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How To Get Great Online Reviews Of Your Business five star review

Len Markidan wrote this on Aug 4, 2015


70% of online customers rely on reviews to make buying decisions. Here’s how to make your business stand out.

Last week, we covered how to deal with negative online reviews.

If you’re in business long enough, bad reviews are inevitable. Somewhere along the line, your business won’t succeed in making every single customer happy, and some will voice their displeasure to the world.

While you can’t stop them from happening, it’s not the bad reviews themselves, but how you deal with them, that will determine the impact they have on your business.

And one of the most effective ways to reduce the impact of negative reviews is to increase the number of positive ones.

After all, which business inspires more trust… this one?

Bar chart

Or this one?

Bar chart

But actually getting your customers to spend their time writing reviews isn’t just a lot to ask; it can be a tricky effort that, if done wrong, can make your business look bad.

So today, whether you want reviews on Yelp, Google, social media, blog posts or elsewhere, we’re going to cover the right way to get great online reviews for your business.

The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Get Great Reviews

When it comes to getting good reviews, there’s one thing that makes, by a huge margin, a far bigger difference than any other factor.

The bad news is that it’s not easy. It’s not a sexy “hack” or a silver bullet. It takes work.

But the good news is that it’s simple, straightforward and it works.

The single most important thing you can do to get great reviews isdeliver an amazing customer experience.

In Oracle’s 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report, the company cites research that found that 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience.


Happy customers help you grow your business in other ways, too. OneAmerican Express survey found that on average, happy customers tell an average of nine people about their experience.

Happy customer review

Focusing on customer experience isn’t just a good idea. It’s absolutely critical, especially if you want to build the foundation you need to ensure that you get your customers saying great things about you online.

5 Ways to Get Positive Online Reviews

There are a lot of ways that you can go about getting more reviews, but many of the tips you find online range from dirty and deceptive (“offer to pay for good reviews!”) to simply useless.

Here are five legitimate and effective ways to get good reviews.

1) Ask the Right Customers

There’s an old adage that you don’t get what you don’t ask for, and it’s persisted through the years because, quite frankly, it’s true.

One of the most underrated and underused tools that any of us can tap into is a personal, transparent ask.

Your customers might love you and be thrilled to be doing business with you, but you’re not at the center of their world; they are. They aren’t spending their free time coming up with ways to help your business. If you want that help, you need to ask for it.

But if positive reviews are what you’re looking for, then you need to be asking the right customers. The right customers are the ones who are getting the most value out of your product.

After all, the best reviews don’t just praise a product; they make it abundantly clear exactly who the product is right for.

There are a number of ways to identify customers who are getting value out of your product (and it’s something you should be doing regardless), but some of the easier ways to make this distinction are by:

  • Referrers: If a customer is referring others to your business, then they’re probably very happy with it themselves.
  • Promoters: If you’re tracking customer satisfaction with Net Promoter Score surveys, then you already know who your “promoters” are.
  • Most Engaged: A simple (though sometimes imperfect) measure of customer happiness is customer engagement. Who are your customers that are logging in and using your product the most?

2) Ask at the Right Time

How many times have you gotten emails asking for reviews that come days or weeks after you’ve last had any interaction with the business?

By doing this, you force your customer to do the hard work of remembering the details of your interaction, long after it’s already happened. We already know that customer loyalty is built on making your customers’ lives easier, and that principle extends to asking for reviews, too.

The best time to ask for a review is when the value that you’ve delivered to the customer is at the top of their mind, making it easy for them to recall what happened and write an honest review.

That could mean:

  • When they hit a usage milestone (measured by value that they’ve gotten or time they’ve spent)
  • When you send your invoice and reinforce the value of doing business with you
  • When they’ve contacted you with positive feedback (or had a positive interaction with your team)
Ask for review

3) Ask the Right Way

Want to lose your credibility as a business with a single word?

Send an email asking for “good” reviews. Or “positive” ones. Or any other adjective that suggests that you might be trying to tell your customers what to write, even if it isn’t true.

While you absolutely should be asking for reviews, you should NEVER ask for a good review. Instead, ask for an honest review.

Importantly, you might get some reviews that are less than glowing, and that’s fantastic, because it gives you an opportunity to improve your business. But you’ll also establish trust and credibility with all of the customers that you ask for reviews from, and you’ll likely see the average sentiment of your reviews improve.

How to ask for a review (an example)

Hey ____,

I just noticed that you (renewed your contract/bought another product/hit a milestone). Thrilled that you’re getting value from (your business)!

If it’s not too much trouble, I have a quick request: could you please leave an honest review on (Yelp/TripAdvisor/Google Places/their blog/etc…)? Here’s a link.

Even a sentence or two would be hugely appreciated. If it helps us get more awesome customers like you, it’ll let us keep making (your business) better for you 🙂

Thanks, and if there’s anything at all that I can do to help you, don’t hesitate to let me know.

4) If You Get Ignored, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Again.

The functionality of most email marketing software these days is amazing.

Not only can you see how many of your customers opened your email, but most apps – MailChimp and Campaign Monitor, for example), let you send emails based on whether or not a customer opened a particular email.

If your request for a review didn’t even get opened, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a customer doesn’t want to help you. You may have caught them at a bad time, or your email might simply have gotten lost in the fray of the average bulging inbox.

Here’s a trick that Noah Kagan uses to double the impact of his email campaigns:

Step 1. Take the SAME email you sent and CHANGE the subject line to something new

Step 2. Email it out a week later JUST TO YOUR NON-OPENS

The results speak for themselves:

investor email list header

11% more total opens so far which is 30%+ more opens than if I did nothing.

1 minute of work = 7,031 more people read my email.

This works for any email campaign, but it works perfectly for emails asking for reviews. Simply by changing your subject line from, say, “Would you share your experience?” to “Quick question”, you could capture 30% or more additional reviews.

5) Respond to ALL Reviews

Responses aren’t just for negative reviews (and yes, you should respond to negative reviews – here’s how).

If you’ve been focusing on making your customer experience a priority, then your customers don’t just have a relationship with your product; they have a relationship with you.

If your friend promoted you online, you’d thank them, right?

Given how simple that is, it’s amazing how many businesses completely ignore customers who say positive things about them. Even a simple “thank you,” or a Tweet or Like can go a long way in reinforcing your relationships with the customers who leave reviews, and showing what kind of business you are to the future customers that are reading those reviews.

Getting Great Reviews Online

Positive reviews don’t just happen; they’re primarily the result of great customer experiences.

But if you’re treating your customers right, then there are certainly ways that you can make them more likely to say nice things about you to their peers.

Have you tried the strategies above? Have you been successful using other approaches? Have you ever been completely turned off by a business asking for a review the wrong way?

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