What’s one of the first things people do when thinking about making a purchase? They turn to the internet.
Customers use search engines and review sites to learn anything they can about a business and its products or services. In fact, a survey from BrightLocal found that a whopping 82% of customers read online reviews for local businesses.
Before a customer makes a purchase, or books an appointment, you can bet they’ll consult Google for reviews first to gain a better understanding of your business.
In this article, we’re discussing how you can get 5-star reviews on Google as well as how Google Reviews impact your bottom line.
Let’s get started.
Why Do Google Reviews Matter?
Customers have been turning to their browsers to learn about and discover businesses for quite some time. As search engines have evolved, the weight of reviews and ratings has grown to impact businesses tremendously.
But how exactly do reviews impact your presence online?
Reviews increase your visibility
Reviews play a significant role in how people find your business online. Google uses three factors to determine the local ranking, all of which directly impact where your business shows up on the search engine results page. Those factors are:
- Relevance: This refers to how well a listing corresponds to the term someone is searching for. That’s why completing your Google My Business listing is critical; the more information you give Google about your business, the better.
- Distance: This refers to how far a potential search result is from the location term used in the search. If the location isn’t specified in the search, Google will determine the best result based on what’s known about the user’s location.
- Prominence: This refers to how well-known a business is—both online and offline. Google tries to reflect a business’s distinction in the offline world in its local rankings. For example, museums, landmarks, or popular companies are likely to be prominent within local search results.
Online reviews also enable you to benefit from “near me” searches on Google. Between 2015 and 2017 alone, “near me” searches that contain a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy” saw an increase of 500%.
However, if your Google My Business listing isn’t complete, it will be difficult for Google to determine if you match the criteria of the searcher.
Reviews affect buyer decisions
The average customer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision. Therefore, if you don’t have many (or any) reviews on Google, it’s more than likely your business is feeling the repercussions whether you realize it or not.
It goes without saying that positive reviews are the primary goal, as reviews with an optimistic sentiment typically result in more sales. But only targeting happy customers to write reviews can backfire. Instead, businesses should consider the feedback from each review and determine how to improve their service. That’s a surefire way to receive positive reviews consistently.
Customers trust online recommendations as much as personal ones
Online reviews are, in many ways, a form of word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, 91% of customers between the age of 18 to 34 trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends?
With review sites like Google Reviews, Facebook, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and more, customers can learn enough about a business that influences their decision. In other words, reviews are a critical component of your business’s success—both in-store and online.
Although you can’t control what customers say specifically about your business in a review, you can control how customers interact with your brand.
When collecting reviews, it’s important to make sure you’re set up for success. Before we dive into how to collect 5-star reviews from customers, make sure you cross these items off your to-do list first.
Do These 3 Things Before You Ask Customers for Reviews
The last thing you want to do is encourage customers to leave reviews only to have them reach a dead-end. Ensuring you’re prepared to handle reviews as you receive them from customers is critical to leverage them. After all, if leaving a review is confusing or time-consuming, it will be challenging to get customers to comply.
Let’s take a look at a few things to do before requesting reviews from customers.
Claim and verify your listing
If you haven’t claimed or verified your Google My Business listing, make that the first step you take before asking for reviews. By claiming and verifying your profiles, you can manage your information, respond to messages and reviews, and much more.
Plus, by verifying your accounts, you help customers find/confirm that your account does belong to your business. There are several ways to verify your business on Google, as listed in this article from Google.
Complete your profile
It’s not enough to claim and verify your accounts; you must complete your profiles, too. This means filling out the information fields like your address, phone number, hours of operation, and more.
Completing your profile also means adding a profile picture, adding photos of your store, and other information to help both your customers and Google confirm your identity. This is especially important if you have multiple locations for your business. Make it clear as to which profile is tied to which location, so customers don’t have to guess—and potentially don’t leave a review as a result.
Editing your Google My Business listing can be done through accessing your Business Profile.
Avoid “review-gating” from customers
It’s important to note the difference between asking customers to leave reviews and what’s known as review-gating. According to Google, review-gating is the deliberate discouraging of negative reviews or selectively soliciting positive reviews. This means that you can’t filter your customers—or select specific people, like those you know who had a positive experience with your business—before asking them to leave a review. And you can’t ask customers not to leave a negative review.
For example, it’s a common practice to send experience surveys to customers. But what gets businesses in trouble with Google is when customers are asked to post a positive review on Google if they had a positive experience or share their experience privately to the business if they had a negative experience.
It’s great to encourage customers to leave reviews, which we’ll discuss in more detail later, but make sure you’re keeping your tactics fair and square.
4 Ways to Get Google Reviews
Now that we understand the impact reviews have on a business and how to set your Google My Business listing up for success, let’s take a look at how to go about collecting them.
Create a 5-star customer experience
How can you expect to get 5-star reviews if your customer experience doesn’t match?
When thinking about your customer experience, it’s best to look at the entire picture. There are a few ways to approach this.
Audit your entire customer experience
Take a look at how your customers interact with your business—both online and in-store. It’s essential to see how they see things when thinking about how to improve your service.
A few questions to keep in mind when auditing your experience are:
- How do your customers find you online?
- What does your in-store experience look like when a customer enters?
- What could you improve?
- What could you stop doing?
Audits help you see the gaping holes in your customer service experience that you otherwise might not have seen.
Pay attention to your reviews
Your past customers are a gateway to creating a 5-star experience. Learn from what they say about their experience in the reviews they leave.
Reviews are a great way to see what your business is doing right and what could be improved. For example, this review for pizza restaurant, Bigalora, paints a great picture of what customers can expect when they visit as well as what the restaurant does right:
In contrast, negative reviews can show you what you need to work on as a business:
Per this example, Bigalora could revisit their seating system and identify areas of improvement.
When asking for reviews, use the right methods
According to research from the Spiegel Research Center, businesses that proactively request reviews from customers see a higher rating (an average of 4.34 stars) than those that simply wait for unprompted reviews (3.89 stars).
In other words, if you encourage customers to leave reviews, rather than wait for them to do so, you’re more likely to have a higher star rating because you’re asking in the first place.
So what’s the best way to ask customers for reviews?
Be timely with your approach. There are multiple ways to ask customers for reviews, but the best way to ensure you get the most ROI from your efforts is to be timely with your ask.
For example, you could send out a survey after a customer makes a purchase, so their experience is still fresh. Or you could include in-store reminders in the form of posters and table tents, and train your employees to encourage customers to leave reviews.
This email from home decor and artist collective Society6 is sent to customers a few days after they make a purchase:
This review collection format makes it easy for customers to leave feedback without having to leave their inbox.
How you choose to ask customers for their feedback largely depends on your customer base and what information you want to collect about your customers (e.g., emails or phone numbers for SMS promotions).
However, don’t forget about your past customers. Even if they made a purchase a while ago, asking for feedback if you haven’t already is important. This is especially important if you offer a product or services that might not generate an instant result, like skincare or nutrition. For these customers, sending an email or SMS reminding them to submit a review is a great way to reach that customer base.
Reply to existing reviews to build confidence among customers
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment: How might responding to other customer reviews look in their eyes?
Responding to customer reviews shows you value their input, opinion, and experience. And it shows you’re not afraid to learn from mistakes and grow.
Plus, there is ample data out there that confirms the power of responding to customer reviews. A study from Womply found that businesses who reply to reviews at least 25% of the time average 35% more revenue.
Replying to reviews, especially if you’re managing accounts for multiple locations, can be exhausting and time-consuming. Maintaining consistency across each platform while being timely and professional takes work.
Hiring a review management team is a great way to relieve your team of this crucial marketing task. A dedicated review management team ensures no customer of yours is neglected or forgotten. What’s more, you never have to worry about saying the wrong thing to a customer or responding too late.
Make it easy for customers to leave reviews
Last but not least, make sure your process for collecting reviews is simple. If your customers aren’t sure how or where to leave a review, you’ve got a problem.
Verifying your accounts and keeping your business information updated is vital, but it’s best to go the extra mile and lead customers right to where you want them to submit their feedback.
For example, if you send an email to customers who recently completed purchases, make sure you include the link to your review form or Google My Business listing.
This email from CVS Pharmacy gives customers a clear opportunity to leave their feedback. Also, they provide another avenue—a phone number—for customers in case they want to share their experience that way.
Google Reviews are the foundation of your business’s online reputation
Consumers consult Google Reviews before taking out their credit cards or booking an appointment. They are an essential part of excellent reputation management, but they are also an opportunity to showcase your customer service skills.
To collect outstanding reviews, however, you have to put in the work:
- Create a great customer experience
- Use the right methods to collect reviews
- Respond to reviews—both the positive and negative
- Make it easy for customers to leave reviews
Managing your Google Reviews can be time-consuming and tedious. If you’re interested in learning more about how a dedicated reputation management team can help your business, contact us today.