Does the word “solicit” make you cringe?
Since the days of the door to door salesmen, solicitation has become synonymous with an unwanted request.
But soliciting a review from a happy customer does not have to be a dirty transaction.
Sure, happy customers love to refer their friends and family to services that they know they’d love and benefit from, but why limit them to the people they know?
Sharing their experience with prospective customers they don’t know can widen your net when fishing for new customers.
The way you interact with your customers after they have used your service is an incredibly personal experience.
Why would they want to receive an impersonal email from you requesting them to spend their precious time and energy writing a review for your company when there’s no apparent benefit to them?
That’s why your follow up request for a review needs a little tender love and care. A bit of personalization can go a long way.
Let’s take a look at what you should be considering when crafting a post-sale email campaign:
- Message value, purpose, length, and clarity
- Personality style, branding, and voice
- Campaign timing, frequency, urgency and deliverability
- Conversion analysis, optimization, and testing
Email Campaigns: Does a body good
In an era where we’re obsessed with our bodies, the body of your emails deserves the same attention.
Just because you’ve set up an automated email campaign for your customers after they’ve used your business, doesn’t mean you can use any old boring template and expect results.
Your messaging needs to have a clear purpose, specific directions to achieve that purpose, an appropriate length, and value.
For acquiring online reviews, the email doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult to write, but you need to consider these aspects so you’re not shooting yourself in the foot.
Find Your Purpose
In this case, the purpose is clear.
You want your customers to open the email, read the message, and move directly on to completing a positive online review for your company. This is not the time to highlight your social media channels, recent blog posts, or newest promotions. The point of this email is to get a review. That’s it.
Before crafting your emails, think about exactly what you want the customer to review. Would you like them to explain what they like about the product? Should they name the person that helped them?
Action tip: Write down a list of the things that would make the review helpful for other customers before you actually write the email.
The Art of the Prompt
Most people are not idiots, but they’re not psychic either. They can follow simple directions if you provide them. As mentioned above, you now know exactly what you’d like your most recent customer to focus on when writing their review. When you sit down to write the email, provide some specific prompts to include in the body.
If you do want them to name the person that helped them, include a line explicitly saying:
“How was your experience with the person who helped you? Let us know who it was so we can let them know!”
Requesting specific details will add more value to the review (link to last blog post). Don’t forget to add the exact link that you want them to follow. When sending a customer to a 3rd party review site via email, remember that they’re leaving your sphere of influence. If there are specific instructions on how to use a specific review site, include them in your prompt.
It’s Not the Length of Your Email, It’s How You Use It (oh wait, length does matter)
We know that we struggle sometimes with limiting our word count. There’s so much we want to convey! But if your email is too long, the recipient will never get to your call to action. Try to keep your email concise. It’s important to let your personality shine through, but do it in a way that’s not a distraction from the goal of the email.
Personality Style, Branding, and Voice
Different industries tend to get stereotyped based on their history. Some industries appear conservative in their professionalism like lawyers, doctors, and B2B services, while others differentiate themselves with more a bombastic approach like nightclubs, fashion retail, and entertainment.
You know your audience better than anyone else, and you’ve worked hard to solidify your brand’s identity and personality. Even if you’re in a more professional industry, find ways to appear human in your tone.
A conversational approach to emails is more endearing than a standard generic template. Speaking to the recipient by using “you” instantly boosts that connection.
Action tips for adding some personality into your email:
- Create a “thank you” video.
- It doesn’t have to be long, in fact keeping it under a minute is ideal. Pick someone from your company that comes across well on video and epitomizes your company culture.
- Tell a short mini-story.
- Did a review recently help another customer? In 2-3 sentences, share how that previous customer’s review helped other people decide that your company was the right fit for them.
- Share a tip for the next time they want to use your company.
- Include a short ‘pro-tip’ for them to have an even better experience next time. Do you have a special trivia night on Thursdays? How early in advance should they schedule their next appointment?
- Remember that even though you’re providing a tip, this isn’t the time to include a link that diverts from the call to action.
Tips for the Campaign Trail
One nice aspect of automated email campaigns is that the timing will be predetermined.
You’ll want the first review request email to go out while the experience is fresh in the customer’s mind, especially if you’re hoping for them to include specific details in their review.
A three email campaign drip over the course of one week is a sweet spot for conversion. Too many emails in a short amount of time will annoy your customer, but people are forgetful, so you don’t want to only send one email, and be done with it.
That being said, you want to increase the urgency of the message with each email.
Action tips for increasing urgency:
Second Email: Highlight Review Importance and Value Their Time
In the second email, acknowledge that you’re following up on the first. Highlight the importance of the review while the experience is fresh in their minds, and show that you do value their time.
Final Email: Use Time-Sensitive Language
While you don’t want to make a customer think that they’ve run out of time to submit a review, you can use some time-sensitive language that urges action. You can even make it humorous,
“I know my memory fades more quickly as I get older. We’d love for you to share your experience before your memory fades too!”
If your relationship with your customers is ongoing, like a doctor or lawyer, you might want to set up a long-tail campaign that starts with the three emails in a week, but then occurs on a monthly basis until you secure that review. The longer the relationship with the customer, the better review you’ll receive, so don’t let those long-time customers slip through the cracks.
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again.
Once you have your review funnel set up, you can begin to see how successfully your email campaigns convert. While you can begin to analyze after a couple of weeks, I’d recommend allowing a month to pass to secure your review conversion benchmarks.
Having your conversion metric baseline allows you to begin testing what’s working and what can be improved. When it comes to A/B testing your email campaign, you need to approach your experiments like a scientist. In order to know how your changes are impacting your conversions, you’re going to want to make one change at a time. It’s tempting to completely rewrite your email and see if that works, but there are so many variables when you make multiple changes that it can be difficult to identify which part of the change increased or decreased your conversion rate.
Here’s a list of components to test over the course of a year:
- Subject Line
- The first sentence of the email
- Main value sentence
- Call to action (Button vs link, Button colour, messaging)
- Any other components of the email (graphics, video, designed HTML email vs text email, photo of the person who sent the email)
First, you’ll want to craft a spreadsheet to track the changes and conversion rates. Depending on the number of potential users that enter your review funnel (look for at least 10 per week), set up a 1- to 2-week window of testing. After the time frame is complete, you can compare the conversion rates. If it worked, keep the new copy and try to change something else for the next window. If the conversions decreased, return to the original copy and restart the process of A/B testing.
Collecting reviews is an ongoing process. Every single review you receive has value. Even negative reviews reveal insights into what might not be working with your product or customer service. Take that info and apply it to your business to improve the happiness of your customers and your future reviews.
Optimizing that review generating email campaign will give you the best chance to nurture a dynamic review stream that sets you apart from your competitors.
Len is the owner and Creative Director of Quiet City Design, a full-stack media marketing company based in Toronto, Canada. He is passionate about helping his clients leverage the internet to improve business online and offline. Those methods include website development and digital marketing as well as online review reputation management and online scheduling and appointment booking platforms for local business owners.