While digital marketing simplifies some things, it doesn’t change the basic rules of the game. People buy from people they trust, and they trust what they hear about you from your other customers more than they trust what you say about yourself. To stay competitive, you definately need your customers to be your online allies to increase traffic and sales.
Start by soliciting reviews from customers and post them on your website. Make it easy for customers by putting a review form on the page where they can see it easily. Don’t make them search for it, or they’ll give up before writing anything. Send all your customers a thank you email after every sale, and ask them to come back to the site to post a review. Don’t spam them though, or you may not like what they write. Two email requests spaced a few weeks apart is the maximum you should send.
Once someone writes a review, be sure to post it promptly. Although it’s tempting, don’t edit out the negative comments or hold back the poor reviews. If you do, the reviewer will take to the social media sites and announce to the world that you doctored the review, which will destroy your credibility and do more harm than the original review.
Don’t write your own reviews, and don’t purchase paid reviews. People can spot a phony review right away, and once again, your credibility will be shattered.
Online review sites
There are many online review sites, and you should encourage your customers to post their reviews to these sites as well as your own website. In your follow up email, you might want to provide links to one or more sites where you would like to see reviews posted. Seek out sites where there are reviews of competitors, and recommend those sites to your own customers.
Some review sites specialize in a certain type of product or business. For example, you might suggest Zagat and UrbanSpoon for restaurants or Angie’s List for services. Other good general sites to recommend include Epinions and Yelp.
Along with review sites, encourage customers to post their review on your Facebook page, or to Tweet about their experience with your product, Pin it on Pinterest or post it on Instagram. The more places the review shows, the more traffic you’ll drive. If someone Tweets something nice, ReTweet it to your followers and customers, and it will increase interest in your product and traffic to your site. Be sure to thank the original Tweeter.
Many people are nervous about encouraging people to post reviews on sites that they don’t control because of concerns about possible bad reviews. Bad reviews will happen occasionally even if you don’t encourage your customers to write reviews, so don’t let that fear hold you back.
Monitor your online reputation
Make certain that you monitor all the sites you recommend and do frequent web searches on your product or company name so that you can see what people are writing. If someone has written a positive review, respond with a thank you. If you see negative reviews, don’t panic.
First, evaluate the complaint, and if it’s legitimate, do what you can to correct the problem. If the review is unfair, post your side of the story, but write with a neutral tone and be polite. The last thing you need is to start a flame war with a disgruntled customer.
As the number of reviews and mentions about your product or company grows, you will see a corresponding increase in web traffic and sales. Before the volume becomes so high that you can’t follow up adequately, put an automated system in place to send thank you emails and requests for reviews. Include links in the email to the review form on your website, your social media sites and the best review sites for your product.
Our parents taught us as children not to fish for compliments, but in business, it’s a necessity if you want to beat the competition. There’s nothing wrong with asking for reviews, and the minor effort of requesting reviews will result in a major increase in revenue.