Create Your Holiday Online Review Strategy Now

What? Don’t look at me like that. I know it’s not even fully mid-October yet, but do you know what’s right around the corner? Everything! Halloween is just a couple weeks away and serves as the warning shot for the official holiday season. Naturally, as savvy business owners, you want to make sure you’re taking full advantage of the madness that’s about to hit. And that means creating a holiday review strategy that will let you prime your reviews and testimonials for 2012.

Things are about to get super busy, right? Why not put the increased traffic and eyeballs to good use and ramp up your customer reviews and testimonials for 2012?

Here are a few suggestions to help you.

1. Create Holiday Incentives

If you’re not already in the habit of providing incentives to customers who offer you site testimonials or reviews, start now. No, you can’t promise someone a discount if they leave you a positive review on Yelp, but you can throw a comment card in with their purchase and offer a discount or promotional item for filling it out and bringing it back completed. Or, if the incentive part makes you nervous, just add in a note saying you’d appreciate it if they left their feedback for your business on whatever online review site you’re trying to promote. Sure, there’s the potential that they’ll leave a negative review, but it’s more likely that they won’t. And if they do, then you have an opportunity to fix it that you didn’t have before.

2. Conquer Mobile

eMarketer recently referenced a survey performed by PayPal and Ipsos to see what percentage of people planned to use a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) to make a holiday purchase this year. According to their results, 46 percent of users said they would.

That represents a huge increase from the 2010 ForeSee survey which had that number at just 17 percent. As a small business owner, this is something you must consider. It means you want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to make a mobile commerce purchase, but it also means you want to be encouraging customers to leave FourSquare tips, to check in on their devices, to leave reviews on Yelp while they’re still in your store, etc. Not only do you want to capture the people who are already making mobile purchases at your business, but you want to convert the ones still on the fence, as well.

3. Hold a Holiday Event

It’s party season. Why not take advantage of that and hold an in-store get-together where you celebrate your success over the past year, while also providing customers a great opportunity to go public with their love of your company? You can promote the event as a holiday thank-you to your loyal customers and let them know they may also be featured in promotional materials for your website. Once they’re there, ask for their feedback, take photos, get video interviews and ask for permission to use it on your website or in promotional materials. Let them know you’re only asking them because of how much you value them as customers. You may be surprised how eager they are to support your brand.

4. Hold a “Why Do You Love Us?” Contest

Contest marketing is a great way to build some brand buzz and fill the testimonial reservoir by creating an incentive for participation. Again, you can’t give customers free stuff in exchange for good reviews, but you can take advantage of the season’s playfulness by asking customers to participate in some kind of brand-related challenge. Maybe it’s a video contest where you ask customers to explain what they love most about your brand or to submit the best photo of your product in use. Not only are you allowing people to share their love for your brand, but you also get some great content to put on your site and add to your testimonials.

5. Ask

I know it sounds awful, but sometimes the best review strategy of all is simply finding new ways to make asking for a review part of your sales process. Take inventory of everything you’re doing to solicit customer reviews and identify holes. Some places you should be asking but maybe aren’t include:

  • Company newsletters
  • At the register
  • In shipping orders
  • On your blog

As business owners, we’re sometimes leery of asking customers to leave reviews because it feels like solicitation. We must remind ourselves that leaving reviews isn’t yet a natural act for most people. And until it is, we need to remind people to do it.

Above are just a few ways small business owners can ramp up their online review process during the holiday season. Will you make reviews a priority this year?


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

4 Reactions
  1. As much as I love your stuff Lisa, doesn’t a “Why do you love us” contest come across as a bit needy?

    Sounds like something my girlfriend says after half a bottle of wine. Although she says it in the singular. Until she’s finished the bottle anyway.

  2. Lionel Bachmann | Model Trains

    These are some good things to think about. Christmas will be here before we know it, and some have already started their Christmas shopping. I like #5, sometime all you need to do is ask, you’ll be surprised at how many people say “yes.”