The best advertising in the world has always been “word of mouth” from real customers. But in today’s digital world — where over 85% of mattress shoppers research their purchase on the internet, and more than 2 of every 3 relies on reviews to help them make their purchase — conventional word of mouth is no longer enough. Today, you need to build online ‘advocates’ by making sure that your happy customers are sharing their experience on the web — and, in a place where active mattress shoppers will find it and trust it.
Much has been written about the critical importance of “monitoring” your online reputation — but online reputation is not just about playing defense. Increasingly, smart businesses are getting proactive with their online reputation by actually encouraging* their customers to submit reviews.
Why would you encourage your customers to submit reviews of your products or stores? There are two extremely important reasons:
- Greatly increase your chance of getting reviews from happy customers. Fortunately, happy customers vastly outnumber unhappy customers. Unfortunately, unhappy customers are much more naturally inclined to submit reviews — especially in the mattress category. Net, unless you encourage your happy customers to share their experience, their perspectives will not be accurately represented in your online reputation.
- Products and stores that have been reviewed get more business. Consumer reviews have long been proven to increase sales (even negative reviews are better than no reviews, especially for brands that are less well-known).
So, how can you turn your happy customers into valuable online advocates for your products or stores? Here are some helpful tips on that:
- Decide where you want consumers to submit reviews. Of course, consumers are free to submit reviews wherever they want, but most would rather post a review (whether positive or negative) in a place where they know you’ll see it. That said, be sure to provide an option that is independent and unaffiliated (consumers don’t trust reviews on company websites).
- When choosing which review site(s) to recommend, make sure to look for the following:
- Fair and balanced environment** — you don’t want reviews happening on sites with names like RipOffReport or PissedConsumer, where there is a natural bias against against businesses.
- Automatic e-mail alerts when you receive new reviews** — you don’t want reviews happening in some dark corner of the internet.
- Special response privileges for business owners** — you want to be able to respond to a review when you feel it’s appropriate, as a thoughtful and reasonable response can make a negative review even better than a positive one.
- High visibility amongst active mattress shoppers** — positive reviews don’t do you any good unless your prospects will discover them; and, when an issue arises, fixing it in front of your prospects turns a ‘customer service expense’ into ‘free marketing’.
- Just ask them! Getting your satisfied customers to share their experience is often easier than you think. For example, if you receive a thankful email or Tweet, let them know that GoodBed is a place where other mattress shoppers will benefit from their experience. There is a strong sense of camaraderie amongst mattress shoppers, so a consumer that has emerged successfully from the process is often glad to share their experience with their “fellow soldiers still in the trenches.”
- Publicize your reviews. Reinforce the cycle by linking to your GoodBed profile and other review pages from your website, invoices, newsletters and social media sites. This is the most subtle way to encourage reviews, and people that find your reviews before they buy are typically more willing to write a review for you after they buy.
Of course, not every happy customer will choose to write a review, but the impact of those that do will be large, and will allow you to manage your online reputation from a position of strength.
* While we encourage you to solicit legitimate testimonials from your customers, it is critical that you follow our review guidelines, which means no providing incentives for reviews (eg, discounts or freebies), and no reviews from biased parties (eg, friends and family).
** GoodBed is the leading independent research destination for mattress shoppers. To help mattress companies benefit from the power of consumer advocacy, we provide a free service for any manufacturer, retailer or store manager that allows you to receive an email notification any time a review is submitted relating to one of your products or stores, and also gives you the ability to respond if you wish to do so.