Imagine you have a wonderful business, it’s growing and your customers are always saying nice things. But when you check online you notice that you have almost no reviews. In fact, the only review you see is a complaint. When you check your competitor’s site, they have 5 stars and a handful of reviews. This is the position most small businesses find themselves in before they take an active role in their online reviews.
- 69% of local consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 67% of local consumers will be looking for and reading online reviews before choosing you our your competitor.
Of the foundational local ranking factors, here are some that relate to reviews.
12 Quantity of Native Google Places Reviews (w/text)
19 Quantity of Third-Party Traditional Reviews
32 Diversity of third-party sites on which reviews are present
33 Quantity of Reviews by Authority Reviewers (e.g.Yelp Elite, Multiple Places Reviewers, etc)
47 High Numerical Ratings by Authority Reviewers (e.g.Yelp Elite, Multiple Places Reviewers, etc)
With these you can learn how to move the needle on your online reviews in as little as 30 minutes.
This can be your #1 source of new business and often your most profitable. It comes from doing a great job and making it easy for people to refer you. In a tech savvy world, even a thumbs up on Facebook can be a great referral.
The best thing you can do after providing a great product or service is keep great records of your past customers such as their email and mailing addresses. Having their contact information is critical when you want to reconnect and get them on your social media channels, offering new products or even directly asking for referrals. Great tools like MailChimp will let you import your past customers and stay connected via mass emails, up to 2,000 for free.
Asking for reviews
In my experience, getting reviews seldom just happens. A plan must be undertaken to reliably and consistently solicit happy customers for reviews and your benefit. A successful review program will do these three things sustainably:
- Gain customer contact information
- Ask for a review after a job well done
- Provide a link to the website where to leave a review
I prefer to collect emails from my customers and then ask them after a job well done for a review through any template email via MailChimp. It’s free for what we need it for, it looks professional, it’s super easy, and most importantly, it allows us to track email open and click through rates.
Google + Local reviews
If you can get 5 reviews on on Google+ Local, Google may choose to start showing your 5 star rating right in searches. This will lead to a higher click through rate and therefore a higher ranking in Google. And that means more eyeballs see your business. Also it’s the 12th most important factor (Quantity of Native Google Places Reviews (w/text)) And that is why I focus most of my review gathering ongoing at Google+ Local.
Other Review Sites
For hotels, TripAdvisor reviews are like gold. Restaurants love Yelp. For others their are local or industry specific sites that matter. Usually, Googling some words that matter to you will pull these sites up and you can also get listed there. The stanard for asking for these reviews has been if it’s a yahoo email ask for a yahoo local reviews. Same goes for gmail. But you might have to get creative for others. For example, you could, say, leave a review at your favorite site:
Google Maps: google.com…
Improving response rate
Honesty, you’ll know how to interact with your customers, so all it will take to increase reviews is trying new things to get them to click through to leave you a review. Lucky for you, it’s super easy to test a new message, subject line, and sites to include links to.
Tracking new reviews
Unfortunately, if you want to track your success over time there are no free or easy ways to track new reviews. And with review filters like Yelp, unless a customer has a few reviews on the site already, their review of your business may not even show up. The worst thing you could do become discouraged and stop asking for reviews. So it’s a numbers game. Those that ask the most customers win. Don’t be surprised if you only get a 5% response rate of your asked customers.
Responding to reviews
It’s basically a best practice to respond to all reviews both good and bad quickly. If bad, be apologetic, and ask them to contact you to make it right. No explanation or excuses needed.
If you would like to get lots of reviews frequently, or you would rather respond to reviews quickly, then you’ll need a paid solution, something better than pulling up your review sites manually every day. And for that there is only one good legitimate company I could recommend: Get Five Stars.
Word of warning
There are volumes about how people have done the asking for reviews thing wrong. I will not cover all the wrong ways and horrible side effects of doing this the wrong way, but the most likely way to do it right. First and for most, the best way is getting reviews consistently on Google+ Local from real active users over time. Every other site is good but secondary. Check out my post for more on reviews, testimonials and their importance. If you would like some examples of ways people ask for reviews in ways other than email, check out this post.
Getting a jump start
So if you are having trouble taking off, ask a few of your local business friends to leave you a review from their Google Plus page.
Examples of ways to ask for reviews
These ways need a customers contact information
- Phone call & follow up email
- Postcard or thank you letter
These ways happen in person or in store
- Hand out
- Card tent
These happen semi-passively