by Peter Brissette

Online reviews have been with us for a long time now.  I remember my first experience with online reviews many years ago.  I was using Ebay.com to find old replacement computer parts to help keep up some of my already old gear.  You could find old memory cards, cables, fans and other various parts.

As soon as I made a purchase I received a review from the seller on Ebay and a request to review the seller.   Typically we are only reviewing the seller or business.  At least on Ebay the buyers were reviewed as well.  I do wonder why we don’t see that in other places as well.  I think it’s a good idea but that’s a good topic for a different post.

Online reviews are a very helpful tool in assisting buyers attempt to make a logical and practical decision.  The basic question they are trying to answer is “Am I getting a good value?”.   Being the lowest price does not mean the best value.  Often the best value will cost more money upfront but will pay off in the long term.  Reviews help us in making that determination.

I would guess that you have used reviews yourself for that very purpose.  You may have been looking for a new place for lunch, a plumber or buying a new monitor on Amazon.  You checked the reviews before you made a call or a purchase.

We know how important they are to our business.  Following are some tips and ideas to help you build your reviews and your online reputation.

How to get more reviews?

In the last twelve years of working with businesses and their online reputation I have found the process to get more reviews to be simple.  Simple does not mean it’s easy and that it doesn’t take work.

The simple process is this.

  1. Ask for reviews
  2. Make it easy to receive a review

You will find sites like Yelp.com that will say you should not ask for reviews.  Their reason for that is that it is their belief that allowing reviews to only happen naturally will provide a more accurate view of the reputation of that business.

Video, Jimmy Fallon reading yelp reviews

I find this a very flawed and over simplified view.  A customer who is very angry with a business has far more motivation to do something like leave a negative review.  While a happy customer may have an appreciation for their great experience they are not motivated on a deep emotional level to do something about it like leave a positive review.

This results in a very inaccurate view of a businesses overall reputation and customer service.

You see while “90 percent of use customers use online reviews (me and you included), only 6 percent of customers write reviews.”   It is hard to get a good view of a business or product with those numbers.

Source: “Local business reviews are the digital version of word-of-mouth advertising.” Local Viewpoints, 2013; Available from: https://local.viewpoints.com/customer-feedback-stats.

Gently and frequently asking for reviews ensures that those “pent up” reviews that happy customers want to give will have a better chance of coming to fruition.

Typically it can take three to four requests from a customer after a purchase for them to write a positive review.

Why is that?

I’m glad you asked.  In general we are all busy and customers are no different.  They may not respond to an email or a text message right away or on the first or second request.  I like four review request messages sent within about a ten day time frame.  That seems to get the most response without being overly demanding.

How many reviews are enough?

The answers is, it depends.

This question is similar to others when it comes to marketing your business online.   Determining what you have to do to be found online, or rank your website or how many reviews you need are dependent on your competition.

How many reviews you need mostly depends on how many reviews your nearest competition has.   If you are a local plumber and you have 10 reviews but your nearest competitor has 100 you have some work to do.

A good follow up question is “when should I stop getting more reviews?”.  Simple.  Never!  It is way to important to always be building your reviews in an ever changing marketing place.

Reviews as a marketing system.

My strongest encouragement that I can give to you is that you should treat reviews like any other part of your marketing.  It needs to be systemized and built into your overall marketing processes.

One important factor to be aware of is how often you receive reviews.  If you have a large email list and send out a review request to that full list you will likely receive a large number of reviews all at one.   If then don’t receive any more reviews for a significant time it will look off.

Your future customers will wonder about that and it could potentially impact how Google views it.

Speaking of Google and your Google Business Profile.  Some things to consider besides the total number of reviews is how frequently the reviews take place.  A consistent and steady flow of new reviews is ideal.  You also want to respond to each and every review both positive and negative.  These things will help ensure that you get the most search juice out of your reviews.

Ideally you can create some automation.  After a purchase or given service that is performed an email or text message could be sent out from your email marketing system.  You could also have it triggered from your point of sale or accounting software using a tool like Zapier.com.

Where should I get reviews?

Your Google Business Profile is the number one place to be gathering reviews for your business.  Once you have a good presence there as compared to your competition you can branch out to your Facebook Business Page and to Yelp as well.

There are special considerations for some businesses.

For example a restaurant you will want to focus on Google and Yelp.

If you are an ecommerce store you will still want to get reviews on Google.  However you have to be collecting reviews for each of the products that you sell.

What do I do when I get a negative review?

First of all many people I have consulted over the years have not actively pursed review marketing because of their fear of getting a negative review.   The problem is that you can’t stop negative reviews from happening even if you choose not to participate.

My advice for negative reviews is this.  First don’t get a negative review.  Easy to say right?  Be good and what you do and take care of customers.

However chances are you are going to get a negative review from time to time.  Don’t panic.  Answer the review and try to take it offline and see if you can make the customer happy.  Ideally you are able to accomplish this and if you do ask the customer to change the review from negative to positive.

If not, don’t sweat it.  Just go out and get more positive reviews.   Potential customers understand that a few negative reviews are going to happen.  It actually makes your overall reputation that more credible.  Think about it.  If you looked at an auto repair shop and all their reviews were five stars you might question how authentic that was.

Your goal should be to use your reviews to help you in marketing your business.  A great example of this is Shanco Jewelry Store.  In one of their ads the famous Tom Shane when talking about engagement rings tells the listeners to not take his word for how good they are but the they should check out their thousands of reviews on weddings.com.

Why would he do that?  Because people believe more of what others say about your business than what you say about your business.

Finally when it comes to online reviews, just like this local car wash I hope your customers will say “your vacuums suck!”


Peter Brissette is known as the Digital Marketing Dude.  He is the Chief Reviews Officer of Review Me Marketing.  You can learn more at ReviewMeMarketing.co and find his blog at DMDude.com/blog.