Many of my existing web design clients often approach me with a £0 budget and ask how they can bring in more business fast without spending any money. The answer? Local business reviews.

In 2015, BrightLocal performed a survey (full info here) of 2000 consumers that used the web to find local services and found a whopping 88% of local searchers read company reviews to gauge the quality of a business.

88% of local searchers read company reviews – via BrightLocal

What does this mean? It means only 12% of people aren’t bothered by your lack of reviews and ‘might’ call anyway but more importantly, you could be instantly losing the interest of almost 90% of your website users by ignoring this detail in your marketing efforts! That’s a huge amount to simply let walk on by, especially when it only costs a few minutes of your time to fix.

How can we get more online business reviews?

It’s quite simple, compile a list of email address (or phone numbers) and actively reach out to previous and current clients and customers asking for them to leave a review.

It’s one of the biggest influencers in getting people to call your business, yet 90% of local businesses completely ignore it. Make your business stand out amongst the crowd and I promise you, you’ll soon reap the benefits.

Multiple businesses with different amounts of reviews

Example search for ‘Builder in Hertford‘ – Who you gonna call?

Actively obtaining new reviews is FREE and takes a matter of minutes to send a quick email or make a phone call so there really is little excuse for not doing it. Imagine if your reviews generate just one new customer a month, was it worth 30 minutes of your time? Damn right it was.

So where is best to get local business reviews?

There are a ton of different places to get reviews such as Facebook, Google, Yell.com, Trip Advisor to name the big four, however we can’t expect the same customer to leave 4 reviews in all these different places so we need to put a little pre-thought into which platform is going to offer the most reward first.

Most Popular Local Business Review Websites

Which one is best for you?

It shouldn’t be too difficult to decide which platform you feel is best suited for your business, but below I’ll put some examples to help you pick. I obviously can’t cover every type of business, but it should be quite easy to relate to one or more of the examples below.

If you can’t relate to any below, have a think where the bulk of your existing business comes from, Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor? Which ever is currently putting the most money into your bank account, optimise that first and then move on to the others later.

Note: If you don’t know where the bulk of your business comes from, you need to start asking your customer how they’re finding you immediately (that’s a blog post for another day).

If you’re a local plumber

Most likely Google reviews and Yell.com. Why? Because people are more likely to search Google for ‘plumbers near me’ than they are to turn to Facebook. Plumbers tend to fit into the ‘emergency‘ category whereby people need someone NOW, they don’t have time to wait for friend recommendations.

Example of a Plumbers Reviews

Hamish above is a perfect example of where you need to, he’s more than likely a one man band and is probably has a phone that won’t stop ringing with new customers day and night.

72% of consumers trust online reviews – via SearchEngineWatch

If you’re a home visit hair stylist

Whilst Google is certainly still important, you may actually see more short term benefit by having a quality Facebook business page with glowing reviews.

Example of Hair Stylist ReviewsThink about it, you finish styling a clients hair at her house and soon afterwards she posts a picture on Facebook showing off your work, there’s a high chance they’ll tag your business page in the post to recommend you to her friends.

49% of Consumers Like a Facebook page to support the brand – via Sprout Social

Her friends are presented with a high quality business page with over 10 five star reviews that’s been highly recommended by someone, the odds of them calling you next time are HUGE!

If you’re a local restaurant

I’d recommend Trip Advisor first, followed by Google & Facebook. Most restaurant searches will start with a Google search, which will more than likely lead to them ending up on Trip Advisor as they tend to dominate the search results with ‘Top 10 Restaurants in Hemel Hempstead’ type pages.

If you can appear in that top 10 lists in your local area, you stand to increase your footfall massively.

64% of people read reviews to find better restaurants – via TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor Tips – It’s important to remember that TripAdvisor isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ platform. You should be logging in a few times a week to optimise your page, respond to customer reviews and generally keep your finger on the pulse. For restaurants, it’s important you promote your TripAdvisor page in-house, simply hoping a customer leaves and goes to the effort to leave a review isn’t enough. Promote, promote and promote it again!

How can you encourage people to leave reviews? Offer an incentive such as a free desert when you leave a TripAdvisor review whilst in the restaurant, or a voucher for a free drink on your next visit if you leave a review when you get home. There’s a ton of ways you can incentivise your existing customers to leave a review, even if it ends up costing you £100 in free appetisers over the month, you now have 20 new glowing 5 star reviews that are likely to continue to bring in customers for the coming months and years.

Run the incentive 5 times in the next 12 months and you could easily tally up over 100 new reviews.


How to contact customers for online reviews

This will differ business to business, but email is the preferred approach as they are in-front of their phone or computer when they read your email, making it much easier for them to do it there and then.

It also gives you the opportunity to provide them a link straight to your company review page so they can’t get distracted along the way. You’ll see a much greater success rate for your efforts by handing everything to them on a plate and making it a ‘one click’ process.

Wondering what to say? You don’t need to say much, but I’ll include a template I personally use to give you some inspiration.

Free Example Review Request Template (You can Copy & Paste it)

Hi {Name},

I hope you don’t mind me emailing, we’re just in the process of building up our online reputation on {Platform} and I’m wondering if you have a few seconds to spare to review our company and briefly share your experience with others?

Our potential customers put a lot of time into reading business reviews so we’d really appreciate it you can help us out with a few words.

You don’t have to sign up so it’s quite simple, just head to {Link to review page} and click ‘Write a Review’, it can be as brief or as detailed as you like.

If you get stuck please don’t hesitate to get back to me and I’ll help you out!

Kind regards,

Ryan Gardiner

Note: Don’t forget to replace the bolded text with your customers details and a link to your review page.

Make a list, follow up, follow up and follow up again

I'll Do It Later MemeIn an ideal world, you’d send your customer an email and they’d reply an hour later to say ‘Hey no problem at all, all done’. Unfortunately, that’s not how it general goes down.

They’ll read your email, see the link, think of what they ‘could’ write, decide they’ll do it later, quickly reply to tell you they’ll do it later and then completely forget. I’m not blaming them, I’m just as big of a culprit as anyone else, it’s just the way it is.

If you don’t hear back from your first email, I suggest following it up with one more before giving up hope.

Free Example Review Follow Up Template (You can Copy & Paste it)

Hi {Name},

Sorry to bother you again, I sent you an email few days ago to see if you’d be willing to help us out by leaving us a short {Platform} review, I didn’t hear anything back so I’m just following it up one more time incase it slipped your mind (don’t worry it’s easily done!).

Here’s a link to the review page again to save you looking through emails: {Link to review page}

Any review no matter how brief makes a huge difference!

Thanks again,

Ryan

Keep politely reminding them at least once a week until it becomes easier for them to leave you a review than it does to keep putting it off. Won’t this annoy them I hear you ask? No, providing they have actually agreed to do a review for you and simply keep forgetting to actually do it.

Make sure you keep your follow ups friendly, just a gentle ‘Hey {Name}, Sorry, just a gentle nudge about that Google review, here’s the link again incase you can’t find it {Link to review page}‘ should do.

If you don’t hear back from your first review outreach email, and then don’t hear back from a second follow up, these guys are best left alone. They may have  a reason for not wanting to leave a review, such as not having something good to say but not wanting to out you in public about it.

Keeping track of it all

You can do this however you like, as long as you do it one way or the other. Not having a list of people you’ve emailed, have chased and have already left reviews will most likely lead to failure.

To keep track of it all, write a list of all the names and email addresses you plan to contact. You can do this in Excel, on your phone, on a piece of paper (Paper, what’s that right??) or sign up for a free task management software package such as Meister Task which is what I use to run my day to day work life.

Here’s an example of just how simple it is. Enter all their names, edit them and add (Sent) when I’ve send the first email, and tick it off when they’ve left a review.

Check back on this list once a week, keeping it up to date and chasing anyone who is marked as ‘Sent’ but hasn’t left a review or come back to you yet.

Get More Online Reviews

 

In summary

Reviews are your friend, don’t miss out on this incredibly easy opportunity to grow your business. If you have no budget to play with, take 30 minutes one day a week to work on this and a few months from now you’ll be glad you did.

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