Referral marketing works. In a 2016 report by Heinz Marketing, referrals made the most positive impact on revenue for businesses, by far.
Obviously, we’re big fans of companies maintaining a methodical referral marketing program. Working with the right affiliates can provide huge ROI.
But there’s one type of referral marketing that you shouldn’t neglect even with an affiliate network in place. These are the absolute best types of referrals you can possibly get: those coming from customer reviews.
Great Reviews Are Great for Sales
Let’s look at the data. Don’t shoot the messenger, but women make up 85% of all consumer purchases. And coincidentally, 85% of women say they “consider online reviews extremely/very important when making a purchase.” Meaning, if you want to sell your products, you need to have good reviews online for people to see.
You already know that the best possible scenario is if a happy customer recommends your product or service to a friend. Well a study by ReportLinker showed that “59% of shoppers believe online reviews are equally as trustworthy as a review provided by a friend.”
That’s the power of having positive reviews posted online. So where do you start?
Chase Those Hearts, Thumbs, and Likes
First of all, you should approach this process as methodically as you would approach any other aspect of your marketing. More so, actually, since the ROI on referrals from good reviews will far out-strip any other channel. After all, a part of why this is the best referral marketing is that it’s basically free.
So invest the time (the not-so-free part). Here are a few tips to get started.
Create great profiles on the top review sites.
Your customers can’t leave good feedback if your business isn’t listed anywhere. A post on Vendasta had an easy chart that shows you which sites to tackle first:
Go down this list and spend the time to make a great profile including images, accurate details (store hours, etc), and populate it with a few reviews from your employees to prime the pump.
Start Asking for Reviews Regularly
There are many ways to ask customers for reviews, and it all depends on the type of business you have. According to MarketingLand, the best way is to ask in person, but you most likely will have to ask in a follow up email.
The biggest thing is to make asking for reviews a part of how your company does business. Making this a core process for you and your employees will eventually generate results.
Engage with Top Reviews
On places like Yelp, you have the ability to say thanks. Do so, and do so often. It’s not only a good way to highlight reviews, but yet another way to interact with your customers in a public forum that many others will read.
It’s also a good idea to showcase positive reviews on your company website. There are many ways to bring customer testimonials to your site (case studies, Twitter testimonials, Facebook “Like” counts, etc). If you are particularly well represented on a site like Yelp or Google Business, have links to these profiles.
The Secret to Getting Great Reviews
At the end of the day, more than how wonderful a product is or how great the price was, the one thing that will get your customers typing up a review is customer service. Be it good or bad, that’s what they’ll write about the most.
You see this everywhere. Here’s a $10 car charger for smartphones where the second highest recommended customer review was all about the customer service. And it’s a novel:
Not only did this person write an initial review complaining about the customer service on a $10 charger, but came back to update his review when the customer service got better.
We can’t stress this enough: customer service = reviews. Even bad products will get positive reviews with good service. So if you want the best online reviews, make sure your customer service is top-notch.
Earning referrals from customer reviews will take time and effort, but there is no question that this is the best referral marketing you can do. Additionally, great reviews will boost your affiliate marketing program* as well, since they will help draw in more partners and give them confidence in marketing your company.
And of course, that will lead to more positive reviews. It’s a great one-two punch for your word-of-mouth marketing!
*As a reminder, your affiliates need to disclose the nature of their relationship to your company, per FTC regulations.