Paying it forward with online reviews

Why are customer reviews  so effective?

They are a powerful first step in establishing believability, credibility, and a sense of security for new customers. They help to break down natural barriers and distrust new consumers feel with an unfamiliar merchant.

Any opinion coming from a third party, not the business itself, instills confidence in prospective customers and dissolves buyer skepticism. Buyers increasingly tune out the mind-boggling flood of commercial messages that present themselves everywhere all the time.

On the other hand when customers with no economic interest say good things, it breaks down skepticism, laying a foundation for trust.

The challenge is to leverage the enthusiasm of satisfied customers into goodwill in well-written reviews.

If you're not already, you should be asking your customers for reviews at these touchpoints:

  • After the sale: Send an email with a direct link to some of the places you'd like to see reviews posted and ask your customers to share their happiness.

  • On your website: Ask your visitors to submit reviews if they've had a good experience (or bad!).

Pay it forward!

It's not enough to just ask others to review your business.  You should be actively posting reviews of other businesses and paying the good word forward.  It's all a part of being an involved citizen and active member of your small business community.  Love that crab soup at lunch?  Let the world know!

Where to Post Reviews

Be sure to sprinkle reviews around to help spread the SEO love for those you are reviewing.  Many search engines aggregate reviews from a variety of websites (i.e. Google maps displays reviews from UrbanSpoon and TripAdvisor and many others).  Here are some of the biggest big-name and local places to drop reviews:

  • Trip Advisor - restaurants, hotels, vacation service providers

  • LocalShops1 - independently owned small businesses in Tampa Bay area

  • Add a review to their Facebook fan page

  • Add a review to their LinkedIn profile


How do you plan your vacations?  Your mom's birthday dinner?  How do you find a new dermatologist or babysitter for your kids?  Buy a new book or find new music?

If you're anything like me, you ask around.  You look for referrals.  And you spend a lot of time reading online reviews.

For restaurants, for hotels, for doctors and caregivers.  Unbiased, community-based reviews are one of the most persuasive factors in consumer decision-making.  If you're not asking your clients or customers for reviews, you might be missing the boat.

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