How can small businesses encourage and use reviews?

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With 85% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, reaching out to customers for testimonials and showcasing them is essential for any small business. In today’s #asktheukdomain video I look at:

1. How you can encourage reviews

Including asking for them, following up post sales, offering an incentive and reaching out to social fans. You can also read more in our blog here.  

2. How to use reviews

Including star ratings, social media, blog content, case studies, print materials and dedicated testimonial webpages.

3. What makes a great review

Including visual elements, video, telling a story and including numbers if possible. You can read more in our article here.

Video Transcript

♪ [music] ♪ Welcome to The UK Domain. Today we’re going to answer the question “How can small businesses encourage and use reviews?” So we’re going to split this into three sections. So first of all, we’re going to talk about how you can encourage reviews, and then we’ll talk about what you can do with those reviews once you’ve got them. And then also, we’ll just go through a few tips about what makes a really great review.

So firstly, reviews are really important for all businesses. Eighty-five percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m shopping for a product or service, I always check out the reviews before buying. So it’s really important that you reach out to your customers and get them to review your products or services. But how can you actually get them to do this? So here are a couple of ways.

Number one, ask for them. It might sound really simple, but do your customers actually know that you’re looking for reviews? Perhaps you need to put a review box underneath products so that people can leave reviews that way. Or perhaps you even just need to put a note underneath there saying, “Tell us what you thought about our service. Tell us what you thought about our product. We’d love to hear from you.”

You can also follow up post-sales. So once customers have bought an item from you or experienced a service, give them a little while to get used to it and then reach out and ask them what they thought about it. You could do this a number of ways, even via a personal email. So just email them directly and say, “What did you think? Can we feature a quote from you on our website?” You could use an email marketing platform, such as MailChimp or Dotmailer, or you could also get some plugins for popular e-commerce sites, such as Shopify, where they will automatically send an email out for you, say a week after the purchase date, asking people to fill out a review. So that’s also a really good way as well.

You can also offer an incentive. So this can be a really great way to get the ball rolling. You can’t offer an incentive for a good review, because that’s kind of bribery. But you can offer an incentive for an honest review. So perhaps it’s 10% off their next purchase or something like that that you could offer them, or some exclusive content, just in return for their feedback on your product or service. And lastly is social fans. Don’t underestimate your social community. Ultimately, these are people who like your brand, like your company so much that they want to follow you for regular updates. So don’t forget to reach out with them. Maybe it’s just a social post with a link to the review section of your website, asking them to leave something. But also, don’t underestimate Facebook reviews as well. With more and more people going to Facebook to look at local businesses and find out opening times, the reviews on there are really important as well. So even try and encourage your Facebook fans to leave reviews on there.

So the second part of our video, we’re going to have a look at how you can actually use those reviews. And with consumers reading on average seven reviews before trusting a business, it’s really important that you showcase what your customers are saying about you from the reviews that, hopefully, you’ve managed to get using some of our tips from the first part of this video. So I’m just going to run through a few ways that you can actually use these reviews. It’s useful to know that you should probably ask people for their permission to use them across all these platforms before doing so.

So let’s get started. Star ratings. This is probably one that you’re most familiar with, especially if you do a lot of shopping online. And it’s normally that star rating that appears next to the product name or underneath the product name that customers can see straightaway how well other customers are rating your product. And then you could include written product reviews underneath the product description on your website as well.

Social media is a great place to share some quotes. So if you can, just make some posts up, maybe about a product, and include a quote on that. If you’ve got a really great quote, just showcase it on its own in a post. It can be a really great way of showcasing what other customers are saying about you. Customer service. So this kind of links to always respond to your reviews if you can, especially on social media. Thank people for getting in touch with you. And if you do get a bad review, and sometimes it will happen, make sure that you do get back to them. It’s actually worse if you just leave it. And this can actually be a really great way to switch it around and showcase how good your customer service is. So get in touch with them, maybe ask them to email you, so take it off social media to get some more details, or just try and resolve the problem. And this, again, can actually then flip and showcase how good you are at sorting out customer problems.

Blog content. So this is perhaps if you’re going to write a blog on one of your services or perhaps a product. If you can, you can include some testimonials and some reviews on there if it feels natural. Case study. So case studies are brilliant. So this is one step further than a review or a testimonial. And if you feel like you can or you’ve built up a really good relationship with a certain customer, you could get in touch with them and ask them if they would like to expand on their review and feature in a case study. So that could be what their problem was before they bought your product or your service, how your business has helped, and how their life is now that they have that product or service. And this can be a much bigger piece. It could even be a video or some written copy that you could include on your website. That could be a step further than your reviews.

Print materials. So if you have any business cards or if you’re still printing leaflets or brochures, you can include testimonials and reviews in that, as well. E-newsletters. So if you have a mailing list and you’re sending out e-newletters, you can add in quotes in there and reviews when appropriate. Perhaps you even have a quote of the month, quote of the week in there or something like that that can showcase some of the brilliant stuff your customers are saying. And lastly, dedicated reviews page. So once you’ve started to build up your reviews and your testimonials, you could look to create a new page on your website that is dedicated just to showcasing these. And this is particularly popular for those perhaps showcasing services as well, especially kind of builders and electricians, that type of trade, is to have a page just for testimonials.

And now we’re going to look at some things that make a really great review. We’ve actually got a blog post on this. We’ll put a link in the description below so you can have a further read. But these are the things that can make a really great review. So these are the things that you need to make sure that you include when you can and also how you write your review.

So visual elements, it would be great if you can get a picture from the person that’s writing the review, and especially if you’re doing a case study like we spoke about in the previous part of the video. If you can get a picture of the actual person, that’s even better because that makes it more relatable for customers. Video, so again, video is getting massive. People prefer to watch videos than actually read things nowadays. So if you could get someone giving a testimonial via video, that would also make a really great review.

Make it as human as possible. So this is kind of where you want to encourage people to actually write a review rather than just tick numbered boxes because then it will actually be a human review rather than, “Customers rated our product five out of five.” While that’s still important, it’s important to get that human side of it. “This changed my life because of this reason,” and that follows on nicely to tell a story. So try and structure your review as if you would a story. So like we spoke about before, how this customer was before they had your product, what happened when they got your product, and how has that changed their life now. And that gives it a really good narrative. And then lastly, if you can put any numbers in there, that’s a really good thing as well because customers will actually trust that more. So if you could put some numbers to it, say, “Sales increased 47% using our tool,” that’s also a really good way as well.

So I hope that’s helped you answer the question how can small businesses encourage and use reviews. If you have a question, don’t forget you can ask us using #asktheukdomain on any social media platform. ♪ [music] ♪

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Zoe works as a Content Marketing Executive at the UK Domain. Previously working in advertising and the sporting industry, Zoe has over four years experience in marketing.

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