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  • Writer's pictureThe Orange Bear

How to Get Stellar Reviews for Your Small Business

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

A bear wearing human clothes taking a selfie in front of a business.

It's undeniable. Customer reviews are the new word-of-mouth marketing. A positive review can boost your credibility, while a negative one can give you insights for improvement. But to capitalize on this, you need to actively encourage reviews.

Table of Contents:

1. The Power of Reviews in Numbers:

Did You Know?

88% of Consumers Trust Online Reviews as Much as Personal Recommendations

Online reviews have become a vital part of consumer decision-making processes. According to a study by BrightLocal, an overwhelming 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations from friends or family. This underscores the significance of having a robust online review presence, as a series of positive reviews can work wonders in creating a trustworthy brand image.

How consumers read and write local business reviews statistics

A 1-Star Improvement on Yelp Can Lead to a 10% Increase in Revenue

The impact of online reviews extends beyond just influencing consumer decisions; they can have a measurable effect on a business's bottom line. A research paper published in the Economic Journal revealed that a one-star rating increase on Yelp could lead to a 5-10% increase in revenue for a restaurant. The power of just one additional star can significantly drive up sales, reinforcing the idea that businesses should consistently monitor and strive to improve their online ratings.

Almost 80% of Customers Will Leave a Review If They Are Directly Asked To

Businesses often hesitate to ask customers to leave reviews, thinking it might be intrusive or poorly received. However, the data suggests otherwise. According to a survey by ReviewTrackers, nearly 80% of customers would be willing to leave a review if explicitly asked to do so. This implies that businesses have a considerable opportunity to boost their review count and improve their online reputation simply by taking the straightforward step of requesting reviews from their customers.

Key Stats:

  1. 76% of Consumers Regularly Read Online Reviews: The percentage of consumers who "regularly" read online reviews while browsing for local businesses remained fairly stable, slipping just slightly from 77% in 2021 to 76% in 2022. This enduring trend underscores the continuing importance of online reviews in the consumer decision-making process.

  2. Decline in Daily Review Reading: The number of consumers reading online reviews every day saw a more noticeable drop, going from 34% in 2021 to 21% in 2022. This decline could suggest a shift in the frequency and urgency with which consumers seek out reviews, perhaps relying on them more during specific purchasing decisions rather than daily browsing.

  3. Rise in Google's Influence: In 2022, 87% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses, up from 81% in the previous year. This indicates Google's increasing dominance as the go-to platform for consumer research, making it imperative for businesses to maintain a strong presence there.

  4. Top Industries for Reviews: Consumers consider online reviews most crucial when looking into Healthcare, Automotive Services, and Service Businesses/Tradespeople. This highlights the sectors where reputation and customer experiences are especially critical, often due to the higher stakes or costs involved.

  5. Facebook's Declining Role: The use of Facebook for evaluating local businesses has fallen consistently, from 54% in 2020 to 46% in 2022. This trend suggests a waning trust or utility in Facebook as a review platform for local businesses.

  6. Rise in Perceived Fake Reviews on Facebook: In 2022, 42% of consumers believe they have encountered fake reviews on Facebook, up from 37% in 2021. This could be a contributing factor to Facebook's declining influence as a trusted platform for business reviews.

  7. Google Leads in Trust Across Industries: Google stands as the most trusted review platform across all sectors. However, industry-specific platforms like Tripadvisor, Yelp, and BBB still hold significant trust for accommodation, food and drink, and professional trades and real estate industries, respectively.

  8. Incentivized Reviews on the Rise: A notable 26% of consumers were asked to leave a review in exchange for a discount in 2022, a significant jump from 15% in 2021. This uptick could raise questions about the authenticity of some online reviews.

  9. Eco-Friendly Businesses and Female Consumers: About 36% of female consumers are likely to leave a positive review for an eco-friendly business, compared to 24% of male consumers. This suggests that sustainable practices could be a significant factor in attracting positive reviews among female customers.

  10. Review Platforms Beyond the Usual: Besides standard review platforms, consumers are diversifying their research channels. YouTube and Instagram are used by 35% and 32% of consumers respectively, followed by TikTok at 20%. Additionally, 35% of consumers still consult local news for information about local businesses, showing a multi-platform approach to consumer research.

2. Strategies to Ask for Reviews:

Collecting online reviews doesn't have to be a daunting task. There are numerous ways to ask for reviews that suit different contexts and customer preferences. Below are some effective strategies:

In-Person Interactions

The effectiveness of asking for a review is often a matter of timing and tact, especially in the realm of in-person interactions. The following elaborates on how to use these elements to your advantage:

Wait for the Perfect Moment

Why Timing Matters: One of the best times to ask for a review is when a customer has just expressed satisfaction with your service or product. This moment is when the customer's positive experience is freshest in their mind, and they are likely to give a more glowing and detailed account. This positive reinforcement can do wonders for your online reputation.

How to Ask: A direct yet courteous approach works best. After the customer expresses their satisfaction, you might say, "I'm so glad to hear you're happy with [the service/product]. Would you mind sharing your experience on [Google Reviews, Yelp, etc.]? Your feedback could really help others who are looking for [what you provide]."

Leverage Popular Platforms: Request that they leave their review on platforms that matter the most for your type of business. For restaurants and local shops, Yelp may be the go-to. For service-oriented businesses, Google Reviews might be more impactful. Sites like TripAdvisor are key for hospitality services.

Make it Easy for Them

Consider having a QR code available at your place of business that they can easily scan with their phone, which directly takes them to the review page. This removes a step in the process for them and makes it more likely they'll actually follow through.

Show Immediate Appreciation

Whether it’s a verbal thank-you or offering a small token like a discount on their next purchase, immediate recognition of their effort can cement a long-term relationship with the customer.

By waiting for the perfect moment to request a review, you're not only more likely to receive one but are also likely to receive a review that is glowing, detailed, and extremely valuable to both prospective customers and your business as a whole.

Over the Phone or Through Text

The digital age has made phone and text interactions a crucial part of customer service for many businesses. These platforms offer unique opportunities for gathering customer reviews, provided they are used skillfully.

Ending a Successful Customer Service Call by Seeking Feedback

Why It Works: Customer service calls often serve as a problem-solving interaction between you and the customer. If the call ends on a positive note with the issue resolved, the customer is likely feeling grateful and relieved. This is an excellent moment to ask for a review. They are more likely to reflect this positive experience, adding credibility and detail to their account.

How to Ask: Before concluding the call, you could say something like, "I'm glad we could resolve [the issue] for you today. Would you be willing to share your experience in a quick online review? Your feedback would really help us continue to improve our services."

Prompt the Next Steps: If they agree, you can follow up with an email containing a direct link to where they can leave a review, thereby facilitating the process for them.

Crafting the Perfect Text Message for Reviews

Why It's Effective: Text messages tend to have a very high read rate compared to emails. People usually read texts almost immediately, making it a potentially very effective method for gathering reviews.

Crafting the Message: The key to a successful review request via text is to be concise but polite. A message like, "Hi [Customer's Name], we're thrilled you chose [Your Business]! If you're happy with your experience, could you take a minute to review us [Insert Link]? Thank you!" would suffice.

Provide a Direct Link: Always include a direct link to the review site in your text message. This makes it as easy as possible for them to leave a review. You can use URL shorteners like Bitly to make the link more manageable.

Timing Is Everything: Don't send this message immediately after service is rendered or a product is purchased. Give them some time to experience what you offer, but not so much time that the experience is no longer fresh in their mind.

By understanding the nuances of phone and text interactions, you can more effectively solicit reviews that will not only boost your online reputation but also provide valuable insights for business improvement.

Via Email

Email continues to be one of the most effective channels for reaching customers. When done right, it provides an avenue for sending personalized messages that can yield high-quality reviews.

The Importance of Personalization

Why It Matters: Personalization not only adds a touch of human connection but also significantly increases the chance of a customer responding positively to your request. A tailored approach shows that you value their individual experience and you're not just sending out automated messages to a massive email list.

What to Include: Use the customer’s name, refer to the specific product or service they purchased, or mention any particular interactions they had with your business. For example, “Hi [Customer's Name], we hope you're enjoying your new [Product Name]. We’d love to hear your thoughts!”

Highlight the Mutual Benefits

Focus on Them: Make it clear that their review is not just beneficial for your business, but for other customers like them who are in the decision-making phase. People are more likely to act when they know they’re helping others.

Focus on Your Business: Let them know that their feedback is vital for improving your offerings. A line like, "Your insights will help us better understand what we're doing right and what areas we can improve upon" could go a long way.

Make It Convenient

Embed Direct Links: Always include a clickable link to the review platform to make the process as effortless as possible. You can say something like, “Click here to share your experience with us on [Review Site].” Tools like HTML anchor tags can help you embed these links seamlessly into your text.

Provide a Step-by-Step Guide: Some customers may be unfamiliar with the review process on certain platforms. A brief guide or infographic embedded in the email can help simplify the process for them.

Closing the Email

End the email with a polite thank you and a reminder that their voice makes a difference. "Thank you for being a valued customer. Your opinion truly counts and helps us continually evolve."


Don't hesitate to send a follow-up email if you haven't received a response within a reasonable timeframe. Sometimes emails get buried under other priorities, and a gentle reminder can prompt action.

By using these strategies, you can optimize your email approach to collect meaningful, high-quality reviews that will contribute to your business's credibility and improvement.

On Your Website

Your website is the digital storefront of your business, offering an ideal platform to collect reviews from both potential and existing customers. Here are some ways you can encourage reviews directly through your website.

The Power of Prompts

Why Prompts Work: Prompts are a subtle yet effective way of reminding customers that their opinion matters. A small pop-up or a dedicated page can serve as a non-intrusive invitation to leave a review. When executed correctly, these prompts can enhance the user experience without being annoying.

Types of Prompts:

  • Pop-up Prompts: These are small windows that can appear after a certain amount of time spent on the website, or after the customer has completed a specific action like making a purchase or visiting a particular page.

  • Static Prompts: These could be banners or buttons placed strategically on your website, such as near the footer or beside product descriptions.

Phrasing Matters: Use inviting language like "Share Your Experience With Us!" or "Help Us Improve!" to make customers feel involved and valuable. A/B testing can help identify which phrases generate the most clicks.

Placement is Key

Where to Place Prompts:

  • Product Pages: Place review prompts near individual product descriptions to capture feedback specifically about those items.

  • Checkout Page: After the purchase has been confirmed, this is another good spot to ask for a review.

  • Blog Posts: If you have a blog, include a review prompt at the end of relevant articles. Readers who find your content valuable may also wish to leave a review.

  • FAQ or Customer Service Page: A satisfied customer seeking help might be inclined to leave a positive review.

Google is the most trusted platform for reviews statistics

The User Journey

Smooth Transition: Ensure that clicking the prompt leads to an easy-to-navigate review platform. This could be an internal review section on your website or an external site like Google or Yelp.

Preview of the Review Process: Offer a small infographic or a few lines explaining what the review process will look like, so customers know what to expect.

Incentivize When Appropriate

Although you shouldn't incentivize positive reviews, offering a small thank-you gesture like a discount on their next purchase can be a win-win. Make sure to clarify that the incentive is for leaving a review, not for leaving a positive review.

By integrating these strategies into your website design, you're not just enriching your online user experience but also fostering a community of customers willing to share their experiences, thus adding another layer of credibility to your business.

After Purchases

The moment after a purchase is a crucial opportunity to ask for reviews. Your product or service is fresh in the customer's mind, and they're likely still engaged with your brand. Below are some methods to capitalize on this unique engagement period.

The Value of Review Request Cards in Packaging

Why Insert Cards Matter: A tangible, physical card found within the packaging of a purchased product can serve as a powerful reminder for a customer to leave a review. It provides a personalized touch that digital requests might lack.

What to Include:

  • Clear Instructions: Make it as easy as possible for your customers by providing step-by-step guidelines on how to leave a review.

  • QR Code: Use a QR code that takes them directly to the review page, minimizing the number of steps they need to take.

  • Appealing Design: A visually appealing card can capture attention and may even be kept for future reference.

Purchase Confirmation Emails: Timing and Content

Optimal Timing: Sending a review request in a purchase confirmation email leverages the moment when the customer is most engaged. They've just made a purchase, so your brand is top of mind.

What to Include:

  • Personalization: Mention the specific product they purchased to show that the email isn't generic.

  • Direct Links: Like with review cards, make it simple for customers to leave a review by embedding direct links to review platforms.

  • Explanation: Briefly outline how reviews can benefit both the company and other customers, making them more likely to comply.

Incentives to Encourage Reviews and Build Loyalty

Why Incentives Work: While it's crucial not to buy positive reviews, offering a small incentive simply for leaving a review—whether positive or negative—can serve as a strong motivator.

Types of Incentives:

  • Discount Codes: Offer a percentage off their next purchase.

  • Small Freebies: A free sample of another product can entice them to shop with you again.

  • Points in a Loyalty Program: If you have a rewards program, offering bonus points for reviews can encourage both the review and future purchases.

  • Transparency: Clearly state that the incentive is for any review, not just a positive one, to maintain the integrity of your reviews.

Incorporating these after-purchase strategies effectively engages the customer at a moment when they are most likely to share their experience. It offers multiple avenues for them to leave a review, whether they prefer the tactile appeal of a physical card or the immediacy of a digital prompt, all while reinforcing customer loyalty through thoughtful incentives.

On Social Media

Social media is not just for sharing updates and running ads; it's a dynamic platform for two-way communication between you and your customers. Here's how to effectively solicit reviews and gain valuable insights through social media.

Which sites or apps have customers used to evaluate local businesses statistics

The Art of Creating Engaging Posts for Reviews

Why Engaging Posts Matter: Social media is inherently visual and interactive, so an engaging post can capture attention more effectively than a plain text request for a review.

Tips for Crafting Engaging Posts:

  • Visual Elements: Use eye-catching graphics or short, snappy videos that align with your brand's aesthetic to grab the viewer's attention.

  • Call-to-Action (CTA): Make it clear what you're asking for. Phrases like "We'd love to hear from you!" or "Share your experience with us!" can guide the viewer to the desired action.

  • Human Element: People relate to people. If possible, include customer testimonials or employee highlights to make the post more relatable.

  • Use Hashtags: Utilize trending or industry-specific hashtags to increase the visibility of your post.

  • Short Surveys: Capturing Detailed Insights

  • Benefits of Surveys: Surveys can provide more nuanced information about the customer experience, which can be valuable for both you and potential customers reading the reviews.

How to Create Effective Surveys:

  • Multiple Choice Questions: Start with questions that require minimal effort to answer. This can be as simple as asking them to rate different aspects of your service.

  • Open-Ended Questions: After the multiple-choice section, include an optional space for open-ended responses for more in-depth feedback.

  • Review Prompt: Conclude the survey with a CTA prompting them to leave a review, perhaps automatically redirecting them to your preferred review site.

Incentivizing Survey Completion:

Offering small incentives like a chance to win a gift card can boost response rates for your surveys.

Just as with reviews, be transparent that the incentive is for completion of the survey, not for a positive review, to maintain the integrity of the feedback.

By using social media to its full advantage, you're not just collecting reviews; you're actively engaging with your audience. This increased interaction not only enhances your online presence but also gives you actionable insights to continually improve your product or service.

From Vendors and Other Businesses

The Underrated Value of B2B Reviews

While consumer reviews often get the spotlight, reviews from vendors, suppliers, and other businesses (B2B) can offer a different but highly impactful type of credibility. These reviews can be particularly beneficial for:

  • Trust Building: When other businesses vouch for your products or services, it adds a layer of trust that can be compelling to both consumers and other businesses alike.

  • Industry Recognition: A positive review from an industry leader can significantly boost your reputation within your business community.

  • Comprehensive Feedback: Businesses can provide detailed, constructive feedback that covers different facets such as your reliability, quality of products/services, and professionalism, which can be invaluable for improvement.

What do consumers care about in reviews statistics

How to Solicit Reviews from Business Partners

Here are some strategies to garner reviews from businesses:

  1. Direct Approach: After successfully closing a deal or completing a project, reach out directly to your business contact to ask for a review. Ensure to specify where you would like this review to be posted—LinkedIn, your website's testimonial page, or industry-specific platforms.

  2. Email Signature: Include a subtle call-to-action in your email signature when corresponding with business partners. Something along the lines of "Pleased with our service? We'd appreciate your review."

  3. Networking Events: Industry events and trade shows provide an excellent opportunity to ask for reviews. Once you have established rapport and trust, it becomes easier to request a review in person.

  4. Case Studies or Joint Press Releases: If your collaboration has led to significant success, proposing a joint case study or press release can serve dual purposes. It acts as a review and a marketing tool for both parties involved.

  5. Offer to Reciprocate: If you have had a positive experience with them, offer to write a review in return. This creates a win-win situation and encourages a culture of sharing constructive feedback within the business community.

Best Practices:

  • Transparency: Make it clear that you're looking for an honest review that reflects their experience with your business, not just a glowing recommendation.

  • Simplicity: Provide a direct link to where they can leave the review to make the process as convenient as possible for them.

  • Follow-Up: If they agree to give a review but haven't gotten around to it, a polite reminder can go a long way. However, make sure not to pester.

By diversifying your review acquisition strategy to include business partners and other professional contacts, you can enrich your portfolio of testimonials and add different dimensions of trust and credibility to your brand. This holistic approach ensures that you're not just focused on consumer feedback but also benefiting from the insights and validation that come from professional relationships.

3. The "Do-Nots" in Seeking Reviews:

While it's essential to actively seek reviews for your business, there are certain practices you should avoid to maintain your credibility and respect your customers' experience. Here are some guidelines:

Don't Incentivize Positive Reviews

Ask for Honest Feedback: Offering incentives in exchange for positive reviews is generally considered unethical and is against the guidelines of many review platforms like Google and Yelp. Instead, aim to facilitate an open dialogue and ask for honest feedback from your customers. Authentic reviews are more valuable to potential customers and can give you constructive insights into how to improve.

Avoid Asking Too Soon

Give Your Customers Time: Requesting a review immediately after a purchase may not yield the best results. Your customers need time to experience your product or service before they can offer a meaningful review. Timing can be different for various industries; for instance, tech gadgets might require less time to evaluate than, say, skincare products.

Don't Pester

Respect Their Choice: Not everyone will be inclined to leave a review, and that's okay. If a customer declines your request, respect their decision and don't ask again. Pestering customers for reviews can turn a neutral or positive experience into a negative one, which may even result in unfavorable reviews.

Additional Caution

Avoid Review Gating: Some businesses practice 'review gating,' where they first ask customers privately if their experience was positive or negative and then only direct the satisfied customers to leave a public review. This is also against the guidelines of several review platforms and can lead to your business reviews being removed or your business being penalized.

By adhering to these best practices and avoiding these pitfalls, you can build a robust collection of genuine, helpful reviews that will not only assist prospective customers but also provide you with valuable insights for improving your business.

4. Enhancing Review Quality: Tips & Tricks:

Collecting reviews is just the first step; the quality of those reviews is also critical for the growth and credibility of your business. Here are some strategic approaches to improve the quality of customer reviews:

Make it Easy

Use Accessible Platforms: Some review sites require users to create an account before leaving a review, which can be a barrier for some customers. Consider utilizing platforms that allow customers to leave reviews without having to sign up. Websites like Trustpilot and Sitejabber offer easier review submission processes.

Offer Guidelines

Suggest Review Aspects: Not everyone knows what to write in a review. You can help by offering guidelines or suggestions on aspects they might want to cover, such as quality of the product, delivery time, and customer service. This can make it easier for customers to write more detailed and useful reviews.

Showcase Reviews

Celebrate Your Customers: Sharing good reviews on your website and social media channels not only builds trust but also turns your satisfied customers into brand advocates. It's a way to acknowledge and celebrate your customers and show prospective ones the quality they can expect from your business.

Always Respond

Engage With Your Audience: Make it a habit to respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. This engagement can significantly impact how potential customers perceive your business. A well-crafted, polite response to a negative review can even turn a bad experience into a positive one, showcasing your commitment to customer satisfaction.

For Positive Reviews: Thank your customers and express how much you appreciate their support. This not only makes the reviewer feel valued but also builds a sense of community.

For Negative Reviews: Always take a professional tone. Apologize for the negative experience and offer a solution whenever possible. Sometimes, a negative review is an opportunity in disguise to showcase how efficiently your business handles customer concerns.

By employing these tips and tricks, you can ensure that the reviews you gather are not just numerous but also high in quality, providing valuable insights for both prospective customers and your own business improvement efforts.

Final Thoughts

In the era of digital communication, customer reviews are gold. They are genuine testimonials of what you're doing right and where you might need to pivot. Engage your customers in this journey, and you'll not only have a successful business but a continuously evolving one.

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