One of the quickest and most powerful ways you can gain a competitive edge and win new clients is through customer reviews. According to this study from 2012, 72% of consumers will trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation from a friend. The reason? Reviews and testimonials give potential customers the confidence of knowing that your business not only has experience, but that other people have seen positive results from working with you.
The question is, how do you find, capture, and showcase reviews to make the best impression? In this post, we’re going to look at what makes a powerful review, how to get them, and how to utilize them.
1. How to determine which reviews are best for your business.
Not all reviews are created equal. Some will hold more weight with your potential customer base than others. Here are some particular traits that will make your review stand out.
- Reviews from people who are easily identifiable with your potential customer base. Think about book reviews on this one – if you wanted to buy a book on natural health, you’d be more inclined to buy a book that had a recommendation from Dr. Andrew Weil (well-known doctor, naturopath, and holistic health expert).
- Reviews from people who are easily verifiable. You may not be able to get a review from the top expert in your business’s industry. But make sure the reviews you do use are from people who can be easily verified as real people. Include photos, real names, and even website addresses when possible.
- Reviews that are applicable to the product or service you are selling. A review that just says you are awesome isn’t going to have as much weight as a review that references your expertise within your field. Aim for reviews that are as specific as possible to what you sell.
- Reviews that highlight the value a customer has received from your products or services. What’s even better than a review that’s specifically about your products or services? A review from someone who boasts about the results they received from your products or services. A review that says, “I saw a 50% increase in sales after receiving consulting services” tells your potential customers that you can give them results too.
As a freelance writer, I chose the reviews I posted on my site because they were written by people who are well recognized in my industry.
Not only are these reviews from people my customers can identify with (and follow up with if necessary), but they also include results that my customers want: traffic, buzz, and social reach. Effectively, these reviews back up everything I say in the sales copy for my services, which make them powerful sales tools.
2. How to get the best reviews for your business.
So how do you get powerful reviews for your business? For starters, you have to ask. Unless you have a customer who is a review enthusiast, they aren’t going to have writing a review at the top of their to-do list, no matter how great your products or services are. Therefore, you have to know when it is right to ask.
The best time to get a great review is when a customer expresses satisfaction with your product or service. For example, when wedding photographers send couples the finished photos from their wedding, the couple is likely to reply back to let them know they received the photos and that they loved them. That is the moment to try to get your great review.
The next question is how to capture that great review. If the couple discovered the wedding photographer on a network like The Knot, the photographer can ask the couple to leave him or her a review there. If not, the photographer can ask the couple to leave him or her a review on his or her Facebook page, Yelp, Google, or another platform.
Depending on your industry, there are lots of networks to choose from for posting reviews. These include local search networks (Yelp, Google+, and Angie’s List), social networks (Facebook and LinkedIn), and industry-specific networks (The Knot for wedding professionals, Moving Help for movers, and Healthgrades for health professionals). For freelancers who primarily use networks like Elance, oDesk and Fiverr to get work, you’ll want your reviews there as potential clients may search for the most / best reviewed freelancers.
Giving your customers a few different options can increase the likelihood they leave a review as some might be more active on Facebook, while others may prefer Yelp, for example. The benefits of reviews on sites like these include that they are easy to verify and can lead to new business.
Having a strong social media presence can also help you attain great social reviews. For example, if you have a large, engaged audience on Twitter, you might want to comb through your mentions to see if people have been talking about your products or services there. Simple tweets can be great, verifiable reviews to start with.
Also look at recommendations you’ve received in the past on networks like LinkedIn. Look for anything that might serve to promote your current products or services, even if they were not specifically written about those products or services.
Last, but not least, if you casually help someone using expertise related to your products or services, don’t be shy about asking for reviews for that assistance as well. Just because you didn’t charge for it, does not mean that it wasn’t valuable to that person. In fact, they may be inclined to pay in the form of a review.
3. How to share your top reviews.
Once you start gathering great reviews for your business, you will want to share them in several different ways. The first place to start is a testimonials page on your own website. This is where you can share the full text, or condense them down to shorter snippets to make them easy to peruse.
Next, pepper your homepage, products pages, and service pages with short reviews or excerpts of reviews that are specific to the products or services highlighted on those pages.
You can include reviews on cover photos for your Facebook page, Google+ profile, and other networks that allow large cover photo images (now on Twitter as well).
For more creative review showcasing, try adding a short snippet from a review to your email signature in place of quotes with add-ons like WiseStamp.
As you can see, there are lots of ways to display your reviews. The key is to include your best reviews anywhere online that you want to impress and convert customers.
As the studies show, social reviews can be powerful when it comes to customer acquisition. Anytime someone compliments and recommends you for your products, services, or expertise, find a way to capture it and use it as a review for your business. It’s a quick and painless way to increase your profile and grow your business.
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