5-Star All-Stars: Three Small Businesses Owners’ Tips on How to Get Reviews and Drive Sales
Want more of your customers to rave about your business? Knowing the right ways to ask for customer feedback can increase the number of reviews you receive and inspire customer confidence.
Reviews are a valuable currency in which prospective customers take real stock. And in today’s mobile-first, on-demand world, they carry as much weight as a word-of-mouth referral. In fact, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. (Source: BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey 2018). And when it comes to making a purchase, the effect of positive reviews is dramatic. A 2018 Northeastern University study found that people are 270 percent more likely to purchase an item with 5 reviews over an item with none.
So how can you get more reviews and use them to get more sales? Learn how HelloPride, Carla Sue Greeting Cards and Gifts, and Bella Books found smart, creative ways to harness the power of reviews.
“I want my relationship with my customers to be like a conversation, where we listen to each other.”
How they get: customer reviews
Ask, and you shall receive.
Asking your customers for their feedback can be intimidating. It can feel like an imposition, or even an invitation for negative feedback. But Megan Hines and Meagan Barfield, co-owners of St. Louis-based LGBTQ+ baby boutique HelloPride, find that giving her customers a little extra goes a long way toward encouraging them to leave reviews. HelloPride’s onesies are a popular gift, so she includes two postcards with each order—one for the purchaser to give to the gift recipient, and one as a pre-printed thank you note. “It’s really all about courtesy and how you ask,” says Megan. “Giving that little extra postcard for them to personalize and saying ‘we really appreciate your business, let us know if you love it’ makes the review feel like a natural continuation of the transaction.”
Follow-up conversations are a great opportunity to reach out and ensure your customers are satisfied. It’s also a natural time to bring up reviews, because it’s such a service-focused moment. If it’s been a while since you’ve received a review, send a follow-up email to your recent customers to check-in and make sure they’re happy with their purchases. If there’s an issue, you have an opportunity to provide excellent service. And if they’re pleased, a quick reminder is all it takes to get the review. Just be sure to include a clear path for your customers to follow, whether it’s a URL, a form field, or just a written invitation to “tell us what you think!”
Spark conversation on social media.
Engaging with your customers through social media channels can often feel easier, more conversational and more organic than asking them to leave reviews on Yelp, Google, or your website. And it can lead to more views and visits for your business. Positive reviews are powerful social proof, and customers who see others sharing reviews of your business are more likely to do the same. For Carla Lyles, founder of Carla Sue Greeting Cards and Gifts in Houston, TX, social media is the main avenue for customer engagement. She considers it more of a dialogue: “I want my relationship with my customers to be like a conversation, where we listen to each other.” How does she start that conversation? To grow her social following, she incorporates signage and postcards that specifically encourage customers to follow her brand. Then, with each order, she includes a thank you note that invites reviews in a lighthearted way that’s perfect for social media—the selfie. As she puts it, “I’d rather say ‘Hey, do you love it? Take a picture and tag me if you do!’ It’s so much easier, and it’s something they’d probably do anyway.”
Online reviews look great in print.
Online reviews aren’t just for your website. Whether you’re prepping for a pop-up, shipping an order, or stocking the shelves at your brick and mortar store, positive reviews look great in print. When Linda Hill, CEO of boutique publisher Bella Books, sets up her space at conferences and expos, she pairs each title with a custom bookmark printed with standout reviews from fans and book critics. It’s a small touch, but it gives her products a personal recommendation and helps her customers find their next favorite read.
For pop-ups and maker markets, co-owners Megan and Meagan merchandize HelloPride’s onesies by hanging postcards with reviews specific to each item. Having authentic reviews from real customers packaged with the product lends it instant credibility, and shoppers won’t need to pull out their phones to fish for reviews.
Customer reviews can be eye-catching and enticing as well. Want to draw customers into your space? Consider featuring reviews on signage like A-frames, banners, or even window decals. Want to spotlight a fan-favorite product? Use a sticker to put your customer’s words directly onto the packaging.
With the passion and drive it takes to own a business, there can be pressure to self-promote, but using your customers’ glowing reviews lets them do the talking in a way that’s genuine and builds lasting trust.
About the businesses
Bella Books is the premiere publisher of stories that capture the complexity and honor the struggles, hopes and dreams of women who love women.
HelloPride is a baby boutique for LGBTQ+ families and their allies. They make playful baby onesies that give all families the opportunity to be represented and celebrate their love.
Carla Sue Greeting Cards and Gifts handcrafts witty, sassy and beautiful greeting cards and gifts with messages of empowerment, positive representation and self-care.
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