How to Use Reviews to Grow Your Business Do you even ask your customers for reviews? Because there's a good chance you won't get what you don't ask for.

By Thomas Smale

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Customer reviews lend credibility to your product or service. When prospects come to your website, and they see that real people use your products and have had good things to say about your offerings, they're more likely to buy from you.

Related: Who's Managing Your Online Reviews?

But, how do you get those good reviews in the first place? How can you leverage them to grow your business? Here are several strategies.

Get bloggers to review your products and give your SEO a boost.

One of the most important ranking factors in Google is backlinks. So, your link-building strategy should include contacting bloggers to review your products.

You can try going after popular review sites like MakeUseOf, or Thanks, Mail Carrier. Another good approach -- especially when you're first getting started -- is to contact bloggers who are either new to the scene or aren't yet well known. Googling product reviews in your niche should turn up some results, and your chances of getting a review will be higher if you start with low-hanging fruit.

When bloggers review your products, they will likely link back to you. See if they would be willing to use specific anchor text to link to you. By varying up your keywords, you can rank for more terms you deem important for your business instead of just having everyone link to your homepage using the same anchor text.

Another good way to encourage bloggers and other entrepreneurs to review your products is to create an affiliate program. For instance, Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income actively promotes products like Bluehost, Leadpages and ConvertKit, among others, because he is an affiliate. In some cases, he has also done in-depth reviews for these products, because he earns a commission on sales. A financial incentive can be great for getting business-minded people to review your product.

Get your best customers to review your products.

When you're looking to get more reviews for your products or services, don't forget to ask your customers. No need to beat around the bush. Ask directly through your email campaigns, or even iin person if applicable.

Many businesses feature customer testimonials or reviews right on their homepage. Consider the example of GetResponse, a popular email marketing software. On its home page, you can see quotes and featured stories from the likes of Reno Van Boven of Yoonla, and Peep Laja from CXL.

If you have product listings on Amazon, you may not know who your customers are. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't supply you with this information, either, leaving you no way to contact them. There are great tools like Salesbacker that can help you get in touch with purchasers and ask for reviews. The more reviews and feedback you can get on your products, the better, because you'll generate more sales.

Just beware of incentivizing Amazon reviews, because the company's policies don't allow for this. Incentivizing is when you pay or compensate a reviewer for leaving a review. This will not give credibility to your product or service. Stay up to date with Amazon's policies for best results.

Encourage reviews.

If you're selling on Amazon, incentivizing is a bad idea. However, there are many other ways to encourage customers to leave reviews, such as an offer of a coupon, gift certificate or participation in a rewards program.

Adagio Teas, for instance, has been able to get more reviews for its teas by giving customers five points for every review published. For every 100 points, customers get $10 they can spend however they want.

There are mixed messages out there about incentivizing reviews, and some say to avoid it, but it has worked for companies like Adagio Teas. Fundamentally, you'll need to adapt your approach based on what you're selling. Incentivizing the right way can be an effective strategy for getting reviews.

Related: 5 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Site's Online Reviews

Feature customers on your website.

GetResponse has already been mentioned. One of the reasons why what it's doing works is that the people being featured on its homepage get a link back to its website, or at least a mention.

This tactic may not work for all types of customers. You'll need to think about whether your customers are the kind of people that would enjoy being in the spotlight. If you're serving a community of entrepreneurs or marketers, or even musicians for that matter, there's a good chance they will jump at the chance to be featured on your homepage. If they've been using your product for a while, and you know they're getting value from it, why not ask for a review and create a feature for them?

DistroKid is a great example of a company that's leveraging reviews and testimonials to the nth degree. If you go to Distrokid's website, you'll see that the company doesn't even have a navigation menu. The only thing you can do on the site is sign in or sign up. Toward the bottom of the page, you can find quotes from a dozen or so prominent musicians who use the service. What musician wouldn't want to be featured in this way?

Optimize your website for reviews.

It's easy to overlook your website's own pro and con factors when you're trying to get more reviews. Here are some things to think about:

  • Is it easy for your website visitors to leave a review? Are you asking?
  • Can people find reviews on your website? Do they even know it's possible to leave a review?
  • Is your store mobile optimized? Can mobile device users easily leave reviews?
  • Are you publishing both good and bad reviews? It's easier to build trust with prospects when they can clearly see both the upsides and downsides of your products.

A great example of an attractive and properly laid-out ecommerce site is Nite Watches. When you view any product page, you can scroll down a short way to view customer reviews. There is also a "Reviews" link at the top of the page, clearly indicating that customers can leave -- and have left -- reviews for its products.

Look at other examples to see what works. Getting reviews isn't always easy, but it is worthwhile.

Final thoughts

Getting into the habit of asking for reviews can make a big difference. Many entrepreneurs and companies aren't sure where to start, and therefore never get started at all. So, just start asking. You'll figure out how to optimize your strategy as you try different things.

Related: How Online Customer Reviews Help SEO and Drive Sales Growth

The point is, just ask -- because there's a good chance you won't get what you don't ask for.

Wavy Line
Thomas Smale

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Founder of FE International

Thomas Smale co-founded FE International in 2010. He has been interviewed on podcasts, blogs and also spoken at a number of industry events on online businesses, exit strategy and selling businesses.

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