Have you ever received a message link this on LinkedIn?
Click here to review me on ——: (link)
Can you lend a hand?
My business relies on referrals from happy clients, so I’m gathering opinions from people who know my work.
Your positive review would be much appreciated.
I get messages like this on a near-daily basis. What baffles me is that they’re always from the same people, always people that I’m connected to, but have not worked with, and whom I could not possibly recommend.
You know what that makes these messages? Spam.
Are Online Review Requests Bad?
I’m not suggesting that asking for reviews or recommendations online is a bad thing. Far from it. Using the built-in LinkedIn Recommendation Request tool, or external websites that encourage and aggregate reviews, can be a great thing. Just like asking clients for referrals, asking for a review or recommendation or testimonial really should be an integrated part of your customer and project workflow. Happy clients are happy to provide such reviews – they need only be reminded.
Online Review Request Best Practices
So if asking for an online review or recommendation isn’t a bad idea, how do we go about doing it without making it appear like spam?
First and foremost, never ask for a referral or review from someone for whom you have never worked or had a professional relationship. It’s unlikely that they’re going to write anything at all, and if they do, how accurate could it possibly be? And it’s more likely that you’re just going to annoy them with the message.
Second, do not ask repeatedly. Make one request and allow that customer or colleague to make up their own mind. If they choose not to offer a review or recommendation, that’s their decision. Regularly sending reminders makes you look desperate, and gets back to the issue of sending spam messages.
Which also means that if you’re going to use a third-party tool to request and aggregate reviews, make sure that it will not continue to send requests on your behalf. Turn off any kind of repeat request, and if there is no option, consider using a different service. Now amount of reviews will make up for potentially losing clients or contacts by bothering them.
Third, make sure that you make the review request shortly after finishing the work or project for your client, so that the quality of your work and their experience is fresh in their mind. That will make it easy for them to write about it, and more likely that you’ll get a response faster.
Where Should You Request Reviews?
If you have a profile on LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Google+ Local, clients can leave you reviews on any or all of those locations. You may also display testimonials on your website. Since you cannot copy reviews from one social network to another, and some platforms discourage businesses from copying and pasting reviews onto their own websites, you should regularly rotate where you’re asking clients to review you. Do not ask them to submit multiple reviews; rather, ask one client to recommend you on LinkedIn, and then ask the next client to leave you a review on Facebook. Over time, you will accumulate a nice collection of diverse reviews on all of your online accounts.
I recommend starting with your own website and testimonials. That’s where you should have the largest and richest collection of client reviews and comments. And those are likely the easiest to obtain and maintain, since you can simply email a client and ask them to respond to the email with their thoughts.
LinkedIn has a built-in system as we’ve mentioned, which you can use to send specific clients an invitation to complete LinkedIn’s form. For Facebook or Google+, you will want to email a client a link to the responsive profile and recommendation form.
What Should You Ask For In A Review?
When you ask a client to leave you an online review or recommendation, be specific. Don’t rely on the default request message of the platform, or just send a one-line email saying, “Can you send me a nice review?” Take a few minutes to craft a personal, specific request. You can have the basics saved a template in Evernote or someplace, and then edit it to meet the needs of each specific client or situation.
For instance, remind the client of the work you did for them by mentioning the project, and consider asking them some very specific, open-ended questions. What made them choose you for the work? Were they happy with the job you did? How would they characterize you and your business? Would they be willing to hire or refer you in the future?
And be sure to thank them! Both when asking for the review and after you receive it.
What is an Online Review Worth?
Finally, consider implementing a “reward” system for online reviews and recommendations, as well as referrals. If an online review is worth $25 to you, consider sending your clients who offer one a gift card to a local restaurant. Personally, I reward my clients with complimentary consulting and training sessions (which are worth even more), and give away larger amounts of time and value to clients who take the time to refer other business to me.
I think that online reviews and recommendations and testimonials are great, and go a long way toward helping prospective customers get to know, like and trust you. Use these techniques to solicit and encourage these reviews and be sure to avoid any methods which might annoy or spam your customers or potential customers. And if you liked this article, consider leaving me a nice review in the comments below! Here’s an article I wrote a while back about how to write a great recommendation on LinkedIn, in case you want to return the favor for some of your own friends and colleagues.
Image courtesy of Fellowship of the Rich, Flickr.