If I could give you, the pressed for time small business owner, looking for a boost in their online marketing efforts, one tip today, it would be this; focus on getting more online reviews for your business.
Curating online reviews from customers and clients should now be an essential part of your online marketing strategy. Consistent, positive online reviews have the power to transform a small business into a powerhouse that will bulldoze their competitors out of the way as they rise to the top.
The good news is that it isn’t hard to make this happen for your business. The people already doing it aren’t special – they just have their processes in place to get reviews combined with offering good service and products. Stick with me and I’ll give you some tips later in this article that will help.
First, let’s talk a little about why attaining online reviews should be more of a focus in your digital marketing efforts.
Why Online Reviews Matter Now More Than Ever
We’ve all been there – our belly rumbling, we whip out our mobile phones to see what is close by, to grab something to eat.
A quick search of Google shows me a list of restaurants nearby, very handy, but not all these listings are created equally.
As you can see from the image above, we can see the user rating and number of reviews each local restaurant received, along with their location, a brief description, their opening hours and contact details.
If I were new to Edmonton, this information would allow me to assess quickly which eatery would be the best to try depending on the type of food I was looking to eat, how close they were and if they featured more positive reviews and ratings than other restaurants in the area.
The great thing about Google reviews is that they can level the playing field. Getting more positive reviews that even your biggest competitors will earn you a steady stream of new customers to your website and business.
Those little stars carry a lot of weight. Reviews are among the first thing people see when they search for your business category in Google or on Google Maps. Positive reviews have also been shown to boost your search engine’s listings. Google have been giving more and more weight to reviews when they determine their search listings, especially locally.
Reviews Bring Social Proof
For small business in Edmonton and beyond, online reviews, not only on Google, but Yelp, Facebook, and other platforms, bring the benefit of social proof. Positive reviews by other people will increase the trust people will feel for your business if they are not familiar with it. In fact, there was a study conducted in 2014 that showed 88% of consumers now trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a family member or friend.
This same study also showed the more reviews a business received, the more trustworthy it appeared, and consumers typically read six reviews before making their mind up about a business.
Hopefully, you can now understand the need for your business to attain more online reviews.
I already know your next question – how do I get these magical reviews. Well, let me give you five ways you can start getting Google reviews today and begin leveling the playing field against your competitors.
5 Ways To Get More Google Reviews For Your Business
1. Make sure you have verified your business on Google.
The first thing you should do is to get a Google My Business page. Take the time to fill in this profile with all your business details and add some photographs if you have them. Google will want to send a postcard to your business address with a code on it. You will need to enter this code on your Google My Business page to verify your business listing.
Google give more preference to businesses that are verified, so it is important to take the time to do this step.
2. Ask Your Customers
There has been an unfortunate trend in recent years when it comes to online reviews – people are much more likely to take the time to leave a negative review if a business fails to meet their expectation than a positive one.
That is why it is important to encourage your customers to give you feedback on how your business is doing. Make a point of asking your customers for their feedback at various contact points with your brand, and encourage them to share their experiences online.
Many people would love to leave you a positive review if you have met or exceeded their expectations; they just sometimes need a little reminder to do so.
3. Respond To Existing Reviews
If a customer takes the time out of their busy day to leave your business a review, make sure you reward their efforts by responding to it. Monitor, all reviews coming in through Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc., and take the time to respond to them all, especially the negative ones.
The only thing worse than no reviews is a business with a number of negative reviews that never get a response. Potential customers will think you don’t care about their opinion on your products and services. Additionally, responding to negative reviews also allows you give your perspective on what happened in that particular situation.
You should make the effort to show that your customers feedback is important to you, whether it’s good or bad.
4. Promote Your Google Page On Your Other Online Channels
Spread the word about your Google page on your other online business channels. Let your fans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram know they can go to your Google Business page and leave you some feedback. Tell them how much it will mean to you and how they are supporting local business.
Send an email to your mailing list, or add a line to your email signature linking to your Google Places page and explain why reviews are important to small businesses.
Add a section on your website explaining the benefits of leaving a Google review with an enticing call to action at the end.
5. Encourage Your Customers To Leave You A Review Offline As Well
Offline, you could give customers a handout in your store after they purchase, explaining step-by-step how to leave a review. You have to assume many of your customers aren’t that tech savvy, so make it simple for them to understand how to do it.
We have actually come up with our own Google review handout that we give to our clients, drop us a line if you would me to send it to you.
You could also have signage in your store encouraging customers to write a Google review. Ideally, this would be located near the point of sale. Also, make a point of telling them that you would love to hear their feedback as you ring up their purchase. You could also offer a small discount to people who can show they have left you a review online previously.
Good online reviews don’t happen overnight, they will take consistent effort and patience to attain them, but the end rewards are worth it, you will see a rise in sales, improved local search engine listings and your businesses local reputation will improve greatly.