It’s long been recognised in marketing that a third-party endorsement is one of the most marketing powerful tools you can use.
The reason is that it helps build trust with people who’ve not done business with you before – making them more likely to enquire about your services or buy your goods.
That’s because of ‘social proof’ – the psychological fact that you’re more likely to try something if you see that someone like you, or known to you, uses it. More so if you read that they enjoyed a good experience. The flipside is a bad review will put people off enquiring.
Reviews are becoming increasingly important in both B2C and B2B as most people will check out a business online before they approach it with an enquiry. Research published by Google in July describes in detail how complex the consumer ‘purchase journey’ has now become – involving multiple phases of research.
As looking at customer reviews is part of the research phase for potential customers, having your good reviews online is now important for most businesses, even if they don’t trade online – it’s a key ‘touchpoint’ in managing your reputation. 56% of people surveyed by Bazaarvoice said they rely on reviews to make informed online purchase decisions faster.
In fact, managing your reputation online is a whole discipline within public relations – ensuring that when people search for you what they find creates the positive impression you’d want them to see.
There are many ways you can gain reviews of your business. Some of the main ones are:
- Google Maps: Anyone with a Google Account can find your business and review it on Google Maps as long as you’ve created a Business Listing using Google My Business. It allows you to manage your reviews, including replying to them and flagging to Google any which you feel are unfair or not from a real customer. Google Reviews are particularly important for businesses which rely on Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to allow potential customers to find them as your Google Review score is a factor which influences your Page Ranking in Google Search – which page and where on it your website appears when someone searches for your type of business. Ideally, you should have a regular flow of good reviews as recency is a factor in how your score affects your Page Rank.
- Facebook Reviews: these are like Google Reviews in that customers and can leave a review and photos but obviously are only visible to Facebook users. Facebook Reviews are more important to B2C companies than B2B ones as Facebook users are mostly on there in a personal capacity and talking about their experience of a B2C service or product.
- Amazon and eBay Reviews: if you sell products via these portals, your review score from past customers will influence potential new ones when choosing between multiple sellers offering the same product at about the same price. They’re looking for something to decide who to trust with their money if they haven’t bought from you before. Be aware the effectiveness of Amazon reviews to build trust has been dented by reports of some sellers being involved in schemes to pay for fake positive reviews and others of firms paying for rivals to get bad ones.
- Trip Advisor: along with Google Reviews, this is the main ‘recommendation engine’ for the hospitality trade. The veracity of reviews on it has come into question in recent years, but many people still take them at face value. Again, you can reply to them.
- Other review sites: There are a variety of other consumer recommendation sites you can choose to opt into including leading ones such as Trust Pilot and Feefo. They typically allow you to embed your score on your website – so anyone visiting can see how well thought-of your company is by customers. Before deciding which to use, have a look at which are most popular with customers in your sector and which competitors are using.
- Media reviews: Getting a good review from a well-respected media brand can transform a business’s reputation and drive more customers to it. This is because it is an independent view from a trusted source and will be read by at least most of the brand’s audience, potentially up to millions of people. The flipside of this kind of review, as with the others, is if it’s negative – as it will damage your reputation with a large number of people. There are many factors to consider before seeking a media review, so speak to a CIPR Accredited public relations professional before approaching any media about getting one.
If you’re seeking an endorsement of yourself as an individual, rather than your business, the dominant and global platform is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn’s Recommendation function allows any of your Connections to recommend you based on their experience of working with you.
This is a really powerful tool for B2B services where people want to check out the professional reputation of someone before they approach them.
Imagine the difference in impression someone gets if they see you have more than 40 (as I do) over many years – showing a consistency of excellence and being easy to work with – compared with a rival with few or none, or a small number gained in a short period of time (probably when they asked several people for one).
You can request a Recommendation or your Connections can proactively give them.
In the process they’re asked what the relationship was at the time you worked together – so it’s clear to anyone reading the Recommendation – to allow them to take that into account.
When you receive one, you can ask the person giving it to edit the wording before you add it.
As with B2C reviews, it’s a good idea to also have your LinkedIn Recommendations on your website in case potential customers don’t think of looking for them on LinkedIn. I have mine here.
Don’t forget to ask for LinkedIn Recommendations from colleagues and business partners – their views help give a more rounded picture of what you’re like to work with. And add to your Recommendation count!
Ways to get more Recommendations
How do you get more reviews and recommendations? That’s simple – ask for them regularly as a standard business process!
Here are some ways you can do that:
- Request a review when you send customers their product – include the review request with the paperwork or on a separate card. It’s good to incentivise them to make the effort to do so by having a regular draw for a prize or voucher open to people who’ve given a review recently. A QR code (see below) makes it simpler for them to do so.
- Request a review by email soon after the product or service has been delivered – when, all going well, your customer is delighted by their experience or product. Yes, we all get those emails. Why? Because they work and the resulting reviews make a real difference in getting new business! How did I got so many? Be being good and always asking new clients for one after I’ve delivered good work and they’ve said they’re happy with it.
- Use QR codes – here’s a brilliant idea I spotted at the Leonardo Hotel in Glasgow – a QR code in the lift suggesting you scan it to take you to its Google Maps listing and leave a review. You could create and send one with products or have it on your premises.
As long as you’re truly good at what you do, reviews will help you improve your reputation and bring you new business.
You may also be interested in this blog about building trust to aid your Covid-19 bounceback.
Want to know how you can improve your reputation? Get in touch to arrange a Zoom call to discuss your goals and how I could help you achieve them.