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 and be a significant component of a digital marketing strategy. That’s the reality in today’s hyper-connected world, where your reputation as a company is always on display for the world to see.
Yes, there is plenty 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 and buying positive Google reviews. Still, 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.
Before I explore the myriad ways businesses of all sizes can get more Google reviews, let’s discuss their importance first.
Why Online Reviews for Your Local Business Are Incredibly 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 allows ratings, 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 and family have added them. Further, it has been shown that there is likely some correlation between the number and quality of your Google Business reviews and your rankings in organic search results for specific local keyword searches. If you still don’t believe how 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 impact 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.
How to Ask and Get More 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:
- 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 mess 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? Take time to consider 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. 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 customers for a review, make it as easy and foolproof as possible. Thankfully, as shown below, Google now provides a sharing widget that you can access in the management area of your Google business page.
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 tech-literate customers or clients, show or describe the steps they need to take to leave a review for you.
4. Ask Your Clients / Customers over the Phone
It may seem like 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, who 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/founder. 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 tactic 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 in responding to honest feedback and are interested in improving your products or service, they will likely leave you a review. They 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 Google reviews. Inevitably your company deals with 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 asking your social media followers for reviews, but another method involves some social media listening. What does this mean? You can employ various 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 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 already putting in much effort to get positive online reviews. Once you see some positive ones roll in, start sharing them with your audience. You can do this via all your marketing channels, including print, social media, website, etc. Here’s an example of how we do that at LRO Solutions,
11. Give Them a Review First
This idea 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. That act alone can often result in a reciprocal review.
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 a review card or table topper is sufficient.
13. Ask for Specific Feedback
If 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 welcome page 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. Here are a few examples of how you can accomplish that:
- 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 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 who have Already Left Reviews on Other Platforms
Since customers have already taken the time and effort out of their busy lives to leave you a review on one platform, they might be willing to leave you a review on Google. This makes sense because a satisfied customer who already left a glowing review for you and demonstrated a certain level of happiness with their experience is likely to leave a review elsewhere.
18. Encourage Customers that Left Bad Reviews to Update Their Reviews
This is as much a customer service task as 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 honestly. 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 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. Below is 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 goes wrong along the way, your customer service’s quality may make the difference between a fantastic or scathing review. No business is perfect, so sometimes, things go sideways during your service or transaction. How you deal with these instances can often make a difference.
21. Never Buy Reviews – Just Don’t Do it
This point is more about what not to do regarding Google or online reviews. I’ve been amazed to see how many people search for terms like “buy reviews for google” or “pay for bad google reviews.” First, this is a terrible practice, not just from an ethical standpoint but also from a practical one.
First, suppose Google catches you doing this (and it’s getting increasingly better at catching perpetrators of this practice). In that case, there are bound to be potentially enormous consequences, including the possibility of completely delisting your business from Google.
Secondly, the providers of this type of service often use overseas content farms, paying meager wages for vast masses of fake reviews for their clients. Because these are fake, the people leaving them have no first-hand knowledge about your products or service. The result is that the reviews often look obviously fake and manufactured.
That’s it; I’ve given you some of the best ways to garner more positive Google reviews. Go out there and put in the requisite effort required to see the results. On the other hand, if you don’t have anyone that can guide and execute this process for you, contact LRO Solutions today. We’ve helped many companies get more positive reviews across various verticals and platforms, including Google.
Need help implementing your Google reviews strategy? We can help. Get in touch today.