Online customer reviews do wonders for your business.
They build your brand reputation, bring a lot of credibility to your company, and provide the kind of social proof needed to influence consumer behavior.
- 4 in 5 American consumers read reviews before making a purchase decision.
- 79 percent do so to make sure the product or service is good, 61 percent read reviews to make sure the product or service works, and 53 percent read reviews to make sure that they don’t get ripped off.
- 83 percent of shoppers discover new products every month through online customer reviews. Research firm eMarketer adds that 7 percent of consumers need to read at least 20 reviews before they put enough trust in a business.
- 69 percent of consumers believe that only reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant.
In addition, reviews are one of the biggest factors in your local search visibility.
From this perspective, it simply makes business sense to have a steady stream of more and better reviews. And when you’re already delivering experiences that customers love, they won’t hesitate to vouch for you. All you have to do is ask. Often, this is the best way to get reviews.
This guide will go into detail about all the different ways to get more reviews, including:
- When to Ask for Reviews
- How to Ask for Reviews
- Benefits of Asking for Reviews
- Asking for Reviews on Specific Sites
- Other Things to Know about Asking for Reviews
When to Ask for Reviews
If you’re trying to get more reviews, you’ll want to optimize exactly when you ask your customers for reviews. To help you, we looked at a sample of over 150,000 reviews collected by ReviewTrackers. Here’s a summary of our findings:
The two best times to ask for reviews are between 2-3 PM and 6-7PM. These are the times consumers are most likely to rate a business on Google. That makes sense. People are often visiting businesses during their lunch break or after work, so these hours are the exact times that consumers are reflecting on their experiences.
When not to ask for reviews? Based on ReviewTrackers data, hardly anybody is writing reviews from the dead hours of 2 AM to 3 AM. This is just common sense (although it’s a little weird that more nocturnal creatures are writing reviews from 3 AM to 4 AM). But what’s interesting is that in the morning, from the time people wake up (say, 6 AM to 7 AM) until lunch time (anywhere between 12 NN to 1 PM), review generation is pretty slow, at least relative to the amount of review-writing activity that occurs after lunch.
Hopefully, these findings help you plan accordingly. It’s always best to test, measure, and adjust. But if you stick to sending your review requests out in the afternoon or time them so they occur shortly after a transaction, you’ll put your review request campaigns in a strong position to generate the most reviews.
How to Ask for a Review
So, what’s the best way to reach out to your customers and ask for a review? Here are some best practices and techniques to help you achieve the best results and optimal response rates.
Ask for Reviews via Email
One of the most effective ways to generate new reviews is through review request email campaigns.
The campaigns usually take on the form of customer feedback surveys; other times, the email message is much simpler and more straightforward, containing a link to a page where the recipient can write a review.
If you’re just getting started with review generation, email should be at the top of your list of channels for requesting reviews. According to research, as much as 70 percent of reviews come from post-transactional review request emails.
Requesting reviews via email also means you get to tie your reviews to transactions that actually happened (transactions through which you are able to collect customer email addresses) — lending valuable authenticity to your reviews.
Moreover, email requests for reviews enables you to evaluate customer loyalty and satisfaction levels, as well as identify customers who are likely to recommend your business to others versus those who aren’t.
Best Practices: Asking for Reviews through Email
Know your goals. What do you want to achieve apart from generating new reviews? Are you trying to measure loyalty? Or do you want to get feedback on how you’re doing with customer service? Only by identifying your goals from the very start will you be able to ask the right survey questions and collect the right information.
For a more comprehensive guide, read our post on the best questions to ask in your review request or customer feedback surveys.
Personalize your email. Put careful thought to your review request emails and write them in a way that individually acknowledges each recipient. You can design the most dazzling email in the world, but you won’t achieve high open rates and response rates if the message feels cold and impersonal from the start.
Keep it short. When was the last time you took a 30-minute survey? Probably never. If your own review request email or survey takes too long to complete or even read, you run the risk of respondents abandoning it before completion.
So keep your message short. Keep it simple. Avoid unnecessary questions or phrases that your customers are unlikely to understand. If you would like them to review your business on a specific website, say so explicitly and provide clear instructions on how to do it.
If you’re going to ask for a rating, ask right away. Some companies leave it until the end before they ask for a review score or star rating. This isn’t exactly ideal. Why? Because it’s a crucial question or request that practically demands a gut reaction, and if you’re going to ask for a rating after a 5- to 10-minute round of less important questions, there’s a chance that you might invalidate the customer’s response.
Have middle options. If you’re using a rating scale in your review request campaigns, provide a middle category or neutral option. It gives respondents a kind of “out” if they are not sure how to answer or if they happen to have mixed feelings or sentiment. More importantly (and this is backed by research studies), middle options result in better, more accurate data.
Not using scales? Stick to “Yes” or “No” questions, or provide pre-selected / multiple-choice answers. Even if your questions require responses that are a little bit more elaborate, provide pre-selected answers that are easy to understand and choose from.
Respond immediately if necessary. If you receive negative feedback after asking for reviews from customers, act quickly and respond to let them know you are working on the issues they pointed out. Whether you’re making a phone call or sending an email, do so in a timely manner; otherwise, you run the risk of leaving an unhappy customer stewing and potentially deciding not to visit your business again.
Test, measure, and adjust. You can’t ask for reviews and launch a review request campaign then leave it running untouched for the next several months. Test, measure, and adjust in order to achieve the best response rates and collect the most useful feedback. Today’s customer-driven market is a dynamic one, and, as previously mentioned, people’s interactions and experiences with your business will inevitably vary, especially over time.
How to Ask for Reviews: Use Templates
Not sure what to write in your review request messages? Here are some subject line and message ideas that hopefully will give you some inspiration for your review request templates.
Subject line templates and examples
- “How did we do?”
- “We’d love to hear your feedback!”
- “Got a minute to share your experience with (Business Name)?”
- “We want your feedback.”
Message templates and examples
- “Hi (First Name of Customer), Thank you for visiting (Business Name)! It was our pleasure helping (service you provide). Reviews help our business build an online presence and helps others learn about us. Would you be willing to take a few minutes to leave us a review? You can click this link (direct URL to your review website profile) to leave us a review. Thank you so much in advance for taking time to share your experience. We appreciate your business!”
- “Hello there, (First Name of Customer)! I hope that your recent visit to (Business Name) exceeded your expectations. We would very much appreciate it if you would please take a few minutes today or the next few days to share your experience on one of the review websites linked to in this email. This feedback helps us improve our ability to provide you with the best service possible. To write a review, click one of the links below and you will be sent directly to the correct page for posting your review. Thank you again for your support. (direct URLs to your review website profiles)”
- “Hi (First Name of Customer)! Thank you again for choosing (Business Name). It’s our priority to continue providing top-notch service to customers like you. Please leave us a review on our profile on (review site, with direct URL to review website profile). It will only take a minute, but your valuable feedback will help us improve and make a huge difference to our company. Thank you!”
Request Reviews via SMS
Did you know that 56 percent of all online reviews are posted from mobile devices?
It’s not a big mystery why. The age of voice dictation typing and tweet-sized reviews has also ushered in the ability for consumers to engage with businesses and write reviews straight from their phone or tablet.
If you send customers a text message survey or a review request via SMS, there’s a good chance they’ll click on that link. Text messages are opened at a 98 percent rate, whereas email typically has a 40 to 50 percent open rate. (Additional research shows that 90 percent of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes.)
Still, crafting your review request for SMS requires careful thought, too — perhaps even more so because of this channel’s character limitations. Here are a few review or feedback SMS templates to help you achieve high response rates.
Review or feedback SMS templates
How to ask for a review with a text message? Here are some actionable feedback SMS templates to inspire your text surveys and review request campaigns via SMS.
- “Thank you for being a customer.” This basic template is great to help you get started. It doesn’t require your customer to give up a lot of data or make a big effort to post a review. “Hey (First Name of Customer), thank you for visiting (Business Name) today! To help us best serve you and others, could you click on this link (review website profile link) to answer one question about your experience today? Thanks!”
- “Will you review us on (Review Site)?” This template helps you increase your reviews on a specific online review website where you might be performing poorly. “Hi (First Name of Customer), thank you for doing business with us. Do you have 1 minute to leave a review on (review site) about your experience with us? Just go here: (review website profile link). Thanks for your help!”
- “Review our location.” Thank your customers for visiting your outlet or local branch and ask for a review as well. “Hello (First Name of Customer), thank you for your recent visit to our location in (City). We here at (Business Name) want to provide you with the best experience possible! To help us, please take a moment to leave your feedback. Click here (review website profile link) to review. Thank you.”
- “Your opinion matters.” Establish a stronger relationship with your customer by allowing them to feel like they have a voice. “Hello (First Name of Customer), your opinion matters to us. Could you take 1 minute to leave us feedback on your visit to (Business Name)? This link will take you to a quick survey with 3 questions. We appreciate your help!”
Design Landing Pages for Collecting Reviews
In order to generate new reviews and collect valuable customer feedback, more and more businesses and marketers are creating their own dedicated landing pages for reviews.
It’s a great way to encourage customers to be more vocal about their experiences. These landing pages can be facilitated through the use of review generation software, survey forms, an embedded reviews widget on your company website — or you can also build one on your own.
Once you have set it up, identify key touch points at which you can most effectively drive customers to the page. You can even share the link to the page across your social media profiles or give customers a friendly reminder in post-transactional situations.
How to Ask for Reviews at the Point of Sale
A more immediate, personal, and direct way to ask for reviews is to make the request at the point of sale or care.
Picture this type of scenario: during checkout or towards the end of a customer’s visit, you hand over a device, like an iPad or tablet, to your customer so that they can fill out a short form. Any feedback they share through the form can then be set up to be published as an online review.
Asking for reviews at the point of sale is a great way to capture actionable reviews and customer insights just moments after the crucial sales or care experience. It’s also a valuable opportunity for your business to strengthen your customer relationships. Not to mention: it’s a useful review request tactic in situations where you don’t yet have your customer’s contact information.
Pro tip: when using a device to request feedback at the point of sale, avoid asking customers to log into their personal review website accounts and getting them to write their review on the spot. Instead, stick to a simple form with only a few blank fields to fill, or use a “kiosk mode” program that lets you send the actual review request later: through SMS or email.
This minimizes privacy and security concerns, while also preventing reviews from being generated using the same IP address as your business location. It also lets customers act on the request at their own convenience, using their own devices.
Use Review Request or Review Generation Tools
If you’re managing a business with multiple locations, an efficient way to ask customers for reviews is by using review request or review generation tools and software.
The Ask Tool from ReviewTrackers, for example, allows you to generate new reviews through email campaigns, SMS, on-site kiosks, and customizable landing pages.
Automate your Review Requests
For the efficiency-minded, a little automation can help get more review generation work done faster. Customers who automate their review requests can often double or triple their review volume — minus the time and resources spent on manual work.
If you already have a developer team in place, see if you can find ways to integrate your organization’s customer relationship management (CRM), support ticketing, social media listening, or sales commerce platform with whatever process, tool, or workflow you have for requesting reviews from customers.
For example: you can automate sending review requests after a closed Salesforce opportunity or a solved Zendesk ticket.
Or take it to the next level by harnessing the power of automation platform Zapier, with which ReviewTrackers has an integration. For example: anytime a new customer enters Salesforce, Zapier can trigger a review request email to be sent using ReviewTrackers.
Benefits of Asking for Reviews
Reputation boost. A stream of 5-star reviews from customers helps showcase your business and creates powerful social proof for inspiring shopper confidence and driving sales.
Higher ratings. According to research, the average rating of reviews generated from review requests (businesses asking customers for reviews) is 4.34 stars out of 5: higher than the average rating of unprompted reviews (3.89 stars out of 5).
Asking customers for reviews also tends to produce reviews that have a higher percentage of 5-star ratings; these are likely to remain steady over time. Unprompted reviews, on the other hand, claim a larger share of 1-star ratings; over time, the overall rating tends to drop.
Instant outreach. Proactively asking for feedback helps strengthen customer relationships — and connects your business to the voices that matter the most.
Requesting reviews can also activate your brand promoters. By encouraging them to write reviews, you can convert your happiest, most satisfied customers into vocal promoters and word-of-mouth catalysts who’ll put in a good word about your business on online review websites.
Amplified search presence. Google and industry experts all say that a business’ review signals — such as review count, ratings, and review text — are factored into organic and local search rankings. Which means: more reviews will help you rank higher in search results.
Moreover, according to an Adweek report, an increase of 1 to 8 reviews can lead to significant improvements in conversion rates. And if your review volume increases by 8 to 100 reviews, you can expect an increase in natural search traffic.
Longer shelf life. Like tweets and Facebook posts, business or company reviews by customers can be used as data assets for your marketing efforts. Reviews, however, have a longer shelf life.
18 minutes is the median lifespan of a tweet. And 75 percent of engagement with a Facebook post occurs within the first 5 hours. As for reviews’ shelf life? It’s around 3 months. 69 percent of consumers believe that only reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant.
Simply put: what a customer said on Yelp or Tripadvisor two weeks ago is likely to carry more weight than what another customer said on Twitter or Facebook two days ago.
If you’re already engaging with social media users in conversations around your brand, you might as well learn how to ask for reviews, too. Given their long shelf life and unique ability to expand your digital footprint, reviews can serve as an integral part of your marketing infrastructure.
Asking Customers for Reviews for Specific Review Websites
How to Get More Google Reviews
According to the 2018 Online Reviews Survey, Google is outpacing other review platforms like Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Facebook in terms of growth in online reviews.
This is why proactively requesting customers for reviews on Google has become a go-to marketing strategy for top brands and businesses.
So: how exactly can a business get more Google reviews?
Create a Google Business Review Link
Creating a unique link and sharing it to your customers encourages them to review your business on Google. To create your Google business review link, follow the steps below:
- Google Search. Do a search of your business name on Google. When you find the listing, click on the “Write a review” button. When the review window pops-up, copy the (quite lengthy) URL in the address bar on the top of the screen. You can, of course, use a tool like bit.ly or Google’s own shortener service to shorten the URL.
- PlaceID Lookup Tool. The Google My Business (GMB) help page features this handy tool. Enter the name of the location in the search bar. A small window above the business will appear on the map, which features a series of numbers, letters, and symbols that make up the PlaceID. Copy that PlaceID onto the URL below after the “placeid=” string.
Once you have your Google business review link, you can share it on your social media profiles, in email campaigns, printed receipts or customer feedback surveys, or whenever and wherever customers are likely to leave a review.
Use Google Review Stickers
Another simple way to get more Google reviews is to use Google review stickers. These stickers can be found on the Small Thanks with Google website, which lets you create, download, and print personalized marketing materials and turn your reviews and business information into ready-to-use social posts, stickers, posters, and more.
The messaging in these materials centers around promoting your business using customer testimonials, or requesting customers to find your business on Google and share their photos and reviews on the site.
On the Small Thanks with Google website, you’ll find a search box where you can enter your business name.
If it’s already listed, you’ll then be taken to a page with your personalized “Review Us on Google” marketing kit — posters, window stickers, table tents, social media posts, and other creative assets — which you can then request for by mail or download for easy printing and sharing.
(If you aren’t yet listed, get started by claiming your business listing on Google.)
Important Note about Review Gating or Review Solicitation
Google doesn’t want businesses to discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.
This practice is commonly referred to as “review gating”, and it’s normally done by sending customers a feedback or survey form — be it through email, SMS, landing pages, or social media. Based on their form responses, customers are then asked to either post a review on Google if they had a positive experience — or share details of their feedback privately if they had a negative experience.
Google strictly forbids review gating. So don’t do it. And don’t do anything that can be interpreted as review gating.
If you’re unsure about whether or not your review generation strategy is compliant with the policies of today’s review platforms, it’s best to first consult with your legal or PR teams or with a review technology company like ReviewTrackers.
Don’t Buy Google Reviews
Another growing trend to watch out for in the online reviews space is businesses buying Google reviews. This is an attempt to game the system.
In the current market, service providers left and right are offering “5-star review services,” promising “quality work” with “full completed (Google) profiles and realistic photo-attached accounts.” These providers also say that the “review accounts and profiles are always USA, UK, CA, or AU.”
While it sounds like a great, cost-effective solution for propelling your business to the top of relevant search results, buying Google reviews will almost certainly do your business more harm than good.
First of all, the practice is against Google review guidelines. And the FTC and regulators will surely come after you. Companies that were caught have been slapped hefty fines and penalties for buying fake reviews; same goes for the providers selling these services as part of their “reputation enhancement” offering.
Instead of buying Google reviews in order to improve your rankings and drum up business, make the commitment to earn authentic reviews and candid feedback on Google.
How to Get Yelp Reviews
Unfortunately, Yelp’s review policies and content guidelines prohibit businesses from requesting reviews from customers.
As stated on the review website: “The businesses that do best on Yelp are the ones that provide a great customer experience to everyone who walks in the door without any expectation or encouragement that they write a review. Your best bet to get high quality and unbiased reviews about your business is to provide a memorable and amazing customer experience — not by asking your customers to post on Yelp.”
What you can do is promote your business presence on Yelp and actively engage with its users.
Let your audience know they can find your business on Yelp. Add links to your Yelp business page in emails, newsletters, and printed literature. Download Yelp stickers and place these collaterals in your business locations.
For more tips on how to improve your business performance on Yelp, read our comprehensive Yelp for Business guide.
Important note: If you’re not quite sure about what is allowed and what isn’t on the sites that you’d like to request reviews for, work with a technology partner like ReviewTrackers that can share in-depth knowledge and best practices to help you stay in compliance and achieve the best possible results for your review generation efforts.
How to Get More Reviews on Tripadvisor
Unlike Yelp, Tripadvisor allows businesses to ask for reviews.
The travel site even provides free tools that you can use to promote your business presence on the site and drum up more reviews. Tripadvisor stickers, for example, can help drive traffic and conversions for your business. They’re also great for encouraging more reviews on Tripadvisor.
Most listings on the site are eligible for a standard set of Tripadvisor stickers, which provide basic information or calls to action. Examples include:
- Hours of Operation
- Free Wi-Fi
- Review Us on Tripadvisor / Leave Us a Review on Tripadvisor
Depending on factors such as the listing type, available features, and overall rating, some listings can also get access to other stickers such as:
- Book Us on Tripadvisor
- Featured, Rated, or Recommended on Tripadvisor
- Certificate of Excellence award
You can see which stickers are available for your business listing by typing your business name in the search bar of TripAdvisor’s Sticker Request page.
How to Increase App Reviews
If you’re working in the technology sector, you can also harness the power of online reviews to bring attention to your app or software and build your community of users.
Remember: app reviews aren’t merely a crucial source of information for smartphone- and tablet-brandishing users looking to download their next productivity tool, game, image editor, recipe book, multimedia companion, what-have-you. They’re also one of the main factors influencing where a developer’s app ranks in app store search results.
Asking for Reviews: Request Template for App Reviews
Here’s a template that you can use to get started with increasing app reviews.
- “Hello there, (User Name)! We noticed that you have been using the (App or Software Name). If you are enjoying your experience, we would appreciate it if you can take some time to leave your feedback on one of the review websites linked to in this email. As we continue to release new updates for our app or software, your feedback will help us improve our ability to provide you with the best experience and service possible. To write a review, click one of the links and you will be sent directly to the correct page for posting your review. Thank you again for your support. (direct URLs to your review website profiles)
You can also read this guide for more tips and tricks on how to increase app reviews.
Requesting Reviews from Customers: Other Things to Keep in Mind
Know Where You Can Request Reviews
Identify review sites where your company is actually allowed to encourage customers to post reviews.
As mentioned earlier, some websites like Yelp frown upon businesses asking customers for reviews or feedback. Other sites — like Tripadvisor and Google — are the opposite, with some even providing free tools for companies to reach out proactively for online reviews.
As you craft your review request and review generation strategy, ensure that your efforts are in compliance with each individual review site’s guidelines. You want to be rewarded, not penalized, for asking for online reviews.
What to Do After Successfully Getting a Review
Say thank you. Show customers that your business appreciates and values feedback. And remember to always say thank you when you respond to reviews (even the bad ones) that you successfully get.
Spread the word. Successfully secured reviews after asking customers? Amplify their feedback. Go social. Share their experiences across your social media profiles. Tweet it. Put it on your Facebook Page. Upload a screenshot of the review as part of your business’ Instagram Stories or photo stream.
Review sites are influential enough, but remember that a whole lot of people, too, research information about businesses, products, and services using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
One of the most important considerations your organization should make is what exactly you’re going to do with the customer feedback you collect from your review requests.
One helpful way to make this data useful is by connecting it with your Net Promoter Score.
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a widely used management tool for companies looking to gauge customer loyalty. Using NPS in a survey involves asking the question, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this business?”
The results enable firms to categorize respondents into Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. To calculate your Net Promoter Score, simply subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.
- Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will help fuel your growth by buying and referring other customers to your business.
- Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied customers, but their lack of enthusiasm may render them vulnerable to offerings from your competition.
- Detractors (score 0-6) are dissatisfied, unhappy customers who may impede your growth and spread negative word of mouth.
In the context of your review generation strategy, the NPS methodology enables you to achieve a big-picture view of the customer experience.
With NPS, you can keep your survey results and scores internal and leverage these to address specific issues, follow up, and foster operational improvements.
Or, if you have healthy NPS scores, you can determine your level of confidence in expanding your review “asks.” If customers are willing to recommend your business, asking more customers to review your business may lead to stronger online reviews and higher ratings for your business.
Never Buy or Incentivize reviews
Why? Asking customers to review your company on Yelp or Google doesn’t mean you should reward those who do. It’s a trick that might have regulators coming after you.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), for example, considers positive third-party reviews as endorsements, and according to the agency, if there is any form of incentive or compensation or close relationship between an individual giving an endorsement and a business receiving it, this should be made explicit.
Keep in mind that the FTC also considers it illegal to incentivize reviews even if there’s no requirement that the sentiment of the review should be positive.
Make Customers Happy
At the end of the day, the best way to get reviews is to consistently deliver excellent customer experiences. Focus on providing what they want and need. The 5-star reviews and testimonials may come even without the need for you to ask. Just remember that it doesn’t hurt to try.