Use These 4 Offline Strategies to Gain More Online Reviews

Online reviews

Local SEO can be so frustrating.

You know it can bring benefits, get your business right in front of potential clients for instance. Or help you rank for competitive key phrases much faster. Not to mention that it costs less than PPC for instance.

But it’s so damn hard to do.

For one, it takes hell of a time to see any results. Space on Google SERPs page is limited and you often have to fight for it with giant companies doing local too.

Yes, it can be frustrating.

And to make things worse, one of the key factors that can influence your campaign’s success is also one that heavily relies on your customers – online reviews.

In a local SEO survey online reviews were named one of the top 5 local ranking factors. Moreover, 88% of customers confirmed that they were influenced to buy by an online customer service review (Zendesk).

But here’s the catch, getting those online reviews isn’t a piece of cake. It seems that most customers aren’t too keen on leaving them. According to Brightlocal survey, only 8% customers admit to have recommended a business in an online directory while just over 10% have done so on Google+.

Needless to say, the fight for getting those reviews is fierce.

But just as much as you should use online techniques to solicit those reviews, there are also offline incentives you could employ to get more customers to review and recommend you online.

Here are some of them.

Use QR Codes

Not so long ago, QR codes were a hot topic in marketing. You would see those black and white, square’y images almost everywhere.

But, with many people claiming they have never scanned one of those codes or know anyone who did, it might seem that QR codes are out of fashion.

Recent research doesn’t suggests such a drastic drop in their popularity though. According to comScore research, the number of people scanning QR codes remains stagnant in spite of the rise of the numbers of smartphone users.

But does that mean that QR codes are dead and gone?

Not really.

Even though usage numbers do not grow, many marketers find them to be a successful mobile marketing tactic. Experian found that 29% of their respondents (all marketers, by the way) find QR codes very effective while 66% effective.

What does that mean to you? That you should employ QR codes in your strategy to gain more online reviews.

Put a QR code with a link to a review site on your internal feedback forms. Most companies have a  system in place to solicit internal reviews. The trouble with those is that in spite of providing a good insights into your customer experience, no one really sees them.

Modify your forms to allow users to access review sites too through a QR code and leave a public review as well. Just remember to add clear instructions what you want your customers to do, not to confuse less technically savvy people.

Add QR code to your receipts or invoices. One of the best times to ask for a review is right after you deliver the service. When someone gets their receipt or invoice after experiencing a satisfying customer experience, they are more likely to make the effort and post a review.

The trouble? Most of the time you don’t give them a means to do so. Your customers simply have to do too much work to review you and it’s just not worth it. By placing a QR code pointing to a review site you make this task a lot easier.

Use Internal Signage

Most brick and mortar businesses use internal signage to communicate with their customers. From discounts to internal store policies, it’s all there displayed on the wall or shop windows.

Why not use this space to also ask for reviews? You could even include a QR code to make it easier for customers to land on a review site and recommend your business.

Train Your Staff to Ask for Reviews

Your employees have a great influence on your customers. What they say can inspire or discourage clients from making a purchase. Ignore a customer and she most likely will consider your service low quality. Have your staff talk to much or be too intrusive and she is most likely to feel the same.

But your employees can also inspire customers and entice them to write reviews. Have an iPad at hand at the till and train your staff to ask every customer if they’d like to share their experiences about your service.

Of course not all customers will want to. And you might even have to use this tactic only outside your shopping peak hours. But during those times when there are only a handful of customers in your establishment, this might prove as a successful tactic.

Print Review Cards

This technique is often employed by hotels that give their checking out customers a card asking for a review and listing ways to do so.

You can do the same, print small review cards with information and links to your Google + page plus a QR code to Yelp for instance and throw it into your customers bag along with goods they purchased or leave it at the table with a little sweet after the meal.

Conclusion

Increasing your local SEO presence can be frustrating. It takes time and you often have to fight unfair battles with companies much larger than you.

At the same time, by using offline tactics to ask your customers for help you can quickly increase the number of online reviews for your business while learning something new about the quality of your service.

A win win situation if you ask me.