If you’re finding it difficult to earn reviews for your business online, that’s because it really IS difficult. Users are busy and distracted, review platforms have heavy terms of service and the process of signing up, finding your business and leaving a review is a lot to ask of people.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help improve your review numbers – even things you can do offline. In this piece, I’ll share some of the most effective offline tactics I’ve come across for earning online reviews.
But before we get going, there’s one important thing to note:
Persistence & Repetition Make All the Difference
A big part of the reason that businesses fail to earn reviews is because they fail to be persistent in asking for them. That doesn’t mean being pushy or harassing your customers, however.
Instead, you want to expose the customer to as many unobtrusive reminders to review as possible.
If your strategy for earning reviews is to put up a “Find us on Yelp!” sign and hope for the best, the customer has just one impression of your passive ask for a review and is much less likely to take action.
But, imagine that a customer comes in, sees your sign stating “We’re on Yelp!”, takes advantage of a special deal for those who check-in online, is politely reminded how important feedback is by the customer service rep, reads a hilarious review printed out and posted in your washroom and notices a request for reviews on their receipt as they leave. The likelihood of success is far greater, without the customer feeling pestered.
Having established that, let’s dive in to the offline tactics that can drive online reviews:
#1 Ask – Before, During & After
Sometimes, it’s as simple as just asking. (Note: Yelp technically frowns on this – but all other platforms encourage requesting reviews of customers).
Don’t be afraid to remind a customer before the service has been provided, e.g.:
“We’re always trying to get better – when you leave today, would you mind letting us know how we did?”
After you’re done doing business, it’s not a bad idea to follow up with a reminder as well, e.g.:
“Thanks for giving us the chance to work with you. If you don’t mind, we’d love to get your feedback on Yelp or Google+”
Gauge how appropriate your request is based on the scenario and always be polite, not pushy.
#2 Put Up Signage
One of the fastest, simplest and most effective ways to let people know your business has a presence on the different review platforms is to put up signage.
If possible, put signage prominently in places where the customer has a few moments to look around – at the cashier’s till, in waiting rooms, at the front desk and so on.
#3 Incentivize Check-Ins
Many review platforms allow customers to “Check-in” on their mobile devices when they’re at your business address. While you’re not allowed to incentivize reviews by offering discounts, prizes or special deals, most review platforms not only accept but support incentivizing these “check-ins” – especially Yelp.
Put up signs advertising a special offer if a customer checks in online, and then follow up with a timely hint that you’d love their feedback.
While it’s not an offline tactic, you can also add a “special deal” on your Google+ Places page, rewarding customers who mention they saw your deal. Again, follow up with a quick request that they drop you a review.
#4 Print Out Great Reviews & Display Them at Your Location
A fun way to not only let customers know which platforms you’re on but also share some positive feedback is to print out existing reviews and display them where in-store customers can read them. Nothing says “we care about your feedback” more than displaying that feedback right in your workplace.
Like other signage, this tactic is most effective when you place reviews somewhere customers have an idle moment – the front desk, a waiting area – or in this case, bathroom stalls.
#5 Create Instructional Handouts
You can find a fast and free handout generator here.
The only downside of this tactic is that review platforms use algorithmic filters that tend to weed out one-time reviewers or those who don’t review regularly, so there’s a chance the reviews you earn won’t stick around.
Still, you could be the catalyst that gets a reviewer started, so it’s worth the minimal effort.
#6 Put Reminders on Invoices & Receipts
As a last point-of-contact, a reminder placed on an invoice or receipt can call a customer to action long after they’ve left your location.
Space on invoices and receipts is limited, so don’t try to squeeze too much in. You might use a URL-shortener to save printing space if necessary and combine it with a simple call to action, e.g.
“Let us know how we did!”
Combine Your Efforts
As mentioned at the beginning, the best results will come when you create an underlying process to your review requests. Determine all the different points of contact you can reasonably make with a customer and have a plan to capitalize.
What’s your favorite offline tactic? Share it in the comments!