Almost 95% of customers check out online reviews before making a purchase. This means that if your business has only a few reviews, you lack the social proof to convince users to choose you over a competitor.

In addition, reviews are critical to small business SEO, as search engines use them to determine quality and authority of your business.

To make matters worse, users (and Google) look for reviews in multiple places, including Google My Business, product review sites like Yelp, social media, and industry-specific sites. It’s best if you have at least a couple reviews in all of these places.

Luckily, the holiday season gives you an excellent opportunity to increase your number of positive reviews. Customers are full of holiday cheer and looking to spread their good will. However, it’s still unlikely that they’ll leave a review without some encouragement. You need to have a strategy in place to solicit reviews from satisfied customers.

1. Tap into the Good Cheer of the Holidays

Start a campaign, just for the holidays, where you ask for reviews. You can run this campaign on social media or through email — accompanied with a holiday greeting. If you use an email campaign, include a link to the site where you want users to leave a review.

It’s best if you can find a way to make your campaign holiday themed. For instance, you could ask people to explain how your product brightened up their holidays or to share a holiday story that involves one of your services.

2. Meet Increased Customer Demand

People are more likely to leave you a review if they have a bad experience with your company. You need to avoid disappointing customers at all costs. If you provide an exceptional service, you increase your chances of receiving great feedback.

If the holidays will mean an increase in sales for your business, you need to take steps to ensure that you’ll be able to meet the demand. This means stocking up on your most popular products, making sure that your e-commerce site is accurate about how many products you have in stock, and only guaranteeing delivery times that you can fulfill. You’ll also need to ensure that you respond to queries as soon as possible and otherwise provide great customer service.

3. Share Reviews

Pick your favorite holiday reviews and feature them on your website or social media pages. You can even explicitly say that you will be sharing the most inspiring stories — this should encourage more users to write reviews.

4. Offer a Holiday Gift for Reviewers

A final option is to provide an incentive for leaving a review. Incentives can be a discount on the customer’s next purchase, a freebie, or another type of offer. You can give the gift to all reviewers or hold a contest and randomly pick one user to win.

If you’re sending users to a particular site for the review, you’ll need to check that compensation is allowed. Some sites have strict rules about incentivizing customers — and if you break these rules, you could end up losing all your reviews. This will leave you much worse off than when you started.

Timing is key when soliciting reviews. If you’re using social media, test posting times to find out when your campaign receives the greatest number of responses. For email campaigns, send out requests for reviews when your company is on your customers’ minds. This could be right after a customer receives a product, after a client has used your service or following an interaction with your customer support team. You are more likely to receive responses if the email doesn’t come out of nowhere.

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