If you want to succeed online, your customers are your biggest asset.  Online reviews posted about your products and service boasts your word-of-mouth advertising and goes a long way to improving your earned media footprint. It’s also way more effective than paid ads could ever be!

There are all kinds of special review websites where customers can critique you – like Yelp, Angie’s List, Citysearch, TripAdvisor, Yellow Pages Online, Yahoo! Local, and even your Google+ page.  But how do you get your customers to leave reviews without making it look like you’re desperate or begging?

1. Suggest a review when it’s clear your customers are happy

Just completed a job ahead of schedule? Went out of your way to help a customer? These are perfect times to share how important reviews are to your business and provide the links to your profiles.

You don’t have to come out and say, “can you leave us a review online?” Instead, simply respond to them with a blurb about where your business can be reviewed online and that you always appreciate when customers share their positive experience with others. They’ll get the hint!

2. Put the information right in their hands

If you run a brick and mortar store, get your cashiers to hand out a card with links to the review websites you’re a member of.  Or, explain how each customer can leave an online review in a blurb at the bottom of every receipt or invoice that you print.

However you connect with your customers, include direct links to pages where they can leave a review online. This not only makes them think of leaving you a review, but it makes the process easy as well.

3. Create a “review us” page on your website

Even better than sharing individual links is having a “review us” page on your website in a central location. This page can provide directions for reviewing your business for a number of different websites.

Once the page is setup, you only have to provide one URL to your customers and they’ll be able to take it from there.

4. Create a review station

Get a lot of foot traffic in your brick and mortar business?  You can get people to leave their feedback before they leave the building by installing a review station.  All you need is a quiet corner and a laptop.  That way, your customers can leave reviews right on the spot!

5. Put links in your email signature

Do the bulk of your work online?  Just put a quick blurb about reviews in your email signature.  You can even insert links to your Google+ page, your Yelp profile, etc.  If you created a review page on your website as mentioned in step 3, then you can simply include a link to that page.

That way, every time you connect with someone via email, they get a “review reminder”.  Best of all, this technique doesn’t involve any outright asking!

One final tip – don’t wait too long to ask your customers to leave their reviews.  If you wait more than a couple of days, you will be stuck dealing with customers who have the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.  Plus, once a few days pass, the information won’t be as fresh in your customers’ minds – meaning the reviews you do manage to get won’t be nearly as thorough as you’d like!

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