Tuft & Needle is an online mattress company that rakes in over $170 million a year. The main driver for all that revenue? Their 130,000+ glowing customer reviews floating around the web.

In fact, Tuft & Needle’s review engine is their biggest source of leads.

We talked to CEO JT Marino to unroll their exclusive blueprint for getting more reviews. Follow these seven steps to multiply your review number, increase your search ranking, and ultimately, help your small business grow like crazy.

Step 1: Remind customers to review you—and don’t feel guilty about it

Waxing poetic in a review isn’t the top thing on your customers’ to-do list. So if you want to get people writing, cut away as much friction as possible. A subtle reminder will direct them to the exact place where they can dish on what really happened.

If you own a furniture store, this could mean following up with an email or text message once customers make an in-store purchase. That message should include a direct link that points people to the site where you collect your reviews.

Step 2: Steal this email

After a customer makes a purchase, Tuft & Needle sends out a net promoter score email asking how likely they would recommend them to a friend.

Tuft & Needle NPS email

Once a customer positively responds, they send this follow-up email:

Hi there,

We’re so happy to hear that you’re loving your Tuft & Needle mattress!

Because our company relies so much on feedback and we grow by word of mouth, would you mind leaving a review for our product on Amazon/Facebook/Yelp?

You may want to play with a similar email trail to inspire more customers to jot down what happened.

Step 3: Ask customers to review you once they’ve spent time with your product

Memories are fleeting. So if your product takes two weeks to reach its optimal point, like a mattress or sofa that needs to be broken in, then ask customers to review you after those two weeks.

Can people get the full experience after unwrapping your product or walking into your store? Then ask them to review you right after that moment. Instructing customers to review you when they’re fully immersed in your service or product will help them remember all the little details.

Step 4: Steer clear of incentives

This one’s controversial, but Tuft & Needle found that offering an incentive doesn’t do much to stir up more reviews. In fact, JT believes it cheapens the quality of reviews since people will have to dig deep for something to write about instead of feeling naturally compelled to share.

“If you blow their mind, you don’t have to incentivize them,” he advises.

Step 5: Send customers a writing prompt

The most effective way to get customers to write is by giving them a prompt that spells out exactly what you want to know.

Here are a few questions you can experiment with:

  • How did it go? What was your experience like? Give us specifics.
  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • Did the experience/product live up to your expectations?
  • Would you buy another one/come again?
  • Would you recommend us to a friend?
  • Do you have any photos to share? Photos add legitimacy to reviews, and they can also help your team figure out what went right and wrong much quicker.

Step 6: Don’t get scared of negative reviews

The neat part about Tuft & Needle’s review library is that many of their customers hand them five stars even if they didn’t love the mattress.

JT says they encourage people to return the mattress if it’s not a fit—and then, they immediately ask them to write a review. Why? Because a customer can fall in love with your service even if they don’t like what you’re selling. Which brings us to the next step:

Step 7: Use negative reviews as opportunities to wow your customers

A meh review is a great chance to create lifelong promoters. 

Here’s how to do it: First, don’t freak out. Apologize and then drill into the details that led your customer to that feeling. Offer a solution that’s tied to what they encountered, whether that means retraining a moody staff member, comping a dish, or replacing a product.

Tuft & Needle negative reviews

And here’s the kicker: When that’s done, ask the customer if they’d be willing to update their review based on your resolution. That will let others see how invested you are in your customers’ experiences, and hopefully, it will compel new folks to try out what you offer.  

A customer review strategy can be a powerful growth hack for any small business. And it doesn’t take much to get going.

Tailor JT’s plan to how customers experience your product or service, and then adjust as you go through the process. Because each time a customer clacks away in that comment field, they can make your success snowball.

“Eventually your reviews get better and better, and that leads to more customers, which leads to more reviews,” says JT. “That’s when you turn into a brand people know and recognize.”

Kira Deutch Kira Deutch is a former Gusto editor. She has a background in publishing and content marketing for startups.
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