| September 14, 2021
Earning customer reviews is essential to improving local search engine rankings and placement on Google Maps. In fact it is one of the most important, if not the single most important, factor. Beyond rankings, reviews attract new clients: according to a 2020 survey conducted by BrightLocal, a reviews management SAAS provider, 94% of customers say reviews make them more likely to use a business. After a client has a good experience, you want them to write about it.
So, how do you get more reviews? In my experience, personally connecting with customers generates results. “But Jon,” you’re thinking, “we have hundreds of customers and orders each week!” It sounds cumbersome, but it’s worthwhile. Plus, according to BrightLocal, 76% of consumers will leave a review when asked.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and reviews don’t happen overnight. One solution? Partner with other departments at your company to scale outreach. In this article, you’ll find out how we did just that, resulting in a 43% increase in online reviews over the last eight weeks (and counting).
1. Share the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)
First, don’t assume your colleagues understand the stakes of local search. Schedule a meeting with customer-facing teams and sales to show them how Google Maps displays user reviews in search results. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a live demonstration is worth triple and earns buy-in from teammates.
When colleagues see competitors taking top spots — and potential revenue — their eyes open. Your coworkers most likely understand how reviews influence personal purchasing decisions. They just might not search queries for what your company offers to see the absolute dogfight to stay atop the results.
2. Organize Coworkers
Next, gather your outreach team. Customer service representatives and production staff fit well because of their interaction with clients. Have a team member that has put time into building relationships with your clients? Leverage it. Our general manager has known some customers for over a decade and it’s almost impossible for a client to ignore his review request. Ignoring the marketing person: much easier!
This can be a win-win for marketing and customer service too. For example, through direct outreach to clients, our general manager receives feedback on experiences to improve processes on the shop floor and workflow.
3. Team Templates
Provide engaging email templates for your team to use and personalize. Our general manager has had massive success adding his spin to a marketing-provided template. These literally include spots to enter a customer name, the service provided and the company name. In your template, include a link to your website with external links to review sites. The webpage is critical, and we share an example in the next point.
4. Website Page
When we encourage customers over the phone to leave reviews, many ask, “What should I write?” Guide them with a “Share your Experience” webpage. For instance: yourwebsite.com/reviews. Here is ours: www.cushingco.com/reviews.
Here are questions to consider asking to help prompt their review.
- Which product or service did we provide?
- Which employee assisted and how was your experiencing working with them?
- How do we compare to businesses you have used previously?
- Would you recommend us to a colleague?
5. Build Your Lead List
You’ve got your team, templates and a shiny new webpage to share. Now what? You need companies to contact. Chances are you have an order system. Each Tuesday, I export the week’s previous list of jobs and we meet as a team to divvy up names in a plain old excel spreadsheet. Columns include:
Left a Review? Yes or No
Reaching out to customers weekly keeps the project you completed fresh in their mind and encourages a consistent flow of new reviews. This is important since, according to the same survey from BrightLocal, 73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month.
6. Feedback Friday
Or Monday Mentions, or Testimonial Tuesdays. No matter what you call it, broadcast reviews to your employees and highlight upcoming milestones. For example, are you sitting on 49 Better Business Bureau reviews? Let colleagues know and achieve 50 as a team. This generates excitement and prompts co-workers to suggest clients to reach out to for reviews.
Finally, don’t forget to thank the client. Nothing makes a customer more loyal than knowing your appreciation. In a shop local world, it sets you apart from the big box culture.
Review outreach is not a “set it and forget it” consideration. Even the happiest, most well-intentioned customer does not put writing a review at the top of their task list. A structured, collaborative approach increases results.
Jon Davis is the marketing and content manager at Cushing, a printing services company that has served Chicago for over 90 years. Jon manages website content, search engine optimization (SEO) and local SEO efforts.
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