When’s the last time you read a review? Whether you were looking for a place to eat dinner or making a purchase on Amazon, there’s a good chance it wasn’t too long ago. Personally, when reviews aren’t readily available, I go in search of them. For example, when I’m at Target trying to decide which printer to buy, I go to Amazon to check the reviews on my top choices. And, as it turns out, I’m not alone. Of the many statistics on customer reviews, 72% of customers don’t take action until they have read reviews. Some might say our culture has become co-dependent. I like to say that we’re smart. Why face the feeling of buyer’s remorse if you don’t have to?

Instead, let your peers who have been there before you guide the way.

How customer reviews affect the path to purchase

If you’re not actively engaging in a review strategy, it’s time to start.

Reviews are the ultimate source of user-generated content thanks to the brand trust they build. They work hand-in-hand with testimonials, giving prospects a way to hear from your real customers.

Unlike testimonials which are often edited to show the business in the best light possible, customer reviews give the whole unbiased story, giving them extra value.

Say you’re going out for dinner. If you’re like most people, you trust a friend’s recommendation more than what the restaurant claims on its website. The majority of buyers give that same credibility to customer reviews.

This is why customer reviews carry an impact throughout the entire purchase cycle. In fact, at any stage of the B2B marketing funnel, a minimum of four out of 10 buyers are looking for reviews.

Customer Reviews

And—as you may have guessed—reviews also have a significant impact on consumer purchases.  

The purchase rate for a product with a minimum of five reviews is 270% higher than a product with no reviews.

Not only do reviews have an impact on conversations, but they can also increase the revenue from each sale. Online recommendations can motivate buyers to spend 9.5% more for a product, according to a study by ShareThis and the Paley Center for Media.

How to get online reviews from customers

Whether or not you ask for reviews, there’s a good chance some of your customers will share their candid feedback. However, rather than letting reviews come to you, it’s essential to conduct regular review outreach.

For reviews to have the most impact, you need both recency and quantity. 68% of people who were asked to leave a review for a local business in 2017 did so, according to a study by Bright Local,

Customer Reviews

Image source: Bright Local

As you can see, customers are happy to share their feedback. All you have to do is ask!

Here are three tactics for sourcing reviews:

  1. One-to-one conversations

When trying to get reviews, don’t forget a simple ask through good old-fashioned interpersonal communication is a great place to start. Whether in person or on the phone, you’re building stronger relationships with this direct contact approach.

When’s the best time to ask for a review?

You may have renewed a contract. Perhaps a member of your customer support team helped a customer overcome a pain point, creating a new brand advocate for your company. Maybe a new customer has just been on-boarded and has plenty of good things to say.

Whenever you’re having a conversation with your customer, look for the opening to politely ask them to share their feedback.

  1. Events

Whether you’re an event sponsor or organizer, consider the opportunity to gather video reviews as a bonus to event marketing.

Video reviews at events take away a potential blocker. Some people are happy to give you a video review, but may not be tech-savvy enough to record one themselves. Also, video allows for more interaction with the person giving the feedback. You can ask follow-up questions and help the reviewer feel comfortable on-camera.

Reviews are influential because they come from real people, sharing the face and voice of the reviewer adds depth and trust, increasing your credibility.  

  1. Email

Email is one of the most common and effective ways to ask for reviews. However, just like any email marketing execution, you need a strategic approach.

The basic rules still apply, A/B test your subject line and include a clear call-to-action (CTA). Also, Yotpo recommends including your company name in the subject line.

The do’s and don’ts of customer review outreach

Now that we’ve covered how to ask for reviews, let’s look at some best practice guidelines to apply in your review strategy to help maximize return on your effort.
Follow this 5 point review checklist to ensure you make the most of your outreach efforts.

  1. Send a follow-up email

People are busy. I don’t want to tell you how many reviews I’ve meant to write (and still intend to write!) but never got around to. Thankfully, there’s no harm in a friendly reminder.

Up to 80% of reviews are the result of post-purchase emails, according to Power Reviews. For people with never-ending to-do lists but the best of intentions, a follow-up email can make all the difference.

  1. Be polite but not pushy

When you write your request email, make sure your copy shows you are respectful of your customer’s time. While you hope they will write a review, you can’t get pushy. If you’re too aggressive, you’ll risk turning a positive experience into a negative. The results aren’t ideal for your customer service experience or your star rating.

  1. Include a link

In addition to making it easy for your customers to leave a review, adding a direct link ensures the review is written on the platform which matters most to you.

One review on five different platforms won’t do much for you!

This is especially essential if most of your customers and prospects engage with one main review website.

  1. Check the review website’s terms and conditions

Check the guidelines when seeking reviews on a third-party website. For example, from a public standpoint, Yelp discourages companies to ask customers for reviews. But, when push comes to shove, there’s some mixed messaging regarding whether review outreach violates their terms and conditions.  

If you’re unsure of the rules, reach out and ask.

  1. Never ask for positive reviews

If reviews were a board game, asking for positive reviews is like handing yourself an immediate “Go to jail” card. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, and do not reap the benefits of customer reviews.

At G2 Crowd, not only is it a violation to ask for positive reviews, but you also have to ask all of your customers for reviews. You can’t pick and choose the individuals you think will give you that five-star rating.

Reviews (in both written and video formats) work because of their transparency. They give potential customers the entire, uncensored picture. Yes, it can be a little intimidating. But if you’re not giving the whole picture, you’re not just breaking the rules, you’re hurting yourself.

Don’t believe me?

Consider this: Purchase likelihood is highest when the majority of reviews fall in the 4.0 to 4.7 range, based on a 2017 study on customer reviews. A perfect star rating (especially with a large number of reviews) makes people suspicious, wondering whether you’ve done something unscrupulous to get the stars and what you’ve got to hide.

Customer reviews work for a reason

As disappointing as it is to admit, consumers have limited trust in brands. Where trust is lacking in brands, it remains influential with peers.

That’s what reviews are there for.

Taking the time to develop a review strategy enables you to honestly hear what your customers have to say. The more reviews you get, the more you can not just talk about your customer’s needs, but walk their walk.

Kristen McCabe