In recent weeks I have given a number of presentations at conferences focusing on reviews. With perfect timing, the BrightLocal 2015 consumer review study came out just prior to these events and gave me some valuable and timely data to support many of my talking points. In giving these talks, the one stat from their survey that has stuck out to me is this: 69% of consumers said a review must be written in the last 2-3 months to be relevant.
Key takeaways from the recency of reviews:
- 44% say a review must be written within 1 month to be relevant
- 69% say a review must be written within 2-3 months to be relevant
- 84% say a review must be written within 3-6 months to be relevant
- Only 16% say that reviews older than 6 months are relevant
Having A Constant Flow Of Reviews Is Needed
So now that it’s clear that consumers seek recent reviews, businesses and marketers need to integrate encouraging reviews as an ongoing strategy and not just a tactic to get a handful of reviews one time. Reviews from a few years ago just might not resonate with consumers at all. It’s no surprise they might be thinking “that was then, this is now”.
With having thousands of businesses using our platform to help in their review strategy, we definitely see those that succeed more than others. Plain and simple, the organizations that have customer feedback “baked” into their process are the ones that generate more positive online reviews.
Baking the right elements for customers to communicate their likes and dislikes with your service or product will help lead to fresh reviews on the review sites that matter to your business and target customers.
How To Encourage Reviews
Here are some of the elements I recommend in your review strategy and the execution of it. I’ll leave out providing great customer service every time. (duh!).
- Ask all of your customers for feedback. As a business you can only get better by listening to all of your customers and their good, average or bad experiences. We’re not saying to ask every customer to review you online, but to make sure you ask every customer to tell YOU how you did serving them. Note the difference. Making sure you ask every customer for feedback as part of your business process is a long term play, one that can consistently benefit you.
- Add a personal touch. Talk to your customers about how feedback and online reviews matter to you during your customer experience and that you will be asking this feedback from them. When you or your employees make customers aware that their feedback is highly valued, it helps increase the amount you get from them. These interactions can make it more personal and also educate the customer on their value to your company. Getting a feedback request is then expected and not a surprise. (Bonus tips: 2A. Some companies reward employees that are mentioned in customer feedback and reviews by name. 2B. Some companies actually ask for feedback and measure Net Promoter Score on individual employees, it’s a great way to further evaluate employees.)
- Make it easy. Wether you use a paper handout or a platform like GetFiveStars, make sure that you are making it easy for your happy customers to review you online. When your customers have to do all of the work to give you feedback or leave a review, you’ll likely see very few put in that amount of effort … and that effort is likely tied to a very great or very bad experience. That’s not the risk you want to take.
- Be realistic. Generating online reviews can be hard (even crazy hard in some industries and on some reviews sites). You’re expectations have to be realistic and you have to stay the course. Expecting that once you finally have a review strategy and put it into action will yield dozens of reviews immediately will only disappoint you. For many businesses, simply getting one good online review a month will do them wonders, especially after they hit a dozen or so in a year and 25 or more after two years. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Making sure you are constantly executing against these three tips will ensure that your doing your best to always foster online reviews.
Just like many things in business it truly is a numbers game. You need to ask hundreds of customers for feedback to hopefully get a handful of reviews and it needs to be constant. You can’t just take 3 months to try and get somewhere and then abandon getting feedback, among other things you’ll loose the trust of recency with your potential customers. So get after it, ask your customers every time how you did and make it easy for those willing to share their positive experience to do so.