build customer relationships because you are building engagement and facilitating long-term brand loyalty. Most of all, it shows the to the public that you are attentive to the voices of your customers.
Be sure to integrate one of our suggested review strategies. A steady stream of quality feedback is essential for your reputation, ranking, and revenue.
Learn more about the impact of reviews on local SEO. Increase local SEO rankings, analyze customer sentiment to make better business decisions and drive results that impact revenue.