Your marketing strategy is critical to your business success, but even the best marketing in the world can be held back by poor reviews…..or even just a lack of them. In fact, customers usually want to see a minimum of 40 online reviews before they believe the average star rating. Not only that, but a small business with more than 25 current reviews will earn 108% more revenue than the average business. No matter the industry or type of business you are operating, online reviews can help it to thrive. While the importance of getting customer reviews for a small business is clear, the question is how do you get started on collecting these reviews?
Identify your budget
Online reviews should be a part of your overall budget as it is undoubtedly an area that is worth investing in. The amount you are willing to spend will depend on your business and financial situation, so it is important to identify your budget before creating a plan to get customer reviews for your small business. The most significant cost for your online reviews is going to be the review platform you choose to work with. However, there might also be other costs to consider, such as post-purchase email campaigns, review request cards and more.
When gathering customer reviews for a small business, you will want to use at least one online review platform. These are places where customers can leave reviews and feedback about your products, service or company in general and where other potential customers can read these reviews. Some review platforms will provide detailed insights into your feedback while others will just allow reviews to be left by customers. Which platform offers what service should be considered when choosing a review platform to invest in.
If you have a small (or no) budget, there are some free review platforms available which will allow you to get customer reviews without spending any money. Platforms such as Facebook, Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Yell are all free to use and allow customers to leave reviews online. Google Reviews can be added to your website so you can showcase your reviews for free — which is a valuable way to improve the customer experience. However, free review platforms do come with downsides which should be considered before making a decision.
One of the biggest drawbacks of these sites is that it is not easy to encourage customers to leave reviews. There often isn’t a direct link you can send out to ask customers which they can use to provide feedback, making the process longer and more complicated for them. This could easily turn customers off and result in a loss of potentially positive reviews. Not only that, but free review platforms often only offer a very basic service with no additional features. Many paid review platforms provide analytics and insights into your feedback, as well as options to showcase your reviews in various places using specific widgets.
Understand your goals
Your overall goals might just be to get customer reviews for a small business, but it is essential you look at your overarching business goals as well. Reviews can help with many different goals, and understanding these can help you choose a review platform that fits with your overall strategy. Whether you want to develop your brand image, tap into your customer insights or improve your SEO, your customer reviews are a powerful tool.
Advanced review platforms can provide you with valuable insights into your business, such as which branch is offering the best customer service or how your customers feel about your delivery options. Free review platforms can be used by small businesses when revenue is tight and funds aren’t available. However, many of the most effective benefits can only be accessed from dedicated platforms. It is these additional features that will help your reviews work towards your overall goals as a business.
Some of the key elements of advanced review platforms are:
- Customer insight collection
- Brand image development
- Review widgets to display reviews on your website
- A dedicated review page which will rank in search engine results pages or SERPs
- Improved SEO
- Industry benchmarking
- CX metrics such as net promoter score (NPS)
- Customer surveys for post-purchase communication
Another important consideration is that some online review platforms are proprietary over the reviews you gather on their sites. When you sign up to use their services, you may sign legal contracts that give them control over the reviews collected. This means that if you choose to switch platforms later on, you could lose all of your existing reviews. After putting so much time and effort in to get customer reviews for a small business, the last thing you want is to be tied into a contract where you could potentially lose them all. At Feefo, we never restrict how you use your online reviews and give our customers complete freedom to do whatever they want with their reviews.
Free review platforms
If your only option is to use a free platform to garner customer reviews, then there are a number of options available to you. Free sites can be great in the short term, giving you time to build your business until you are in a position to invest more money in your review strategy. Some free platforms give you the option to add more features further down the line. The following are some of the top free review platforms to consider:
- Feefo: At Feefo, we offer various plans to suit all types of businesses. Our free plan allows you to gather customer reviews on the Feefo platform and use some basic features. Review invites are capped for free subscriptions, so bear this in mind when deciding which plan is right for you.
- Google reviews: Google offer free reviews using Google My Business, and these come up on Google searches, Google maps and more. They are completely free and allow you to reply to customer reviews and put a widget on your own website.
- TrustPilot: TrustPilot is another review platform that offers free plans for small businesses. You will be able to gather reviews online, but advanced features are only available for paid subscriptions.
- Opinew: Opinew is a dedicated product review platform that integrates with Shopify. If you use Shopify for your small business then Opinew can help you to showcase your product reviews. It offers a free trial for 14 days, but you will need to choose a paid plan after this.
- Yotpo: Yotpo is an eCommerce Marketing Platform which offers customer reviews as part of its services. It is free to use the basic features, but like other platforms, review invites are capped.
- MyReviewNinja: MyReviewNinja is another review platform that provides services to help you with online review management. It also offers a free option with capped review invites.
Top review platforms
If you have the budget and are willing to invest in your review strategy, there are a few review platforms that can help you get customer reviews. The top review platforms are:
- Feefo: Our review platform not only helps you to get customer reviews for your small business, it also includes a combination of reports, analytics and insights to help you get the most out of your feedback. There is a range of subscription models to suit all budgets, and you can benefit from integrations into many eCommerce solutions. One of the most significant benefits of Feefo is that it is a close-ended platform, so only genuine reviews are collected.
- TrustPilot: This open-ended platform allows anyone to leave a review for you, whether they have actually purchased from you or not. Advanced features in TrustPilot include insights, analytics and review tagging.
- Yotpo: Designed specifically for Shopify, Yotpo paid subscriptions offer integrations into many eCommerce platforms with added functionality such as loyalty schemes.
- Io: Reviews.io offers its customers a range of integration options to other platforms and review syndication.
- Bazaarvoice: Bazaarvoice is a review platform with a strong focus on influencer reviews and social media.
All of these review platforms can help you collect customer reviews for your small business. Each has its own unique selling points and individual features, making them ideal for a range of industries and companies. You can learn more about how these review platforms compare here.
One of the most critical parts of getting more customer reviews is choosing the right platform to help you. Once you have an online review platform in place, you will be ready to start driving more reviews through social media, email campaigns and more. Many of these solutions offer tools to help you get more customer reviews for a small business and can provide you with invaluable insights into your business performance.