Do you remember the last time you were about to try out a local business for the first time? How did you learn about that business? If it wasn’t recommended to you already from word of mouth, you probably went online to search and glance at their reviews before you invested in visiting or purchasing from them.
That easy habit of searching and reading reviews before buying is one of the most important ways for small businesses to generate local leads. We’re going to talk about exactly why reviews are so important — and how you can leverage them to attract new customers.
Getting the Facts Straight About Reviews
Research shows that 88% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone end up visiting or calling that business within a day! In fact, nearly 46% of all Google Searches are looking for nearby businesses and validating information before they visit.
These statistics are key to explaining why it’s so important for a business to pay attention to their online presence. Every company should have a Google My Business page, which is often the most important touchpoint for online searchers. A Good My Business (GMB) page includes hours of operation, addresses, photos, and most importantly: reviews.
Take St. Petersburg, FL, for example, since that’s a key part of our Digital Neighbor community. There are tons of businesses that are competing for those nearby searches. However, the businesses that “win” the search and end up having visitors that day, are going to be the ones with the most accessible reviews.
When I search for nearby plant shops on Google, three businesses come up; Wild Roots, Kathy’s Korner Nursery, and Willow Tree Nursery. All are within a few miles of each other and all seem to carry the products I’m looking for. When it comes time to make a decision, I’m going to look at who has the best reviews.
While Wild Roots and Kathy’s Korner both have a great rating of 4.8 and 4.7 stars respectively, they only have about 30 reviews each. Willow Tree Nursery has a 4.6 rating with a total of 113 Google Reviews, including recently shared photos from locals. That many people have good things to say about it? My gut tells me to head straight to the Willow Tree Nursery!
Now that you understand the consumer thinking process, let’s tailor it to your business. How do you increase your total number of reviews while keeping at least a 4+ star rating — all in a short amount of time? Here are the next steps.
Step 1: Put a Review Collection Process In Place
If you already have customers, you’re halfway there! Don’t be shy to ask every single customer to leave a review by promotions and reminders after the point of sale. You don’t need to be pushy; including a notecard with each receipt or incorporating a new line into employee scripts will work just fine.
Additionally, you want to make sure that the process for leaving reviews is simple and easy to find. You do NOT want to make your customers jump through hoops to find out where to put their review!
As long as your Google My Business is set up correctly, leaving a review can be extremely easy. You can even include a custom Google review link on your website or social media pages to easily redirect customers.
Remember to check your Google My Business page at least once per week so you can respond to reviews, whether they’re good or bad. That’s a great way to show you care about customer feedback.
Extra tip: Set up a fun internal competition between your employees to see who can obtain the best reviews! This is great for encouraging excellent customer service, too.
Step 2: Purchase a Review “Booster” Platform
There are a wide variety of platforms out there that offer review support and follow up to your customers right as they leave the door when their experience is already top of mind. These platforms are useful tools for encouraging immediate review postings (and not just hoping your customers remember to get around to it whenever they get home).
Platforms such as GatherUp, Square, and Yext can be easily incorporated into your purchasing process. When collecting payment from your client, these platforms can immediately email them through a connected account for a review. Some payment systems will allow your business to include the review request as a pop-up on the screen after a customer pays their bill.
All of these digital tools are a simple and effective way to quickly increase your total number of reviews. That way, you can focus on providing customers a positive experience at all times!
Step 3: Hire an Agency
More and more, customers are thinking more critically about the businesses they patronize and details like an inactive Facebook or outdated website can hurt your chances of drawing attention.
But updating a website? Making it not only look good, but be search engine-friendly and easy to use? Responding to each review, making sure your GMB listing is up-to-date, and using all these review booster platforms? That’s a lot of work on top of running the daily operations of a business. But that’s where a digital marketing agency can help.
Our team at Digital Neighbor is composed of experts in the review process — and managing your entire digital footprint. We offer free checkups of your current Google My Business account, your current website, and your SEO strategy. We’re happy to provide our thoughtful and cutting-edge recommendations for success.
If you find that juggling reviews and implementing a tight digital strategy is more than you can manage, come to us for help. We’ll take some of the burden off your plate.
How about that hidden tip? Due to COVID-19, Google stopped accepting reviews and replies for the months of March and April 2020. Did you notice your business reviews completely stopped coming in and you were disabled from responding? Google did this to help businesses avoid backlash from bad reviews due to them closing or changing hours. Mystery solved! (And now is the time to start soliciting reviews again!)