For time- and staff-strapped small businesses, getting elusive Google reviews may seem difficult. Here are seven ways you can cultivate more reviews for your business (with fairly minimal effort).
Google reviews: They're a necessary evil for success in this day and age.
Studies have shown that anywhere between 80% and 95% of consumers read product and business reviews to guide their decision-making process. Online shoppers tend to trust the reviews of total strangers, for better or for worse; naturally, the more positive reviews your business has, the more your potential customers are likely to trust in your product.
The process of getting those elusive reviews must be so difficult, right? Not so! Let's explore seven ways you can cultivate more reviews for your business (with fairly minimal effort on your part).
The first step to building your Google review base is pretty straightforward: Ask for it! Requesting reviews should be a regular part of your interactions with your customers.
Asking a customer to review their experience during checkout in your brick-and-mortar shop might be a tall order – you may get a positive response, but by the time the customer gets back home to their computers, they've forgotten about their promise to give that glowing review. And even if your business is run online, the customer needs some time to receive and put to use whatever product or service it was they ordered before they can form an opinion on it. So, whether your business is run online or in person, following up is key.
Email is perhaps the easiest way to request reviews from your customers. Create a template for a follow-up email (or, more likely, emails –persistence is also going to be important) and set it up to automatically go out in the days and weeks after their purchase or interaction with you. In your email, you want to thank them for their business and ask for a rating and review. It could be something as simple as the following:
Dear [Customer name]:
Thank you for your purchase [or visit to the store] on [Date]. We sincerely hope you're enjoying your new [product]! Your feedback is important to us, so be sure to let us know what you think by clicking the link below to leave a review. We appreciate you and can't wait to see you again soon!
And that leads us right into the next point …
2. Make it easy.
People tend to take the path of least resistance. If they are left to figure out the process of leaving a review, they will likely abandon it, unless they really have something to say about your business, which could be good, but is just as likely – if not more so – to be bad. Make the review process for your business as simple, straightforward, and dare I say, failproof as possible.
The best way to do this is to create a custom review link for your business. Google has made this process fairly simple, and it can be done for both traditional desktop web pages and mobile apps.
This link should be included just about everywhere your business is: on your website, in those request emails, on your print and e-receipts. Don't make people have to search for a way to review. Give it to them. The easier it is for someone to leave a review, the more likely they are to follow through and do so. And it goes hand in hand with creating a great customer experience.
3. Verify your business.
It's also important to verify your business with Google by signing up for Google My Business and following the steps for verification. This ensures that your business listing information is accurate and gives your business a boost of legitimacy for anyone looking up your product or place of business.
Verifying your business on Google also protects you against anyone who is not an authorized representative from making edits to your business page. That could be a random person looking to cause trouble, or it could be a disgruntled customer (or competitor) seeking to sabotage your site. Either way, get that business verified.
Verifying your business also puts you in a much better position to be ranked in Google's search results, which can increase your visibility, which increases your potential customer base, which increases the number of reviews you can potentially receive, which leads to more visibility and more customers, and ... you get the idea.
Having a verified business also gives you the ability to ...
4. Respond to negative reviews.
Respond to each and every review you get! As our society trends toward automation and less face-to-face interaction, people still want that personal connection (and that a business is genuinely interested in meeting their expectations). Even if your response is just a simple note of thanks, you are demonstrating to your customers that their feedback is important to you.
And it shouldn't stop with the good reviews, either. Continue to exhibit courtesy, respect and good customer service when responding to negative reviews and less-than-happy customers. Reach out to them and try to make the situation right. Even if potential customers read a poor review, they will see that you made an effort to make your customer happy.
5. Ask your stakeholders for reviews.
External customers don't have to be your only source for reviews. Reach out to your internal customers as well, your business partners, vendors and even your own employees!
No one knows your business, brand and culture better than the folks who interact with it every single day. If your staff love what they do, ask them to share that with the world. If you've formed friendships with your vendors, awesome! Ask them to vouch for you online.
If your potential clients know that your employees and partners genuinely respect and enjoy working with you, that's a great endorsement for your overall brand and image.
6. Create calls to action to secure more reviews.
Create calls to action (CTA) to give your clients ample opportunity to review your company. Including CTAs throughout your website and social media pages is a passive method for you to request feedback, but it creates a consistent reminder to your customers to leave a review for your business. CTAs can be a blurb in the footer or sidebars of your website, which will show up on every page of the site. It could even be pop-up reminders within your site asking your customer to leave a review. Any email campaigns and surveys you send out can also be great places to drop that magic link for feedback. Be sure to include that custom review link!
While you should be persistent with your CTAs, remain tactful. You don't want your user experience to feel like a virus-riddled minefield, so be gentle and sparing with the pop-ups.
7. Purchase a review-generation tool.
And, finally, perhaps the most minimal-effort method of all: Install a review generation tool to help streamline the whole process. Podium, NiceJob, Servgrow and TrustPilot are all review-generation tools specifically designed to bring in more reviews on multiple platforms, not just Google.
These tools, unfortunately, are not always free, but they can be a great way to help reach more customers and make your online reputation management more efficient by keeping everything neatly in one place.
Building up your Google reviews doesn't have to be a complex or even particularly involved process. Much of it can be created once, allowing you to sit back, relax, and watch your reviews – and your business – grow.