5 Techniques for Generating Customer Reviews February 11, 2014

If you read our post about leveraging social proof to generate more business for your company, then you already understand the importance of landing high-quality customer reviews for your company and its products or services online. If you haven’t read the post, you should probably subscribe to our blog so that you don’t miss any more of the helpful tips, tricks, strategies, and tools we write about that will help you grow your business even more than you thought possible.

To summarize, one of the primary ways human beings decide what is “correct” is by examining what other people like them think is “correct.” In particular, we are most vulnerable to the influence of social proof when a situation is new, unfamiliar, or uncertain to us — like just before we make a new purchase! Even for nominal expenditures, your customers and prospects are imagining all the ways your product or service could go wrong, and experiencing premature buyer’s remorse.

So what do your prospects want in times of uncertainty? That’s right —social proof. By showing them what other customers just like them think about your company’s offering, it serves as a guide for their behavior during uncertain times and can help lead to more purchases. However, studies have shown that matching prospects and testimonials is critical, since we are much more likely to be influenced by social proof from people we perceive as similar to us than people we look at as belonging to a different social group or class. Make sure to take this into account when collecting and publishing your testimonials.

So, now that you understand the importance and substantial value to be gained from having a flood of positive testimonials about your business online, here are 5 tips for generating more customer reviews:

1. Email: One of the simplest ways to increase customer reviews for your product is also the best. All you have to do is, on a regular basis, gather the list of customers who have purchased from you during a specific time period and send them a link to your most important review sites and ask them if they would do you the favor of leaving feedback there.

Two key things to consider: First, it’s probably best not to email the same customers more than a few times asking for reviews, otherwise it could get annoying, and second you also want to make sure you give the customers you’re asking for testimonials time to use your product or service before they have to write a review. This means you need a system to segment these emails so that people don’t get emails too shortly after their purchase, and they only get a few total before they are moved to a “do not mail” list.

For example, you could decide you are going to send emails out once a quarter to customers who purchased in the past 2-7 months. First, this means customers who purchased less than a month ago won’t get an email because they haven’t had time to use your product or service long enough to give feedback. Second, if you send an email out once a quarter, then each customer will get two emails in the six-month window you’ve defined before they become too old to qualify for the 7 month maximum on your date range. This ensures that you don’t annoy your customers, either by emailing too frequently or asking for a review a product before they’ve had a chance to use it.

Incentives: One of the best ways to encourage customers to leave reviews for your company is to provide an incentive for them so that they get something out of it as well. Here are several examples of incentives that work for generating customer reviews.

2. Contests: An effective way to incentivize customers to leave reviews about your company is to hold a contest. By offering a prize to customers for leaving a review, they clearly see something to gain from doing it. Before you launch the contest, you need to figure out how many prizes you are going to be awarding, as well as which review sites are the ones that are most important for driving purchases for your company. Then announce to your following using email and social media that you will be randomly choosing a certain number of reviews from these sites to win a prize.

One important note: make sure that you have a way to contact the winners. If the site you are asking them to post reviews on doesn’t give you information you can use to get in touch with the reviewers, then make sure the contest rules require the entries to include an email address at the end so you can contact the winners.

3. Targeted Advanced Copies: A tactic that’s been shown to be especially helpful for selling books on Amazon is distributing advanced copies to people in exchange for their commitment to post a review for it. This tactic can be applied for other products besides books though. The reason it’s so effective is that usually when a product launches there are no reviews when the earliest adopters come to the page to purchase. This can cause you to lose out on valuable sales to this influential group of consumers. By releasing advanced copies or having beta testers, and then getting them to leave reviews, from the moment you launch your product there will be social proof there to guide new customers to complete the sale.

4. Discounts: While they can be tricky to execute on third-party review sites, if you feature testimonials on your own product page (which you should, as we mentioned in our last article about social proof then you can definitely leverage this for your website. Just create an entry form that allows users to enter a testimonial, and then when they’ve completed the entry form redirect them to a hidden webpage with the discount code.

Another option, if you’re worried that people will share the URL to the discount code once they find it, is to instead have an email auto-responder triggered when someone submits the form. First, this approach verifies the person gave a real email address, since they won’t get their discount code if they use a fake one. This can help you keep track of your most engaged customers for future offers and marketing efforts. Second, if you’re still concerned about people pirating your discount codes, you can have each email generate a unique code that can only be used once to make sure no one shares the code they are given.

5. Integrated In the User Experience: A popular way to generate reviews for technology products is to build reviews into the user experience. For example, mobile apps will send push notifications to users at specific intervals asking them to leave a review for the app in the app store if the user hasn’t already. If your product was a video game app, then at the end of each level you could have a request to leave a review pop up. Or, if you offered a free and paid version of your product, you could offer to extend the free trail or even allow users to “unlock” the paid version for free if they enter a testimonial into the unlock screen — which you would then post to the app store.

Now that you know how to boost your customer reviews, leave a post telling us the best review that you’ve gotten so far and how you were able to get it!

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Nick Cuttonaro

Nicholas Cuttonaro is an Internet Marketing professional specializing in search engine optimization, lead generation, and online reputation management.


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