Here’s an all-too-familiar scene: You’re a marketer. Your CEO walks into your office.
“Why don’t we have more reviews, dammit?”
You try to tell them it isn’t that easy, that getting reviews is really hard and they should be grateful for the three you have, but they wave you aside.
“Get more reviews.”
They leave, and you gnash your teeth and complain at the prospect of groveling to your customers for a few kind words. But the worst part? You know your CEO is right.
Reviews matter. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective and trusted channels in marketing today, and we trust strangers nearly as much as we trust those we know.
Reviews and testimonials provide valuable social proof for your audience. They bring your marketing out of the realm of pie-in-the-sky dreamtalk and anchor it in real-world examples of the problems you’ve solved for other real people. Reviews help to relieve potential doubts about your brand while offering a sort of assurance that your prospects wouldn’t be crazy to choose you. (Look, all these folks are doing it!)
For many brands, however, reviews are rare and fickle. You have no idea when the next one will come, if it will be good, or if it will be from that one customer who was already having a terrible day when your site happened to be undergoing maintenance.
Your CEO doesn’t care about any of that, though. Nor should they. Because it’s true: Your brand does need more reviews, and, as a marketer, it’s your job to make that happen.
The happily-ever-after to this story? There’s a way to do it. Ready to hear how we tripled our G2 reviews AND got a spreadsheet full of raving testimonials to use on our website?
Grab your Walkman and a crimping iron, kids. This is the story of a girl named Brittnee.
She’s so lucky, she’s a star
Brittnee is our marketing manager at Verblio. Her last name happens to be Spears. And while that is admittedly convenient for a review campaign, I promise it’s not crucial to the process we’re about to outline here. No need to go change your name to Justin Timberlake. (But also, nobody’s stopping you…)
If you’ve ever thought about getting reviews, you know one of the biggest challenges is getting only the reviews you want. You could email your entire list asking for reviews, sure, but then you risk getting more negative responses in addition to the positive. And negative reviews can be TOXIC.
Find the clients who already love you.
When Brittnee started this process, her biggest source of customers who love Verblio was our NPS promoters—those customers that had given us a 9 or 10 when asked “How likely would you be to recommend Verblio to others?” in the app.
She collected these happy customers with their name, email, title, and company in a spreadsheet, as well as any specific comments they had given. Then she set up automation to magically add new NPS promoters to the sheet any time someone submitted a 9 or 10 score.
(Of course, there was a step zero to this process: Provide an awesome product and customer experience for years, so you have clients who love you. If that’s not you, go fix that first.)
Next step: outreach.
Hit me baby one more time
Over the next three months, Brittnee personally emailed every client on the spreadsheet. She thanked them for their positive NPS score and asked them to hit us one more time with a Verblio review on G2.
By including a direct G2 link, she made it as easy as possible for them to help us out; by asking them just after they gave us a 9 or 10 on NPS, she reached them at their happiest.
If they had left a comment with their NPS score, Brittnee also asked permission to use their comments, name, title, and company in our marketing. As a result, we now have the spreadsheet equivalent of a stadium full of screaming, adoring fans to offer social proof throughout our site. (Check out our reviews page for a sample. They may not be “BRITNEY SIGN MY SKIN!!!!!! levels yet, but they’re close.)
And she didn’t stop with NPS promoters. She looked other places to find happy customers, too:
- Company slack channels that mentioned positive feedback
- Key accounts meetings
- Our account managers
- Our customer success team
- LinkedIn posts that tagged the company
- Emails from satisfied clients
They all went on the spreadsheet, and they all got an email from Brittnee Spears thanking them for their business and asking for a review.
Quick Detour from Pop Queens: Why G2?
Individual consumers look at different sites than B2B buyers. If you’re a local business, Google reviews may be everything. If you’re selling B2B, it’s likely G2, Capterra, Trustradius, or another dedicated review platform.
We identified G2 as the best source of reviews for our prospective audience, so we opted to ask only for G2 reviews to keep our request as simple as possible.
One, two, three
Experimentation is key. Cold emailing customers—even the ones who love you—to take time out of their day to write a G2 review is never a sure deal. Brittnee experimented with three different components of her outreach:
- The email itself: She tested using generic copy versus a personalized message.
- Incentives: After talking with internal account managers to learn what types of incentives customers wanted, she tested offering free swag versus free content from Verblio.
- Timing: While she always emailed customers the same week they gave us an NPS response in order to catch them at their happiest, she played around with sending those emails at different times of day and different days of the week.
- Personalization won. (Duh)
- Different incentives didn’t change results. (Hmm)
- A Friday AM send got the best response. (Our theory is that heading into the weekend, people appreciate a way to procrastinate that lets them feel helpful. Or maybe that’s just us?)
Another quick detour: Criminal?
Is it unethical to ask only the customers who love you for reviews? We don’t think so—why would you invite haters to your party?
Plus, what we love about G2 in particular is its robust review system. In addition to asking for overall thoughts and what the customer likes about the service, it asks for what they dislike and even has space for recommendations to others considering the service. This provides a more balanced and thoughtful take, as opposed to an empty 5-star review.
Oops, she did it again
Long story short, Brittnee’s process worked.
In the first quarter of her outreach, she doubled our G2 reviews. But she didn’t stop there.
She continued repeating and iterating on her process, and, after the second quarter of outreach, we had three times our initial number of reviews.
The most important metric, though? At least ten percent responded to Brittnee with something like, “I LOVE YOUR NAME.”
Yeah, we do too.
Let’s recap what our Princess of Pop has taught us about how to get testimonials from customers:
- Find the customers who already like you. Track your NPS promoters. Leave no stone (or Slack channel) unturned.
- Collect names, titles, companies, and quotes in a spreadsheet.
- Automate that spreadsheet.
- Thank each of them for their business. Ask for a review, and request permission to use any quotes.
- Test copy, incentives, and timing.
- Repeat with the winning combos.