Do you want customers to promote your product free through word of mouth? If YES, here are 10 best subtle ways to get customer reviews without asking for it.

There was a time when small businesses depended on word-of-mouth for business success. But as time went on, word-of-mouth became less necessary for businesses, thanks to the internet and other advancements in technology, transportation and communication.

Prospective clients can easily find companies located near them and on the other side of the globe. Although, the word-of-mouth concept is not dead — it has become innovative and adapted to the change in how businesses and customers relate. A part of this rapid change that is growing exceptionally fast is customer reviews.

Yes, not all businesses use customer reviews like they should. Sometimes, businesses don’t need reviews because they get customers regardless. But for small businesses, customer reviews are crucial and can make or break a business. Customer reviews are more trustworthy than advertising, can reach thousands of potential customers, and can help drive more sales. All in all, they are an exceptionally effective marketing instrument.

If you get too many one-star customer ratings on Yelp or other review platforms, it can hurt your business. If you also don’t get enough ratings for your business compared to your competitors, it may cause you to lose business to companies that are in direct competition with you.

This is why as the owner of a small business, you have to make your customer’s happiness your utmost priority. Making your customers happy translates to listening to them and prioritizing their needs. One way to do this is to pay attention to customer reviews.

Have it in mind that before you can use customer reviews to your own benefit, you have to get the said reviews. It’s relatively easy to make use of customer review platforms, like Yelp. You can do a lot with customer reviews once you have them.

Why Solicit for Customer Reviews?

Report has it that 85% of consumers trust customer reviews just as much as they trust personal recommendations. 89% even check online reviews to compare them with recommendations from friends. Due to the growing influence of the Internet, online customer reviews are able to reach considerably more customers than traditional word-of-mouth marketing.

Customer reviews expand your potential customer base multiple times over. Also in this modern age, pricing alone isn’t enough to bring in new business. Consumers place just as much importance on credibility, transparency, quality, and top-notch customer service. Customer reviews let potential customers know you have it where it counts. Customer reviews drive sales by communicating high levels of customer satisfaction. Ways to get these reviews include;

10 Best Subtle Ways to Get Customer Reviews Without Really Asking for It

  1. Usability Tests

Imagine watching someone use your product or website? You can see the exact sections they’re actively drawn to, what catches their fancy, and where they get confused. Don’t you think such information is invaluable? You can define a task that you want someone to complete, have a random person do it, and get a recording of the entire process.

Some few years back, such feat would definitely cost tens of thousands of dollars, but in this age, all you need is to have a research firm do it for you. These days, the cost has become very reasonable. If you’ve built a new signup process or you’re about to release a new product, it’s highly advisable that you watch someone use it. This will flag some of the biggest problems right away and increase the rate at which you acquire new customers.

  1. Promote your presence on review sites – online and offline

You should consider adding Yelp or TripAdvisor widgets to your website, blog and social media pages. Or if you’re fussy about the aesthetics of your Web design, you can just add a simple one-liner (“Tell us what you think,” “Would you recommend us to your friends?”) along with a link to your review site business page. Note that the objective here is to raise awareness and communicate to customers that you can’t wait to hear what they think.

Also, sites like Yelp, Foursquare and TripAdvisor let listed business owners request or print collaterals like stickers, window clings, certificates, what-have-you. You can also request for reviews through your business cards, brochures, printed receipts and even employee buttons.

  1. Send Handwritten Notes to Rack Up Review

A handwritten note is a great way to make a lasting impression. Even in this modern age, job-seekers are still advised to do this, because it shows that you’re willing to invest time and effort into a relationship. That’s the same vibe you want when you’re asking for a review.

Although, it’s very crucial that you honour your contact’s valuable time by not expecting too much of it. You should consider using a postcard instead of a paper note that has to be sent in an envelope. A simple URL using a URL shortener or QR code can get the recipient onto a page to leave a review.

  1. Use review request tools and add links to your e-mails

Several e-mail marketing providers offer tools for creating customizable e-mail templates, and industry-specific review sites have similar offerings. Also if you send newsletters to your customers, consider adding a review request link that recipients can click to post a review of your business on a site of your choice.

Or if you don’t want to seem too pushy, add some simple text to your e-mail signature such as, “Check us out on Yelp” or “Visit our Google+ page and tell us your opinion.”

  1. Use Google Alerts and Social Mentions

There are likely a ton of unsolicited customer reviews that are written about your company on other sites, such as personal blogs and forums. These can be great opportunities to link to from your website because it shows that they are clearly unbiased reviews.

For instance, when they’re published on another site, people can say whatever they want and you don’t have control over what they’ve decided to write about you. You can find this 3rd party reviews by setting up daily email notifications through Google Alerts and Social Mention.

Choose a few terms like your personal name, business name, brand, and specific products. If you want, you can also include a few keywords if applicable. Note that it’s a good idea to include the word “review” for anything so broad it’ll track articles not specifically about your company.

Immediately you get these reviews, you can ask the people who have mentioned your brand if you can feature their comment or story on your testimonials page. Most times, people are happy to oblige, especially in exchange for a link from your site.

  1. Increase social engagement

This works well if you’ve built a strong community on networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can make it much easier for customers by adding a link to the review page where you want them to go. People who have more experience with your products are more likely to provide valuable information for future customers. If you have an active social media group for your new customers or “power users,” you can usually get a review or two per request.

  1. Create special check-in/walk-in offers

Have it in mind that people love pleasant surprises, so create something unique to influence those who are nearby. During low season, give a random guest a free room upgrade. Or offer a free dessert or discount to customers who check in using Swarm, Yelp or Facebook.

This way you can identify the most important customer touch points and make them special and unforgettable. Before you know it, customers will be writing reviews about how their visit to your business was super awesome.

  1. Consider a Testimonial Swap in B2B

Note that a testimonial swap can be a low-friction way to get another review direct from a source that future customers might trust. Although it seems easy and convenient on both sides, it’s also crucial to be sure everything is done on the up and up.

Although a testimonial swap from a company you’ve worked with in the past may only take a quick email, always ensure your legal team is on board. There may be special disclaimers or other steps you need to take to avoid the appearance of quid pro quo.

B2B brands are at a great advantage when looking for reviews because, by and large, most of your satisfied customers will be willing to provide one. If you have a subscription-based offering, you can simply extend existing subscriptions by a month or so in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. But if your Business model doesn’t lend itself to that approach, giving your customer a free peek at your next tier of service may be the appropriate step.

It’s excellent if your customer relationships are so strong that people simply want to show their appreciation. Notwithstanding, reviewers are doing you a favour, so always look for a way to give something in return. And, should you receive any negative reviews, work to follow up and fix the problem.

  1. Try gamification

It’s advisable that you include basic mechanics of play like social interactivity, friendly competition or raffle draws in your digital marketing efforts, which can be an effective way to generate positive reviews. For instance, you can hand out monthly giveaways to a random reviewer or to anyone who leaves the funniest review. The key is to offer a small incentive to customers who take the time to write reviews, regardless of whether it’s a positive or a negative one.

  1. Take a Quick Video At the End of a Call

When it’s time to follow up and ensure your customer loves a new purchase, many sales pros find themselves on Skype or FaceTime. If all goes well, this can be the perfect moment to record a brief testimonial that you can then put on your website.

Note that it’s advisable that you practice this method before it goes into action. Make use of the signals your customer offers you to know whether it’s a good time, and don’t push. Some people simply aren’t thrilled to be on camera. Have a release form already drawn up so you can use newly-captured footage right away.

Conclusion

Indeed, getting your happiest customers to talk about your business on review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor can create a buzz more effectively than a viral YouTube video or an artsy Instagram pic. It will go a long way to strengthen your online reputation, foster loyalty and help you attract new customers.

Generating new reviews can be tricky, though. It’s not a straightforward point-and-click strategy like setting up Facebook ads or distributing a press release to online news wires.

Asking or encouraging customers to post online reviews of your business requires you to be creative. But don’t let fears of a one-star rating stop you from embracing online reviews as a marketing tool. Have it in mind that by encouraging customers to share their opinion online, you can demonstrate that your business is the kind that values customer feedback, and that you’re confident in the excellent quality of products and services you offer.

Solomon. O'Chucks