3 Ways to Ask for Customer Reviews—and How to Do It Right

Boost sales. Establish credibility. Build trust. Increase brand awareness. Learn more about your customers. What’s the one thing your marketing team can do to accomplish all of these things and more? Leverage customer product and service reviews!

Customer Reviews Matter
As we shared in 5 Reasons Customer Ratings and Reviews Boost Your Sales, 81% of consumers read reviews and check ratings—and customer reviews are tied with family/friends as the most trusted source of information on products and services. In B2B markets, customer reviews are just as powerful. G2 Crowd’s 2018 Benchmark Report: The Impact of Reviews on B2B Buyers and Sellers reveals:

  • 92.4% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase a product or service if they have been able to read a trusted review about it.
  • 60% of buyers use review sites and 82% find them to be very valuable in their research.
  • And…55% of companies don’t use reviews as part of their marketing mix!

These results may or may not surprise you. Either way, it’s important to know that customer reviews are important—and you’re wise to put them on your radar, especially if your B2C or B2B products and services are purchased or researched online. And let’s face it: what isn’t being at least researched online these days?

3 Ways to Get Reviews
Your company can feature customer feedback on your website, or consumers can read and submit reviews for your product and service offerings on Facebook, Google, Angie’s list, or on any number of industry-specific or niche sites like Capterra, Senior Advisor, Lending Tree, or UrbanSpoon.

But what if you don’t have many (or any!) reviews yet? You’ve got to start asking! A BrightLocal review survey found that 68% of consumers left a review after a local business asked them to.. See? Sometimes customers need a little nudge.

Here’s how you can do it: 
1. Ask in Person
If you have a brick and mortar storefront or office or work with people face-to-face (or over the phone), you’ve got a built-in personal connection. That means you can say directly to a customer, “Will you provide your feedback?” and let them know where they can submit their rating, review, or commentary. If you’re going to take this route, be sure to train your employees on what to say and when to say it, and provide some guidelines for how they can pre-screen customers.

2. Use an Email Campaign
As with any email initiative, you can automate the process using software or manage it in-house on your company’s email server. Either way, you’ll want to send your customer an email asking them for a review about a week after your product or service has been delivered (or whatever is appropriate for your business and/or customer journey). About a week later, send a reminder email to those who haven’t provided a review. This has proven to be effective: Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center study shares that 80% of reviews originate from follow-up emails urging shoppers to review their purchases.

3. Provide a Sample
For some companies—think those selling cosmetics, food/beverages, or even technology—customers, as well as social media influencers, can help create feedback buzz around your offerings. Indeed, this method may not be a good fit for your product, service, or industry. You can’t give a person a sample insurance policy, for example. But sampling can be an effective way to generate initial reviews for new products or to simply jump-start the compilation of reviews for your brand.

Tips to Do it Right

Now, here are some best practices to ensure you get on the right track:

  • Get top-down buy in. The CEO and everyone down the line needs to believe that customer reviews are a good thing for your organization—even if some reviews are (and some will be) negative. There’s got to be some strategic muscle behind whatever you’re doing to make the most of your public-facing customer feedback.
  • It’s OK to start small… Ask existing customers to submit reviews of their experience with your products and services. This will help get some reviews up-and-running, establishing a baseline of sorts. You’ll target new buyers moving forward, but this gets the review ball rolling.
  • …but keep asking. Don’t slow down once you’re satisfied with the number of reviews you’ve collected. Your initiative to collect feedback should be ongoing because people like to see recent reviews. G3 Crowd’s B2B research found that 7 out of 10 managers find reviews most valuable when provided within the last three months.
  • Don’t offer rewards or incentives. Be careful about incentivizing, as this may be against terms of service and guidelines for review sites. You, your customers and prospective customers value feedback that’s fair and unbiased. Offering a freebie, coupon, or the like might turn people off—and it may even be illegal. Visit gov for details.
  • Craft a smart email. If you’re using the email method, that is.
    • Subject line. Here are some curious findings about review request email subject lines from Yotpo research:
      • Emotional words (e.g. love, like, happy) increased conversion 28% for home and garden companies but decreased it for health and beauty, sporting goods, electronics. They had no impact on food & tobacco and apparel & accessories.
      • Adding the store name boosts conversion by an average of 3.7%, but not for food & tobacco companies.
      • Asking questions is great for getting more reviews. Including question marks leads to an average increase of 15.7%.
    • “From.” The email should come from a real person’s email address, especially if they worked with a particular individual during the sales process. This makes the request more personal and, hopefully, more compelling.
    • CTA. Provide a very clear call to action link or button that says something like, “Give Feedback” or “Submit Your Review.” Send them to the feedback landing page on your website or the third-party review site. Easy!
  • As always, track and test! Depending on your strategy and objectives, track your progress. Read the reviews, comment when necessary, identify trends by product, service, region, or more. Tweak your method for soliciting reviews. Use your various findings to inform the future of your review “campaign” and keep improving.

Contact us with any questions about incorporating customer ratings and reviews into your marketing and sales strategy. Oh, and leave us a review!