How to Get More—and Better—Customer Reviews

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Relationship Management : 9 min read

How to Get More—and Better—Customer Reviews

93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchase decisions.

Think about that for a second. Of every 100 people that come to your website or into your store, only seven of them ignore reviews.

Are you confident that the 93 other visitors have read good reviews of your company?

Do you have...

  • four or more stars on review platforms?
  • reviews from within the past two weeks?
  • 10 or more positive reviews?

If you can't answer "yes" to all those questions, you could be losing business. And it's time to 10x your customer reviews.

In this post, we'll go through:

How to get more customer reviews on third-party sites

Before we get into details, let's come to an agreement on one thing: having more customer reviews is better than having less.

Having a five-star average isn't necessarily going to get people to buy from you if you only have a total of four reviews. You need to get that number up.

Here's how to do it.

Ask for customer reviews

This is the most important piece of advice in this entire article. Your customers might leave an online review without being asked, but don't count on it. And if they do do it without being asked, be wary: people are more likely to leave a review if they've had a bad experience. That's not what you want to highlight.

So be proactive about asking customers to leave you a review. How you go about this depends on your business. If you have phone-based customer service, for example, you might ask people how their experience was at the end of the call, and then ask them to leave a review.

If you send automated purchase receipts, you can include links to review sites like this:

amazon review request in purchase email

This post-purchase email received from an Amazon vendor could serve as a template for your own email outreach campaign—though you should probably use better grammar.

What if most of your work is in person? Ask people directly or leave them a business card encouraging them to leave a review on their preferred platform:

thank you review business card
A thank-you card from your business could encourage customers to leave you a review on a variety of platforms.

It's a simple tactic, but it works—the Spiegel Research Center says that businesses can expect to see their average ratings rise just by prompting users to submit reviews. That's enough reason right there to give it a shot.

And if you think people will say "no," think again. BrightLocal found that almost half (46%) of consumers who were asked to leave a review did leave a review.

Offer multiple options

Do you have a Google My Business page? A Yelp profile? A Yahoo business listing? A Facebook page? The more places people can find you, the more likely you are to be on their preferred review platform.

how to ask for reviews on social media
At the very least, you should be on Google, Yelp, and one social network.
Pro-tip

Know your customers

With this free handbook, you'll learn how to keep track of your customer data and make sure you keep getting glowing reviews.

You can even use platforms that don't typically apply to your business (I, for example, have a Yelp page for my freelance writing business). You should be on industry-specific review platforms, like Angie's List for home services and G2 for software, as well as more general ones, like Google, Yelp, and TrustPilot. Most businesses will want to be on as many platforms as possible.

And just because you're on a lot of platforms doesn't mean you have to put a ton of effort into getting reviews on all of them. You might focus on Facebook if a lot of your traffic comes from social media, for example. Or if your target audience has a favorite review site, you can concentrate on getting reviews there.

Respond to every review

89% of people read businesses' responses to reviews. So, what you say matters.

Has a company ever thanked you for leaving a positive review? Or told you that they're addressing your concern? It makes you feel like you have a personal connection with that company and that they care about what you have to say.

Responding to every customer review might seem like a huge investment of effort. And if you get hundreds or thousands of reviews every week, it is. But it shows people that you really care about what they think.

It also shows search engines and review platforms that you read reviews. Google hasn't said outright that responding to reviews is good for SEO, but they point out several benefits in their guide to reading and replying to reviews. So it's a good bet that they keep an eye on which companies respond to reviews and take it into account in their rankings.

Site widgets

Few customers will bother looking around to figure out where they can leave a review for you. If it's not obvious, they'll skip it. They don't get paid to review your company, after all.

So make it obvious. Many review sites publish widgets that let customers leave a review with a single click (we'll talk about a few specific options in a moment). Put them on your site where visitors are sure to see them. You can include logos and badges in your email newsletters, too.

Offer incentives

This could get you into trouble. But a lot of people consider it, so it's worth addressing. Some companies offer incentives for leaving reviews. You might get 10% off your bill at a restaurant if you show them a positive review, or $5 off your next order from a retailer if you review your latest purchase.

Is this a good idea? It depends. Many review sites prohibit this practice—notably Google and Yelp. If you get caught, you could get kicked off the site, have reviews taken down, or face other consequences.

But other sites are more lenient. For example, many customer reviews include a disclaimer like "I received a pre-publication copy of this book in exchange for an honest review." Giving away free products is often allowed. And getting stuff for free is surely an incentive.

If you're interested in offering incentives for reviews, be sure to read the rules on your review platform carefully. There's a good chance it's not allowed, especially if you don't have disclaimers.

Now, let's look at some tips for getting customer reviews on each of the most popular platforms. We'll start with Yelp.

How to get more customer reviews on Yelp

Yelp is one of the most restrictive customer review platforms around. They don't tolerate incentivizing reviews. They police fake-looking reviews aggressively. They even say that you can't ask for Yelp reviews.

But it's worth trying to get more reviews on Yelp: a boost of just one star on Yelp leads to an increase in revenue of up to 9%. You just have to be careful about it. Here are a few things you can do:

Include a Yelp link on your site

This is crucial for getting more reviews on any platform, but it's especially important for Yelp. You can't ask for reviews, but you can remind people that you're on Yelp. But be careful—you can't say "Review us on Yelp." You can only say something to the effect of "Check us out on Yelp."

Is it as effective as a button with a stronger call to action? Probably not. But is it better than nothing at all? Definitely. Letting people know that you're on Yelp could pique their curiosity about reviews, and getting them to the review platform is half the battle.

Put Yelp stickers in your place of business

If you have a physical business location, you can put one of two different Yelp stickers on your windows to remind people that you're on Yelp.

The first is a "Find Us On Yelp" sticker. This is a good reminder that you're on Yelp and that you depend on reviews. You can order a sticker through this form.

A "Find Us On Yelp" sticker can encourage visitors to your store to leave a review without breaking the platform's rules:

The second is a "People Love Us On Yelp" window cling. If you're proud of your reviews and want people to know that they should leave one themselves, this is a great option. You have to qualify for this sticker, though—you can't request it. If you qualify for the program, Yelp will send you a sticker automatically.

Make sure your Yelp page rocks

If you don't have an image, an address, or any other information about your business, people are going to leave your Yelp page fast. You need them to stick around if they're going to leave a review.

So make sure you provide as much information as possible. Include your business hours, parking information, lots of high-quality photos, and anything else that customers might want to know.

How to get more customer reviews on Google

Google is the most visited site in the world. And with increasingly advanced algorithms, it has the potential to show your business listing and reviews to a huge number of people.

Whether they're looking for your address, hours, or just searching for the type of products you provide, a lot of your prospects will see your Google My Business listing. So it's important to have a lot of reviews. Here's how to make that happen.

Offer a Google My Business review link

Google doesn't have an official business badge. But you can create a link that brings customers directly to your review page so they can leave a review without having to search for your business. Whitespark has a great tool for generating this link. It brings visitors directly to your review form:

google my business review link

Use this link in lots of places. Put it on your website. Include it in your marketing emails. Text it out to past customers. Include a shortened version on your business card. Do whatever you can to make sure people know that your business is on Google and that it needs their help.

Pro-tip: Here's a step-by-step guide on how to respond to reviews on Google.

Include clear instructions for your customers

If someone is using a review platform like Yelp or G2, they're probably familiar with leaving a review.

Google is a bit different because everyone uses it but not everyone knows how to sign on and leave a review. Many businesses include step-by-step instructions in their emails or physical mailers. Even a quick three- or four-step explanation will help your less computer-savvy customers leave reviews more reliably.

How to get more customer reviews on Amazon

Amazon reviews have a huge effect on your sales. A quick look at the top products in any category show thousands of reviews—and they can make your product look much more desirable:

amazon review examples

The more reviews you have, the better. If your product has a similar rating to a competitor but you have double the number of reviews, whose rating would seem more trustworthy and reliable?

If you want higher Amazon search rankings and a better clickthrough rate, it pays to seek out more Amazon reviews. For the most part, you should stick to the methods I mentioned above like asking for reviews and responding to reviews. But there are a few options for sellers who are willing to spend more:

Enroll your items in the Amazon Early Reviewer program

You can't use incentives for Amazon reviews anymore. But, interestingly, Amazon might offer incentives on your behalf (yeah, I don't get it either). In short, people who buy a particular item get a message from Amazon offering $1–3 for posting a review.

All you have to do is enroll your item in the program. To do that, you'll need to add your company to the Amazon Brand Registry. After a few days, you can add your products to the Early Reviewer program. Products have to meet a few requirements to enroll. Mainly, they need to be relatively new and have very few reviews.

After that, Amazon contacts certain buyers to ask for reviewers. They'll pay up to $60 in total for reviews, and you'll get billed for them. It's important to note that you can't choose who gets an invite, or even show that your products are part of this program.

Take advantage of Amazon Vine Voices

Vine is similar to the Early Reviewer program, but it has two notable advantages. First, you can submit products that haven't yet been released for people to test and review. Second, these products are only sent to Vine Voices, the high-authority reviewers that participate in the program:

amazon vine voice review
Amazon reviewers with the Vince Voice badge provide high-quality, high-authority reviews.

But these advantages come with a cost: it can cost several thousand dollars to submit products for Amazon Vine. And you need to be registered as an Amazon Vendor. Because of these requirements, only very large Amazon sellers are likely to take advantage of Vine.

How to make sure you get positive reviews from customers

Getting a large number of reviews is a great way to add visibility (and credibility) to your company and your products. But having a lot of reviews isn't enough. You need good reviews to sway behavior.

But banking on customers' altruism isn't a viable marketing strategy. Here are five things you can do to get better ratings across all of the review platforms you're on:

Provide great service

This should be obvious—but it's easy to get caught up in reviews and become blinded to the most important part of running your business.

What makes people leave good reviews? Great service. Products that work exceptionally well. Customer service agents that have the skills and authority to solve problems quickly. Accurate sales and marketing messaging.

You might not think that a great customer experience is motivating enough for people to leave reviews. But rewarding companies for great service is actually one of the top three reasons that people leave reviews.

Good companies get good reviews. If you want better reviews, don't spend your time on hacks and messaging strategies. Read negative reviews to figure out where you're falling short and address those points.

Address negative reviews right away

No one likes getting negative reviews. But they present a great opportunity—and, in some ways, could be even more valuable than positive reviews.

First, they tell you where you've gone wrong. Maybe one of your business processes isn't working. Or quality control is an issue. Getting a negative review lets you start changing those things.

Second, there's a customer that you can impress with a great level of care and service. You might think that a negative review means you've lost a customer. But think of it this way—if you respond to their comment quickly and give them the attention they need to solve their problem, you could turn them into a customer for life.

example of a quick response to a customer review
A quick response offering help is an effective way to respond to a negative review and can actually earn you a higher rating.

Of course, that doesn't always happen. But you might be surprised by the positive responses you get from responding quickly and solving your customers' problems. It's definitely worth doing.

Should you respond to negative reviews publicly? BrightLocal points out that not responding to a comment is a kind of response: "It’s telling everyone that sees the bad review that you don’t care about your customers’ feedback or experiences."

Taking the time to respond shows potential customers that you listen to your customers and take their concerns seriously.

Some companies prefer to address issues privately, where there's less chance of getting publicly defensive. It's up to you. (Slack, in the image above, does a little of both.)

Pro-tip: Learn more about how to deal with angry customers.

Ask at the right time

We've discussed how important it is to ask your customers for reviews. But to get the most (and most positive) reviews, you'll have to time your ask well.

Asking a customer to review a product immediately after buying it might not work since they've barely had any time to use it. But wait too long and they might forget about how valuable the product was.

Service-based businesses run into this issue, too. I was once asked—before a transaction was complete—to leave a review for a real estate agency. I left a negative review because the experience had been lackluster up to that point. Had they waited, they may have been able to identify and fix the problems that led to my negative review.

You may have to experiment with this the timing on your review requests. Until you've determined the right timing, give your customer enough time to use or appreciate whatever it is you sell. Then send a request right away.

Use review management software

Managing your reputation online takes a lot of work. It's not just requesting customer reviews. It's also getting a feel for how your company is perceived. Review management software helps you make the most of this opportunity.

Apps like Whitespark and Grade.us help you aggregate reviews from around the web to see what people are saying. Many also let you run email and/or text campaigns to get more reviews from your customers. Some even use machine learning to gather patterns and insights from your reviews.

These apps don't come cheap. But if you're serious about getting more customer reviews, they're a valuable resource.

10x your customer reviews with one step

Building a customer review management program doesn't happen overnight. But it's worth the effort. Reviews are a crucial part of the customer decision-making process, and if you're not managing them, you're leaving it up to complete strangers.

So start with one step today. Email one of your best customers to ask for a review. Download a badge for your website. Sign up for a new review platform. Keep taking single steps until great reviews are powering your company to success!