As multiple marketing and consumer behavior studies have shown, reviews play a big part in earning people's trust. The simple fact is that consumers tend to trust peer recommendations more than brand messages or ads, and this is why social media is the key to gaining the users' trust. Good reviews can increase the click through rate by 700% while also enhancing the time users spend on your page, your conversation rates, and your page views.
This being said, even if you product or service is fantastic, people, sometimes, fail to review it, even if they are fully satisfied with their experience. It may be because of the lack of time, or they may simply forget to do it – regardless of the reason you need a solid strategy for inspiring people to leave reviews. And this is what we will teach you in the following.
Step 1 – Use Your Alumni Ambassador Pool
You should have an alumni ambassador program you can use for promotion purposes. These are the people that have had an excellent experience with your program and are excited about it. They already want to talk about it so, if you encourage them to share their experiences with others and advise them through reviews, be certain that they will comply.
Step 2 – Contact Past Alumni
The tendency is to focus on people who have recently used your services, but you should never forget about past alumni, even if they were through the program five years ago. An abroad experience changes a person's life, and that change doesn't have an expiration date. Enlarge your pool of alumni and get in touch with all the people who have been through your program.
Besides receiving valuable feedback that can help you explain the programs better to new users, you also have the chance of getting more reviews and enhancing your online reach.
Step 3 – Mind the clock and contact them promptly
The truth is that once people leave and get back to their native country, their lives tend to get very busy all of the sudden. There are friends and relatives to catch up with, schedules to organize and many other time-consuming activities. The best moment to ask people to leave a review is before they get on that plane, right after the program ends. To do so, you can try to include the review in the mandatory exit documents or discuss it with the participants in a workshop. Alternatively, you can send alumni a custom follow-up email and ask for their opinion.
Step 4 – Get Personal
Firstly, you need to understand that people chose your program because they wanted to achieve a level of expertise. Acknowledge that in the written email you send to them. Communicate in a personal way and ask them to send you a review not because you need it, but because they've achieved expertise in the program and their input is valuable to other new users.
Moreover, you should spend some time to deliver custom messages to them, ideally from somebody they have had contact with during the program. Don't forget to mention that this task you ask of them is not time-consuming and will only take five minutes.
Step 5 – Divide the reviews
There are many websites where your alumni can leave reviews for the same program and, instead of asking them to post on all of them, you should explicitly specify the website they should write on. For example, if you email 18 alumni, and you want reviews on 3 different websites, divide your list and have 6 alumni post on a certain website, 6 on another and so on. This way it will not seem that you ask a lot of effort from them, and you will gain the necessary online reach.
Step 6 – Think outside the box
If you have sent dozens of emails but haven't received the responses you wanted, it is time to brainstorm. There are many ways of contacting an alumni, not just email. There's social media, personal message, program requirement, etc. If emailing doesn't work as you expected, don't despair. Make them an offer they can't refuse and, by that, we don't mean financial incentive.
You should never pay for reviews! But you can try to engage them with a compelling message that makes them feel their review doesn't only help you, but it also helps others and gains them something – authority, popularity, a nice souvenir, etc. Think outside the box and create custom messages for them, make unique offers and communicate with them through all the channels.
Bonus Advice – Critical Reviews
Ok, the critical reviews are never a bonus, but what matters the most is how you perceive them. Firstly, even if you may not like it, a critical feedback shows you how to improve your program. It's actually very valuable in helping you deliver programs of the highest quality. Secondly, a program that has only 100% positive reviews tends to bear suspicion. For every great product or service, there is going to be somebody who isn't fully satisfied, and that's okay – it only shows that the rest of the positive reviews are real.
The first thing you should do when receiving a critical review is to compose a detailed, respectful and friendly response. Never ignore reviews, especially negative ones. Don't be aggressive towards the user, try to be as friendly as possible when presenting your side of the story and maintain a positive attitude. That will earn you big points in the future.