Running a business is hard work, there can certainly be no denying this. No matter what industry you’re in or what your particular business niche is, if you’re self-employed you’ll devote most of your waking hours (and some of your sleeping ones, no doubt!) to the different operational aspects of your enterprise.
It can feel like a thankless task at times, but working for yourself and doing something you’re passionate about is incredibly rewarding – particularly when you hear from happy customers who love your brand, appreciate your products and enjoy building a relationship with you.
From a digital marketing perspective, these happy customers can be used to excellent effect and represent an amazing opportunity to really get your name out there online, drawing in the crowds over time… and all they have to do is leave you a little review every now and then!
Yes, it’s fair to say that people are quicker to complain than they are to give praise where it’s due, so you may find that you need to do some coaxing here and there in order to get those good reviews, but putting in a little bit of effort in this arena could have a big impact on your search results, making you more visible online and ultimately increasing your customer base.
How do reviews help your search rankings?
Customer reviews of your products, goods and services have long been useful for search rankings, helping to push your site higher up the results pages for your chosen keywords and phrases, as well as increasing click-through rates and making you more authoritative and trustworthy as a business.
But with all these Google algorithm updates of recent times that are increasingly putting the end user at the heart of everything it does, it’s likely that reviews will become more and more important as a ranking signal… so now’s the time to think about how you could drive more positive reviews your way.
Just this month (November), the good folk at Google rolled out a core update, with significant changes made to its search algorithms and systems, and you’ll need to make sure that you’re providing the very best people-centric, helpful, reliable and valuable content you can, and customer reviews will really help you tick this box.
There is another aspect to your reviews strategy, however, and this should not be ignored either. You can also write your own high-quality reviews that will be discoverable online and help drive traffic your way by providing would-be customers with all the information they need to make purchasing decisions.
How to get customer reviews
Encouraging people to leave positive reviews of your goods and services can be difficult but there are little tricks of the trade you can employ that will increase your chances of success.
Email is a great way to ask people to leave a review of a recent purchase, so don’t be afraid of setting up automatic nudges that go out once the product has been received. Don’t go overboard as you don’t want to harass your customers, but you might well be surprised at the level of engagement you get just by sending out one or two messages.
While you’re at it, why not ask them to send a photo of them using or wearing the item in question? You can then use the image alongside the review on your website or elsewhere as another means of advertising your products – and people are sure to love it when they next go on your site and see themselves in pride of place.
On this topic, incentives are a brilliant strategy to employ where reviews are concerned. Discounts, coupons and so on will always prove enticing, so perhaps offer them ten per cent off their next purchase or some free samples when they next shop with you in exchange for a review.
Whatever path you choose, it’s essential that you make it as easy as possible for reviews to be left. If the process is arduous or time-consuming, people will simply just not bother. Having a template ready to send is a good way to go about it, so that there’s no real thinking on their part and it’s quick and easy for them to get it done.
And, of course, no matter whether you get a good or bad review, do your best to reply to each and every one. This will make people feel valued and give your business a more human look and feel, which in turn will encourage other customers to leave their own positive reviews.
Further, don’t be upset if you pick up a few negative reviews here and there. It can be disheartening to read that people haven’t had a good experience for whatever reason, but there’s always a lesson to be learned and, in any case, these bad reviews can actually help you look more genuine and authentic as a brand. So bad reviews are actually quite good!
How to write your own high-quality reviews
If you’re looking to promote your own website, one great way to go about doing this is by writing high-quality reviews of your own goods and services that can be posted on your blog.
This might sound a little counterintuitive. After all, a review of your own product offerings is surely going to be biased, isn’t it? Why would people coming to your site trust a review that you’ve written yourself?
The answer to this lies in how you approach the task. You could, for example, focus on the evolution of one of your products, talking about how it’s evolved from its first inception, how it’s improved, how you went about addressing issues, how you used customer feedback to inform any changes that were made.
Or you could put yourself in the user’s shoes and put together a blog post with amazing visuals and video content showing customers how your products can be used, giving them lots of ideas of their own once they receive their purchase.
And finally, don’t forget to make use of other bloggers if you can. Getting in touch with relevant influencers asking them to review your products is a brilliant way to boost your rankings and drive traffic to your site. The more you can do with reviews, the better!