On average, people read ten online reviews before trusting a business. What if you don’t have ten reviews or those ten reviews aren’t the best? How can you get more?
In theory, no review platform approves of soliciting reviews because this can lead to biased, inorganic reviews. However, some platforms have stricter policies than others, and each platform has different guidelines on acceptable practices.
1. Universal Don’ts for Soliciting Reviews
- Don’t ask for good reviews
- Don’t incentivize leaving reviews
- Don’t use third-party review companies
- Don’t slander your competitions’ review pages
In extreme cases, penalties for incentivizing reviews can be as severe as civil penalties up to $16,000. Yikes.
Let’s review each platform’s policy on solicitation to understand what is and isn’t acceptable.
After, I’ll go through ways to build your pool of customer reviews unique to each platform’s policy.
2. Policies on Soliciting Reviews
Every additional star on Yelp means a five to nine percent increase in revenue for a business. This statistic shows how much consumers trust Yelp because of the honest customer reviews strictly filtered by Yelp’s algorithm.
Yelp is a danger zone when it comes to soliciting reviews. According to Yelp’s Policy, absolutely no solicitation of reviews is tolerated. Any business that shows “indicators of systematic review solicitation” will be condemned to a search ranking penalty and potentially a consumer alert on their page.
Practices you should avoid on Yelp include:
- Asking for reviews
- Offering incentives
- Using third-party review solicitation emails services
- writing negative reviews for your competitors
For businesses who are eager to receive customer reviews, Yelp’s policy can be frustrating.
So, if you can’t ask for reviews, how are you going to get them?
Provide the best customer experience out there. Make sure every step along the way is pleasant for your customers.
You should also respond to reviews. Showing users who read the reviews that you are responsive and attentive to feedback increases your business’ image.
Check out how YOLO Restaurant’s business manager responds to a user:
Google’s policy on soliciting reviews is mild relative to Yelp’s policy.
Google doesn’t allow:
- Fake content
- Deceptive content (writing your own reviews)
- Manipulating competitors ratings
Fundamentally Google and Yelp have the same policies to ensure that only genuine content exists. However, Google is less strict by means of obtaining organic reviews.
A few guidelines provided by Google to get reviews are:
- Remind your customers to leave reviews
- Reply to reviews
- Verify your businesses so the information about your business can be seen on Maps, Search, and other Google services
That first bullet is huge for your company.
Here are a few effective ways solicit Google reviews:
- If your customer compliments your product or service, shoot your shot -- ask for a review
This customer is a strong candidate for leaving a good review. Also, if they went out of their way to compliment your company, they may be willing to advocate for your business if you simply ask them too and tell them how much you would appreciate it.
- Email customers to remind them to leave a review
When asking customers to leave reviews, timing is everything. You don’t want to ask too early where they haven’t had a chance to use the product or service. Take a look at the data below from PowerReviews describing the ideal amount of days after a good is purchased to ask for reviews in an email.
Put a link directly to the Google review page so the customer so leaving a comment takes as little effort as possible.
About 69% of U.S. adults use Facebook. Facebook is a painless option for customers to post reviews because the majority of the population already has an account.
Facebook’s review platform is set up differently than Google and Yelp. Facebook has changed its reviews to recommendations. If you are on a business’ Facebook page, you’ll see a yes or no button to choose whether you’d recommend the restaurant or not.
If you click yes, a window will open that will prompt you to say what you recommend about the business.
Conversely, if you click no you are prompted to answer how the business can improve.
Then, a rating out of 5 is populated based on the amount of yes and no recommendations and reviews from Facebook’s pre-existing reviews.
Next to this rating is a feed of the recommendations or reviews given by customers.
Facebook doesn’t directly state their policy on soliciting customer recommendations. To err on the side of caution, I would follow Google’s guidelines on soliciting customer feedback.
Below are ways to solicit Facebook Recommendations:
- Add a Facebook button to your website and in your emails
Facebook buttons work the same way as backlinks, however, the button is eye-catching. The button will remind people that there is an option to write a recommendation on Facebook which they probably already have an account for.
- Ask customers to submit an honest review
- Respond to comments
Show customers you care! Here is a great example of responses YOLO Restaurant replied to both positive and negative reviews:
What happens if you have bad reviews on your page on various review platforms?
- Do not delete them. Learn from them.
You may be tempted to delete those bad reviews to make yourself look better; however, 68% of consumers have greater trust when they see good and bad scores. Leave the poor reviews and focus on the ways to generate additional positive reviews to balance out the negative ones.
- Let the customers who leave poor reviews know they’ve been heard, and you are working on making improvements.
Customer reviews are in high demand these days. Once you have a few high-quality reviews feature them on your website. Additionally, if the person who leaves a review has industry expertise, this gives your product or service even more credibility. Show these reviews off.
See the example below for Mirabel’s Marketing Manager.