By Mark Harrison
It’s easier than ever to let the internet know what we think of our best and worst experiences with a business. This means that customer testimonials, whether good or bad, can be a powerful tool in your marketing strategy.
As well as writing reviews, we also tend to read them more. Recent studies have shown that up to 92% of all consumers read online reviews to help them make a decision about using a local business.
Your customer reviews should not only help your services stand out but show you are open to both praise and criticism. Moreover, there are a number of creative ways to get the most out of your testimonials in terms of both marketing and customer insight.
Hopefully, your reviews are all great and you’ll have plenty to work with. But as we’ll see, there are advantages to engaging with negative reviews in a way that will improve your reputation for customer service.
Introduction: How Not to Use Reviews
Film marketing is vastly different to content marketing, but here’s an audacious example of how not to use reviews to promote something online. It concerns Legend, a 2015 film starring Tom Hardy in dual roles as Ronnie and Reggie Kray.
Around the time of the film’s release in 2015, distributors Studio Canal released a poster garlanded with 4-star reviews and, more unusually, one 2-star review.
When it comes to film reviews, The Guardian is a well-regarded publication that film promoters often cite in their marketing efforts. So, when the paper’s reviewer gave the film a negative review, awarding it only 2 out of 5 stars, they came up with quite a cheeky way of including it anyway.
Because of the placement of Hardy’s Kray twins on either side of the 2-star graphic, the casual observer might well think that this was another 4-star review. This tactic was rumbled fairly quickly by journalists on social media, but this ultimately led to more coverage of the film on the Guardian website.
Although it could be seen as an example of getting creative with reviews in a promotional campaign, we definitely don’t recommend using this sort of under-handed approach for your marketing strategy. There are so many other ways to think outside the box in order to boost your profile using customer feedback.
Whether you have a regular influx of reviews or you’re looking to get more feedback, here are 9 handy tips for making the most of your reviews, without hiding them behind Tom Hardy’s face.
1. Ask for Reviews
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. You should always be confident in encouraging customers to review your business, whether it’s through an on-site call to action or an email message to customers after they have completed a purchase.
Ideally, your customers will be so impressed that they feel inclined to praise your products and services right after the point of delivery. However, we all lead busy lives, so it can’t hurt to give some customers a little nudge once they’ve had a chance to reflect.
Automated emails are another useful way of doing this. After a certain amount of time, simply send customers a message asking them to rate and review their experience. Or more simply, make sure that you include links to review platforms in the footer of every mailout.
2. Set up Multiple Platforms
The more opportunities you offer your customers to review your services, the more reviews you will receive. In addition to having a feedback form on your site, you should also maintain a presence on various platforms geared towards customer reviews.
Among the most popular platforms for reviews are:
By claiming and optimising pages on these platforms, you ensure that your customers have plenty of means to send reviews. Don’t forget that new leads may use these platforms to find you, as your rating improves!
3. Use Testimonials and Review Snippets
It’s important to put your reviews where your potential customers can see them. Once you’ve gathered a number of positive reviews, you should be using these as part of your site content.
Make a page specifically for testimonials, so your potential customers can see what your previous clients have to say about your business. This page should also include a form allowing users to submit their own reviews. Wherever possible, get a name and location from reviewers to back up what they’re saying with a more personal touch.
Alternatively, you could include review snippets in pride of place throughout your site. If you have a number of product and service pages, sort reviews by category and include relevant quotes close to your on-site CTA, encouraging users to act accordingly.
4. Start a Conversation
In the age of social media, every customer is a potential brand ambassador. Whether they love your business or even if they hate it, you should look at every review as an opportunity to start a conversation with your audience.
For negative feedback, it’s crucial to respond politely. Acknowledge faults where necessary and apologise for the customer’s bad experience. Even if you can’t talk that one customer around, potential leads will see that you are open, honest, and accountable.
It’s equally as important to thank people when they take the time to write a positive review as well. Plus, you may need permission from positive reviewers to use their feedback in other contexts.
5. Create Case Studies
Another great way to make the most of a positive review is to expand upon it with a case study. Reach out to the customer in question and see if they’d be interested in an interview about their experience, enabling you to adapt their review into a longer piece of content.
Case studies should show other leads and customers how a specific customer benefited from your products or services. This will corroborate your own descriptions of what you have to offer and show that others have enjoyed tangible results.
These studies might take the form of a written blog post, which could potentially become a series of features using other positive reviews, or a video including interview footage and other content in an easily shareable package.
6. Post on Social Media
Increasingly popular with content marketers, videos, images, and graphics are a great way to share your reviews on social media. In particular, new platforms have made it easier than ever to share video content, from filmed and edited pieces to short animation created on easy-to-use apps.
Most platforms give reviewers a 5-star scale because it makes for an eye-catching and easily understandable graphic. From the smallest glance of a 4- or 5-star rating, we recognise that it represents a good review (which is explains the ploy used for Legend) but it’s important to be able to back that up too.
Whether you create something new or just share the review in its original context, this is a great example of user-generated content that will go over well on social media. In addition to showing off your brand, this endears you to your audience and shows your engagement with your customers.
7. Print Them Out
Digital content aside, reviews are also great for print marketing. From snippets to case studies, your best reviews will look great on brochures, flyers, pricing packages, and any other printed media that you produce.
With any given piece of marketing, you will be trumpeting the benefits of choosing your business as you see them. But by making actual customers’ opinions visible alongside these, you increase your credibility and back up your own claims.
8. Offer Rewards and Incentives
Now that we appreciate the value of great reviews, let’s see what your reviewers get out of it. Asking for reviews is one thing, but incentives and rewards can really make all the difference when it comes to getting your customers to share their experiences.
Some companies run competitions or prize draws via their social media accounts, but there’s an effective and inexpensive answer staring us in the face. If you get a good review from a customer, then why not return the favour?
This can be as simple as an email or a social media comment thanking them for their positive review and commending them, but various platforms enable you to review or recommend customer profiles too. For instance, if you connect with a B2B client on LinkedIn, maybe you can endorse them for a skill relevant to your dealings with them.
This is just one great way to foster strong customer relationships, but it allows you to give something back while also showing you are active and communicative in your customer service and aftercare.
9. Gain Customer Insights
Finally, and most importantly, you can make the most of your customer reviews by acting upon them. While your very best testimonials provide a useful benchmark of service that you can aim to maintain or surpass over time, this is only part of the customer insight provided by a review.
Naturally, you should accept most negative comments as constructive criticism and aim to improve in any areas that are falling short of standards. But it’s just as important to see that great reviews highlight what is working about your site, your business, or your customer service, enabling you to foreground these factors in your marketing.
Additional insights may be gained through following up with customers, whether they were positive or negative about your business, and asking carefully phrased questions. Keep these questions open-ended and you’ll be surprised what you can learn about your audience.
Conclusion: Don’t Buy Your Own Legend
Having addressed the attention-grabbing benefits of great reviews, we’ve shown that there’s a lot more you can do with your best customer feedback.
From interesting case studies to social media content, reviews are great for creative marketing but even more useful for getting to know your audience.
It’s not merely about splashing starry graphics about but also learning more about what works and what doesn’t, enabling you to consistently monitor and improve your customer service and attract more leads in the process.