Posted: Tue 4th Aug 2020
Reviews show the outside world what you can do and how good you are at doing it. Potential customers are inundated with choice, but regular positive reviews can convince people that you're the right person to work with and that you're not going to rip them off.
As Emma explains, reviews are also increasingly influential when it comes to your site ranking on Google.
"From Google's point of view, social proof is becoming the new SEO. Think of reviews like you would your SEO. It needs managing on a monthly basis. It's one of Google's trust factors now - if you've got enough good reviews, you'll be placed higher up."
It's crucial to understand the difference between the three, so you know what to ask for from your customers.
A review is a quick comment from a customer, like a five-star rating with "Great service" attached to it.
A testimonial goes into more detail and often outlines how the product or service impacted the customer. For example, "Emma helped me with social media marketing and I got 10 new customers as a result".
A case study is the most extensive and usually documents the challenges your customer faced, the action you took and what the results were.
Emma and Kathy recommend thinking about the following:
Your website. Make a separate page on your website for testimonials or case studies. If you subscribe to a review website like Trustpilot, make sure it's linked so that the reviews will populate automatically on your site.
Google. If you use Google My Business, use reviews to boost your listing.
Facebook. It's particularly important to have reviews on Facebook if you're selling through the platform.
LinkedIn. If you run your own business, having recommendations on LinkedIn will elevate your personal brand above someone who doesn't have any.
In addition to a testimonials page on your website, Kathy advises including relevant reviews or comments in product descriptions.
"If you've got a review that's relevant to something on your site, highlight that review in the copy of that page too. It gives it a boost if people can visit the page and see reviews from people who've actually used it. Make your reviews work for you as much as possible," she said.
Remember to use your reviews on social media too. That way, people can see at a quick glance that others have received good service from your company.
"It's a quick win - it's evergreen content. You can just keep adding to your review library on social media. It's about squeezing the lemon until the pips squeak," she added.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that if they do a good job, people will automatically tell others about it. You need to push yourself to ask for reviews, even if it's something that feels - as Kathy puts it - gut-crunching.
Emma and Kathy recommend following these tips:
Do you want case studies that highlight the different products and services you provide or a two-sentence testimonial that you can use on Instagram Stories? Think about how you want to use customer feedback before you ask people for it.
Kathy explains that you should try to avoid getting "she was nice to work with" reviews, which are positive but ultimately not helpful for your business.
"Don't leave it up to people to say what they want to say. What we really want is other customers to be able to see their problem, issue or want reflected back in someone else's words. We want to demonstrate to other customers that we've helped people just like them," she said.
Kathy provides a structure when asking for case studies in order to make sure customers cover the right areas.
"When I talk to people about getting a case study, I say that there are three questions I'd like to ask: what was the problem, what did we do to solve that problem and what was the outcome?
"When you get those three paragraphs back, you can take the questions out and hey presto, you've got a nice story that people can follow through."
The worst thing that can happen is that someone says no or doesn't give you feedback. Remember that people are busy and it can take time to write testimonials. Kathy remembers a client taking 18 months to give her a recommendation. Just because you don't get feedback immediately doesn't mean you won't ever get it.
Emma suggests setting a measurable goal involving reviews to stop them feeling so personal. For example, if you get two reviews from every 10 people you ask, then your goal might be to reach out to 100 people over the next six months.
"If you've got a target to achieve, it doesn't feel like you're asking someone for a favour. Make it into a numbers game, rather than a 'please like me' game. It's not personal. We just need to get out of our own way because the rewards are there," she said.
Unfortunately, you might get negative reviews now and again. People can be quick to complain or could just have got out of bed the wrong way.
If you have a strategy for collecting positive reviews, make sure you know how you'll react if you get a bad one. Emma and Kathy recommend following these steps:
Be clear about what your complaints process is, so people know how to get in touch.
Create strong Terms and Conditions and provide documentation for any customer agreements.
Reply to negative comments as quickly as possible and try to take it off your public feed to a direct message.
Keep your cool and don't take things personally.
Take any constructive feedback on board and find ways to improve in future.