Many entrepreneurs aren’t prioritizing Google reviews, and it’s costing them big time.
Why? Because 90 percent of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. That’s right: nine out of ten prospective customers are reading your online reviews before deciding to pick up the phone to call you.
If that number doesn’t astound you, keep in mind that online reviews also hold a lot of weight in the all-important Google search algorithm. That means that getting people to post about their experience with your company not only serves to strengthen your brand and boost your credibility, it makes it easier for others to find you. Put simply: Google reviews are free advertising!
Now that we’ve established how important Google reviews are, we thought we’d share some of the unique strategies the experts at Intrigue have used to generate over 80 high-quality Google reviews.
How To Generate High-Quality Reviews
Incorporate these strategies into your long-term marketing plan and you’ll not only see the number of reviews for your business grow, your leads will too!
1. ASK FOR A REVIEW
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but we’re always astounded by how few business owners and staff actually ask for reviews. Of course, we’re operating under the assumption that you’re committed to delivering great service. If that’s the case, you should take pride in asking for reviews!
Oftentimes, a happy customer will tell you how satisfied they are with your service. It’s the perfect opportunity to ask them to leave a review! Though it may seem slightly uncomfortable at first, you’ll quickly get over this mental hurdle once you realize how easy it is and how eager your clients are to help you out!
The key is to mention how much you genuinely value their feedback, and that you ultimately want to help more people through your service.
Here’s our co-founder Rob Murray going into more detail into the effectiveness of this strategy:
Remember the old Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.
It never hurts to ask…but it sure hurts not to!
2. USE A CUSTOM REVIEW LINK
The key when asking for reviews is to make it SUPER EASY for whomever you’re asking to leave a review.
You do that by using a custom review link that generates a link to your Google My Business page with a pop-up box, which looks like this:
Here’s how to get a custom review link for your business:
a) Search for your company here: https://developers.google.com/places/place-id
b) Once you’ve found your business location, copy the place ID (a place ID is a unique identifier given to your local business address by Google. Place IDs are available for most locations, including businesses, landmarks, parks, and intersections).
c) Paste your Place ID onto the end of this link: http://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=(paste your place ID here)
d) In the end, it will look like this: http://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJb7Rj2p2aK4gRZbvMnrjxScc
You can then insert that link on your website or in your email communication (more on that in the strategies below) to help make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave reviews.
UPDATE: For a more detailed explanation of the above steps, watch this:
3. SEND A FOLLOW-UP EMAIL
Once you’ve completed a successful job, promptly send your customer a follow-up email to thank them for their business and to ask them for a review.
Here’s the exact email template Intrigue has used to generate over 80 Google reviews. Feel free to use it or adapt it to match your company’s style and feel.
“Thank you so much for your business. I’m so glad we were able to help.
We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for amazing customers like you. We’d love your help in getting the word out about our business (so that we can help more awesome folks like you!). Plus, your feedback allows us to learn, grow and continuously improve!
If you wouldn’t mind taking a moment out of your day to leave an honest review about your experience with us, we would really appreciate it.
Here’s the link to our Google review page (include your custom review link).
4. UPDATE YOUR SIGNATURE
Let’s say you’ve committed to increasing the number of Google reviews for your business. Perhaps you’ve even made it a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to gain 20 new 5-star reviews by the end of the next quarter — an amazing goal!
To make that happen, reviews will need to become ingrained in every aspect of your business. You likely correspond with customers via email multiple times a day. Why not turn every one of those emails into a subtle (and automatic) review request by including a client testimonial and embedding your Google review page into your signature?
You’ll want to pick a fairly recent review that speaks to your value proposition in a concise yet powerful way. Be sure to include your custom review link to make it easy for others to follow suit. Here’s an example:
Doing so communicates that you are serious about your online reputation and that you welcome client reviews. Plus, once it’s set-up, you can set it and forget it!
5. ADD A GOOGLE REVIEW BUTTON ON YOUR WEBSITE
People trust Google reviews because they know they’re authentic. Any business can post a list of glowing testimonials on their website — indeed, most do — but these are rarely effective. Your visitors know these are carefully selected and curated (and perhaps even crafted) to only showcase the best and censor the rest.
People want honesty, and having a Google review button or badge on your website — whether on your homepage, contact page or thank-you page — boldly communicates that you stand behind your business and welcome honest feedback.
Look at these two examples featuring links to access Google reviews from a homepage:
6. RESPOND TO ALL REVIEWS
Responding to all reviews shows that you care about your customers and are committed to the quality of their experience. It also communicates that it is worth their time to leave you a review.
It’s important to recognize that negative reviews will happen. You can’t please everyone, every time. Most people understand this and can discern whether the situation truly reflects poorly on your business or was simply a one-off. At the end of the day, it’s how you respond that truly matters. In fact, your response often weighs more heavily in people’s minds when assessing whether they wish to do business with you.
Ideally, you should choose someone from your team who’s tactful, prompt, and diplomatic to handle most or all responses.
Here’s how we recommend handling responses:
- Positive reviews: Be grateful when responding to a positive review and it will beget more positive reviews. Mention that you look forward to being of service again and, if appropriate, include a call to action for future business.
- Negative reviews: Responding politely and diligently to negative reviews — even if they are unreasonable — is critical. It shows that you take their concerns seriously; that you are committed to resolving the issue and to making things right. Understand that this is often an opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Click here if you’d like to learn how to respond to a negative Google review.
Lastly, Google acknowledges companies that take the time to respond to Google reviews (in fact, here’s Google official response). Make the effort to respond to all reviews and it will pay off in the long run.
7. HIGHLIGHT REVIEWS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
If you want to encourage more reviews, one of the most effective ways is to highlight recent reviews on your social media channels. Everyone loves a little recognition!
You can even kick it up a notch by awarding a customer with a ‘reviewer of the month (or quarter)’ award. By selecting reviews that speak to your values, your unique selling proposition or your brand promise, you’re effectively communicating what sets you apart without being overbearing (e.g. by letting others do the praising for you!).
People who take the extra step to post an online review because they’re pleased with the level of service you’ve offered them are your raving fans. They are the ones doing your marketing for you. You should do everything in your power to elevate their voices and amplify their message to encourage similar behaviour.
In this example, Oosterveld Heating & AC has done a great job of leveraging social media to highlight a particularly glowing review. They also add clout and social proof by mentioning their impressive number of total reviews.
8. GET EVERYONE ON BOARD
In order for any of the above strategies to work, you’ll need to get every member of your team on board. Increasing the number of Google reviews for your business is a team effort and will require everyone’s participation.
In order to garner some excitement, you can incentivize your team to get more Google reviews. Everyone loves a healthy dose of friendly competition, so why not turn it into a bit of a game? Here are a few ideas:
- Create a leaderboard in your break room to encourage staff to seek reviews.
- Offer a gift card to the team member who gets the most reviews in a month.
- Offer an award or a trophy to the top review recipient by the end of the quarter.
By keeping your employees invested in your company’s success, you’re creating a system of trust and loyalty that recognizes positive behavior. You’ll be surprised at how effective this strategy is in motivating your team to get on the hunt for more awesome reviews!
Once you have a few reviews, let everyone on your team know about Google’s free marketing kit, available to any business with a Google My Business account. It’s where you can download beautiful, professionally-designed (and did we mention: FREE!) stickers, badges, social media images, and more.
Simply enter your business name, select it and click on ‘Get my free materials’. It will automatically pull some of your best testimonials and create downloadable, printable and shareable materials custom-made for your business. Pretty awesome, right?
Studies have shown that businesses that proactively ask for reviews enjoy higher ratings (average of 4.34 stars out of 5) than those that simply wait for unprompted reviews (3.89 stars).
In other words, by making it a regular practice to ask for reviews, you’ll not only get more reviews, you’ll get better ones!
Though it won’t happen overnight, with consistent effort — and by applying the strategies in this blog post — you’ll see your number of Google reviews grow…as will your leads!