We can tall you, with absolute certainty, that our client businesses that set - and achieve - targets succeed in maintaining flows of reviews and the resulting flows in enquiries, clicks and calls.
The first target...
Is your score.
This business has doubled in size since they focussed their efforts on their Google reviews.
This needs to be as close as possible to the 'perfect 5.0' as can be. Ignore anyone who says 'I don't believe businesses that score 5.0', all the evidence both from statistical surveys and anecdotal feedback indicates that '5.0 businesses' succeed in generating volumes of enquiries, clicks and calls - and sales - way ahead of their competitors.
Beware the Google filter
We continue to meet businesses that haven't heard of it. When they do, they understand why they may not be getting the volume of business they would expect through Google - it's very simple: they are being filtered out of search results. Potential customers are not being put off by their negative reviews - they are not seeing the business in search at all!
In the example above the user - the person searching for a business (a local GP in this example) - has set the filter at 4.5. Why would anyone set it any lower is beyond us.
So: businesses with a score below 4.5 need to take urgent action to get that score over 4.5 - and then as close to 5.0 as possible.
Over the years a considerable amount of research has been done into how consumers react to reviews, and that includes volumes as well as scores. We advise businesses as follows:
- Prioritise quality over quantity: when you speak to customers about reviews emphasise just how helpful really detailed reviews are
- Aim for fifty reviews per location as a first target
- Then 100
- Then focus on keeping your reviews 'fresh' - meaning that you should always have a review from the last month showing
A score such as this, backed up by 166 reviews on the business's own website (many consumers confuse the stars and rating you see above, which is taken from the business's own reviews hosted on their own website, with the business's Google score and rating - see bellow) and feeding through into every Google search, will help drive calls and clicks, especially when it is seen in the context of the business's direct competitors...
And then is reinforced by its Google reviews, again - more than 100 and an impressive score...
There is a natural tendency for businesses to want to achieve critical mass as soon as possible - be that 50 or 100 reviews - but don't rush things: remember that just five reviews a month means sixty after one year. It is much more important to sustain the flow - and there is plenty of evidence to show that savvy consumers shy away from businesses that have a mass of reviews in short order and then few subsequently. Keeping the reviews coming is critical.
In practice - on the ground
Our most successful client businesses have built review management into their day-to-day SOPs. They would no more neglect reviews than they would forget to check their emails. Some set numerical targets: x reviews per month per member of staff, some simply operate what we call our 'rule of 50%'...
The Rule of 50%
It's really very simple: aim to get a review to the business's own website from half your customers - and then to get half of those to copy their review to Google.
We have covered incentivising customers here - and it's a no-no. Even if you manage to comply with the CMA regulations and Google T&Cs, which will be difficult, your competitors will make hay with it ('Oh yes, they pay their customers for reviews.').
But there is nothing in the regulations or Google's T&Cs that says you cannot reward your staff - as long as all your customers are able to write a review whenever they choose.
How to reward staff? That's very much up to you, but we generally suggest that businesses think along the lines of 'how valuable are reviews to us?' and work from there.