The importance of customer reviews and testimonials and how to get them

Published: 7th September 2016   Author: Mike Warren

Here’s a startling fact. 92% of Internet users read reviews to determine the quality of a local business. That’s more than 9/10 people basing their buying decisions on the feedback they see.

This isn’t a made up figure. It comes directly from a survey done in 2015 by the very reputable people at Bright Local. In fact, given the number grew by 3% between 2013 and 2014 and a further 4% between 2014 and 2015, it’s possible and highly likely that number could be even higher in 2016.

Reviews are important in other ways. One of those is the SEO benefits that reviews bring. Google, and many other search engines, will reward websites and companies that get good reviews with a better position on the search results. Be careful though! They must be real.

So why is this figure so high?

It’s a mixture of things. As our searching habits have evolved, so has our reliance on information and, if you’re making a purchase from someone you don’t know, what better way to determine the quality of that business than through the experiences of others.  

The internet is full of reviews. They’re commonplace on giant sites such as eBay and Amazon and, when it comes to booking your holiday, most hotel booking sites will show a user feedback or review for each hotel, indeed Trip Advisor has changed the way the industry works.

There is little you can’t find a review on if you look hard enough and they’ve become an integral part of the buying process.

It makes sense then, for you to garner as many reviews as possible from your customers about their experience of you and to publish them somewhere on the web. 

One thing to note here: Only feedback left about you on a website other than your own are referred to as reviews. Feedback appearing about you on your own website are referred to as testimonials. The two are looked upon quite differently by internet users; the former being the most credible.

How do I get my customers to leave reviews?

The simple answer is to ask them. Some of your customers will leave a review without being prompted, but unless you ask them directly, the amount of reviews you receive is likely to be quite low. 

A great resource for ways to get reviews for your business can be found here and, if your customers need a bit of help with what their review needs to look like, Google recently wrote a great little article which offers some tips.

As a matter of course, we provide our customers with a simple email template that they can send out to customers, giving a few options of where they can leave a review. We do this because getting a good balance of reviews across a number of different sites is the best plan and looks most natural in Google’s eyes. You may want to do that same. 

Where and when should I get people to leave their review?

As mentioned above, the smartest thing to do is to get a balance of reviews across a number of websites. For tradesmen, we’d recommend the following:

  • Google My Business (again, this requires setting up and verification)
  • Facebook (requires an account)
  • (if you’re an advertiser)
  • (requires the setting up of a free account)
  • Locally based review sites
  • Trade based review sites
  • Your own website (Remember, these are classed as testimonials and don’t carry quite the same weight as a review. They’re still worth having, so create a specific testimonials page to your site).

It’s smartest to get your reviews ongoing, doing it slowly and over a long period of time. Again, this looks way more natural to both potential customers and the search engines. If all your reviews come in the same month of the same year, things may look a little suspicious.

Should I be worried if all my reviews aren’t 5 star?

 Not at all. In fact, we’d suggest that a clean sweep of 5 star reviews doesn’t look real or natural. 

A range of reviews from 3 to 5 stars will be just fine and you should ask your customers to leave reviews which are honest and fair. It’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to please everyone all of the time, so one or two less favourable reviews are nothing to worry about.


Mike Warren

Mike Warren

Mike's the resident Jedi. With a career in the marketing industry he now specialises in online marketing. Always trying to make you laugh, he can be found on the golf course in his spare time.


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