October 22nd, 2018 Business

Online buyers trust reviews. Here’s how you can earn more and use them to your benefit.

Online reviews are a powerful selling tool for any online industry—eLearning included. Online buyers are savvy shoppers, and prefer to do their research before making a purchase. This is true of online education as much as anything else, which means the power of a review should not be underestimated.

However, actually gaining reviews for your course can often prove more difficult than you might think. While most of us read reviews (or at least glance over them), we’re often too busy to leave them ourselves. Reviews take time, and since we’ve already gotten what we came for, we have fewer reasons to leave them.

That said, with the right encouragement, many of your learners will leave reviews. While there’s no way to guarantee you’ll get good reviews, you can at least increase the volume of the ones you receive. But first, a couple things not to do:

  • Offer compensation. This is not the same thing as offering an incentive (which we’ll get to in a bit). While you can make the review process exciting and rewarding for learners, you can’t pay them. (And that includes offering discounts or exchanges.)
  • Make it mandatory. You can’t withhold course completion until a learner leaves a review. Anything that compels a learner to write a review will damage the credibility of your course rather than enhance it.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you grow your repertoire of online reviews.

1. Ask for a course review—and make it easy!

I review almost every Audible book I listen to. Mostly all I do is leave a star rating, although sometimes I write a few sentences. But even a small amount of feedback can help you improve a course, and many learners look no farther than a starred review when making a purchasing decision.

However, the reason I always leave a review is that Audible makes it easier to do so than otherwise. The moment I reach the last minute or two of my book, Audible asks me to leave a rating. And while I could tap the “skip” button, it’s hiding out unobtrusively in the corner, making it more expedient to review instead.

Of course, it may be a little harder to gain more in-depth, written reviews, but the point is that some review is better than no review at all, and if you can grow the overall number of reviews, you may learn a lot more from the aggregate than you would from fewer, more detailed reviews.

If you use LearnDash, you’ll be happy to hear we have an extension that streamlines the review process. Take a look to learn more about how to use it for your course.

2. Offer incentives (but not discounts).

As we already covered, offering compensation (in the form of cash or discounts) is not a valid way to get reviews for your course. This essentially amounts to a bribe, where you’re paying learners to say good things about you.

However, since reviews do take time and amount to a favor done you by your learners, it is possible to offer an incentive for reviews, so long as it’s handled correctly.

For instance, Audible has a badge for listeners who review and share favorite books, while other organizations have done raffle drawings offering the occasional prize to customers who leave reviews.

3. Make the reviews public.

The tone of the reviews you receive will vary drastically depending on whether your learner views that review as private or public. If they’re sending it directly to you, then it’s not a “review” so much as “course feedback.”

The distinction here is important, in that reviews benefit future learners and are beneficial to the community. A public review is one the learner expects to be read, and that gives them extra incentives to be honest for the sake of future learners.

Private course feedback, on the other hand, primarily serves you, the educator. You may earnestly want to make your course better, and you may have many learners willing to write detailed feedback to make that happen. But you will also find plenty of learners who submit feedback they never expect you—or anyone else—to read.

For marketing purposes, public reviews are by far the more preferable option. Yes, they may open you to the possibility of negative reviews, but they will do more for your brand, and they will even help your SEO.

4. Be present on multiple review platforms—especially social media.

There are many sites on the Internet, from Google to Yelp, that allow learners to leave independent reviews. For Google, you will want to create a Google My Business account so you can claim reviews as belonging to your business and respond to them.

The same holds true for social media. You will want to create pages, especially on Facebook, where you learners can come leave a review of your course. This not only gives your learners a place to leave feedback, it also helps ensure that whatever is being said about you isn’t being spread places where you can’t see it.

Show your learners you have nothing to hide.

Online reviews can be frightening territory for some educators, because there’s no controlling what people might say about you once given the microphone. But there’s also no taking the microphone away from them. Online reviews are part of how the Internet functions, and there’s no getting away from them.

Instead, it’s best to lean into them and be as transparent as possible. Don’t hesitate to direct your learners to leave reviews. If some of them are negative, then hopefully by encouraging more of your learners to write them, a greater portion will end up being positive.

And remember that any review left publicly can also be used on your website for marketing purposes. So keep an eye out for the reviews that speak most eloquently in your favor, and be prepared to highlight them on your sales pages.

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