Testimonials on your website and other Web venues can help improve conversions. Good reviews on review sites like Google Maps and Yelp can help attract more people to check you out and also improve conversions. In this article, I’ll outline the steps we go through for ourselves and clients to increase the number of testimonials available and get good reviews.

google-maps-next-dimensionAs you’ve undoubtedly noticed, there are a growing number of reviews on the Web for all types of products and services — not just restaurants and hotels — on sites such as Yelp, Google Maps, Bing, shopping search sites and many industry/market information sites.

Having testimonials and good reviews can help persuade people to at least consider doing business with you. Meanwhile, good reviews on sites such as Google Maps or Yelp can encourage people to click to learn more about what you have to offer from among a list of competitors.

Here’s an example of local results on Google for [Italian pastries new haven ct]. (As I write this, I’m thinking cannolis on the way to see my mom in the hospital. That’ll make her feel better… and me, too.) Those orange star ratings from Yelp attracted my eye right away. I’m thinking of stopping at Lucibello’s, the highest rated pastry shop.

Reviews/Ratings on Google.com

Reviews/Ratings on Google.com

Following is a guide to increase the number of testimonials available and get good reviews from clients. You can adapt them to your own circumstances.

Step 1: Make Sure Your Customers Are Happy

Naturally, you should be working hard to ensure that your customers are happy — especially since unhappy clients are the ones most likely to post reviews. You should work to identify both your satisfied and unsatisfied clients. Depending on the nature of your business, you could send out a satisfaction survey or call your customers periodically.

What we do is to ask our clients, “Would you take a call from a prospective client?” If they say yes, we know they are reasonably happy. If we don’t get an answer, we may have a problem. If you find unhappy clients or don’t hear back, you should take steps to learn what you need to do to correct the situation.

Step 2: Ask If They’ll Write A Testimonial Or Enter A Review Online

Once you’ve identified your happy customers, you can ask them if they’ll write a testimonial or enter a review online for you (I suggest you keep it simple and ask for one or the other and not talk about both at the same time).

Here’s my advice when asking for testimonials or reviews, along with some tips for each.

Asking For Testimonials

If a client says they’d be happy to write a testimonial, we wait a couple of weeks. If we don’t see anything after that amount of time, we send a very gentle reminder and include some testimonials from other clients as triggers for them. Often, we send along some of what we consider to be key achievements to consider writing about.

I take note of any positive statements a client says that we might remind them of later. For example, a client remarked in front of others in a meeting, “This is the first time we tried any online marketing that has worked.” Later, when we asked for a testimonial, I reminded him of what he had said.

Use the testimonials, in whole or in part, on your website, in proposals, email marketing, even some social venues where you can.

Tip: Put Testimonials on pages important in the conversion process. Don’t just put testimonials on a Testimonials page where many of your site visitors may not see them. Put one or two prominently on the important pages people typically view as they are learning about what you have to offer.

After you have a testimonial you might ask some of your clients if they’d be willing to do a video testimonial. You can use them on your website and some social venues, too (Such as LinkedIn. See How To Use LinkedIn To Improve Organic Visibility on Search Engine Land for more). A video testimonial placed prominently on an important page in the conversion process should attract the eye, and people will very likely watch it.

Asking For Reviews

Ask some of your happy clients if they’ll enter a review online for you. You can ask some of the clients who have done testimonials for you, but wait till enough time has passed after they wrote the testimonials, so you don’t risk annoying them.

Tips For Asking For Customer Reviews

You’ll need to develop the process you’ll use to ask for reviews, and it will surely evolve over time. Here are some tips we go over with our clients.

• Make it simple. Make sure it is easy, simple and fast for customers to provide a review. Ideally, go through the steps of submitting a review yourself, or even better, do it with a key customer and document the process thoroughly (ideally with screen shots) so you understand the process. Then, you’ll be prepared for questions from customers as they are entering a review. You might even give clients detailed instructions on how to use each review site (however, the processes often change).

• Find the best review sites for you and your industry. Search on your company and product names with and without adding “reviews” to the search to find most of the public reviews you already have. If you have some bad reviews appearing in the search results, decide if you should respond publicly. Search on some of your important non-brand keywords and scan the results for reviews. Search on the company and product names of your industry leaders and some of the ones at the top of the search results, and you may uncover more review sites where your own company name hasn’t appeared — yet.

• Focus on one or two review websites at a time. It’ll make the effort simpler and much less time consuming for you and your people. You can rotate which ones you focus on over time.

• About Google Reviews: If you have a local focus, you’ll certainly want some good reviews on Google Maps (Google+ Local). Google requires a Google Account in order to post a review. Not everyone will have a Google Account, and those who don’t may not want to spend the time to set one up just to submit a review. So, have an alternative review site for them that is easier to post reviews on. Also look for happy customers who have a Google email account (such as name@gmail.com) since you’ll know they have a Google Account.

• Get them started right away if you can. We have one client, a dental practice, which has a PC in their waiting room. They walk happy clients right up to it and get them started on a review.

• Business cards with review sites. Some businesses hand out a business card with the URL or simple instructions for an important review site listed on it.

• Hand out directions. Some businesses hand out a sheet with simple directions to get them started at a review site or two.

• Add a request to an email. Add a message to an email you send out to clients about some other topic. For example, there’s a cooking class in Tuscany that we took while there. After you attend the class they send out a message with some free recipes. At the end of the message they add, “Last pleasure to ask… can you write a review on TripAdvisor about our Tuscan cooking class?” Because of all the good reviews they have, they were ranked as one of the top things to do in their city on TripAdvisor.

• Create a webpage. Create a page on your website with links to your profiles on Google, Yelp, etc. If you decide to make this page public, add a note asking people to write a review.

• Get reviews over time. It’s best to get reviews in a natural progression over time, so don’t ask all you clients to do this at the same time.

In conclusion, the steps above can help you get testimonials and good reviews for your business, as well as information that can help you overcome bad reviews. Good reviews on sites like Google Maps and Yelp encourage more people to check you out and help improve your conversions.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Content Marketing | Content Marketing Column | How To Guides | How To Guides: Content Marketing

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About The Author: is founder and President of eVision, providing Internet marketing services to companies and organizations for over 12 years.



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  • Joel K

    Good post, but one very important thing I wanted to share with you:

    Both Yelp and Google+ explicitly advise against having a kiosk or computer onsite in your workplace – and both track incoming IPs when determining whether or not a review is real or fake.

    Having a kiosk onsite is a recipe for disaster, most reviews will be filtered and you can wind up publically shamed on Yelp.

  • Mary Bowling

    Trip Advisor is another review juggernaut that doesn’t allow reviews from the business’ IP address. It’s critical to read and understand the terms of service for each review site that’s important in your industry before you determine your what your review acquisition strategy will be.

  • David Wenner

    Great article which I will share with all my customers. But, there is need to wait for the customer to get back to you or a need to invest in a kiosk. Try out the mobile app vocalreferences and get immediate customer video testimonials published to your site, facebook, twitter ….

  • Review HELPER

    Asking for reviews is what gets most businesses in trouble with major review sites such as Yelp, Google+ Local and TripAdvisor. Yelp is the most severe. Yelp’s automated review filter has access to Yelp’s database of historical review and user activity. It knows the average number of reviews submitted each month–not only for your business, but for the average business in your business category in your market. It views any “unnatural” patterns” as an attempt to deceive.

    So if your business has averaged one to two reviews a month for the past year, and suddenly 10 of the 15 customers you asked to review you submit reviews in one week (all 5-star rated, of course, and probably the only review they’ve ever submitted), you’re going to have a problem with Yelp. The review filter may not only filter the new reviews, but penalize you (i.e., filter positive reviews) going back in time, as well as into the future. Remember, this is software making these decisions, so it doesn’t matter if these are real customers writing honest reviews.

    This is why you need to be careful with soliciting. It’s also why most of these third-party solutions that try to automate the review process not only do not work, but can actually hurt you. So what can you do to be pro-active? Try to understand the natural patterns, not only for your particular business, but for your category (study your competitors). With Yelp you can also study the filtered reviews. And then be selective about who you ask to review you. Yelp actually gives good advice: have some kind of visual (i.e., Yelp logo or sign) at your business to remind customers who may already be Yelpers (maybe even “elite” Yelpers) that they might review you. Existing Yelpers have a history of participation, and their reviews carry more weight than first-timers.

  • http://www.koozai.com/ Lenka Istvanova

    Great and to the point article, George! Agree with you; online reviews reviews are as valuable as personal recommendations and can have a positive impact on conversion rate.

    I’ve recently written article how you can also use Social media to get those valuable reviews http://www.koozai.com/blog/branding/how-to-start-getting-reviews-from-your-customers/

 

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