Do you want more people talking about your business? Sure you do. Social proof, the things your customers say about you and your business, have a great impact on your success. There are an estimated 225 million smart phone users in the US (according to BusinessInsider.com). With that many devices in the market, why not use the technology to your advantage.
To a small business, social proof such as reviews and comments can mean the difference between growing and closing up shop. You can encourage customers to leave reviews but unless the process is easy, most customer will give up before finishing.
To make the act of leaving you and your business a review as easy as possible, you should provide easy links to the different review sites. URL shortening services such as Bit.ly, Goo.gl, and TinyURL.com gives you the ability to take a really long web address and shorten it something more manageable and easier to remember. For those customers with smart phones, QR codes can make the process of leaving a review even easiser.
QR codes are those strange, square graphics that have started to pop up in advertisement and around town. They help transform printed information into digital information. Just like the bar codes on the products you buy, the encoded information in QR codes is translated into digital information when scanned. This information can be plain text, contact information, a phone number for a quick call, a SMS or text message, plus many more. The information we’re interested in today is a URL or web address.
When a QR code with an encoded URL is scanned, the software recognizes the URL and will ask the user if they want to open the website. No need to type in a long, complicated web address by hand (or thumb…). All a customer has to do is open an app, scan the QR, and open the page. It really is that easy.
If you want to create your own QR codes to get more reviews, follow these steps:
Get the URL from the review site
There are many sites that specialize in online reviews. Some are specialized for food (UrbanSpoon.com) while others are for general business (Yelp.com and Google+ Local). For this example, let’s use Yelp.com.
The URL of a Panera Bread in Mobile, AL on Yelp is http://www.yelp.com/biz/panera-bread-mobile-2. You can shorten the URL by using a URL shortening site. Using the Google URL shortener, it is http://goo.gl/KmRDG. Since Bit.ly will let you customize links, we have http://bit.ly/Panera2.
You can also use a 301 redirect on your own domain. Here’s my link using a 301 redirect, http://bluecapra.com/panera2. If your’re not sure about 301 redirects, stick with the URL shortening sites or drop me a line and I’ll give you the run down.
Generate the QR
Making your own QR codes is a simple process. There are a variety of free online generators including QRStuff.com, the ZXing Project, or QRdvark.com (or find your own on Google). Go ahead and pick one to start off with. Doesn’t matter which one you choose; after making a few QR codes, you will find a site that you like best.
Once you choose the generator you want to use, enter the URL. In our case, it will be the link to Panera Bread on Yelp. Here is what the different URLs look like when encoded as a QR bar code (I used the ZXing Project but the results are exactly the same; try all three and compare if you like)
Notice the first QR code is larger than the next three. The more data that is encoded (for example, the longer the URL), the more complicated the QR code. For a QR code to be read by most modern smart phones, the smallest element in the code (the little black squares) need to be at least a certain size. If there is a lot of data that needs to be encoded, the QR code gets bigger and more complicated. Most modern phones can scan these with no problem but if you wanted the image to be very small, customers would start to have problems. It’s best to keep the QR codes about 1 inch square or larger to help with any issues.
If you want to learn more about QR codes, check out this post on 9 ways you can make a QR work for you.
Get the reviews
Now that you have your very own QR code, what do you do with it? A customer is more likely to leave a review if you make it easy and ask for an honest review. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Print the QR code on table sign holders asking patrons for reviews (don’t forget to include the shortened URL just in case someone doesn’t have a bar code scanner or in unfamiliar with the wonderful QR code)
- Print the QR code on the receipt
- Print the QR code on stickers placed in various places throughout your business (this idea works great for Foursquare check-ins when placed by the register or front door)
- Put a sign on the exit door asking for reviews. If your business has provided a great experience, customers will be happy to leave a review. Be sure to include the logo of the site for the review (in our case Yelp.com), a link, and of course, your QR code.
Getting more reviews for your business is important to your success. It all starts with providing a great customer experience. Once your customers are happy, you can encourage them to leave reviews. By offering short URLs and QR codes, you reduce the friction and steps needed to leave the reviews. Remember, the easier it is for a customer to leave you a review, the more reviews you will receive.
Now that you can build your own QR codes and direct users to review sites, leave a comment and let me know how you are going to use QR codes to get more reviews.