Nearly every business, especially local ones I’ve worked with wants to know how they can get more positive online reviews for their company. Why? Because they know what everyone else knows. Online reviews can make or break a company. That’s the reality in today’s hyper-connected world in which your reputation as a company is always on display for the world to see. Sure there’s some level of foolish gaming of the system that companies with a track record of poor service or inferior products attempt to engage in. This includes writing fake reviews, but for the most part, if you dig deep enough as a consumer, it’s nearly effortless to discover a company’s true stripes before you hire them or buy one of their products.
Why Online Reviews for Your Local Business Are So Important
First, they allow a potential customer to validate your product or service as both legit and something of high quality. The surrounding social proof that reviews provide is an increasingly crucial purchasing signal both for consumer and business buyers. Whether your business is mature or just starting, you’ll need to invest in getting a healthy amount of reviews on any digital platform that is set to allow ratings for you, such as Google. Otherwise, if your profile only indicates a few reviews per platform, customers may be understandably suspicious of the validity of those reviews and think your friends, family and employees have added them.
Further, it has been shown that there is likely some correlation between the number and quality of your Google My Business reviews and your rankings in organic search results for specific local keyword searches. So finally, if you still don’t believe how incredibly critical online reviews are, here are a few more stats to convince you:
- 97% of all customers now use online platforms to discover reviews when researching local products or services.
- This Bright Local study discovered that consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business, and 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- Reviews even have an impact on how much money your customers are willing to spend with you as this Invesp study discovered.
- Four out of five consumers have changed their minds about a personal recommendation after finding just ONE negative review.
Getting More Positive Google Reviews
1) Ask Your Existing or Past Customers
You can do this in several ways, but let’s start with the least complicated methods:
- In person
- By email
- On any printed material including your business cards
- Your email signature
- A dedicated section or page of your website
- Your social media accounts and posts
- Invoices and bills
- Thank you pages
- Post-purchase transactional emails
- Your regular email newsletter
- Physical thank you cards
2) Getting Your Timing Right
One of the easiest ways to screw up asking for Google reviews from your customers is to ask them at the wrong time. Have they had enough time to digest their experience with your product or service? Think about the entire lifecycle your customer goes through with your company and figure out at what point in time your customer will be most receptive to the idea of leaving a positive Google review for you. Also, don’t be afraid to ask more than once, but don’t be annoying about it, think about how you can incorporate clever or creative elements into your review ask to delight your customer further.
3) Make it Easy For Them to Leave a Review
When asking for customers for a review, make it as easy and foolproof as possible. This includes using the most direct links to your Google profile and even review pop-up. Also, don’t forget to create a page or portal on your website that helps direct your customers to your various review platforms, including Google. Then, for the less sophisticated user, show or describe the steps they need to take to leave a review for you. Also, instead of using a giant long URL as the link to your Google review profile, make sure to use a URL shortener to shrink your URL and provide a simple, easy to type in URL. The bonus of doing this is that you’ll then be able to easily track how many people clicked on your shortened URL to whichever review platform you are linking to.
4) Ask Your Clients / Customers over the Phone
Sure, it may seem like a bit of a chore, but remember that positive online reviews from your customers are worth their weight in gold. So don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call your best customers, the ones that you know are thrilled with your product or service. Tell them that you’re proud of the work you did together or proud of the fact that they’re enjoying your product(s) so much and you’d be very grateful for a review from them.
5) Personalize the Ask
Even if you’ve gotten to the point of having many front-line or customer-facing staff, don’t underestimate the power of your customers getting a phone call or email from the owner / CEO with an ask for a review. Make sure you wrap the conversation in a blanket of credibility by not only personalizing the ask but also a veil of positioning the communication as a “check-in to see how they’re doing with your product or service. This is more likely to be positively received than a straight-up ask.
6) Offer an Incentive
While Google isn’t necessarily a huge fan of this technique, I still believe there is nothing wrong with providing a small incentive for your customers to leave you a review. It can take many different forms. As with all these endeavours remember to keep it tasteful.
- Run a contest
- Give away a small gift card
- Provide a discount in exchange for a review
7) Respond to Reviews
Responding to every review you receive, whether negative or positive, can have a fantastic effect on someone’s decision to leave a future review for your company. When customers or clients see that you are engaged with responding to honest feedback, and are interested in improving your products or service, they will be much more likely to leave you a review, and may even be inclined to be more generous with it.
8) Don’t Forget Vendors & Partners
Many local businesses often forget one rich source of potential reviews. Inevitably your company deals with both vendors and partners that can vouch for the validity and quality of your product or service. So why not ask them for a review?
9) Social Media
We’ve already mentioned the idea of asking your social media followers for reviews, but another method involves some social media listening. What does this mean? You can employ a variety of tools to be alerted to any media or social mentions of your brand or company online. When you see these mentions, if they’re already boastful of your product or service, you can solicit the person in a friendly and casual way to leave you a review on Google if they haven’t already.
10) Share Positive Reviews
If you’re following the prescriptions we’ve laid out in this article, you’re likely already putting in much effort to get positive online reviews. Once you see some positive ones roll in, make sure to share them with your audience. You can do this via all your marketing channels, including print, social media, website, etc.
11) Give Them a Review First
This, of course, won’t make sense with consumers or customers you don’t know or haven’t worked with, but if you’re working with other businesses that are also your clients, you can get the ball rolling by leaving them a review first.
12) Host an Event
Maybe your business already hosts events regularly. You can treat this as a perfect opportunity to ask the attendees for a positive review. Just remember not to be pushy about it. A subtle ask for review card, or table topper is sufficient.
13) Ask for Specific Feedback
If the size of your email and social media audiences are large enough, you can go ahead and ask a specific question about your product or service and make the Call to Action the review link to Google.
14) Wi-Fi Sign-In Portal Ask
If your business or office offers free Wi-FI for your customers/clients, many modern commercial Wi-Fi setups allow you to customize a login-portal page with personalized messages. This can be an excellent place to put a review ask.
15) In-Store / Location Signage
Don’t be afraid to spruce up your location with some subtle yet visible review asks. This can be accomplished in various forms:
- Window Clings
- Vehicle wraps
- In-store apps
- Interactive media displays
16) Scope Out the Competition
Most of you have some level of local competitors that you can patronize in incognito mode. Go to their location and check out what they are doing to get more reviews. Sign up for their service or buy a product from them and see what kind of follow-through they have on reaching out to satisfied customers. Perhaps you can glean some creative ideas and “borrow” a few.
17) Ask Customers That Already Left Reviews on Other Platforms
Since customers that have already taken the time and effort out of their busy lives to leave you a review on one platform, perhaps they’d be willing to leave you a review on Google as well. Since they’ve already left a glowing review for you, and demonstrated a certain level of happiness with their experience, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
18) Encourage Customers that Left Bad Reviews to Update Their Reviews
This is as much a customer service task as it is a marketing one, but the truth is that you can often turn a bad review into a positive one. How? Most of the time, customers who have had a less than stellar experience with your business need to be attended to in an honest way that attempts to rectify the situation in one way or another. Again, don’t think of this as a chore, think of it as a way to improve your reputation with at least one customer, and potentially many more if they choose to update their review to something more positive.
19) Use Humour to Incentive Customers
Don’t be afraid to gin up a bit of attention by using a touch of humour to encourage customers to leave you a positive review. You’re also likely to gain some new customers as a result. Here’s a good example.
20) Finally, the #1 way to get more positive Google reviews is to provide a fantastic product or service.
So if something does go wrong along the way, it’s the quality of your CUSTOMER SERVICE that may make the difference between a fantastic or scathing review. This is evident when looking at the Google reviews of any local business. No business is perfect, so sometimes things go sideways during the course of your service or transaction. It’s how you deal with these instances that can often make the difference.
That’s it; I’ve given you some of the best ways to garner more positive Google reviews. Go out there and start putting in the requisite effort required to start seeing the results. On the other hand, if you don’t have anyone that can guide and execute this process for you, give my company a shout. We’ve helped dozens of companies get more positive reviews across a wide variety of verticals and platforms, including Google.