How to Get More Positive Online Reviews (and Deal with the Negative)

Last updated: November 21, 2022 | By Jed Dreben

Reading time: 2 minutes

A consumer review on online review sites such as Yelp or Google Reviews or Amazon can make the difference between making a sale or not, particularly if you run a service-based business. Positive online reviews are a powerful digital marketing tool, helping to build consumer trust / average rating, boost word-of-mouth, shape your online reputation and give you valuable customer feedback to improve upon. In fact, 91% of customers say they’re more likely to use a business with a good review and the average consumer reads 10 reviews before trusting a local or small business. Our online habits have shifted how we interact with businesses and make purchases, so much so that online reviews can help business owners increase conversions by 270%.

It’s inevitable that customers will turn to online platforms to share their thoughts on your services. Let’s explore the road map to gaining more positive online reviews, how to approach a negative review and why online reviews matter for your business’s health and profitability (bottom line).

Shoot for the 5-star rating. While you can’t please everyone, online reputation management matters in acquiring new customers. Follow these steps to help build a high-quality reputation and customer trust.

Why Do Online Customer Reviews Matter to Local Businesses?

By the Numbers

  • 67% of purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 57% of customers visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews

12 Ways to Get More Positive Online Reviews

Where should you start? Whichever review platform you choose, stay true to your voice and what works best for your customers and industry.

1. Have a Clear CTA on Your Site

Make it easy for customers to find and fill out a review with a call to action like:

  • How’d We Do?
  • Rate & Review Us
  • Share Feedback
  • Start the Survey

2. Use a Simple Thank You

A thank you page is an effective way to ask for reviews using a request such as:

  • Thank you for your purchase! If you enjoyed your experience, tell us (and others) about it!

3. Send a Personalized Email or Text

While your customer is still thinking about their experience, add a simple request at the end of your message:

  • Would you mind taking a minute to review us on [site]?

4. Social Media is Your Friend

Use a display plug-in to share social media reviews from Facebook, Google My Business and other social platforms on your site. Engage in conversations through your social reviews.

  • Market Force research found that Facebook counts for 50% of total social referrals to a business.

5. Face to Face

Use this method if you have a great relationship or just spent a lot of time with your customer.

  • Asking in person can garner 7 times more reviews than asking by email.

6. Talk to Your Vendors

For B2B industries, ask your vendors or partners to write a short testimonial.

  • 7 out of 10 people will leave a review if they’re asked.

7. Consider an Incentive

A discount or coupon code may motivate your customer to leave a review. Be sure to check the terms of service for each site you share on to stay within legal guidelines.

  • The Zappos VIP program gives its members 10 VIP points for each Zappos.com product review.

8. Timing is Everything

Ask for feedback when your customer is at their happiest, like after a reorder or referral.

  • American Express found that a happy customer will tell 9 other people about their experience.

9. Send a Follow-Up

Inquire about your customer’s experience and try to resolve a potential negative review before it occurs.

  • 20 to 25% of Etsy ecommerce purchases result in a review because it sends a follow-up email or text message.

10. Always Respond

Go the extra mile and humanize your business by engaging with your reviews, whether positive or negative.

  • Harvard Business Review found that hotels that responded to reviews on TripAdvisor received 12% more reviews and their ratings increased.

11. Reach Out to a Negative Reviewer Directly

Use your best judgment and reach out privately or publicly to resolve the issue.

  • 78% of consumers who received a response from management believed that the business cared more about them.

12. Spread the Positive Reviews

Social proof is powerful. Share and promote your top reviews on your website, forums or social media and other customers will be inspired to leave one too.

Have you HEARD?

Consumers who receive responses to their negative reviews spend 4 times longer on a site, with a 67% conversion rate.

Disney, which averages 135 million customer service failures a year, uses a 5-step process that may help you approach and resolve negative reviews.

Hear: Let the customer tell their side of the story.

Empathize: Show compassion and understanding.

Apologize: Own the issue and be sincere with a simple apology.

Resolve: Put the issue to rest ASAP. If this isn’t possible, ask and troubleshoot how you can best resolve it for your customer.

Diagnose: Analyze how the issue happened to avoid it in the future.

lady in office working on computer

Good, Bad or Ugly, Every Review can add Value to Your Business

Despite your best marketing efforts, reviews (or lack thereof) show up front and center for potential customers to see. Regardless of your industry or online presence, every review is valuable. A healthy mix of positive and negative reviews will help you build customer trust and transparency you may not have had a chance to otherwise. Make it easy for customers to leave positive feedback when they’re satisfied, your services or products are fresh in their minds, and they’ve had enough time to form opinions. Honest opinions from other shoppers or clients will differentiate you from competitors and create more prospective customers.

Just as important as the review is how you respond, as 53% of customers expect a reply on review sites. Even more telling, retailers and other businesses that answer negative reviews receive a 16% increase in customer advocacy. You can not only improve your presence and search engine rankings / SEO online, but also continue to build your loyal customer base by growing the number of reviews and responding to them. After all, an online review on local search can be just as valuable as a referral from friends or family.

Sources: AdWeek | American Express | BrightLocal SEO |  Forbes |  HBR | Marketing Bitz | Medium | Moz | SRC | WSJ | Zappos | RetailTouchPoints | Inc.