“So, can you help us run paid ads on Google?” said the voice on the other end of the line. Thirty minutes into a strategy session with an eager water treatment dealer, I took a deep breath and thought about the best way to phrase what needed to be said next.
“Imagine you and your wife need to get your roof replaced,” I started. “What is the first thing you’d do to find the best company?”
He thought about it momentarily and said, “I’d search for roofing contractors on my phone to check out my options.” He seemed proud of himself, knowing this was both the truth and the answer I was looking for as a digital marketer.
“Sounds reasonable,” I said, “and then what’s the first thing you’d look at on Google when researching your options?”
“I’d… look at the reviews,” he said a bit slower. He’s a sharp man who could see where this conversation was headed.
“What specifically would you look for with the reviews?” I countered.
“Perhaps how many reviews… the overall rating, and how recent they were?” he asked more than answered.
“Also, a reasonable thought process,” I said. Just as I was about to begin my recommendation, he interrupted me, my mouth half open.
“I don’t have any reviews yet. Do you think I should even run ads at this point?” I could see the cogs turning in his mind and waited a moment for him to answer his own question.
“I probably need to get some reviews first, don’t I?” he said, slightly deflated.
I responded, “Yes, that sounds like a wise strategy.”
From there, I helped him craft a plan for getting his first twenty reviews and said we’d be happy to help him once he was well on his way to that number.
You see, no matter what you spend on your marketing, if you can’t prove that other people have had a positive experience with your company, it’s likely you’re going to waste all or at least a good portion of that investment.
Whether you’re a dealer, supplier, or OEM, relevant, recent, and real reviews will help make the most of your marketing efforts. Recent studies have shown that more consumers are reading online reviews than ever. In 2021, 77% of people ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read them when browsing for local businesses (up from 60% in 2020).1 Furthermore, according to ReviewTrackers, 63.6% of consumers say they are likely to check Google reviews more than any other review site.2
Here are six ways to get more Google reviews and earn trust with your ideal market.
1. Automate the ask
Process makes perfect, and automating processes (when feasible) makes perfect sense.
Do you have a process in place for people to leave reviews? If so, have you automated that process?
Here are a few things to consider, whether starting from scratch or improving an already implemented process for review gathering:
- Plant the seed during the sales call that you’ll be excited for their review of the product/service after they are thrilled with it (a couple of weeks after use).
- Once they are a new customer, let them know again that you’re excited about them becoming part of your company, and you’ll reach out to them in a couple of weeks to see how things are going.
- In your follow-up appointment, once you’ve determined their satisfaction, ask them to leave a review. If you’ve set them up properly for this, they should be happy to do so.
- Have an automated email and text message sent to the customer with a link to Google, Facebook, and Yelp. They will have to have an account to leave a review, so giving them options helps them if they have one but not all accounts already created.
- You can also send a post-installation survey using software like Google Forms, Typeform, SurveyMonkey, or Hubspot to get specific feedback about the customer’s experience and then ask for a review with easy links to get them to the right webpage to leave their 5-star rating.
2. Tap into your free Google Marketing Kit
If you have a Google Business Profile (and unless you don’t want your business to be found, you need to have one), you already have a free Google Marketing Kit waiting for you at marketingkit.withgoogle.com. All you have to do is make sure your listing is verified, enter your business name and download your free files, which include printable posters, flyers, and cards with a quick response (QR) code that leads back to your reviews.
3. Use QR Codes and shortened URLs
A Quick Response Code (QR Code) is essentially a barcode that holds information – usually a web link. You can use a code that links to your Google reviews page on postcards, mailers, invoices, business cards, websites, emails, and social profiles. Simply add it where you’d like, and your customer can use their smartphone to scan the code using their camera. The QR code link then opens in a browser on their phone.
You can also use a shortened URL to share in emails, digital invoices or receipts, and any other online communication. To get your Google Review shortened URL, first search for your business on Google. If you have a verified listing and you are the owner or manager of the page, your Business Profile will show up, and you’ll be able to make edits. From there, select Customers, then Reviews, then Get More Reviews. If you have any trouble, visit https://support.google.com/business/answer/3474122 and scroll down to the “Share a link to leave a review” section.
4. Integrate reviews into your website
Once you have quality reviews on your Google Profile, the next step is to embed them on your website. Reviews should be placed on every website page, next to or below your call-to-action or contact form. This helps build trust at the critical moment when someone is thinking about contacting you. If you have a website built on WordPress, you can use a Google review plugin like the Business Reviews Bundle from RichPlugins.com. Other platforms like Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, etc. will likely have their own add-ons or plugins for their specific platforms. Reach out to your web developer to find out what will work best for your site.
The beauty of these plugins is that they pull in the most recent reviews from your Google listing and can be filtered based on star rating or word usage. For example, if you only want reviews that mention the word “water softener” to show on your water softener page, you can create a reviews feed based on that criteria. You can also include the option to have a link to leave a review alongside the reviews widget.
If you don’t already have a page dedicated to reviews on your site, ask your web company to add one. Bringing in reviews from all over the web and written testimonials from back when you had a bag phone and were doing bottle drops will help show your potential customers that they too will love working with you.
Finally, create a page on your site where people can leave a review like this example, ecowaterflorida.com/leave-a-review/.
5. Respond to reviews as quickly as possible
89% of consumers are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all its online reviews. At the same time, 57% say they would be ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ likely to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews.1
Positive or negative, responding to all reviews helps you control the narrative and show people you care. Even Google admits that it can help improve your ranking.3
For tips on responding to negative reviews, visit blog.hubspot.com/service/respond-to-google-reviews.
What if you get a fake or slanderous review? Go to your Google Business Profile and select the review in question. There will be an option to flag the review as inappropriate. Google will assess the review in light of their prohibited content policy4 and remove it if they feel it’s in violation.
6. Use Reputation Management Services
Plenty of savvy entrepreneurs have seen that reputation management is a service needed by many businesses, making your options to choose a company to help you implement all of these tips a breeze. A few that our agency has been particularly fond of are BirdEye.com, BrightLocal.com, and Yext.com.
There’s a saying by Dutch Philosopher Desiderius Erasmus that states, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.” This is so true in marketing and even with your reviews. You don’t have to have all the answers or know everything about online marketing to succeed; you simply have to be better equipped than most of your competitors. Hiring team members to help manage your digital presence or an agency that can do the same will help take this burden off your shoulders so you can focus on growth. Just make sure reviews are a central part of your marketing strategy.