In our increasingly online world, more and more customers are relying on internet reviews when making a purchase decision. Whether on Google or Facebook, such reviews can have a profound influence on your ability to gain new customers.
For many brands, however, getting customers to leave reviews in the first place can be a challenge. This is something that Ryan Chaffin, founder of KAHA, has seen firsthand. As a company that specializes in helping brands generate and protect their online reputation, Chaffin has valuable insights that can help businesses in any industry get more reviews.
Ryan, why should businesses prioritize online reviews in the first place?
“These days, online reviews have almost replaced old-school word of mouth advertising as the go-to source for learning about a product, service, or brand. Ninety-three percent of customers say that looking at online reviews has had a direct influence on their purchasing decisions. Almost as many say that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or family member.
“These numbers trend even higher among younger demographics, which are growing in size and buying power. Because of this, brands that want to stay relevant in the years ahead need to make a concerted effort to obtain as many reviews from their customers as possible.
“This starts internally — when the brand itself makes obtaining reviews a priority, they will identify more opportunities where they can ask for reviews to boost their online presence.”
What strategy do you find most effective in obtaining reviews?
“In my agency’s work, we’ve found email to be shockingly effective at getting customers to leave reviews. Most customers are willing to leave a review, especially if they have an above-average experience with your brand — but they’re not going to remember to do this on their own.
“At the same time, however, the average American spends almost five hours a day checking email. If you send them an email asking how their experience was with your brand or how they liked your product or service, they’re going to see it.
“Because of this, one of the first things we do when working with our clients is set up an automated email sequence to ask for customer reviews. This works by sending an email as soon as possible after a purchase is complete to ask for a review. If the customer doesn’t leave a review, we’ll send a followup email three days later, and then a final email seven days after the first message.
“Obviously, if you can set up an automated email chain this will be a lot easier than writing a personal email to each and every customer. Spacing out the emails like this ensures you don’t overwhelm customers with emails, while also making it more likely that the majority of people will leave a review.”
Why does tracking reviews matter for businesses?
“It’s one thing to ask for reviews — but tracking lets you know whether your efforts are having the desired impact. Because of this, businesses should implement monitoring systems that allow them to track when new reviews have been posted on Google, Facebook, Yelp or other platforms.
“This isn’t just for you to pat yourself on the back. Google has noted that when you respond to a customer’s review, it sends positive signals to their search engine. It shows that you value the feedback you’ve received. This actually makes other customers more likely to leave reviews for you. It can also improve your SEO rankings.
“Responding to negative reviews can be especially rewarding. A positive interaction where you try to help resolve a customer’s issue could actually get them to go back and change a negative review to a more positive one. The sooner you respond to a negative review, the less harm it will do.”
How long should businesses try to keep getting new reviews?
“The most recent research says that 86 percent of customers only look at reviews that are three months old or newer. They assume that reviews older than that aren’t relevant.
“This actually isn’t a bad mindset for them to have. So much can change for a business in three months, from new staff to updated products. Naturally, these changes should be done in an effort to make your offerings even better for your customers.
“You want new reviews because they are going to more accurately reflect your products and services. This means that trying to get new reviews should become an ongoing part of your marketing strategy — which is why automating as much of this process as possible is so helpful.”
Which platforms should businesses focus on for getting reviews?
“I think at this point, everyone knows the big three of Google, Facebook and Yelp. But these are far from the only review sites people look at. Just about every industry has review sites or platforms that cater to them. TripAdvisor is a big one for “destination”-style businesses like hotels and tourist attractions. The BBB has long been viewed as one of the more reliable sources of customer feedback in almost every industry. Angie’s List and Home Advisor are big for service providers, such as plumbers or roofers. It’s important that your business can be found on the review platforms that are relevant in your industry.
“So, in addition to focusing on those “big three” review platforms, every brand should take some time to examine other top review sites that customers might use to research their business. The more reviews you can get on each platform, the better!
“Making it easy for customers to leave reviews on multiple sites should be an integral part of when you ask for their review. Even a simple thing like including links to various review platforms as part of your automated email will make it that much easier for them to leave their comments.
“Remember, the easier you can make this process for your customers, the more reviews you’ll get.”
Thank you Ryan for your time and insights! As his comments make clear, a steady stream of positive reviews can make all the difference in accelerating brand growth — particularly in reaching consumers still at the top of the sales funnel in their buyer’s journey.