Ten+ years ago, no one would take your business seriously without a website; today’s equivalent is online reviews.

Some people still assume that having a website or social media presence is enough to convince potential clients to reach out – it’s not. At least not on a sustainable basis. Thanks to smartphones, it is increasingly rare for people to make a purchasing decision without first doing a little ‘Google-dive” to verify their purchasing decisions. In fact, it’s been shown that *82% of consumers will read online reviews before deciding to contact a service provider or purchase a product.

online reviews

Reviews are a vital component to your business’ online identity: they serve to validate, and allow potential clients to feel confident about your services long before they make the decision to sign the dotted line.

Positive reviews also help you position yourself as an authority in your market – paving the way to a successful working relationship since clients will be far more inclined to trust your judgement as you proceed through your business dealings.

Why else do reviews matter?

1. They increase your visibility

Having positive reviews on impartial sites like Google, Facebook, EventSource, and other third party sites help improve your SEO for searches where fresh, authentic content is valued. It also helps people who are specifically searching for reviews on your company. The reviews help to increase your brand’s visibility which helps to drive additional clicks which helps to build credibility which helps to close additional business – all good stuff!

2. They feed into your community management strategy

The way in which you respond to online reviews tells potential customers everything they need to know about how you do business. Whether you are responding to positive reviews, or negative ones, having a clear message and consistent voice is key. Reviews also give you a platform to address questions, comments and concerns in a way that is on brand.

Bonus: when customers see that you take the time to respond to reviews, they are more likely to leave you a review.

3. They boost your ‘Know, Like, Trust’ factor

Being an authority in the industry as a brand is all about increasing your online visibility, and today, that means encouraging your customers to talk about you on their own terms. Social media is a great tool, but the ability for customers to talk about you on other channels is a crucial component of your online presence. While testimonials on your website have some merit, your brand can build additional trust and credibility from a steady stream of positive reviews from third party sites.

Online Reviews

Photo Courtesy of www.theculturemastery.com

So how should you go about asking for online reviews?

If you’ve never asked before, reaching out to clients for reviews can feel a touch icky or even slightly presumptuous – I totally get it. Understand that for most of your clients these days, leaving a review or even being asked to leave a review is very commonplace and is not likely to raise any eyebrows. Try it out with a few “close” clients to start and you’ll see how easy it gets with practice!

Here’s a really simple, yet common example: let’s say your client’s event has concluded and they send you a glowing thank you email totally singing your praises! Well, what a perfect time to ask them to simply copy and paste their email on to the various review sites. Begin with something like “Wow, we are so happy you feel that way! Would you mind copying and pasting this on to [insert site here] for us?”

Pro tip: make it even easier by including the direct URL to your review area: www.eventsource.ca/your-company-name/reviews

Another more “passive” approach is to include the link in your email signature. Being honest and not pushy will make your clients more likely to write you a great review. For example, something like “Online reviews help businesses like ours keep the lights on! If you have loved working with us as much as we have loved working with you, we would greatly appreciate a quick review on [EventSource].”

An important point to consider when it comes to reviews: by default, clients are a lot more likely to write an unsolicited negative review rather than an unsolicited positive review. Why? Because above all, people want to feel heard. This brings us to our next point.

What happens if I receive a negative review?

While it may feel counter-intuitive, sometimes a negative review can actually help you identify some “holes” in your business. If the review has helped you to grow or improve your business, you may wish to respond to the review in order to thank the reviewer for bringing this fault to your attention. Going one step further, if your relationship with the reviewer allows for it, you can even use the opportunity to attempt to “repair” the issue and broach the idea of having the reviewer remove their negative review. While this may be easier said than done, the idea remains that you should respond in a positive fashion (as difficult as this may be in some cases).

Another factor to consider is how a negative review can actually substantiate and reinforce your positive ones. This happens if you receive a “rogue” negative review among your otherwise very favourable ones. In this case, most visitors are inclined to dismiss the negative review as a one-off or miscommunication – particularly if you respond constructively (which we always recommend you do). The takeaway here is that the best defence is typically a good offence – build up your positive reviews to soften the impact of any negative ones.

In conclusion…

As you can see, gathering online reviews doesn’t have to be tedious or awkward– you just need to ask. A lot of the time your clients are more than happy to provide you with a review, they may just need a gentle reminder!