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How to Acquire Customer Reviews (Proactively and Legally!)

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Customer Reviews

By Melanie Yunk | January 22, 2017

Last year, we wrote about the importance of reputation management and online customer reviews, and – in particular – knowing what’s been written about you and your business online. We love this topic, as it is so important to businesses and often not fully appreciated or understood. We’d like to now explore another piece of the puzzle, the proactive acquisition of online customer reviews on sites such as Google My Business, Yelp and others.

How often do you Google, Yelp or otherwise lookup a new business, restaurant or store you are considering patronizing? Probably most every time you determine you need a new electrician, social media consultant or delicious sushi meal, right? With online reviews almost always at our fingertips, it seems almost silly to not research a business before spending your time or money with them.

And, data reflect the importance of client and customer reviews in driving business. This recent BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2016 report sought to understand how consumers read and react to online reviews of businesses and services in their local communities. A few of the most impressive study findings include:

  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
  • 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if asked.
  • 73% of consumers think that reviews older than three months are no longer relevant.
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.

Likewise, online customer reviews also wield considerable influence and drive sales of products. Bazaarvoice, a “network that connects brands and retailers to the authentic voices of people where they shop,” tracks trends with user-generated content (UGC) and indicates:

  • Clients see 65% average lift in revenue per visit and 52% lift in conversion on product pages with Ratings & Reviews.
  • In the beauty product category, when the number of reviews increases from 1 to 15, a 56% increase in orders results.
  • In the shoe category, when the number of reviews increases from 1 to 15, a 30% increase in orders results.

As you probably already figured, a business or a product clearly derives tremendous benefits from favorable and current client and customer reviews. But, how do you make that work for your company? How should you go about acquiring positive reviews for your business? The simple answer: Ask happy customers for a review!

Before you get started, however, please heed these rules to stay on the up and up and legal:

  1. Never, ever offer compensation of any sort for a review.
  2. If you do offer compensation, you MUST disclose it. In fact, it’s the law! Last year, the Federal Trade Commission made its first charge against a company for misrepresenting online reviews. “Companies must make it clear when they have paid their customers to write online reviews,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If they fail to do that – as AmeriFreight did – then they’re deceiving consumers, plain and simple.”

Keeping in mind that you cannot offer compensation for a review, let’s talk about where you should send clients and customers to review your business or product. Here are a few of the most popular online review platforms we think you should consider:

  • Google: Google My Business listings and reviews appear on the top right side of most all search results pages, making it the most visible online customer review site. Plus, Google offers an easy opportunity for customers to review your business; you can create a link to send to your customers or clients so they may easily submit their opinions.
  • Yelp: Ensure your brick and mortar business shows up on Yelp. Start with this guide to add your business to Yelp, if it’s not already there.
  • LinkedIn: You may request a recommendation on your LinkedIn company page by simply clicking the “request recommendation” button. This assumes you know the customer or client well enough to be connected with them via LinkedIn. LinkedIn provides a great platform for professional services and business-to-business reviews.
  • Facebook: Facebook reviews appear on the right side of a Page, under the cover photo. If you allow ratings on your Page, anyone logged into Facebook may publish a review on your Page, see your Page’s rating and see reviews shared publicly. Facebook is best for reviews of business-to-consumer companies.
  • Amazon: If you make and sell a tangible product online, such as a game, a piece of exercise equipment or art supplies, you likely seek reviews on sites specific to your product category. Generally speaking, Amazon’s customer reviews serve as a tremendous resource for consumers looking to purchase products. Of course, you must sell your product through Amazon for users to review it on the site.
  • Your site: As evidenced by the Bazaarvoice data, product pages with consumer reviews show a significant lift in revenue and conversion. Perhaps it’s time to test UGC and reviews on your product pages?
  • So many others: Of course, many other online review sites exist and should be examined, depending on your industry and type of business. Physicians and healthcare providers need to be aware of HealthGrades, local services providers should be familiar with Angie’s List, local consumer businesses may consider the Better Business Bureau, and the list goes on and on! Do your research to know where your potential clients and customers do their research.

Regardless of the online reviews sites that pertain to your business, the data are clear: current and positive reviews drive business. It certainly behooves you to seek feedback to improve your business and actively request customer reviews on the online sites most relevant to your company. So, why are you waiting? Ask a happy customer for a review today!

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