Marketing Mastery: Inspiring 5-star reviews

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February 27/March 6, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 19

By Jim Augustus Armstrong


(Second of two parts)

In my previous column (FCNews, Feb. 13/20) I discussed why online reviews are so critical to a retailer’s success. I also listed several highly effective, proven strategies for creating a fantastic experience for your clients. In this column I share some best practices for requesting reviews.

Let’s assume you’re providing phenomenal service for your clients. They love you. They think the sun rises and sets with you. They send you tons of referrals. Positive online reviews should happen automatically, right? Not so fast. Consider these statistics: 90% of U.S. consumers read reviews, but only 6% write them. In that same vein, bad reviews tend to be overrepresented. According to American Express, unhappy customers tell an average of 24 people about their experience, while happy customers tell only 15. The bad news is if you don’t have a system in place to request reviews from every happy client, you probably won’t get many reviews; thus, bad reviews will be overrepresented. The good news: Since only 6% of consumers typically write reviews, there’s a huge untapped market for positive feedback if you can inspire some of the other 94% to tell others about a good experience they had with you.

The first step is to determine which review sites you’re going to focus on. Here are a few of the major sites to consider: Google My Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook and Angie’s List. Houzz can also be effective, especially if you have a dedicated interior designer on staff. Note: Some of these sites might approach you to do paid advertising. This strategy tends to attract price shoppers, so it’s important you have a system in place to quickly filter out bottom feeders and identify ideal clients before you sign an advertising contract. If you don’t you’ll likely have to endure a lot of tire kickers who will waste your time, pump you for information, then buy from a cheaper competitor. Your market area may also have some local review sites that are relevant to your business. If you haven’t claimed your account on these sites, now is the time to do it. Make sure your business name, address, phone and any other pertinent information are consistent across all the sites or your visibility will suffer.

Next, determine the site on which you want to begin accumulating reviews. Ideally this will be the site where your prospective clients are most active. If you’re not sure, I suggest you begin with Google My Business. Start by asking happy clients to review your business. Send them an email explaining how much you would really appreciate their help, by taking a quick minute to post a review for your business. Ask if there is anything stopping them from giving you a 4- or 5-star review and to please notify you to make it right. Include a link to the review site where you want to begin accumulating reviews. After you build up some reviews you can rotate to other sites.

Generating a steady stream of reviews is much better for search visibility than getting a bunch all at once. According to Bright Local 73% of consumers believe a review older than three months is no longer relevant. For these reasons it’s important you request reviews on a weekly basis.

Lastly, do all you can to get the most mileage out of your good reviews. For starters, be sure to post all 4- and 5-star reviews on your website, Facebook page or other social media channel. If you have questions about reviews, or need help setting up a system to automate this process, please feel free to contact me at and I’d be happy to chat with you.


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