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5 Tips for Harvesting Your Business’s Testimonials
Millions of people like me check reviews online before we download an app, see a movie or drop our car off at an auto repair shop. This is the era of social after all, where we take others’ experiences and opinions into consideration.
If you are part of an effort to market a business, you must value the importance of what others are saying about you online. Knowing reviews are important is one thing, but it’s just as vital that you know what to do with them. These are my 5 tips for harvesting your business’s online reviews.
1. Funnel Testimonials Into 2-3 Channels
When business is good, people will talk about it online, and where they post a review is up to them. Facebook, Yelp, Google+, Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor are just some of the sites your customers might leave a note about their experience. While it can be worth your time to monitor your online reputation across all channels, it’s a smart investment to try and start funneling your reviews in fewer places. Not only will this save you time, but it will potentially help your business rank higher within each site.
My suggestions are to stick to Yelp, Facebook and Google+. All 3 are popular sites that potential customers spend a lot of time on, but they also pack their own unique punch. Yelp is great because it has become a household name for business reviews and it consistently ranks Page 1 in Google for brand name searches. Google+ takes its own reviews into account when displaying search results for non-branded searches. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest; you do the math!
2. Avoid Flooding Any Site With Stellar Reviews
Yelp and Google both have filters in place to detect any unnatural behavior such as sudden influxes of 5 star reviews. You can actually hurt your listing by incurring a penalty if you get perfect reviews from seemingly out of nowhere.
A good rule of thumb for businesses is to stay away from offering incentives for reviews. Other than the potential backlash if made public, this is a bad practice since it promotes great reviews all at once. It also attracts people who don’t normally leave reviews which is another signal to Yelp that this looks spammy.
Instead, try to advertise to customers who are already leaving reviews online. A great way to do this is to advertise on Yelp through their sponsored deals or to host a Yelp elite event. You can also put a link to your business’s listing in your email signature or newsletter to encourage regular reviewers to write about you.
3. Use Existing Reviews In Your Marketing Campaign
If customers are saying great things about your business, why not use that in your marketing instead of trying to convince people based on your own word? Wendy’s has been doing just that with their new Pretzel bun sandwiches and the hashtag #PretzelLoveStories.
In one of the funnier social media campaigns I’ve come across, Wendy’s is using actual customer tweets and Facebook reviews to make a soap opera style YouTube video. Check it out.
Forbes wrote an article on the success of this campaign and this part impressed me – “…On its Facebook page, episode one garnered more than 1,800 comments and 11,000 likes in its first week of release.”
4. Post Testimonials On Your Website
Sometimes people searching for services or products you offer don’t visit the popular review sites, but still value what others have to say. Consider adding reviews straight to your website through Yelp’s API or by embedding reviews directly from Google+.
Great reviews with transparency can go a long way on your site. They don’t look made up since they’re public reviews pulled straight in from either Yelp or Google+. You can also put them in strategic places like landing pages for PPC or early steps of a checkout process.
5. Reach Out To Reviewers And Offer Incentives To Stay Loyal
I know this sounds contrary to my earlier point about not bribing people to leave reviews but this is after they have left a testimonial. If a customer was nice enough to positively review your business, it’s courteous to reply publicly or privately with a thanks.
Why not take that a step further though and offer a future discount or other incentive to use your business again?
This not only helps generate more sales but it also creates brand loyalists who you know are happy to talk about your business. Just be careful not to structure the incentive as promoting more reviews.
How do you harvest reviews for your business?