How to Garner Great Reviews

Wedding industry pros have much to gain from positive online reviews, so it pays to know how to ask for them

By Sara Perez Webber

Where do you turn when you need a recommendation? In addition to querying friends and family, most people are searching them out online. In fact, these days a good word from a stranger online counts almost as much as a next-door neighbor’s or favorite aunt’s. According to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2017, 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

And, in this case, more is definitely better. A few good reviews won’t cut through the clutter. BrightLocal’s survey also found that consumers prefer businesses that receive high volumes of high-scoring reviews on a regular basis.

That’s why a top concern among the wedding industry pros working with The Knot Pro (partners.theknotpro.com)—a leading B2B wedding marketplace—is how to earn more positive reviews from their clients. Anja Winikka, director of education and industry innovation for The Knot Pro network, shared five expert tips to help small businesses garner great user reviews and drive more business:

1. Be Proactive.

“The majority of consumers (68%) left a local business review when asked, so be sure to proactively ask your clients for their feedback on your marketplace listings where other potential clientele will see them,” says Winikka. This applies to all online reviews and social media comments. Winikka advises vendors to talk to clients about how important reviews are to your business, and to point out to clients the differentiators that set your services apart from the rest. “You want to teach them how to talk about you by pointing those things out,” she says.

2. Make It Habit.

“Make requesting reviews as routine as checking your email or Instagram,” Winikka advises. “After a wedding or event, send a follow-up note thanking or congratulating them on the celebration and include messaging about leaving a review for your services.”

3. Make It Simple.

“Everyone is busy, so make the review process as easy as possible for your clients,” says Winikka. “Our team at The Knot Pro even provides our industry pros with email templates to easily request reviews from the couples they serve.”

When you’re sending out email requests for a review, keep it short (Winikka suggests 200 characters or less) and to the point. “You’re lucky to get them to open it and read it, and if it’s an attachment, you’ve lost them,” says Winikka. “Keep it very conversational, and only about leaving a review; don’t bury the request in an email about five other things.” Also, make sure to check what the email looks like on a phone. “If a person has to scroll a lot, it’s not going to happen,” she says.

4. Get Social.

“Post your work on social media,” advises Winikka. “Tag your clients to motivate them to leave comments, share the photos, and connect with you and your business on a deeper, more engaged level. This connection fosters feelings of camaraderie and, later on, nostalgia.”

The top social media channels for wedding clients are Facebook and Instagram, but Winikka advises against posting the same content on both. “We suggest thinking about Facebook as friends and families connecting to one another,” she says. “That’s very different type of content from Instagram.” She suggests businesses utilize Instagram Stories, the Snapchat-like feature with photo and video sequences that disappear after 24 hours. Show what it’s like behind the scenes, she advises, by posting a Q-and-A with a chef, for example, or a funny moment with a team member. It’s all about making the potential customer feel like they know you, she says: “That’s the kind of thing that can seal the deal with a client.”

Make sure to tag your clients when you can, and don’t forget to use a couple’s wedding hashtag. More than 80 percent of couples use a custom wedding hashtag, says Winikka, and using it is “a great way to end up in other people’s feeds.”

5. Follow Up.

“With respect to couples’ post-nuptial travel and work schedules, if you haven’t heard from a client or received a review where you’ve directed them, follow up,” advises Winikka. “Send a personalized email. Keep it short and sweet, and send the note at a time when they’re likely to check their messages, like midweek, or first thing in the morning.” Don’t continue pestering the couple until they respond, however—limit your follow-up requests to three.

If a client leaves a negative review, don’t ignore it; make sure to graciously reply directly to the comment, specifically addressing any concerns. “You’re not replying for the sake of that client, you’re replying so all other potential clients see how you handle negative situations,” says Winikka. “One bad review is not a make-or-break for any vendor, but what potential customers look for is how you respond to that. If you’ve already addressed the situation, there’s no harm in putting it out there. The key is transparency. Other couples are reading your reviews, trying to figure out if you are who you say you are.”