7 Tips for Killer Online Customer Reviews

Chances are you’re not the only retailer in your industry. And your business is being judged alongside other online businesses by potential customers and search engines. Getting great customer reviews on Google+ Local, Yelp and other review services can give your company a huge advantage.

Why are online customer reviews so important?

70% of consumers consult online reviews before purchasing. And positive online reviews can boost your search engine rankings as well.

Both search engines and customers are looking at your reviews to determine how you match up against the competition. Great online reviews benefit your business by:

  • Building trust with potential customers.
  • Allowing and encouraging customer feedback and relationships between customers and your brand.
  • Signaling to search engines that your products are popular and high-quality (and deserve to be ranked about those pesky competitors).
  • Boosting local search rankings for your business’s physical location(s).

Online customer reviews are a powerful tool many businesses do not effectively utilize when looking for a way to boost sales online.

Seven tips for earning killer online customer reviews

  1. Make writing a review easy

    Do not expect customers to search for ways to leave your company a review (unless they have something negative to say). Make it as easy as possible for your customers to add a review. Having direct links to your review profiles in multiple places is a good way to go.

    You never know exactly when a customer will want to review their experience with your company. Don’t miss those opportunities when they present themselves. Once a customer is ready to write their review, don’t make them sign up for a profile on your site first. You can collect their information while allowing them to leave their comment in one step.

    Example of a customer review submission form

  2. Ask for a review at the right time

    Why ask for a review right after a customer completes an online transaction? The customer won’t have much to review if they haven’t received their product yet. Wait a few days until your customer receives their purchase, then send a follow-up email. The follow-up email can be a thank you for purchasing message with a prompt for a review at the end.

    Example of a Follow Up email

  3. Be careful when offering incentives

    Offering incentives can often produce less than whole-hearted reviews. Don’t let customers leave a review just so they can receive a promotional discount or giveaway.

    It is not very difficult to distinguish between an incentive-driven review and a review where a customer shared a genuine product evaluation. By not offering incentives, your review profile can achieve sincere comments from customers.

  4. Ask a loyal customer

    If you are having trouble getting your customer review profile rolling, don’t be afraid to reach out to a former customer who you may have developed a partnership with over time. Especially in the beginning stages of your reviews profile, customers may be hesitant to leave the first review—nobody wants to be the first person dancing at a party.

    Reach out and personally asking a handful of loyal customers to create a strong base of positive reviews. You should stagger these personal review requests—it will look strange to potential customers (and the search engines) if you have four or five great reviews left on the same day after just starting your profile.

  5. Turn a negative into a positive

    The likelihood of your company fully utilizing a reviews profile and not receiving a single negative review is unlikely. Negative reviews happen. Don’t panic when they do. Take a negative review as an opportunity to create a positive customer experience.

    Publicly respond to the negative review, then personally reach out to the customer and try to turn their negative experience into a positive one. It is not uncommon to see that same reviewer then post a positive review. By going through this process it shows that you actually pay attention to your reviews, reach out to your customer base, and provide service to unsatisfied customers which can be reassuring for prospective customers.

    Example of a negative customer review.

  6. Provide review options

    Do not just have one or two places online for customers to review your business. Utilizing a large selection of review sites will help expand your reach when customers are looking to leave a review. Claiming your Google+ Local, Yahoo Local, and Yelp listings is a must when looking to jump start your customer review online portfolio.

  7. Continue to engage your customer base

    It may become a time-consuming task to regularly monitor multiple review profiles. However, engaging with your customers through their reviews can grow loyalty and repeat business. We already touched on what to do with negative reviews, but do not ignore the positive ones either. Thank your customers when they help you out. Remember, a simple comment may go a long way for current and prospective customers alike.

Getting more killer online reviews can lead to increased web traffic and sales. It’s worth the time to develop your reviews profile. Share any additional tips you’ve got in the comments.

Chad Kearns

Vice President of Marketing Services
Vice President of Marketing Services

Chad is responsible for guiding Portent's marketing, sales, and agency services. With Portent since 2012, Chad is passionate about ensuring clients receive top-notch service and results from the Portent team. Outside of Portent, Chad loves to be outside- hiking, playing soccer, skiing, and cheering on his Seattle sports teams.

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  1. Chad:
    Nice summary here. There is one way to potentially prevent negative reviews from being posted on public review sites. You can create a review system on your website that asks customers if they had a good experience or not. If they had a good experience they are directed to a page with options where they can leave their review AND instructions on how to leave them. If they had a bad experience, then they are directed to a “feedback” page that goes directly to the business owner instead – giving the owner the chance to make things right.
    Travis Van Slooten
    P.S. Of course the best way to avoid negative reviews is to simply ask the customer after the transaction if they are satisfied with everything. If they aren’t, then address the issue immediately.

    1. I think you have a good idea if your company feels it’s important to completely avoid negative reviews.
      But, I have to agree with Chad, negative reviews are natural. When customers don’t see any negative reviews they may be a bit suspicious. Not only that, but also as Chad mentioned it gives you the opportunity to respond to a negative review in a positive way and reinforce that you care about your customer’s experience.

    2. Hi Travis-
      Thank you for the comment and I agree that there are ways to filter customers in order to limit the number of negative reviews your business receives.
      However, I also agree with Annalisa and I believe she put it quite well. Negative reviews are natural. They are going to happen and it is hard to obstruct an unhappy customer from leaving an unwanted review on a third-party site where you cannot filter out what is being posted and what is not.

  2. Hi Chad,
    Great article!
    The point which I found the most interesting was “Publicly respond to the negative review, then personally reach out to the customer and try to turn their negative experience into a positive one”.
    This point especially, wasn’t being much highlighted over the web till now, thanks to you.
    Once again, thank you for making businesses aware about the subtleties hidden in building customer relations.

  3. Greetings from Portugal Chad, neat list, appreciated. Just adding one more: video reviews. Right now (and in future) these ones will be pure gold – nothing can be more trustworthy then people giving a video review using the product/item.

  4. That’s what I rely on when I’m looking to purchase something. If the online reviews are horrible, I really will leave and not buy the product. We have to look out for each other, and this can be shown through our reviews. Thank you for sharing!

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