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Do you know that most people say that an authentic product review is the most-trusted type of promotion? It influences their purchasing decision far more than paid advertising. Because reviews are from a third party and perceived as non-biased, people will read reviews before buying a product, going out to eat at a new restaurant, employing a service provider, or picking out their next book to read.
Your Four-Step Process
My company, Black Château, does marketing and PR for authors, and in the land of books, reviews are one of the most sought-after types of promotion. Having also worked in consumer goods and manufacturing, I’ve seen the benefits of a solid review strategy. If you are now starting, or are beefing up your review game, use this four-step process:
1. The User Experience of Leaving a Review
As with all types of marketing and promotion, the first thing you need to consider is the user experience. Do you make it easy for your customers to leave a review? Do they know where and how to review your product? Do you help them review your product?
Consider making an easy-to-follow form with check boxes, or a star rating system they can simply click. Test your form to make sure it provides a positive user experience.
Then, consider the ease of which they will get the review request. You can email it to your clients, provide in on their receipt if you are brick and mortar, or put up a sign reminding them to recommend you on Yelp (YELP).
2. Come Right Out and Ask for Reviews
Now that you have made it easy for clients to give you a review, don’t be afraid to ask for it. While you don’t want to ask for a review right away—you need to give your customers time to order, receive and experience your product—you don’t want to wait too long either.
Do your research because every product is different. A customer who orders a new dress will be able to review it quicker than someone who just ordered a 400-page novel. Once you know the time frame, schedule a workflow email to customers asking for a review.
3. Incentivize Your Reviews
While you want to make sure your reviews are authentic and sincere—and do be careful as companies like Amazon frowns on compensated or incentivized reviews—you could offer something to thank those who leave reviews on your website or on social media.
Something as simple as a discount coupon, or a free download, could be a wonderful way to thank those brand evangelists who reviewed your product. Even a simple thank you sent to your reviewers can go a long way. A friendly email or text acknowledging their review is positive reinforcement and one of the best touch points you can have with your customers.
4. Respond to Negative Reviews
Let’s face it, you can’t please all the people all the time, and once you start getting a lot of reviews, the averages will balance out those negative reviews. If you have the ability to respond to a negative review, you should do it.
Do tread carefully. I’ve seen good business owners come across like jerks on Yelp arguing with a customer who had an unpleasant experience. When you respond, be professional and honest. The way you handle bad reviews speaks to your integrity. If it is in a public forum like a social media site, remember, everyone is watching, including potential customers.
I’ve also seen a negative review turn into a positive experience for brands. Being able to spin it around by giving them a delightful experience can turn a disgruntled customer into a fan for life.
Cultivating reviews is an art that evolves. It takes trial and error to figure out what methods work best. If you have a solid product and a good brand, you will be able to reap the benefits of getting reviews.