We all know how important it is to get reviews for your business – but do you know how to ask customers for online reviews?

It’s not as simple as it seems – so we’ve written this short guide for you: how to ask customers for online reviews – a simple guide!

How to Ask Customers for Online Reviews: The Three Rules

Let’s start with the basics. When should you ask someone to leave you a review?

Simply, when they’re at their happiest – their most delighted – with what you’ve done for them.

Pick your moment carefully, and you’ll see a massive difference in the number of people who leave positive reviews for your business.

Pick your moment carefully, and you’ll see a massive difference in the number of people who leave positive reviews for your business. Share on X

Now, most people don’t do this. Most of the time, people don’t ask for a review until the follow up email after a purchase, or one or two weeks after the customer has received the item or service.

It’s understandable – as business owners, we’re more concerned with getting everything done for a customer. We want to get the order, deliver the goods or service, then make sure that they’re happy with everything, then sit back and enjoy the warm glow. Then we remember – ah, shit, we should ask for a review. So we get back in touch, and ask.

But by this stage, the customer has moved on.  They have new problems that need addressing, new situations to deal with.

 

This isn’t the ideal time to go back and ask them to leave you a review.

Chances are, they won’t.

What’s more, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so – the very slightest of friction, and they just won’t do it. 

You need to make it as easy as possible for them to leave a review - the very slightest of friction, and they just won’t do it. Share on X

Wait – aren’t you being a bit cynical here? People aren’t that lazy, are they?

Yeah, ok. This isn’t the first time I’ve been accused of being too cynical.

To illustrate, let me tell you a story.

A few years ago, I answered someone’s question in a Facebook group. They were struggling with a whole load of issues with their social media scheduling tool, and understanding attribution. It was more than I could answer on a Facebook comment, so we fixed up a time to meet.

We spent a couple of hours in a Manchester, working through everything. After a couple of hours, we’d sorted everything out, and she was absolutely thrilled. There was no charge – I decided to absorb the time, the travel, and parking, in return for a positive review.

We parted ways, and I said I’d send her the links to the review sites we were focusing on.

And so I did.

But then I received a reply:

“I can’t remember my login details to leave you a review, sorry.”

And that was it. We didn’t get a review.

Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t find this quite frustrating. It doesn’t take much, after all, to reset your login details to a site. Much less effort than spending a couple of hours sorting through the finer details of digital attribution, for no fee.

But here’s the thing: I’m not angry about it. And I’m not sharing this story for catharsis.

Instead, it’s a valuable story for trying to understand what went wrong.

And here’s what I think happened. Here are my three lessons:

1. I didn’t pick the right time to ask for a review.

Yeah, I waited until she was happy with what we’d done – but I left it too long. By the time she’d gone home and received my email, life had moved on. I wasn’t front-of-mind anymore, and other things had taken over.

You need to strike when the iron’s at its hottest, and your customer is at their absolute happiest. Strike then, and be confident about it.

You need to strike when the iron’s at its hottest, and your customer is at their absolute happiest. Share on X

2. I didn’t anticipate and smooth any bumps in the road.

I asked for a review, and emailed the URLs across. One of them was a Facebook review link, which was fine – click the link, and it opens the Impact Page, and goes straight to the review section. Couldn’t be easier.

The other was a Google review. Now, to leave a Google Review, you need to be logged in using your Google account. If you use Gmail, YouTube, or have an Android device, then chances are you’re already logged in.

If you don’t – if you use an iPhone, or only use hotmail, account, and only ever browse YouTube without logging in, then this creates a moment of friction. You’re immediately presented with a request to log in to Google. And if you don’t know how to do this, then there’s an instant roadblock – chances are, the review isn’t happening.

I should have pre-empted this, and explained about being logged in to Google – most people do have a Google login, and a little bit of prep would have smoothed the way. That moment of friction could have been avoided.

3. It wasn’t absolutely as simple as possible to leave a review.

And this goes to the heart of things. You need to make it as simple as possible. And this isn’t just about how to log in to leave reviews – it’s about what you want them to write too. Being confronted with an empty text box is another moment of friction – and another reason why they might not leave you a review.

Let’s deal with this next.

How to Format a Review

Now, I reckon there is a simple formula to writing a brilliant review, and it’s about being clear about the problem and solution.

Because the business being reviewed isn’t the target audience – other potential customers are.

Remember; you are not the target audience of your reviews - your other potential customers are. Share on X

They’re the ones who’ll read the reviews when deciding whether or not to use you and pay for your services.

Your reviews need to be written for this audience. They need to help them decide if they want to buy from you or not.

So, we recommend asking the following three questions:

  1. What problem did you have when you came to us?
  2. How did we help you solve it?
  3. Would you recommend us to others?

The most important point here is the first – the better they can articulate the problems they faced, the more powerful the review is to potential customers.

Where Do You Want The Reviews?

Depending on your business – and, most importantly, where your customers are looking – you’ll ask for people to leave you a review in different places.

For us, the two most valuable places are Google Reviews and Facebook Recommendations – most of our new customers check us out on one (or both) of these platforms first, so it’s important for us to gather good reviews there too.

The first thing for you to understand is where your customers are checking you out – and the best way to learn this is to ask them.

You need to understand where your customers are checking you out - and the best way to learn this is to ask them! Share on X

Looking at what your competitors are doing can also be useful, though beware – they may not be targeting the right places. If your customers aren’t looking on FreeIndex, for example, then there’s little point asking for reviews on that platform – even if your competitors are.

Here are some of the most common review sites:

Pick your most important one or two, and focus on them above all else.

Generating Review Links

Once you know where you want the reviews to be left, you need to find a way to signpost people – usually, by giving them a URL to visit:

How to Ask Customers for Online Reviews

Most online review platforms will give you a way to link directly to your page – it’s a good idea to add these links to a spreadsheet (such as Google Sheets) so you always have the links to hand.

Remember – you want to link directly to the reviews section of your profile, rather than the platform in general: for example, link directly to your Facebook Recommendations, rather than just to your Facebook Page.

A couple of quick tips to make sharing your review links easier:

  • For your Google My Business review link, make sure that you include the https:// at the start of your URL – otherwise the link won’t work.
  • Use a URL shortening service (like bit.ly) to create short, memorable URLs – especially useful if you’re asking your customers to type the address in manually.

Good luck!

We’d love to know how you get on asking your customers for online reviews – get in touch with your comments and ideas!

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David has worked with countless UK charities, businesses, and schools - with a brilliant track record of helping them with their biggest challenges. David is the founder of the Impact group - including Impact Charity Advisors, Impact Business Advisors, and Impact Education Support.