People don’t trust companies. They trust people. It’s why reviews could be your most rewarding marketing strategy.

When people review your business – leave a publicly accessible record of their experience with your business, they signal that people actually use the service you provide/product you sell and enjoy it.

And when other people read these reviews, they trust them. Because reviews are less likely to be biased, compared to a product description page, sales pitch or a marketing copy.

It also means your product is not only real, but it also does what it says it does – well.

If your ad says “The best plumbing service in Mainland Lagos,” but  reviews on your site (or a business listing service) says “Don’t bring that guy into your house, he doesn’t even know what a tin snip is,” guess who people would believe? You are right; the one that says you don’t know what a tin snip is.

Why?

Because another person says it’s so. And people trust other people, not businesses.

In the 2015 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report, 66% of survey respondents indicate that they trust consumer opinions posted online than ads and marketing copies.

If you are selling online, reviews could be the true differentiator between you and competitors.

Having reviews could increase sales significantly. An analysis of 1100 clients by Capterra, the software recommendation platform, reveals that sales can more than double if you had up to 10 reviews on your business.

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But here is where it gets fascinating. Although more than 92% of people read reviews before buying a product or a service, less than 10% of people leave reviews.

Fact: people don’t like to leave reviews.

Most people have never reviewed a business online. Perhaps you are in that club too. What this means is; you have to go an extra length to get people to review your business.

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In the remainder of this article, we’ll share five ways to get more reviews for your business.

1: Choose a review platform

Before you start collecting reviews, decide on the platform  you want these reviews. The options are generally between social media, local directory or your website. The platform you choose early on will depend on the kind of product you sell, or what your goals are.

Say you are a financial advisory company, you probably want your reviews on a website in form of testimonials. Or on a local directory that has heavy traffic. It’s not likely that your audience will be active on social media. So pursuing that platform early on could be wasted effort.

For most startups, a combination of website reviews and social media is perfect. Reviews on social media are easy to draw from regular online riffing. They could also be easily converted to testimonials on the company website.

Once that’s done, it’s time to get to the meat of it …

2: Ask for reviews from your best customers

It is possible that people are already talking about you on social media. For example, when Paystack launched earlier in 2016, Nigerian founders on Twitter couldn’t stop talking about it. The company had loads of goodwill and social proof.

We love Paystack – @paystack 

I just used @paystack for the first time. O good baje – payment in less than 30 seconds. 

I like that @paystack is thinking about implementing other payment channels. The future is definitely bright. #FinInclusion 

They seem to have a budding Slack-type “Wall of Love” going.

Not all businesses will be as lucky as Paystack, however. For most startups, these reviews won’t come. Remember that little fact about people not wanting to leave reviews. You have to up and ask, sometimes.

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It’s possible people love your product and are thrilled by the value they get from you. But, although they have a thousand and one problems, helping your business grow is not one of those.

It’s why you need to ask. But make sure to ask your best customers.

Because you want positive reviews, sending out a blanket request to everyone on your mailing list or on your social media is not the way to go.

Your best customers are people who are engaging with your post / emails the most. People who are referring your business the most. Or if you’ve conducted a Net Promoter Survey, people who score you high.

Pick out these people and send them an email or a personal message asking them what they thought about your business and if they could take a few minutes to share their experience on social media or directly on your website.

3: Ask your best customers at the right time

How would you like to review an app you installed on your phone only five seconds ago? Never? No one can review an app they’ve not even had the chance to explain.

It works the same way with businesses. It’s important you pick the right time to ask your customers for a review.

If you asked too early, then they’ve had little time to experience your product and might feel pressured. If you asked too late, then they may have little recollection of what using your product was like.

The perfect time to ask a customer to review your business is when the value your business has delivered is top of their minds. This makes it easy for them to recall their experience and leave a robust review.

This perfect time could be anywhere from when they order another bundle of your service to when you send your invoice, or when they give a positive feedback.

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4: Ask in the right manner

Ask for reviews however you want, but never ask in a way that signals that you are asking for a certain kind of review. Never ask them for a “good,” “favourable” or “positive” reviews.

This will set off alarms in the minds of even your most loyal customers. It’s best to keep it balanced.

Here is a sample of a balanced way to ask for a review:

“Hey {name of customer},

I noticed you are signing up with us again. I’m happy you find value in our business.

I know you are busy, but if it’s not too much trouble, I’d like if you could take a few minutes to leave a review for us on (insert the platform you want, Blog, Website, Local Directory, Facebook etc.)

Even if all you can manage is one sentence, we’ll appreciate so much.

Thanks, and if there is any way I can help, please let me know.”

Your name.”

5: Respond to reviews

What do you do when a friend tells you “that’s a nice pair of sneakers?”

“Thank you,” is what!

Do the same with your reviews. Your relationship doesn’t end when a customer leaves a review.

The review is just one message in an ongoing conversation. When you respond, even with a simple “thank you,” you reinforce your relationship with the customer. To the customers that will read the reviews in the future, it will show that you take customer feedback seriously. That’s a good perception to have.

Getting reviews could almost seem like trying to squeeze blood out of a rock. Half the people you ask for reviews won’t reply. And of those who reply, only a fraction will follow through. You need to dig in and keep asking.

Featured image  via businessnewsdaily