It’s no secret- customer reviews can make or break your business. If you’re like a lot of businesses out there, Google My Business will be an integral part of building your customer base. And if you’re not, you’re seriously missing out.Of course, GMB (Google My Business) is really effective when you have plenty of customer reviews. The more you have, the more potential customers see you as trustworthy, and the more you can gain the upper hand in your market. So, how can you leverage this free (yet very profitable) feature? Read on and try out these strategies.
How Do Reviews Impact Potential Customers?
Before we dig into your new review strategy, it helps to understand why positive reviews are so important. While your Google posts don’t seem to affect your SEO and ranking, positive reviews definitely do. In short, if your top competitor has 9 positive reviews and you have 10, you’ll likely appear before them in search results (all other things being equal).
Next, consider how you personally find local businesses to visit or hire for work. You’re going to look at reviews to see what past customers’ experiences are. A few reviews won’t do it. You want to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you go through a dozen reviews and they’re all from satisfied customers, you can feel good about choosing that business. In fact, most people look through multiple customer reviews before making their decision.
Not only that, but online reviews mean just about as much as a recommendation from friends or family. While they may not be exactly equal, online reviews are 88% just as likely to be taken with the same amount of trust.
Ways to Get More Google Reviews for Your Business
Now you know how important GMB reviews are, so let’s start looking at the best ways to get more of them!
#1: Just Ask
Seriously, just ask your customers. While this isn’t necessarily appropriate for a disgruntled customer, make sure you ask happy customers to leave you a review. Does it sound intimidating? The more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes. For example, if someone tells you they just loved ‘Product A,’ or ‘Service B,’ ask them for a review by saying, “the highest compliment you could give me would be to leave a review for my business on Google.”
#2: Make It Easy
No matter how much people love your business, most positive feelings tend to be forgotten once people leave. That means you need to make leaving a review fast and easy while your customer’s enthusiasm is high. Some businesses hand out small cards to satisfied customers with a link or QR code that takes them right to your Google business page. The easier it is to leave a review, the more likely people are to do it, especially when they’re happy.
#3: Know When To Ask
Knowing the right time to ask is crucial to receiving positive reviews. Unhappy customers are more likely to leave reviews whether or not it’s easy. Happy customers might tell a friend, but a Google review tells everyone in the world what they think. Avoid asking until the job or transaction is complete (or nearly, if you’re reviewing the project). Ask for reviews when you know customers are satisfied andbe sure to make a point of asking for the review before they leave your business or before you leave their project.
#4: Use Emails
Email marketing can be a surprisingly effective way to get Google My Business reviews. While you should still ask your customers in person for reviews, not everyone will follow through with writing one. Of course, the emails you send out don’t need to lay it on too thick either. Sending an email to follow up with customers (and subtly ask for a review) is just as effective. Your email can say something along the lines of, “Thank you for your recent visit! We’re sending this email to follow up and make sure you’re happy with the service you received. If you are, we’d greatly appreciate you taking a moment to leave a review about your experience on Google.” Then, provide your customers with a link to your business page.
#5: Train Staff
If you have staff working for you, it’s important to make sure they also know how to get more reviews (and how reviews also benefit them). Discuss proper ways and times to ask for customer reviews. You may even find it helpful to provide employees with simple, one or two line prompts they can use and tailor as they see fit to use.
#6: Explain What It Means To You
Simply asking is fine. However, studies also show that people are significantly more likely to acquiesce to a request if they’re given a reason. It hardly matters what the request is, or what the reason is. Tell your customers how much it helps your business and helps like-minded customers find your business. Basically, give your customers a reason to care about writing a review, and let them know that they’re also doing you a favor.
#7: Make The Ask In A Way That Makes Sense
If you run a more personal business, such as a hair salon for example, it makes sense to ask happy customers in person. However, if you’re in the ecommerce sector, not only does that not make sense, but it’s also more or less impossible. Make the ‘ask’ for a Google business review in a way that works with your business. For ecommerce operations, it’s a good idea to have a pop-up window that asks for a review after customers make a purchase. This is another area where a follow up email asking for a review works well too.
#8: Survey Customers
If you’re not doing business in person, it might be difficult to gauge how satisfied your customers are. That’s where asking for a review no matter what can hurt you. If you’re unsure, and accidentally ask a dissatisfied customer to write a review, it can really hurt your business. Having customers take surveys after service helps filter out those you want to write reviews, and those that can help you improve your customer service. A bad survey result isn’t the end- it can ultimately help you enhance your services, which leads to better reviews in the future. When a happy customer completes a survey, send them a follow up email asking for a Google review.
#9: Use Reviews To Your Benefit
Customer reviews and feedback are invaluable tools for improving your business. Make sure employees understand that any ‘less than perfect’ service is a chance to improve for the next encounter. Ultimately, you can solicit customer reviews and feedback, but if you’re not improving your business, you’re not moving forward. You don’t want negative reviews on your Google profile, but you should still take customer feedback that isn’t perfect into consideration.
#10: Get Genuine Reviews
We’ve all heard about businesses that pay for positive reviews- it’s not exactly a new concept. However, it can get you into major trouble with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Fake and/or paid reviews are considered illegal. You can face legal consequences, and equally as bad, a major hit to your business’ reputation. Another note: do not ask employees to leave reviews for the business. It’s not genuine, and obviously is biased or solicited.
#11: Ask For Help (When You Need It)
Just because you’re a business owner doesn’t mean you have to be a public relations expert. Nor do most people expect you to be. Sometimes it’s a good idea to designate an employee to take charge of customer interactions (and reviews), or to get an expert on your side. There are numerous reputable, proven services that can help you streamline your review process and ultimately grow your business.
#12: Create Peer Influence
When you’re asking for reviews, it also helps to show customers what other people think about your business. People tend to move through life with a pack mentality, whether they realize it or not. For example, if they contract your services, and see plenty of 5 stars reviews from the get-go, they’re already forming a positive opinion. In fact, people are less likely to leave negative reviews when you have plenty of glowing reviews on display. Leverage your best reviews with a widget or standout feature, especially when you’re asking another customer to leave a review.
#13: Make Sure You’re Eligible For Reviews
Not a single review on your business page? It could be that you haven’t had customers leave reviews yet. However, it could also be that you’re not meeting all the Google My Business requirements. You have to verify your GMB (Google My Business) account. Not only that, but you also have to list a physical address for your business. If you open Google Maps, you’ll see plenty of businesses listed. If yours isn’t on the map, get it registered ASAP so you can start getting reviews.
#14: Give Your Customer Options
Reviews aren’t a ‘one size fits all’ operation and technology isn’t either. Customers of different ages, preferences, and with different devices are more comfortable navigating the web in different ways. Don’t lose reviews because you’re only catering to one type of customer. You’re probably missing out on some great reviews! Make sure your customers have a way to easily leave reviews whether they prefer a desktop or smartphone. Moreover, make sure they know how to quickly utilize whichever option they prefer.
#15: Be Polite, But Not Pushy
Follow ups are great, but there are also limits to what you can do. Sending a customer a follow up or two (say, one through email and another through SMS) is perfectly fine. Not only that, but it also helps remind people to give you a Google review. However, if you bombard people with excess requests and reminders, it can become annoying and can create a counter effect that you don’t want. Make sure you’re being tactful when asking for ratings. There’s persistent, and there’s pushy- make sure you stay on the right side of that line.
#16: Utilize Funnels
Funnels are a great way to keep things personal for customers, with little time and effort on your part. You can create specific email funnels for customers depending on the services or products they buy from you. Then, automate your review requests to go to customers based on the funnel they fall into. It shows customers you care enough to send a more personalized email, and it can be much more effective than general follow up emails. There are a ton of different software options that can help you create and manage these funnels if you’re not yet familiar with them.
#17: Use Shortcuts
You’ll be relieved to know that Google has plenty of ways to make getting reviews easier. One of those is a tool that helps you generate a shortcut link which takes customers right to the review section of your business profile. Here’s how it works:
- Go to the Google Maps platform and select ‘Documentation.’
- Next, access the ‘Place ID Finder’ and enter your business address or name.
- Find the ID that comes up for your business and copy it.
- Enter this URL in to your browser: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=
- Directly after that, enter your ID in brackets, without adding spaces.
- Your shortcut link should look like this: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=[MyPlaceIDHere]
#18: Keep It Going
Once you get a good system for gaining reviews, don’t slack off on it. Make checking on reviews and assessing your review process part of your regular ‘business maintenance.’ Do you check your sales and inventory regularly? Do you hold regular business meetings? Of course! Why do you do this? Because it keeps your business on track and helps you ensure your business has everything it needs in place to keep growing. Google business reviews are no different. You need to regularly look at your reviews and analyze how your strategy is working. Are you still getting as many reviews as when you started your campaign? Are the reviews still rating your business as high? If not, you might need to change your strategy.
#19: Use Your Website Footer To More Effect
Footers don’t need to be generic business information. Your website footer is a great place to slip in a link or widget that adds a subtle request for reviews. Whether you use anchor text, CTA buttons, or others, put a link to review your business in your footer. Why waste space that could be getting you more reviews?
#20: Leverage Social Media
Social media is a great way to grow your business because of its very nature. In essence, social media is designed for people to let others get a glimpse into their lives, and then have some level of participation. First, make sure you have an active social media presence for your business and interact with your customer base. Then, make posts that feature services, positive reviews, or other customer interactions. Share these posts and ask your customers to comment, share, and leave their own reviews to help their friends find your business.
#21: Showcase Your Reviews
Once you get some great reviews, you can use them to get even more- and ultimately grow your customer base. Your business website should have a lot of different pages, and likely has items like, ‘Our Services,’ ‘About Us,’ ‘Shop,’ etc. No matter how great your website copy is, people still like to see some proof that your business is getting the job done. Consider adding a page where you can showcase those glowing reviews. Not only will you gain the confidence of new customers, but you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to ask customers to leave their own review. A reviews page is the ideal place to add your Google My Business review shortcut or a CTA.
Pro tip: take a few minutes to do the extra work and post your best reviews as Google Review widgets. This means that you’re not just showing images of your reviews, you’re also including text. Not sure why this matters? It’s all about SEO. A screenshot won’t give your “On Page” SEO an extra boost, but HTML text of the customer reviews can provide that little extra. This is because customer reviews also tend to include keywords that might make you page become more relevant to Google and you wouldn’t be able to do that with an image very easily.
If you’re looking for a landscaper, and you love how your neighbor’s yard is done, wouldn’t you ask about the company they hired? Google reviews are the next step in facilitating great matches between customers and businesses. You can provide the best service around, but if people don’t know that, it’ll be hard to convince new customers of that. The more positive Google reviews your business gains, the more you’ll grow your customer base, and your business overall.
We’ve given you over 20 different tactics you can use to get more 5 star reviews than you can be effect to growing your business. Start with strategies that make sense for your business and keep growing your process for requesting reviews. Remember, most people trust Google business reviews just as much as they trust recommendations from their own friends and family- and that’s pretty hard to beat!