Reviews and testimonials have always been a nice way to offer third party proof that your company does what it says it does and that your customers are happy campers and willing to talk about it. Reviews, however, have become even more important now that local search directories like Google Maps and Yelp! have made them a foundational element for ranking well for local search.
Getting reviews and testimonials on a routine basis takes a proactive and committed approach if you are going to generate them on a consistent basis and still generate them authentically. (Fake or over the top review generation campaigns can actually produce negative results.)
Below are five ways you can look at systematically creating reviews.
Do the reference track
I stumbled onto this idea quite by accident, but it’s very effective. Every now and then a prospect would ask me for several references. I would provide a list of 3-4 happy customers and that was that. If a prospect reached out to these customers, most often they would copy me on their response. The amazing thing is that because they we basically telling someone else why they should hire me, it turns out these were the best testimonials I ever received. Instead of them writing them to or for me, they were writing them to and for prospective customers.
This approach was so effective that I started requesting that future prospect contact some of my customers.
When you get that unsolicited testimonial, no matter where it comes from, make sure you are using it in several ways. I a happy customer writes a review on Yelp, post that review on your website, in your store and in next month’s newsletter. If a customer sends you a raving review by way of letter, phone them up and ask if they would provide that review for your Google Places page too.
Teach the review process
Since online reviews are so important these days make sure that all of your sales folks know how to show customers how and where they might post reviews. Create a page that walks people through the process of creating a Yelp or CitySearch account. I your clients are all businesses, hold a workshop to teach them some of what you’ve learned about the importance of rating and review sites and how they can
Of course I’m going to suggest this one, give to get works here too. By making reviews, recommending your network on LinkedIn, and reaching out to companies you do business you start one powerful part of the review and testimonial foundation. It’s always a great way to show how you value the process and in turn benefit from the occasional authentic reciprocation.
Hold a review party
I’ve written about this idea before, but it’s such a fun one I had to include it here. Invite your customers to a nice appreciation event, serve up some wine and then ask them if they would like to record a video testimonial or review with the camera crew you’ve hired for the night. People love to get on camera and you can further incentivize them by offering up a 5 minute video where they can talk about their business. This video content will be gold for your website and you’ll provide a great service by helping them create something for their site.
Rating and reviews from users and customers are crucial. Find some way to install one or more of these options and collecting them will simply become a part of the system.
Image credit: Adian Jones