Collecting online reviews: 7 tips for creating a snowball effect

You want more customers to leave reviews to help you land new customers. And rightly so, because 9 out of 10 consumers read reviews before they make a purchase. Honest and personal reviews make you come across more trustworthy, so people will be more likely to place an order. But how do you get reviews? Here are 7 tips.

“By actively encouraging customers to leave reviews, you can increase customer appreciation and improve your product or service.” These are the words of Kenzo Brock, key account manager with online review system Kiyoh and Klantenvertellen. “Businesses with a large number of positive reviews appear more reliable. At the same time, negative reviews can help you improve your product or service. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and sympathise with their review. This is a good way to boost your review scores. On top of that, people are more likely to leave reviews if they see that others have done the same. It is like a snowball that keeps growing as it goes.” 

7 tips to get more reviews 

Brock has tips for creating this snowball effect. 

1. Choose an independent tool 

Join an independent review tool. 57% of consumers find independent review platforms the most trustworthy. These platforms allow anyone to leave a review. This creates transparency and inspires confidence. As a result, customers are more likely to leave a review. Reliable independent platforms include Tripadvisor for restaurant reviews, Kiyoh, Reviewclub, or for e-commerce reviews, and Klantenvertellen for all types of service and industry-related businesses. Trustpilot and Kieskeurig offer all-around review systems, as does Google Review. Check online the services and capabilities of these platforms and find out what suits you. 

2. Automate invitations 

Automate review invitations to get a constant stream of new reviews. There are many tools that can do this. Consider inviting customers to leave a review after a purchase. Brock explains why automation is so valuable: “Business owners are busy people. If you automate the review process, you have one less thing to worry about. You can usually automate review invitations via your CRM system or online shop. 

3. Explain why you care 

Let customers know why reviews matter to you. You might want them to improve your products or processes, for example. Customers who know why you want reviews are more likely to leave a review. “You can convince customers to leave a review by telling them that it takes only 30 seconds. This lets them make the trade-off between the pros (helping you) and the cons (time).” 

4. Stay true to your culture 

Ask for reviews in a way that suits your business. Coolblue is cheerful, the government is businesslike, and small businesses should probably not send out overly slick invitations. “If all your other emails and quotes are sent via a personal email address in Outlook or Gmail, do the same for reviews, addressing the recipient by name. Customers will identify with your business and will be more willing to leave a review.” 

5. Use reviews in your marketing mix 

Include your review page in your marketing mix and make sure that everyone can find your page on your review tool of choice. Brock explains: "Negative reviewers want to share their thoughts, even if they cannot find your review page. If your review page is easy to find, customers will be less likely to leave negative reviews on all sorts of social media and forums.” 

On top of that, seeing reviews leads to leaving reviews. This creates a snowball effect. “Mention your review score and review count on marketing assets like your website, social media, and Google Review.” 

6. Do not give discounts in exchange for reviews 

Do not give your customers discounts for leaving a review. This will put you in the bad books of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), Google, and potential customers alike. “In effect, you are buying reviews”, Brock points out. "78% of buyers research whether a review is authentic. Offering discounts hurts that authenticity.” 

There are stricter rules to combat fake reviews in the Netherlands.

7. Respond to negative reviews 

Always respond quickly to negative reviews. “On average, 3% of all reviews are negative”, Brock explains. “Many businesses are afraid of negative reviews and fail to see how useful they can be. Potential customers want to see that you can take criticism well. Responding to a low customer review or tip makes the reviewer feel heard, shows you are engaged, and lets you discover ways to improve your product or process. If reviews keep pointing out the same problem, respond online or tell the reviewer that you will be calling them to discuss this complicated issue.” 

By responding to negative reviews politely and proactively and by thanking reviewers for their response, you show that you care (step 3), making you seem reliable and transparent. 

Launching your review system 

Have the reviews started pouring in yet? On average, potential customers will trust your review page when you have ten or more recent reviews, Block points out. “It does depend on what type of business you run. An e-retailer who sells lots of products online will need more reviews to appear reliable than a gardener who specialises in large-scale projects.”