Reviews are incredibly important to your business. They influence customer decisions in a number of ways. This includes both positive and negative reviews. Positive reviews may be sponsored or false, while no business will pay for negative reviews. Public negative reviews are a way for a business to showcase customer service, and they work as a powerful counterweight to increase the validity of positive reviews. All of this depends on your business receiving any reviews at all. How do you increase your reviews?
1. Make Sure Users Can Leave Reviews
The number one thing you need to do to make sure you can build Google+ reviews is make sure you have a Google+ page to build reviews. It may seem obvious, but many small businesses don’t realize they aren’t immediately given a Google+ page simply for existing. They need to register the page and fill out the information completely. Once that page is created, fleshed out and verified, it can begin collecting reviews. Older businesses with a Google Places page will find that page has been transferred to Google+ Local, offering a solid starting point for a fleshed out profile.
Often times, the easiest way to get more reviews is to ask for them. Many times, your customers will purchase a product and have a satisfactory experience using it, but they will never think to go back to your page and leave a review. The same goes for services, though some industries – hospitality and restaurants in particular – find it easier to accumulate reviews. Ideally, however, they will have followed one of your social media accounts or signed up for your newsletter as part of the purchase process. These are avenues you can use to ask your customers for honest reviews. Even mediocre reviews can be better than no reviews at all.
3. Make it Easy to Leave a Review
Instead of linking to your basic Google+ page or your website itself, link directly to the review page. Make it so that a user has to click as few times as possible to reach the review page. If they have to hunt through your profile or your website for your Google+ Local page, and then hunt through that page for where to leave a review, they’ll turn away. Consider each additional step a point of failure where you will lose some percentage of your possible reviews. To gather as many reviews as possible, link as closely to the review form as you can.
4. Avoid Buying or Faking Reviews
Veteran Internet users know what a legitimate review looks like. More importantly, they know how to spot a fake review. There are a number of signs that give away when you’ve purchased positive reviews or when you’re deleting negative reviews. Writing reviews of your own business from personal accounts, buying reviews from accounts that often leave purchased reviews; all signs that your business has something to hide. Fake reviews hide the truth, and the truth is what you want to promote. An additional risk of purchased reviews is that, when those false accounts are removed, your reviews may be removed as well. At the very least, they lose credibility.
5. Get Reviewed Elsewhere
Bringing in reviews through Google+ is one thing, but you don’t want to put all your eggs in one proverbial basket. Plenty of users prefer to find reviews through Yelp, Angie’s List or one of the many other sites offering business reviews. If you have no reviews on any of these sites, but plenty on Google+, your reviews look purchased. When asking for reviews, ask for them through any popular review site, not just Google+. Allow your users to choose the site of their preference. Some users will also go the extra mile to post reviews on several sites.
6. Address Negative Reviews Quickly and Personally
You will inevitably garner a few bad reviews. One or two star reviews should be addressed as they appear, which means you need to monitor your reviews frequently. Do not delete bad reviews; users know and they don’t forget. Instead, address each negative review in the comments on that review. Ask the reviewer to get in touch with your customer service department and work with them to make things right. If they cannot be satisfied – and some won’t – don’t sweat it. If you can satisfy others, ask them to reply to their original review.
7. Use QR Codes to Link to Review Pages
Mobile devices are ubiquitous among most shoppers today. This means nearly every consumer has the ability to scan a QR code and visit the site it links to. Printing a QR code on your promotional material, receipts or any other location that users see is a great way to link directly to a review page. This passively and effectively encourages users to leave reviews when they scan the code to see where it leads.
8. Encourage Public Testimonials
Nearly every business will receive an unsolicited review at some point. These comments, when negative, present an opportunity to provide customer service. What do you do, then, when they’re positive? A private communication can’t be taken and used publicly without the permission of the sender. What you can do, however, is reply and ask them to post their review on Google+ Local. This allows you to bring private reviews, which are doing you no good, into a public spotlight.
9. Add a Call to Action via Newsletter
The footer of your newsletter is a great place to add a link to your Google+ profile, with an attached call to action. The users on your mailing list generally like your products or services, and they’re typically willing to leave reviews when they think about it and have the time. One time when they often are in the right mindset to leave a review is when they’re reading your newsletter. A link at the bottom of that newsletter is thus effective.
10. Review Partners and Other Businesses
You don’t have to get all of your reviews from customers. Many businesses have partners in the industry. One trick you can use is to leave reviews of those businesses on their pages. It won’t always work, but occasionally those businesses will reciprocate by leaving their own reviews on your page. This helps build your relationship and your reviews at the same time.
11. Provide Review-Worthy Service
Obviously, you can use all the tricks in the book to bring in reviews, but they won’t help you if you don’t provide service worthy of those reviews. If no one is satisfied with your service, no one will want to leave a positive review on your pages. Make sure your customer service is up to snuff and your products are satisfactory. You’ll begin bringing in natural reviews, and the rest of these tips help you encourage more.