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Using customer reviews to promote your business and inspire your staff

Burger from Au Cheval
Photo of Au Cheval from Sophia L. on Yelp

“This is the most delicious burger I have ever eaten in my 26 years of life… If you don’t go here you are SEVERELY missing out on the best burger you’ll ever taste.”
– Alex P. on Yelp

Alex was clearly impressed with his culinary experience at Au Cheval in Chicago. For the restaurant owner and staff, a write-up like this sparks natural—and deserving—feelings of pride and joy. Plus it’s great for driving new business. 

But outside of that, what else can be done with rave reviews? How can you use them to your advantage? Here are five tips for getting the most marketing mileage out of the praise given to your business.

Share on your website and social media

The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business, so put your positive reviews on display to help potential customers with their research and encourage word-of-mouth marketing. Your website is likely your most trafficked online location, so create a special page or section there to house those testimonials. 

Seven Grams Caffe in New York has a dedicated section titled The Buzz, which houses five-star reviews, like this one: “The banana bread is truly good, though I’m admittedly afraid to try any other pastries for fear of addiction.” – Jenny, New York

With the accessibility and shareability of social media, be sure to include reviews on all your social channels. Post the praise on Facebook, tweet your favorite mentions, and share your successes on LinkedIn. For Yelp reviews specifically, you can easily share them on Facebook and Twitter.

Not only does this provide social proof and build trust, it also gives special recognition and appreciation to the person who left you the review. Ashley DuChene of Ashley DuChene Photography in San Diego shares reviews on social media: “It’s my way of letting them know that I appreciate them spreading the word about me and my services.”

You should also cross promote links as much as possible between your website, social media, and third-party review sites. This increases your online visibility and boosts your digital marketing presence, encouraging users to explore all of your sites—whether it’s checking out a mouth-watering recommendation on Instagram or scrolling through a dedicated business reviews section of your website. 

Give your team a shoutout

Whether it’s during your staff meeting, at a pre-shift huddle, or in a team email update, sing the praises of your staff as told by your customers. Share customer feedback that mentions specific team members or departments for a morale boost, also motivating others to aim for the same type of glowing recognition. 

“I love it when a reviewer specifically speaks of someone, so I read those directly to those people,” said Jim Maser, owner of the restaurant Picante in Berkeley, California, who sets a calendar reminder to check his Yelp reviews every Monday. “On Tuesdays, when all the managers are together, all Yelp reviews are printed on the back of our agenda in whole, and we read those as a team.”

Additionally, negative customer reviews allow for the constructive sharing of improvements, creating a silver lining out of an unfortunate customer experience. “When there is real, serious, constructive criticism, it’s very helpful,” said Maser. “It’s a really good mirror.” 

Display your favorites

Find places to display your reviews in your restaurant or business. It can make customers excited about their decision to patronize your business and may even give them advice on what to select based on others’ personal recommendations. Putting reviews on physical display also shows the pride and excitement you have for your business, staff, and customers. 

Picante plate autographed by YoYoMa

If you have space for a wall-mounted TV screen, rotate snippets of reviews along with pictures and video of your cuisine or products, decor, behind-the-scenes action, and more—perfect for entertaining guests who are waiting in line or for their order. Many users accompany their online reviews with pictures too—and with the quality of today’s smartphone cameras, the imagery can basically turn into artwork.

You can also go old school: Print your favorite stand-alone reviews and post them up on your store window, pin them to a team updates board, or even hang them in a fun frame that compliments your decor. Display hand-written compliments on a “wall of fame,” like the Berkeley restaurant Picante did. After famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma tried the food there, he wrote on a china plate: “Picante, the spice of life is your art.” Up on the wall it went!

Bake them into your marketing materials

You don’t have to be the one to brag about your own business—let your existing customers do it for you. Include your best reviews in materials and signage such as front desk placards, table tents, wall posters, and more. Basic email communication serves as a marketing tool too, so pop those reviews into your email signature for even more exposure.

Crab at R&G Lounge

Try printing reviews or user-generated photos next to specific items on your menu or price list. Imagine browsing a dinner menu and reading: “YOU MUST TRY THIS PLACE… I could probably eat it every day of my life” (real quote from Tasha D. about the salt and pepper crab at R&G Lounge in San Francisco); or reviewing a rate card and seeing “I am SO THRILLED to know Bryan… he will be my plumber for LIFE!!!!” (another one from Mindy F. about her experience with Atlantis Plumbing in Atlanta). 

Photo from Elvi T. on Yelp

Just remember to give credit to the reviewer and don’t take the quote out of context. Check out more tips on how to incorporate Yelp branding material into your own.

Celebrate your wins

When a five-star review rolls in or someone sends praise about a special part of your business, take a moment to celebrate it with your team. Spontaneously throw your staff a pizza party or send that employee a special gift card. Reaching milestones that demonstrate high levels of quality and success are perfect for celebrating together.

Maximizing the reach of your online reviews is a great way to build your reputation and direct future guests toward a glowing reference. Add in a combo of the methods above to elevate your overall marketing strategy and business processes even more and create stronger, more meaningful connections with your staff and guests.

Note: Yelp strongly discourages businesses from soliciting reviews so that we can keep feedback as unbiased and honest as possible. Here are some great ways to make your Yelp page top of mind without specifically asking to be reviewed.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.

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