Google Reviews take away the big business advantage in local SEO by giving brands with the best reputation centre-stage. SMEs have the benefit of being flexible, which makes it easier to create a more personal customer experience and meet the unique needs of individual clients.

This is something you should make the most of.

The difficult part for SMEs is collecting enough reviews from a smaller customer base. So in this article we’re going to look at ways you can reach out to your customers personally and build a profile of positive reviews that attracts new people to your business.

Why are Google Customer Reviews important?

According to Vendasta, 40 per cent of consumers form an opinion by reading one to three reviews from previous customers.

Google Reviews act as a deciding factor for people who are comparing you with other brands. When users are looking for the best restaurants in town, there are a few factors that help them make the choice:

  • Location
  • Opening hours
  • Reviews
  • Images of the interior and menu

There are other potential factors, of course, but it’s often those reviews that clinch the deal once people have considered everything else. For example, people are often willing to pay more and travel further if the reviews suggest the customer experience will be worth it.

This is really what it all comes down to; helping people choose the best business for them with confidence.

Google My Business reviews

When you’re trying to find a hardware store in London, location and opening times are crucial. You want to know it’ll be open by the time you get there so the less time you spend stuck in the city traffic, the better. When you find three different stores in the same area, though, reviews become the differentiating factor.

Google Reviews are also important for getting your business seen in the local pack of results. Google wants to return the best quality results for its users and feedback from your previous customers is one of the most reliable signals it can use to verify the standard of your services.

To sum up, Google Reviews are pretty important – but the point of today’s article is to help you get more of them. So let’s move on.

First, get the basics right

Before you start worrying about getting more Google Reviews, you need to make sure you have the basics in place – i.e. a fully optimised Google My Business listing so people can find your business and ultimately leave reviews.

Google My Business listing - is it up to date?

Source: Google My Business

We’ve covered all of this before and hopefully you’ve already got the basics ticked off. If not, check out this quick guide on how to show up in Google Maps for everything you need to get started.

Now, let’s talk about some of the techniques you can use to get reviews from customers.

Method #1: Ask straight up

Sometimes you’ve just got to bite the bullet and make your intentions clear. Much like consumers like to think they make buying decisions by themselves, they’ll often appreciate being asked straight up for reviews without any backhand tactics involved.

In case you’re wondering, asking users to leave reviews doesn’t break any Google guidelines, as long as you don’t try and coerce them into leaving positive feedback. Give them the choice, let them be honest and do everything you can to deliver a service worthy of positive reviews.

Method #2: Incentivise reviews

Once again, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to leave reviews with some kind of incentive, as long as you’re not rewarding people for positive feedback. The key is to keep things light and avoid pushing people too hard. Tell people their feedback will help you improve the customer experience – something that will benefit them and others in the future.

After all, you’re a business that cares about the customer experience and you want to get your existing clients involved.

Feel free to offer a discount coupon for a customer’s next purchase in exchange for their feedback and make it clear there’s no pressure to leave positive comments. Aside from getting the review you’re looking for, this gives people a reason to come back to your business again in the near future.

Method #3: Ask for specific feedback

Many people avoid leaving a review because they simply don’t know what to say. Yes, you enjoyed your stay at the hotel during your honeymoon but surely that’s the minimum requirement of an establishment in this industry?

Make it easier for people by asking them to leave feedback for specific criteria. Tell them you’re reviewing the customer service element of your business and ask them for their honest feedback. Or focus on the actual product or service you provide if you think that’s what will encourage other potential customers the most.

By pointing customers in the right direction, you can make it easier for them to leave reviews and stand a better chance of getting the kind of feedback you’re looking for.

Method #4: Follow-up emails

In some cases, it might not be appropriate to ask for a review at the time of purchase but this doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to people via email once the transaction is done. If you find sending dedicated emails asking for reviews doesn’t work, try putting a call to action in your email signature that points them in the right direction. The good thing about this approach is you can include them in all of your emails as standard without making your customers feel like they’re being pressured into leaving a review.

Try out different CTA copy and test results to see what gets the best response rate from your recipients.

Method #5: The reverse incentive

This one works particularly well if yours is a business in the services industry, like a hotel, travel agent or restaurant. You can turn the incentive against your customers and get your staff to say they get a bonus for every review they collect from customers. Instead of deciding whether your incentive is strong enough for customers to leave a review themselves, they have to decide whether to deprive your friendly staff a small bonus for all their hard work.

Who would do such a thing?

Aside from the techniques we’ve looked at in this article, make it as easy as possible for people to leave reviews. Try to remove every barrier you can and make the review process a seamless part of the customer experience. Don’t be afraid of testing out different approaches and – above all – make sure your business provides a service that deserves five-star reviews.

You’ll find this is the biggest incentive for customers to tell other people how great you are.

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