Reviews have a lot of value for brands, especially when it comes to smaller businesses. What other buyers are saying about your business is often the make or break factor for future customers. This is especially true now that so many users look for recommendations. Surveys seem to indicate that, despite some issues with fake or paid testimonials, reviews are still important to consumers:

  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 40% of buyers form an opinion of a business after reading just 1-3 reviews
  • 72% of buyers will take action only after reading a positive review

Reviews play an important role in SEO as well, because the constant generation of unique content (reviews) from a wide range of users (customers) has a positive impact on website rank. In fact, reviews can have an impact of up to 10% on a business’s search ranking.

It’s important to be ethical in your pursuit of accumulating business reviews, which is why paying people to write or post fake reviews isn’t the best method. Luckily, there are some unique ways to generate more reviews from customers without being shady about it. Here are 5 ideas to get you started.

  1. Check-in Perks

It’s not quite a full review, but it does turn heads towards your business. Having customers check-in when they’re in your store and mention something about their experience is a great way to gain exposure across a broader network. It’s also a good way to foster customer loyalty and keep regulars coming back.

Real life example: One of my favorite pizza places has check-in Tuesdays. If you check in at the pizza location on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and say something about pizza, you get a discount on your meal or a free drink. Now, pizza is a standing option for lunch on Tuesdays.

Any business can employ a similar tactic, whether it’s a freebie or a discount, and see more return than it costs.

  1. Text Reviews

Half of the battle is finding a way to reach customers where they’re at. It’s easy for customers to ignore an email or forget to visit the Yelp or Google Reviews page of a business, so where do you find them? One great way to streamline the review process is to follow-up via text message.

Real life example: I recently tried out a class at a new yoga studio, which required the usual sign-up information (name, email, cell phone number). The day after the class, I received a text message asking to rate my experience on a scale of 1-10. Sending back a number was quick and easy, so when they replied asking me to write a few words about a review, I didn’t hesitate. Two texts later and the yoga studio had both a rating and review within 24 hours of a purchase.

If your customers are people on-the-go, try finding a way to reach them where they’re most likely to engage. If you can eliminate any steps from the review process, your chances of getting a review go up.

  1. Find the Naysayers

One of the best kinds of reviews a business can get is one from a customer who was initially skeptical of the service or product. If you can turn your most skeptical buyer into a customer with a positive experience, then their testimonial has potential to convince other on-the-fence customers of your value.

Real life example: I don’t care for subscription service businesses, such as Blue Apron, Fab Fit Fun, or Hello Fresh, because they seem like a waste of money for things I could purchase myself. A friend of mine shares this opinion, but tried cosmetic subscription service, Ipsy, and loved it. Because she is also skeptical of subscription services but had such a positive experience, I decided to sign up and try a product I didn’t even know I wanted.

Buying is a social experience, and customers will consider the past experiences of others to influence their future buying. Getting your naysayers to sing your praises will bolster your brand’s value in an authentic and convincing way.

  1. Links and Buttons in Email

Most brands and businesses send emails to subscribers with promotional information, coupons, store updates, and other brand happenings. If you’re already regularly sending emails, why not add review buttons to the bottom? Subscribers who receive these emails mostly look for coupons and discounts, giving brands a perfect opportunity to get more reviews.

By adding a link to your brand’s Yelp profile or Google Reviews, you can naturally build review writing into the body of the email. To really incentivize writing reviews, try offering a discount for those who share their experience.

  1. Attach Reminders to Bills & Receipts

If you’re a business with a storefront location, attaching review reminders to bills & receipts can be an effective way to follow up with your customers. A simple line at the bottom of the receipt that asks for their opinion of your service and/or products shows that you value customer input and want feedback.

Trying adding a line at the bottom of receipts that says something like, “How’d we do? Tell us about your experience at xyz,” or “We want to hear from you. Give us feedback at xyz.” Most buyers look for and expect to see businesses seeking feedback in this manner.


Also published on Medium.