6 Smart Ways to Generate More Positive Reviews
Who doesn’t love a positive review from a satisfied customer? Every business owner knows the value of positive reviews – and they’ve never been important than they are right now.
Did you know that more than 80% of all consumers say that they trust a product review from a stranger as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend. Not only that, people trust user reviews more than the official descriptions of products.
If you’re thinking of customer reviews as something that you can’t control, think again. Business owners can do a lot to encourage reviews – and of course, you can increase the chance that most of your reviews will be positive by providing excellent quality and service.
Still, those things aren’t enough. You can’t afford to sit back and hope that customers leave reviews of your business.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take a backseat to your customer’s whims. Here are six smart ways you can get more positive reviews online.
#1: Email Customers After a Purchase
Do you send customers an email after they make a purchase?
I’m not talking about the confirmation email where you send them an order number if they order online. I mean an email where you specifically ask them how they like your product and request that they write a review.
This is a practice that’s become increasingly common – and for a good reason. Some people automatically leave reviews for everything. They’re the well-known Yelpers who have thousands of reviews.
Many people need a reminder. They’re not going to leave a review of their own accord – but they just might if you ask them nicely. This is the review version of the call to action on your website. It’s a specific request to take a specific action.
Try sending your review request email a week to ten days after the purchase. That way, the customer will have had a chance to use your product and may be ready to offer an opinion.
#2: Empower Your Employees to Ask for Reviews
Sometimes, making the right request at the right time is all it takes to get the reviews you want. That’s why it makes sense to have your employees ask for reviews.
Some Uber drivers do this. Just before they arrive at their passenger’s destination, they ask about the review. The simple request puts the idea of leaving a review in the customer’s mind and greatly increases the chances that they’ll comply and leave a review.
Why ask at the point of service? When a customer has just made a purchase or used your service, the experience is fresh. A cashier who provides a friendly checkout and some banter is ideally placed to ask for a review because they have an opportunity to build rapport with the customer.
If you decide to use this method of getting reviews, consider printing cards asking for reviews and putting links to your review pages on your website. You don’t want customers to be confused about what to do – so eliminate the guesswork and you’ll reap the rewards.
#3: Use a Reviews Provider
Are you selling products from well-known brand names? If you are, you might benefit from using a reviews provider like Bazaarvoice or Revoo to build up reviews on your product page.
The benefit of using these providers is that they can get you a bunch of reviews at once. They’re real reviews from real people and they can give your page instant credibility.
The downside is that the reviews aren’t from your customers. They’re from people who have bought the product – and they’re all verified. That’s the good part. The less-great part is that they can’t and won’t be providing reviews of YOUR business, including your ambience, customer service, and other key drivers of business.
These providers are a good option for start-up businesses because they can make your website appear to be well-established and popular. As you go, you can supplement the reviews you get through a service with new reviews from your customers.
#4: Try to Get a Google Local Guide to Review Your Company
Google Local Guide is a program owned by Google that designates certain reviewers as local experts.
The process of getting a local guide can be a complex one, but here are some tips to help you do it:
- Make sure your Google My Business listing is up-to-date and active
- Join Google Local Guides on your own – you can write reviews of local businesses and raise your visibility provided you don’t use the platform to promote or favor your business
- Attend local events with other guides
- Invite other guides to come to your business
This isn’t a quick fix, but the nice thing about Google Local Guides is that when a local guide reviews your business, their designation shows up in the review and that gives it more weight than it would have otherwise. Another benefit is that Google requires guides to use their real names, so there’s less of the anonymous ranting that shows up on Yelp.
#5: Automate the Asking Process
If there’s a way for you to automate the process of asking for reviews, why wouldn’t you do it?
Automation means that there’s no worry that a stressed-out employee will forget to ask. It turns the process into part of your customer service – a hands-off way of encouraging customer feedback and garnering the kinds of reviews you want.
Here are a few suggestions to help you automate your system:
- Set up an autoresponder to send an email requesting a review. Instead of manually sending those emails, link the date of a customer’s purchase to their email and have it go out on schedule. If you link customer purchases to your email marketing provider, you can rest easy knowing that every customer will get a request for a review.
- Print up review request cards and put them in the customer’s bag at checkout. This method eliminates the need for your cashier to ask for a review, and makes it simple to do even at times when you’re busy and have a line at the register.
- Put review links on your product pages. That way, when a customer makes a purchase they can easily read reviews of it – and it may help to remind them to leave a review after their purchase.
Automating your review request system makes good business sense because it eliminates the guesswork.
#6: Set Up a Review System in Your Company
Even if your business is small, you shouldn’t fly by the seat of your pants when you’re requesting reviews. The method you use to ask for reviews should be part of your company’s standard operating procedures.
Your review system should:
- Specify whose job it is to ask for reviews
- Specify the language to be used when requesting a review
- Specify methods to be used (email, conversation, links and printed cards, to name a few)
- Specify the timeframe for requesting reviews
- Lay out procedures for responding to both positive and negative reviews
If you codify your system for requesting and managing reviews, you can be sure that there isn’t any confusion and that customers always get the request you want them to get.
Don’t Sweat the Negative Reviews…
We’ve focused here on garnering positive reviews for your business, but don’t get too stressed about negative reviews. If you handle them properly, they can help your business too!
Respond quickly and graciously and offer solutions. Don’t get defensive. Many businesses use negative feedback to demonstrate that they care about their customers.
If you’re getting so many reviews that you’re having trouble keeping up, you may want to consider using an online review management system to help you – and having too many reviews is the problem you want to have! That’s how businesses grow.
How to Optimize Your Website for Smart Speakers and Voice-Activated Devices
Do you use voice search on your phone or on an in-home device like Google Home or Amazon Echo?
More people do this year than last year – and that’s a trend that’s likely to continue. As of March 2017, 12% of American households have a voice assistant.
Some are named Siri and others are named Alexa…
But they’re all doing the same basic thing. They’re providing voice-activated, localized search results that use casual human speech and questions instead of traditional keywords.
In other words, instead of going to Google and typing:
Best delivery pizza Chicago
People are saying:
Okay Google, what’s the best pizza delivery place?
Virtual assistant use GPS to provide local results, and they read the intent behind the questions we ask them. That means that it’s no longer enough to use the keywords people type on your website.
You need to consider the things they say, too.
What Keywords Should You Be Using?
The good news is that keyword stuffing is dead. You don’t have to spend your time worrying about keyword density, and you certainly don’t need to tie yourself into verbal knots trying to use an awkward long-tail keyword 30 times in a thousand words of content.
Does that mean you can ignore keywords?
Of course not, but it does mean that you need to be smart about how you use them. You need to find long-tail keywords that people use to search businesses like yours and use them on your website in ways that give them prominence for virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri.
Long-tail keywords should include specific information about your business, including local words like your city or neighborhood. They’re the words that will help smart speakers and virtual assistants find you even if the speaker doesn’t use those words.
How Can You Find Long-Tail Keywords?
You might be wondering where you can go to find long-tail keywords – and if you’re not already using them on your site, this is an essential question to answer.
Fortunately, it’s not a complicated process, and it shouldn’t be. There are several free tools you can use, and some of them don’t even require you to go any further than the Google home page.
- Let Google autofill suggest long-tail keywords. When you start typing in Google’s search box, you get a list of suggested searches that pop up automatically. As you type, the suggested search terms change. These lists – which are based on search volume – can help you identify long-tail keywords to use on your website.
- Another Google tip involves scrolling down to the bottom of the search engine results page and checking out the related searches. You’ll see a list of words in bright blue with a headline that starts, “Searches related to” and then lists the keyword that you originally searched. These terms are also known as LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing, and they can add context and meaning to your website.
- Try Ubersuggest, a free tool that suggests long-tail keywords for your business based on an existing keyword. It’s simple to use and can provide you with useful ideas to build your site’s SEO for voice. It even links out to Google and GoogleTrends to make it simple to dig a little deeper on any suggested keyword.
- Speaking of GoogleTrends, you may want to try it, too. This is another free tool that gives you the opportunity to gage a keyword’s popularity before you add it to your site.
- Consider asking your customers how they’d search for you if they were using a smart speaker or virtual assistant. Even an informal poll like this can help you choose the right keywords.
As you compile your list of keywords, try to add some stats and data that will help you determine which keywords you should focus on. You can use that information when you start to revamp your site for voice search.
Incorporate New Keywords into Your Site
Earlier, I said that keyword stuffing is dead – and it is. Remember that.
When you start to add new keywords to your site, resist the urge to go overboard. All the search options we’ve mentioned are looking for relevance, not volume.
In other words, you shouldn’t be trying to pound people over the head with your keywords. It’s important to use them – but in a smart way that leaves your website readable and useful to potential customers.
Sometimes, the keywords that you find might sound awkward. You don’t want to force yourself to use phrases that sound unnatural on your site, nor do you want to tie yourself into linguistic notes trying to make them fit your existing copy.
If the keywords you find work as topics of Frequently Asked Questions, then using them there can be a quick and easy way to incorporate your new keywords into your site. And if a topic merits more in-depth coverage, consider writing a blog post about it or using it in a key spot on your home page or on a product page.
Keep Your Local SEO Updated
Because a big percentage of voice-activated searches have local intent (40% according to BrightLocal) it’s essential to make sure that your entire site is optimized for local search.
That means using local keywords, linking to local authority sites, and claiming your listings in online directories and on review sites like Yelp.
You’ll also want to make sure that your NAP listings are uniform and that your online presence is coherent and designed to help local customers find you.
It’s a Whole New World of Search…
… And you don’t want to be left behind. The likelihood is that the percentage of people who search for your business using smart speakers, virtual assistants, and voice searches will increase in the coming months and years. Some local businesses may be caught unawares – but you won’t be if you follow the advice in this article and start optimizing for voice now.
Then & Now – How the SEO Game Has Changed
It’s official. The SEO game has changed.
That’s the word in a new and ever-evolving world of search. In fact, things are changing so quickly that they’re hard to keep up with. We no longer live in a world where we can easily grab hold of what matters in SEO because it changes constantly.
We grasp one new reality – like the importance of local search – and another one pops up right behind it.
It can feel impossible to keep up – and yet keep up we must.
What SEO Used to Be
When studying the evolution of anything, it’s good to start by examining – at least briefly – what used to be. In the world of SEO, that’s a relatively short timeline, but one that’s jam-packed with updates, changes, and rethinking.
In the earliest days of SEO, search was all about keywords. Webmasters would stuff their pages with keywords confident in the knowledge that this practice would pop their sites up to the top of any search engine’s results page.
Then Google arrived and turned search upside down. Their refined algorithms prioritized quality over keyword stuffing. Suddenly, SEO pros were talking about backlinks and content and things like that…
… And then the algorithms changed again.
Local search became a thing – and then mobile searches surpassed desktop searches and Mobilegeddon happened.
Now, SEO pros have been hit with a slew of new search options.
Five New Search Trends to Remember
SEO isn’t just for Google anymore – or for Bing and Yahoo
In fact, most of the big changes in SEO today are not search engine related, or at least, they’re not related to the search engines we’re used to.
SEO still stands for search engine optimization, but new search options and technology require new kinds of optimization. This is what you need to know.
First up is mobile search. If you’re thinking, “Wait, Mobilegeddon happened already! Why do I need to worry about mobile search?” then pay attention – because things have changed.
When we worry about mobile search now, we’re not talking about using Google on your phone. In fact, mobile searches in that sense have become so commonplace that they’re hardly worth mentioning. In the US, more than 70% of all internet usage happens on phones!
Here’s the thing though – most of the time we spend online on our phones isn’t on traditional search engines like Google. We’re actually spending 92% of our time on mobile apps – and that poses a real SEO challenge.
Originally, the only option available for in-app searches was Spotlight. Now, there are many options – and while some were originally designed to work only for GPS, they’ve expanded beyond that to general geographical searches.
Google Maps plays a role in many mobile searches too, and it makes sense given how much information is included in a single Google Maps listing.
Voice Search and Personal Assistants
Just a few years ago, speech-to-text technology was uncommon. It existed, but it wasn’t something that people turned to when they wanted to search for something online.
Now, the widespread use of digital assistants like Siri (the iPhone assistant) or Alexa (Amazon’s entry in the market) has brought a whole new facet to the world of search – and to SEO. And it’s not just digital assistants – televisions, lights, and other household items are all connected through the internet of things.
What does this mean for search? Well, for starters, Alexa doesn’t even require the use of keywords to give users what they want. A casual, “Where should I eat tonight?” is enough to get a list of local restaurants. These digital assistants are smart enough to see beyond normal human speech and understand what’s being asked without keywords.
These new search options expand search beyond our devices. Activated with the sound of our voices, they can take our personal histories and past actions into account to give us the answers to our search inquiries.
Another big change in SEO is the way people use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to look for content. When these sites were launched, their search functions were basic – intended only to help users find their friends.
Today, though, more people are using social search engines to find local businesses and services. They know that if they type local search words into Facebook, for example, they’ll get a list of companies whose pages they can peruse.
There’s also been a switch in that it’s now very easy to use social search to find content instead of brands. If you log on to Instagram, you’ll notice that their algorithms give you recommendations based on your activity on the site. If you view a lot of wildlife photos or take frequent trips to San Francisco, you’ll see those preferences reflected in the content that Instagram recommends to you.
Using the right hashtags and descriptions can help algorithms recommend your content to the people who are most likely to patronize your business.
Messenger apps like Facebook Messenger are also playing a role in search. In fact, if you’ve used Messenger recently you’ve probably noticed that if you use certain words – like “song” for example – you’ll get a message that says, “Find songs now.” In other words, there’s a built-in search engine working behind the scenes.
There are messenger apps like Pegg, which provides financial services to small business and start-ups – and some companies are now using messenger bots to handle routine customer service questions.
This is yet another example of casual, non-keyword speech being used to deliver search results in the moment. And it shows that anybody clinging to the old, keyword-centric SEO of the past is missing the boat.
Finally, we have the issue of topic clusters – a natural outcropping of the move away from traditional keywords and toward casual and contextual search results based on natural language.
Topic clusters require companies to link pages of related topics together to provide context and meaning for your content. Instead of being forced to write repetitive blog posts, you create a pillar post around one topic and then create other posts and pages that link to it (and from it) to build your site’s architecture.
If you do it properly, the result is a website that is specifically built to recognize a user’s intent and provide them with the means to jump from one related topic to another. It can boost your search engine visibility and ultimately, help grow your business.
Don’t Let the Changing Face of SEO Intimidate You…
These changes are good because they represent an opportunity to move away from optimizing for broken phrases and awkward keywords and into a future where human speech and intent are recognized by search engines without keywords. With any luck, these trends will usher in a new era of content that’s designed to help users and companies connect.
How To Write Emails Like a Pro
If you’re a good marketer, you already know that mail marketing remains one of the best ways to market your business. Yet there are still many businesses out there who view it as an outdated, and antiquated way of getting their message out to the masses. Those businesses tend overlook email marketing altogether, which is a big mistake given how effective it really is.
Part of the problem is that the businesses who do email marketing – don’t do it well. Think about the recent emails in your inbox from businesses, and think about how many you were excited to open.
The reality is that most businesses don’t do well when it comes to writing effective emails. Rather than using this medium to connect and engage with the customer, they instead focus on milking them for money. This tends to lead to those email ending up in the Spam folder, or with recipients choosing to unsubscribe.
If you are constantly sending out “mediocre at best” emails, then the reality is that your subscription list is essentially worthless. It will only get worse if you don’t change your email tactics.
Research has shown that emails are potentially 40 times more likely to convert than social media campaigns, but only if the emails are focused and engaging.
Being told that your email marketing stinks may not be an easy pill to swallow, but luckily we’re going to reveal 5 easy steps to becoming a better email marketer.
Let’s take a look:
Step 1: Deliver a Killer Subject Line
Focusing on the email body to be as engaging as possible is great – but it’s all for nothing if you don’t give any thought to the subject line.
It’s the subject line that serves as the first impression to the email recipient, so it’s critical to come up with something that is exciting and compels people into opening your email. The subject line should let them give them an idea on what’s inside and it’s in their best interest to open it.
Here’s some tips we use:
- Short Subject Lines are Best: Ideally, a good subject line is around 6-10 words long. You can deliver a big punch without getting too wordy.
- Address a Current Problem: Email recipients are more likely to click and open subject lines that address an issue they are currently facing. For example, if you are trying to sell marketing services, you might use a subject line such as: “5 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Skills Starting Today.”
Wordstream is a highly effective tool to have in your marketing arsenal, and they offer 9 different subject line options that will help you achieve the results you desire:
- The Simple, Straight to the Point Email Subject Line – Something like, “Your Order is Being Processed Now.”
- The Humorous Email Subject Line – For example, “Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”
- The Controversial Email Subject Line – For example, “Why Your Teenager Knows More About Social Media Than Your CMO.”
- The Single Word Subject Line – For example, “Hi”
- The Numbered List Subject Line – For example, “3 Reasons You Should Schedule Your Consultation Today”
- The Personalized Subject Line – For example, “David, Great Dining Deals Available Close to Home!”
- The Question or Punctuation-Heavy Subject Line – For example, “Last Chance! Do You Want to Save 50% Today?”
- The Scarcity Subject Line – For example, “Ends Today! Get in now Before all our Deeply Discounted Jeans are Gone.”
- The Mysterious Subject Line – For example, “It’s all ends in 3 short days…”
Step 2: Be Smart with Your Header
If you are using email templates, like on Mail Chimp, or Constant Contact they most likely have a pre-filled header section. But you are free to customize this area, and you should – In order to make use of that prime real estate.
Think of the header area as “bonus space” in between your subject line, and your greeting. It allows you to expand on your original subject line, or a place to explain a little about the content of the email. Creating a 7-10-word subheading that makes the recipient want to read the email in its entirety is the primary goal with this tip.
Step 3: Let Your Personality Shine
The assumption is that business emails need to be dry and impersonal – but that is not the case. Write the email as though you were talking face to face with the recipient, which means adding your unique personality.
Spacing is also important, as being faced with a text-filled page can be daunting to some. Make your point, but do it in a way that is straightforward, and holds the reader’s interest at the same time.
An email template is an excellent starting point for your newsletter, but it is your personal touches that make it unique and interesting. Adding a simple PS at the end of your text not only adds a little extra value and urgency, it also makes the reader feel as though you are confiding in them.
Step 4: Try to Include Images
While spacing is important to make the text seem less daunting, images can also perform the same task, while also adding some flair to your emails. Try to steer clear of the usual, tired stock images, and use the following sites to find unique photos that match your content. Note: be aware of the rules for commercial use before using any image.
Here are some great sites we use that offer up excellent images:
- Flicker/Creative Commons
- Photo Pin
Still images are great, but you can draw even more attention using gifs and videos. These types of images are becoming increasingly popular in email marketing, and there are a few places online where you can create your own gifs:
Bonus Tip: Design Smartphone-Friendly Emails: Smartphones are how many people connect to the internet nowadays, with as many as 67% using mobile devices to access their email. Make sure that you email provider offers responsive design, which will ensure your emails fit the screen on which they are opened.
As a marketer, there’s really no better ROI than a well-executed email marketing campaign and should still be considered an important part of your total marketing strategy. Here is a recap of the tips to use to create engaging emails:
- Deliver a Killer Subject Line
- Be Smart with Your Header.
- Let You Personality Shine.
- Try to Include Images
- Design Smartphone-Friendly Emails.
As you can see, the 5 tips listed above aren’t rocket science, and are pretty easy for anyone to implement. Apply them to your next email campaign and judge for yourself.
It is going take some time (and effort) to dial in. But I guarantee that you will see positive results if you take a little extra time to deliver something of real value to your subscribers.
Ways to Get More Positive Online Reviews of Your Business
At this point, you probably know all of the statistics about online reviews. More than 80% of all consumers say that they read online reviews before making a purchase or visiting a business.
In fact, as a savvy business owner, you’ve undoubtedly heeded the advice about claiming your listings, optimizing your profiles on review sites, and using negative reviews to your advantage. That’s good – but is it enough?
Claiming your profiles is only a small part of the game when it comes to using online reviews to grow your business. If you rest on your laurels and don’t take action to attract new and positive reviews, you risk having people view your business as outdated or unpopular.
With that in mind, here are some ways that you can get more positive online reviews of your business to increase your visibility and attract customers.
Add Review Options to Your Website
When was the last time you made a purchase from Amazon? Every product they list on their site has a review option so you can enter a review.
They distinguish between verified purchases and stand-alone reviews. There’s no question that the accessibility of reviews helps Amazon’s customers to make informed buying decisions.
Consider adding review forms to your website. You can encourage customers who have tried your products to rate them using a star system (or whatever symbol you like) and leave a written review as well. It’s an easy and relatively low-key way to accumulate reviews.
Email Customers Who Make a Purchase
Another way to encourage reviews is to send an automated email to customers after they make a purchase from you. The email can include a link to a review form on your website.
If you decide to use this option, make sure not to send the email until after the customer has the product. That means if you’re emailing people who made an online purchase, you’ll need to wait until several days have passed to send the email.
You have two options. One is to embed the review form in the email itself, and the other is to link back to the review form on your website. Whichever option you choose, make sure that the review is just as easy to complete on a mobile device as it is on a computer.
Promote Products That You Want to Be Reviewed
Every company has products that get reviewed all the time as well as products that get little attention. As a general rule, more expensive products tend to get the most reviews while basic or inexpensive products get ignored.
There are some things you can try to encourage more reviews of particular products. For example:
- Use follow-up emails to promote those products and then, when you make a sale, ask for a review as you would with any other product.
- Create special packages that pair a frequently-reviewed product with one that doesn’t get many reviews, and then ask for a review for the package.
- Instead of requesting individual reviews, create a survey about a particular product and post it on social media. You can tally the results and post them as part of your review page.
These techniques can help you build up some positive reviews for products that typically don’t get many – while increasing your sales at the same time.
It’s not a good idea to pay for reviews (or to order reviews from people who have never tried your products), but you can find subtle ways to incentivize customers to write reviews.
One thing that a lot of companies do is offer a points system. You might have a points program that rewards points for purchases made. Then, you can award bonus points each time a customer reviews a product that they bought.
Another option is to offer additional points for customers who review a product and then share their review on social media. This technique provides you with a way to amplify the effectiveness of each review you get by introducing it to new people.
If a points system doesn’t appeal to you, then you could try offering a free download to people who review a product on your site. The freebie could be a template, an image, a short eBook, or even just a list of resources. For example, a clothing boutique might offer a downloadable infographic that shows ways to tie a scarf, or how to accessorize a plain white blouse.
Whichever option you choose, the goal is to provide some customer appreciation for the people who take the time to leave reviews of your products.
Use Offline Techniques to Get Reviews
How can you get customers to leave reviews if you don’t have an online store? It might not be as easy as emailing them a link, but here are some things you can try to get more reviews:
- Include a link to your product review page on your printed receipts.
- Print excerpts from some of your reviews on your menu or display them in your store.
- Ask customers to review you on Yelp or other review sites by printing the request on a menu or on your comment cards.
These ideas won’t work with everybody, but they can help you increase the percentage of customers who take the time to write a review.
Leverage Your Reviews
The final thing you can do is to take your existing reviews and leverage them into more reviews. When a customer completes a review on your site, send them a thank you email. In the email, you may want to:
- Upsell them on additional products (which you can then ask them to review); or
- Ask them to review other purchases they have made
Customers want to feel that you appreciate them. Even the act of sending a thank you email can be enough to incentivize them to review additional products.
It’s not difficult to get customers to review your products, but you can’t expect them to do it without a bit of encouragement from you. The techniques outlined here can help you get positive reviews for your website or review pages – and attract new customers as a result.