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How often do you check reviews before making an online, or even an offline purchase? In a recent survey, around 9 out of 10 consumers said they read online reviews regularly or occasionally, and 88% of those said they trusted those reviews just as much as personal recommendations. So one thing is for certain; your website should prominently display a collection of recent, genuine and verified reviews.
What’s the best way to collect reviews?
You have a number of options on how you might go about collecting reviews, each with their own pros and cons.
Manual Collection (Email, text, phone call transcription etc)
A more outdated strategy (nowadays) is to manually collect reviews from customers or clients, through email, text message, or similar, and then publish these reviews directly on your website. The problem with this method, however, is that there is no validation whatsoever to reassure the reader that those reviews are real. With review authenticity already a contentious subject online, having reviews at all is equally important to how you got those reviews.
One way to combat suspicion is to provide a link to the customer or client’s website beneath their review. This adds an element of authenticity, though it isn’t always possible depending on your client base. Your clients may not necessarily even have websites, for instance.
A solid option for review collection is to use a third-party review collection website. There are two main varieties, in this case, one being the more generalised review websites that cover a range of industries, such as Word Of Mouth. Alternatively, there are many review websites that are tailored to a particular industry, such as Rate My Agent for real estate agents. Using either of these types of websites to collect your review for you offers an extra level of validation and authenticity.
There are thousands of websites offering this sort of service, so you’ll need to do a little research on what the main/best ones are for your particular industry.
Social Media/Search Engine Collection
Possibly the quickest, easiest, and the more trusted option of them all is to collect and display reviews through social media channels. The most important one by far, would be Google reviews. Another solid option is to create a Facebook page for your business (if you haven’t already) and encourage your clients or customers to leave reviews this way. The added benefit of this is that both options, but particularly Google reviews, will also help your website with its search rankings.
Whichever social media/search engine review system you choose, there are usually handy CMS website plugins (such as Rich Plugins for WordPress) that can then assist you in embedding social media/search engine reviews into your website. The benefit of this is that your reviews will automatically appear on your website as you get them, include links to the users who wrote them, and include Facebook/Google branding, which all adds a great level of authenticity!
Don’t fake it, it’s just not worth it.
When you’re first starting out, it may be tempting to write yourself a few fake positive reviews to get things rolling. What harm could it really do? Unfortunately, the answer is quite a lot.
Online consumers get more savvy by the day, and fake reviews often follow subconscious patterns that stand out to readers as suspicious. To the particularly observant eye, some consumers may even pick up on repeated linguistic patterns or grammatical habits. It’s simply not worth being caught out, or even suspected of forging reviews, as this can completely destroy your credibility in the eyes of those suspecting consumers.
Instead, offer samples of your products or services to friends and family, or better yet, offer them to other businesses, public figures or social influencers (of which there is no short supply, no matter the size or scale of your business) in exchange for an honest review. It’s usually a win-win for everybody. Your recipients will get a no/low-cost product or service, while you get a priceless, genuine review. That review will then, in turn, attract and build trust with your future consumers.
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