My cousin and her husband just started a new business. Knowing how beneficial positive customer testimonials can be for a company, they asked a bunch of their friends to give them great reviews on Yelp. Unfortunately, the Yelpbots automagically suspected the reviews were fluffed and they were not posted because of it.
Yelp was created for people to learn about local businesses. It has algorithms and monitoring systems that work to weed out the fake or embelleshed reviews so consumers get an accurate picture of a company’s reputation. Although it may seem like having only five-star reviews on your page would make your business look like the best there is, most consumers are savvy enough to pick up on the insincerity. In fact, according to Mike Blumenthal, one of the nation’s top local search experts, the ideal number of stars for a business to average on Yelp is 4.2 to 4.5 – not 5.
It’s a known reality that not every company and shopping experience is going to be perfect every single interaction or visit. Even businesses that have a well-known, solid reputation serve people who won’t be happy 100 percent of the time. When businesses are asking for reviews from customers, it is rare they talk to the ones who had a negative experience. Knowing this, seeing only perfect reviews on a Yelp page may cause consumers to question the integrity and honesty of a business.
So, what are these business owners supposed to do to get Yelp reviews? If you run a common business that generally attracts reviews, such as home services or a restaurant, customer-driven review sites can be a great marketing tool – but only if used correctly.
Getting Authentic Online Business Reviews
A friend of mine works for Yelp, so I asked him what businesses can do to use the site correctly. He said, “The best thing to do if you want to try and gain content is to let folks know you are on Yelp (put up a sign or something).”
While this seems like it may go against the rules of not soliciting reviews, you aren’t actually asking for them. Making your potential customers aware of your business listing lets them know they can share their experience, good or bad, and see what others are saying about you. More importantly, you make it clear you aren’t just asking your best customers to review your business.
In addition to the obvious tip of delivering consistently great service, the main dos and don’ts of getting referrals tactfully without putting your client in an awkward situation include the following:
- Make it easy to do! Don’t make customers do extra work or have to figure out anything on their own. Have the call-to-action link readily available (and always visible, if possible).
- Say thank you for the business and maybe even send a thank you card/email with business cards or company information, as well as a note saying something casual like, “Feel free to share your experiences with us on our Yelp page.”
- Don’t ask for a referral as you are delivering a bill.
- Do NOT trade referrals for discounts. Offering discounts for feedback often ends in frustration and loss for businesses because the reviews likely will not even get posted.
Your interactions with your customers are really the key to building up your online reputation. The best approach for getting Yelp reviews is providing great service and products that people are excited to share with others. Create memorable experiences and then establish awareness of your online presence through signs, social icons on your website, and links in digital correspondence.
But before jumping to action, keep in mind that certain businesses are not always a great fit for review sites. Depending on your industry, your company simply may not be one that people like to talk about publicly. If you are a DUI lawyer or proctologist, for example, many of your clients may not want to broadcast that they had any kind of experience with you. Take the time to understand your marketing goals and figure out which tactics will be the most beneficial for your business before making any major changes.