If you want to boost your business’s online reputation, customer reviews are one of the best ways to do it. How do you get a lot of customers to write reviews, however, without asking them to do it? And will they even do it without getting anything in return? You could offer an incentive for writing online reviews, but here are some things you should consider before you do so.
by Lauren Williams
Can You Verify the Reviews are Authentic?
One of the main concerns with offering incentives to customers is that some people will write fake reviews just to get the discount or whatever else you’re offering. You want to make sure that only people who have actually patronized your business before are able to get the incentive; otherwise, some people will make up their experiences. Also, make sure you require that the customer leave at least their first name on their posted review.
What Counts as an Incentive-Earning Review?
If you’re going to offer incentives to customers, you should have at least a few requirements that go with it in addition to leaving their name. If you don’t make any requirements, some people will expect an incentive after only writing something like, “This store is great!” Be specific on what you want for a review, such as by saying it must have at least three sentences. Length is the best requirement to have; you don’t want to tell them what to say.
Who Will Be Asked to Write Reviews?
If you’re offering incentives, consider how you’ll advertise the incentive. You might make it well-known in your store and on your website and social network pages, for example, or you might limit it by giving a personalized offer to only your most loyal customers. If you open the incentive up to everyone, you will be more at-risk for fake or non-specific reviews.
What Will Customers Be Asked to Write?
The most important thing to keep in mind when offering incentives is that you don’t want to tell people what to write. Do not offer an incentive only for positive reviews, for example, and don’t specify what a review must say in any way other than length and an included name. If you tell or even suggest to customers what to write, it will be dishonest, and you’ll come off as doing something shady in order to benefit your business. You want your customers and the general public to trust you, so never try to influence what is said about your business.
Can You Handle Negative Reviews?
When you begin encouraging people to write reviews, you’re opening yourself up to criticism from your customers. Most people will not go to the trouble of writing a review, but your incentive will inspire people to do so. The vast majority of the reviews will be positive, because it’s uncommon for a customer to ask for an incentive after writing a negative review. However, you must always consider the possibility of a negative review, how you would handle it, and how it could affect your business.
Lauren Williams is an expert reviews tracker from Dallas. She has recently been blogging about review monitoring tactics for businesses.
Image via Flickr
What does your online reputation say about your business?